not in our stars, but in ourselves
Before I begin, some caveats:
– I have been anxious and depressed about today’s primary all day. I am therefore In A Mood.
– None of what I write here makes any difference. It is an attempt at catharsis, but in these cases, catharsis actually accomplishes nothing: however much I rant and rail and mock and scream, it’s no substitute for doing real things in the real world – i.e., not just blogging. My sighing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. In other words:
Still with me? God help you.
Right, so: pretty big fireworks finale of primaries today, most crucially in California. It’s a huge state, densely populated, and far more diverse than many others in this bizarro-land we call a country. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but whatever happens, the media narrative was established last night: superdelegates, who are remaining anonymous to protect them from online harassment or something, officially declared their support for Hillary Clinton. The press release went out, and the AP called it: HRH – uh, sorry, HRC – has enough delegates to be the Democratic nominee. Don’t you love the use of that word, “democratic”? Me too. It’s funny, to me, and I’m not mad about it at all. Anyway. The only possible reason this confluence of events could have happened, before California and half a dozen other states even voted, is to try to make it clear to voters that the game has ended, so join the winning team or don’t bother.
And so, whatever happens, even if Bernie Sanders wins every state tonight (and I doubt he’ll win all of them, but he really and truly could win most of them), the narrative is clear: even if Bernie wins, he loses. The party bosses have decided – had decided long ago – that Clinton was going to be the nominee. If she or her team were even passingly competent at this whole campaigning thing, she would have locked it up ages ago. Since neither she nor they seem to know the first thing about running an effective campaign, and since Sanders is – whodathunk – incredibly good at it, we’re here in this near-stalemate. At the bitter end, though, it’s all too clear: the ruling classes do not want a political revolution, and they have all but crushed it.
I was reading this (and, for whatever it’s worth, my response to this guy’s thesis statement is more or less “isn’t it pretty to think so” – but he does make some good points in service of that thesis), and it brought up everything that makes me upset about all of this. To wit:
– If, as HRC has declared, and as her surrogates in the media (social, mainstream, traditional, etc.) have affirmed, she is “going to be the nominee,” why are those surrogates so defensive against Sanders supporters? HRC has turned her attention to Trump (albeit very, very badly – she’s calling him “dangerous” and “poor” and he’s outright calling her husband a rapist), but – based on what I see on the internets and on TV – Clintonites in the media are still positively hypnotized by the infamous Bernie Bro. What is the point of focusing on – and, indeed, alienating – Bernie supporters at this point in the game? HRC herself does nothing to appeal to us, and her flunkies on Twitter, on CNN, or in the NYT/wherever else are downright antagonistic. Who is running the strategy here? Why are they so bad at it?
– If, as one might assume, the most important issue is preventing Donald Trump from getting the codes to the nukes – and believe you me, I think that’s of supreme importance – why in god’s name is the DNC still gunning so hard for Clinton? Sanders would beat Trump. Sanders does indeed appeal to many of the same voters as Trump – so why wouldn’t the DNC want those votes? They will never vote for HRC. They very well may vote for Sanders, if he keeps campaigning as well as he has. Why is the DNC pretending that Clinton is the more electable candidate when literally every poll disproves that notion? I’m not saying she *can’t* beat Trump, but the polling gets grimmer all the time. It remains consistently bright if the nominee is Sanders.
I just don’t understand how this is a contest, UNLESS I accept as a given that this country is rotting from within and will likely be dead within a decade or so unless some miracle happens. I’d like not to have to accept that as given, but, well.
How is it possible to avoid despair? How is it possible not to question the judgment (to put it mildly) of every single person who’s been gunning hard for HRC all this time, when she is a war criminal? The boys of Chapo Trap House discussed her at length this week – and you should listen, if you haven’t.
To tease out the point I’m trying to make, one of the things they discuss is how it’s clearly driving the Democratic establishment up a goddamn wall that, rather than continuing to push the party line of settling and incrementalism and ideological division, Sanders is daring to raise expectations and to insist on sweeping progressive change and to eschew ideology (which is a tool of oppression anyway, if you agree with Althusser and Gramsci and those other Marxists) in favor of telling people exactly what he proposes to do to fix what’s broken. It literally makes me insane with anger to think that anyone with a brain and a conscience could look at Sanders and Clinton and somehow decide that Clinton is the superior candidate. I don’t mean to insult millions of my fellow Americans, but – oh, wait, yes I do. No, but really: look at your life and look at your choices. Things are bad. They are extremely bad overseas, and certain to get worse under a second Clinton regime. They are pretty bad here – even if you yourself are lucky enough to be insulated from the badness, for now – and unlikely to get any better under a second Clinton regime. Tell me where and when and how she’s addressed these points, assuring us all that she has real policies and plans (as Sanders does), and maybe I’ll stop worrying for a moment. Oh, you can’t? Thought not. Gonna keep worrying.
I mentioned Clinton boosters in the media above. They strike me as distinctly Stalinist, irony of ironies. Here’s another twentieth-century prism through which to view things: for all the talk of Trump equaling Hitler, I think that’s the wrong lesson to take from the Weimar Republic. Trump, as Chapo et al. discuss in the podcast, is an idiot who has no interest in governing. He’ll surround himself with the most craven, horrifying advisors, and they’ll be running the show, as they did with Dubya. Trump doesn’t even have Hitler’s vision or drive. He’s just an egomaniac who’s riding a wave. All political figures are egomaniacs in some sense, but he’s amazingly devoid of any guiding cause or principle beyond Donald J. Trump. Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, but etc., etc., etc. No, I don’t think that’s what we should think about here. I think what we should focus on and worry about is the way a decade or so of uninspiring, rote leadership led to the rise of fascism in Germany.
Uninspiring? I’m with her.
Rote? I’m with her.
Call me an alarmist. I don’t care. If HRC secures the presidency, she will ensure nothing but four to eight years of continued Deep State stasis – and American anger will continue to foment. Instead of hard work and progress, we’ll get speeches and photo ops. Instead of sustainable environmental practices, we’ll get fracking. Instead of jobs, we’ll get trade pacts that crater economies here and abroad. Instead of meaningful diplomatic solutions to complex foreign policy problems, we’ll get U.S.-sanctioned regime changes and endless unrest and civil war around the world. And while all that’s happening, what will happen to the unaddressed fury here in this country? What will happen to the people living in crippling debt incurred after they dared to go to the hospital to try to get their lives saved? What will happen to the generations of people locked up in for-profit prisons for Kafkaesque crimes? What then, Hillary?
If we’re lucky: Sanders will have inspired a truly progressive movement, and – despite her worst efforts – the House and Senate will work to enact the kinds of changes that it’s clear most Americans want.
If we’re not lucky: a true fascist will rise up. Just because it hasn’t happened here yet doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future, and the forecast looks mighty troubling to me.
I don’t know why I feel so do-or-die about this election year. Surely, they’re all bad. Maybe social media amplifies it to a deafening pitch. I can’t really say. If it’s always been this bad, though, my tolerance for it must have been higher before. Now I’m just tired. I have seen a genuinely good, inspiring, life-changing campaign for presidency crushed in the combine of the ruling class. That makes me feel profoundly tired, angry, and sad. That’s all.
In the meantime: