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writing for godot

A Dime's Worth of Difference?

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Written by Michel Stone   
Tuesday, 01 August 2017 05:34

 

So much of the political argument on Facebook seems sterile and stuck, because so many of us are blinkered by the Republican-Democrat dichotomy.  People assume if you’re not a Republican, you must be a Democrat, and vice versa.  If you’re not a Donald, you must be a Hillary.  If you’re not a Priebus, you must be a Wasserman Schultz.  This is a mistake.

I agree with Professor Noam Chomsky’s view that America has long had only one political party—a Business Party, with a Republican wing and a Democratic wing.  There are differences, sometimes important ones, between these two wings, but, for the most part, they agree with each other on all major policy issues, and disagree with the public.

On health care, they agree to tinker with the private insurance gatekeeper system and to ignore the public’s long clamoring for national single payer health care as a right.

On education, they agree with the increasing privatization and monetization of schooling, making education a commodity for the rich, where the public, again, sees it as a right.

On finance, they agree to let the banksters call the shots with minimum government regulation or oversight.

On employment, they speak of jobs but work only to maximize profits, at the expense of jobs.  They have no use for labor unions, other than their money.

On minimum wage, Republicans favor none, Democrats favor an increase in the minimum wage to a level at which it is impossible to survive in America working a 40-hour week.  Needless to say, the public clings to the quaint idea that full-time employment should not be a ticket to poverty.

On election finance, both wings spend almost all of their time romancing wealthy donors.  Recent studies show that, absent substantial donations, the public has no influence on policy.

Both wings have no use for whistleblowers.  When individuals risk their freedom and careers to let the public know what the government is actually doing, they are invariably crushed.

Both wings of the Party favor massive military spending, especially on armaments, not veterans’ care.  Both wings support all military adventures undertaken or proposed, because these adventures advance American corporate power in the world, secure control of natural resources and markets, and guarantee the depletion of armament expendables, requiring still more military spending.

The above is a partial list of the major policies on which both wings of the Business Party agree with each other and disagree with the public.

Disagreements do appear on what are called social or “special interest” issues.  Gay rights, women’s rights, civil rights, religion in the schools, policing of black and brown populations, mass incarceration, disenfranchisement of the poor generally, environmental concerns, etc.  These issues can be very important to both wings, since they permit the pretense that the wings are different from each other, and they can be used to distract the public from noticing the devastating effects (and causes) of the policy agreements listed above.

The most, and perhaps the only, encouraging development during the election of 2016 was the Bernie Sanders phenomenon.  He has good analysis of all the issues except whistle-blowers and military spending.  He not only identifies the problems correctly, but he offers practical solutions.  Had the Democratic elites not scuppered Sanders’ candidacy, he would have soundly beaten Trump.

Why?  Because Trump was a mere faux-populist version of Sanders.  The two spoke of many of the same problems, but Sanders, because he analyzed the causes correctly, was able to propose workable solutions, where Trump, lacking any analysis except that of the two wings, of his own questionable business ethics, could offer only slogans, nationalist rantings, and snake-oil promises.  Trump is a Berlusconi.  It was obvious to me from day one that the only form of government for Trump is kleptocracy.  Had the campaign featured Sanders’ spirited rebuttals and calls for action, instead of Clinton’s “it’s my turn,” message, many Trump supporters who are not fascists would have heard and responded to the true progressive populist message.  Sanders’ astonishing performance in the primaries proved this, coming from socialist-Vermont-Brooklyn nowhere in just a few months to give Clinton and the DNC the scare of their lives.  And this without big donors or media support.

Maybe Sanders miscalculated.  Maybe it was a mistake to try to save the Democratic wing from itself.  Maybe third-party was the only way to go.  But it’s certainly difficult for Americans to think in anything but binary, Manichean terms, as if the two-party system had been handed down with the Constitution from Olympus.  One winner, one loser, like football.  So if it was a miscalculation, it was a forgivable one.

Bernie Sanders continues to work for us.  His single-payer proposal for national health care comes at the precise moment when the total bankruptcy of the Republican repeal effort has been revealed.  The modest gains of Obamacare now need to be replaced with the genuine article.  Replaced, not repealed.

Let’s encourage the young who are inspired by Bernie to carry the ball further.  This is a hopeful movement which can accomplish much, led by Bernie or not.  All it has to understand is that Republican-as-usual or Democrat-as-usual is not going to do the trick.  We’re onto you.  Two wings on the same bird, and it won’t fly.  It’s a dodo.

 

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