It would seem at this juncture two things have happened that are worth contemplating following the victory of Bernie Sanders in the Rhode Island primary on April 26, 2016. Allow me to perhaps utilize a historical materialist perspective here and offer an objective summation of what I think has happened.
First, Sanders has mobilized a mass of people that have fundamentally been radicalized away from consensus neoliberal politics, even if they have a huge level of variety in their own political visions. It is worth remembering here also that, unlike notable sheep dog candidacies like Jackson, Kucinich, and Dean, we are dealing with an election that is not a referendum on a Republican presidency but a Democratic one. When Jackson ran it was against Reagan. Kucinich and Dean were against the W. Bush presidency. This election, despite the efforts of the mainstream media to say otherwise, is in reality a referendum on the failure of the Obama administration in a fashion similar to how 2008 was a repudiation of Bush. And considering that The Atlantic was recently floating the as a potential Vice President Governor Raimondo, it also seems an obvious rebuke to the Democrats as a whole.
The reason Sanders has done so well and lasted this long is to be attributed to a populist rejection of neoclassical economics, something also to be seen in the Trump constituency. For instance, both sides of the populist upsurge reject various manifestations of these economic doctrines, be it Common Core education policy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Monsanto and genetically modified food, the Pentagon eating up over half of the federal discretionary budget, the rigged nature of the primary system, the Federal Reserve, or any number of other elements of post-Cold War politics. Bob Plain was onto something recently when he asked if there is common ground between the two. I would in fact argue that, excepting the extremists in both constituencies that are absolutist in nature, something I referred to in a previous piece here, there is possibility for an anti-war/anti-austerity united front from below to be formed after this election between the Sanders and Trump supporters. Such a coalition could take on things in the community hated by both groups, such as the union-busting Wal-Mart that chases every small business out of a town.
That the Democrats have not cut Sanders off already is demonstrative of a false impression they have about being able to channel this into votes for Clinton, perhaps reinforced by the promise from Sanders he will support Clinton. I highly doubt these folks are that easily swayed, hence the development of a new term, “Bernie or Bust”, and a response that demonizes those who refuse to vote for the Queen of Chaos. I have already been brow-beaten by some who tell me that women’s rights are not important to me because I refuse to vote for Clinton. But then again, Clinton has shown women’s rights are not important to her with the support she has shown for those blessed souls in the Saudi monarchy. Sheikh, Sheikh, Sheikh señora, Sheikh your oil pipeline!
Second, despite the pleas of the Sanders supporters, he has absolutely zero chance of getting the nomination. When Obama beat Hillary, it was a public and frankly hilarious spat between two of the running dogs of capital. Those two personally hate each other but they both have the same masters at Goldman Sachs, hence why the Obama Justice Department has refused to prosecute Clinton over the e-mail scandal.
For those who are unclear still, Clinton committed a series of crimes by using this email server that were far more egregious and illegal than those she and Obama claimed were committed by Manning, Assange, Snowden, and so many other whistleblowers they have prosecuted and ruined over the past eight years. The highest crime in a moral universe was obviously in the text of the emails with their plans for Libya and Syria. But in the immoral universe we occupy, it was the lack of moral cause. Snowden and Manning blew whistles about illegal and immoral behavior by the United States government while Assange published materials as a press agency in the name of his Libertarian philosophy that informs his morality. Even if one disagrees with the motivation, it remains irrefutable that they did it for moral reasons.
By contrast, Clinton risked exposing intelligence to genuine security threats in the name of either petty convenience regarding a BlackBerry, something I find dubious as her official explanation, or perhaps, in my own view, so to avoid creating a paper trail akin to the Nixon tapes that would document her criminal behavior in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. That is a very immoral cause in comparison to the aforementioned heroes of our generation. Obama is protecting her and she knows this very well, hence her relative level of self assurance in this campaign.
So what I want to suggest is something rather unorthodox but also the only way Sanders and Jill Stein would get into the White House. Sanders needs to drop out of the race after the super-delegate count is reached by Clinton and become Stein’s Vice Presidential candidate. The Greens have already made such overtures to Sanders, including a recent invitation for Sanders to collaborate with Stein on her presidential campaign webpage and another invitation from the Green Party to Sanders supporters emphasizing that there is a Green welcome mat waiting for them to join the campaign.
I admit this is going against almost every rule in the playbook involving the politics of both the Green Party and the Democratic Socialists. The Greens are in the midst of their own primary schedule in seventeen different states. The Democrats are in the midst of a similar situation in all fifty (for those of you who missed this point, there is no independent Democratic Socialist party in America, it is a progressive caucus of the Democratic Party). The only thing that can make Sanders reach the White House is getting out of this failing Democratic Party and embrace the future, a third party candidacy. Even The Donald agrees with me! This could be YUGE!
I say the future because it is quite obvious that, should the Sanders supporters not be placated properly, they could split the Democrats in two and create the prospect for a genuine third party. This dynamic is also at play with Trump, though the genuine third party option for the Right is far more fragmented and it is difficult to envision the Trump followers all joining the Libertarian Party as the Sanders people might join the Greens. Nevertheless, the failure of Sanders opens up the possibility of, after a century of state-enforced consolidation, the collapse of the duopoly system in America. That is something I am far more enthusiastic about and yearn for than Bernie Sanders hands down. If votes for the Green Party were to take progressive votes away from the Democrats, a common element of the Nader baiter agenda, the fact is that an elected Green would stand up for working class values more reliably than a Democrat that could be bought by the special interest lobby class in Washington.
So Sanders should seriously consider this option of becoming a Green vice president and therefore undermining the identity politics dynamic of Hillary Clinton’s neoliberal corporatized feminism. Whereas the Democrats would be as intransigent to a Sanders Democratic administration as the Republicans have been in the past eight years, the Greens have the infrastructure to get elected at the 2018 midterms to make the Sanders agenda a reality. When FDR got his Keynesian programs passed in the New Deal, it was because he had the Solid South in his coalition. And thirty years later, LBJ’s similar programs were scuttled precisely because that coalition had been fractured by the civil rights movement and the rise of Barry Goldwater. The Greens are the coalition Sanders needs to make his presidency not just a symbolic gesture wherein the Congress, who are bought and paid for by Wall Street, scuttles his efforts.
Think that is a bit utopian? Not as utopian as the idea that Sanders will be nominated at the convention!