When Bernie Sanders said it would take a political revolution to undo the corruption engendered by the way elections in America are financed and implement a true reform agenda on issues concerning working class and regular people in America, I believe he deeply understood what he was talking about.
A political revolution is limited to political change but not overthrowing the basic class and social nature of the society. But any revolution, whether a social revolution or a political revolution, is going to be met by the forces of those who stand to lose if the revolution is successful. Such forces — known historically as forces of reaction, because they are acting in reaction to the forces of change — do not stand idly still and let their privileges be taken from them. No, they fight vociferously to maintain those privileges.
Sanders has proposed the most progressive program of political reform and change in our lifetimes. But look at the endorsements of candidates at 538.com. Clinton has far, far more endorsements from the political establishment (Representatives, Senators, Governors): 489 to 7. The political establishment has spoken. A recent article at Counterpunch charges the Clinton campaign colluded with the DNC to use the Hillary Victory Fund “to buy the loyalty of 33 state Democratic parties last summer.” They did this by getting big money individual contributors to give money to different state Democratic Parties which then funneled the money back to the pro-Clinton DNC. Whether true or not, the genuflection of the political establishment to the Clinton candidacy is without question.
With Sanders set for a big win in Wisconsin, a win furthermore that will change the perception about his support among African-Americans (the press is reporting he leads Clinton in the African-American vote there by as much as 11 percent), pro-Clinton forces are attacking Sanders with ever greater force, even as they claim it is Sanders who has stepped up the attacks.
The attacks have come from establishment liberal sources — Paul Krugman, Rachel Maddow, Michael Cohen and more. It must really tick off those who fear change in the system that Bernie is too clean to find dirt on. But that hasn’t stopped Clinton from calling Sanders a liar, or from suggesting that Bernie is insensitive to women, or uncaring about children shot by maniacs.
Clinton and Use of Cluster Bombs
The latter charge is particularly infuriating given Clinton’s support for cluster bombs. The U.S. and the many nations who have brought U.S.-manufactured cluster bombs have killed an untold number of women and children. The use of these bombs against civilians as a kind of terror is their primary use. Think I’m exaggerating? See this 2011 story at The Daily Beast on “Clinton's Cluster Bomb Hypocrisy.”
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch criticized use of cluster bombs in Yemen by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition. The cluster bombs came from the U.S., and the U.S. is heavily involved in coordinating military actions in Yemen. Meanwhile, an article last year at the International Business Times suggested that the nearly one million dollars of donations to the Clinton Foundation by Boeing may have had something to do with a huge armament deal in 2011 that Clinton’s State Department approved. I don’t believe cluster bombs were part of that deal, but the support to the Saudis who use such terror weapons aimed against women, children and civilians in general belie her supposed concern for the victims of violence. I won’t post pictures here of the hideous images of children maimed by cluster bombs, but you can see them here.
Positions on Torture and the Military’s Mission
Now Sanders is not above criticism. I don’t think hero worship or idealization of your candidate is a good thing. He is not sufficiently critical of this country’s defense policies, in my opinion. The military budget should be way cut back, and the entire sweep of U.S. policy that seeks dominance over the globe pulled back, bases closed, and the money saved used for mass transit, child care, education, and health care, and the rebuilding of the crumbling infrastructure. Perhaps with the military budget cut way back, we can do this and even cut taxes at the same time, without incurring any deficit.
I believe, also, that neither Sanders or Clinton have addressed the problem of ongoing use of torture, whether by renditions still conducted, or by the application of abusive interrogation methods amounting to torture in the approved Army Field Manual, a problem recently called out by the United Nations official Committee on Torture and various human rights groups (and the subject of a diary I wrote a few months back).
The Challenge of Political Reaction
Another of my criticisms is that Sanders hasn’t explained to his supporters sufficiently just how difficult a political revolution will be. I believe he’s hoping that he can help galvanize enough support for the kind of change he wants to lead that the inevitable reaction will be swept aside. Maybe that will happen.
But the latest upsurge in anti-Sanders pieces shows that the reaction is growing, and as Clinton supporters have rightly pointed out, it will grow even larger in the general election. Nor will it stop after the election, if Sanders has the great luck to win — and despite what the Clinton surrogates are saying, he does have such a chance, and it is growing more possible by the day.
Political reaction, like anything else, is fueled by either passion, or money, or usually both. The forces of reaction in U.S. society, based on the wealth of the 1%, are very strong, and they essentially own the media. They will be very difficult to defeat. But Bernie’s revolution has shown that they can be defeated. If the money they have can only buy blatant lies, exaggerations and falsehoods, then it is no better than chaff.
A true political revolution will be a historical moment in this country, and such epoch-making changes do not happen without struggle… at blogs like Daily Kos, at rallies, in the streets, at the ballot box, everywhere. Because every political revolution is a social revolution in embryo, and that is even more frightening to the ruling elites. What they hope is that Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution” is only a campaign slogan, an advertising jingle.
Soon we will know what it is: a catchy phrase or the banner of an ongoing political struggle, irrespective of the fate of the Sanders campaign. At moments of historical change, the character of each one of us is held up to the light to see what we really amount to. What will you tell your grandchildren you stood for at the moment of revolutionary change: progress or reaction?