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An Open Letter to Rachel Maddow in Response to Her May 2nd Segment on Why Bernie Should Bow Out of the Race.
Pictures of self-organized “movement” events supporting anti-establishment Bernie Sanders,
by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
Dear Dr. Maddow,
I’m a fan of yours, but I join those writing in opposition to your arguments against Bernie’s ideas of a contested Democratic Convention. The rules are set up to allow for this type of contested convention. Whether or not a trailing candidate for the Democratic nomination chooses to bring their fight to the floor has always been predicated on exigent circumstances of the times, not just institutional courteous or party loyalty.
In prior presidential party contests opposing, or insurgent candidates have fought for the support of their party with the goal of everyone unifying behind the candidate generating the most excitement with the best chance of winning against the other party candidate. In my 60 years these have always been intra-party contests, but these are different times. Party reformation has never played as large a roll as it does now.
This years election is a referendum on establishment politics itself. The pundits in both parties still fail to grasp this obvious fact.
The Republican Party is starting to wake up. Their primary season has been an expensive disaster. Their tuberous outcropping of so many weak presidential candidates, all casting about for a winning message, was an obvious sign that the GOP itself is in critical condition. The establishment elites of that party have abused their privileged status for years. They have made too many cynical promises to voters, promises they never intended to keep, They applied deceptive marketing to arouse their base and garner favor with an electorate that they secretly despise. Once in office, they cynically sold themselves to big business and big money interests while tossing crumbs to the people who elected them.
Donald Trump is the toxic chemotherapy that party needs to kill the cancerous grip big organized money has on the Republican establishment. The message couldn’t be any clearer. The Republican establishment has to go. The Trump candidacy, whether Trump wins or loses, will sweep many other establishment candidates out of office.
The Democratic Party suffers from the same disease as the Republican Party, but at an earlier stage. Party elites are caught in the death grip of powerful private interests. The will of their constituents have become secondary. Dwindling turnout over the past decade has been ignored as long as slick marketing techniques were still winning election.
But elections are not all about winning, they are ultimately about governing.
Money in the Democratic Party isn’t just a necessary evil anymore. It is now a growing tumor. The people who really hear what Bernie Sanders is saying recognize that he is proposing a cure that might prevent this cancer from metastasizing. Meanwhile the establishment media still thinks this election is only about a fight for progressive ideas.
Given the state of the two parties, a Sanders win would be a foregone conclusion. All the polls say as much, yet this is message isn’t seeping into the consciousness of the establishment. The Democratic Party is eager to put Hillary’s negatives up against Trump’s negatives any day, in yet another hold-your-nose-and-vote election.
And, they would be right if this election was only based on ideology. But it isn’t. It is a referendum on our political establishment. Not only will Hillary Clinton have disadvantages related to her high unfavorability, she will not win the support of youthful “movement” Democrats or disgruntled independents.
If the race is between Clinton and Trump it will be a race between an establishment and a non-establishment candidate. Given the anger and level of dissatisfaction around the country, all bets should be off as to how that contest might turn out.
by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
This is yet another example where a clear eyed, independent Bernie Sanders warned against passing legislation that he knew would be disastrous while Hillary Clinton pressed for its passage. Sanders said exactly what would happen if the Panama free trade agreement passed. He said it would make it easier for, ” … the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by setting-up offshore tax havens in Panama.
Today we read headline stories like this:
“Years before more than a hundred media outlets around the world released stories Sunday (April 3, 2016) exposing a massive network of global tax evasion detailed in the so-called Panama Papers, U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for a Bush administration-negotiated free trade agreement that watchdogs warned would only make the situation worse.”
After the free trade agreements passed in Congress, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the following statement:
“The Free Trade Agreements passed by Congress tonight will make it easier for American companies to sell their products to South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will create jobs here at home. The Obama Administration is constantly working to deepen our economic engagement throughout the world and these agreements are an example of that commitment.
In opposition to the Panama free trade agreement bill being debated in the Senate, Bernie Sanders said this on October 12, 2011 (Panama comments printed here in full) :
Finally, Mr. President, let’s talk about the Panama Free Trade Agreement.
Panama’s entire annual economic output is only $26.7 billion a year, or about two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. economy. No-one can legitimately make the claim that approving this free trade agreement will significantly increase American jobs.
Then, why would we be considering a stand-alone free trade agreement with this country?
Well, it turns out that Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade U.S. taxes by stashing their cash in off-shore tax havens. And, the Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse.
Each and every year, the wealthy and large corporations evade $100 billion in U.S. taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and other countries.
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, “A tax haven . . . has one of three characteristics: It has no income tax or a very low-rate income tax; it has bank secrecy laws; and it has a history of non-cooperation with other countries on exchanging information about tax matters. Panama has all three of those. … They’re probably the worst.”
Mr. President, the trade agreement with Panama would effectively bar the U.S. from cracking down on illegal and abusive offshore tax havens in Panama. In fact, combating tax haven abuse in Panama would be a violation of this free trade agreement, exposing the U.S. to fines from international authorities.
In 2008, the Government Accountability Office said that 17 of the 100 largest American companies were operating a total of 42 subsidiaries in Panama. This free trade agreement would make it easier for the wealthy and large corporations to avoid paying U.S. taxes and it must be defeated. At a time when we have a record-breaking $14.7 trillion national debt and an unsustainable federal deficit, the last thing that we should be doing is making it easier for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by setting-up offshore tax havens in Panama.
Adding insult to injury, Mr. President, the Panama FTA would require the United States to waive Buy America requirements for procurement bids from thousands of foreign firms, including many Chinese firms, incorporated in this major tax haven. That may make sense to China, it does not make sense to me.
Finally, Panama is also listed by the State Department as a major venue for Mexican and Colombian drug cartel money laundering. Should we be rewarding this country with a free trade agreement? I think the answer should be a resounding no.
It is very difficult for average citizens like me to see clearly what our politicians are really up to. This is true in part because we no longer have an independent press challenging our politicians pro-business policies. If “free trade” is good for businesses and the wealthy (the donor class), it’s good for corporate media profits and for campaign funding PAC’s.
It is this nexus between business, politics and the media that form the self-interested “establishment” in America. It is a ruling elite that competes with itself along party lines without faithfully serving the interests of ordinary citizens. Both the extraordinary outsider presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are driven by this single aspect of our national polity, the establishment elite.
Donald Trump representing opposition to the Republican flavor of the establishment elite. He thrashes about like a wild man trying to cobble together a rage tag constituency of the disillusioned on the right.
Senator Sanders, on the other hand, has always seen through the self-serving positions of the New Democrats (or Third Way Democrats). The centrist moves of the modern Democratic party has always been a slide towards corporate power. It helps Democrats win elections because centrist positions are more lucrative for Democratic campaigns. By not accepting PAC money or wealthy donations, Bernie Sanders has demonstrated just how clearly good politicians can see the true impact of proposed legislation.
In this and many other examples, Bernie Sanders is like a prophet. Not the religious kind, but in the secular sense. He sees where we are headed more clearly than most and then uses that information to try and get us to change course. That is what prophets, and parents and true statesmen do.
by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
May I rant? It helps me to think out loud. Maybe you will find it helpful too. (or just ignore this if you like.)
Democrats are loosing in state after state and in federal elections because they are acting too white and wealthy for their base, the REAL latent base of the party. And this base is NOT its liberal donors. Dem donors are nice folks, but they can’t compete with the GOP donor machines. (Nor should they try)
According to OpenSecrets.org, from the prior election, two-thirds of corporate donations go to the GOP and one-third to Dem’s. That’s more than enough money to distract Democratic candidates. But that’s not the whole story.
We already have a party of wealthy white guys, so we don’t need another party of wealthy (relative term here, not pejorative) white gals or guys to oppose them. As badly as the GOP is exploiting and marginalizing woman (treating them like subordinates), woman’s issues are not winning over woman like it should, not even female Democrats. But that’s not the whole story either.
We need a Democratic party that gets intimately in touch with the needs of the ordinary people who haven’t been voting lately, people who, from their distal vantage, can’t tell the two parties apart. Their issues are literally bread and butter, not theoretical or ideological economics. They live in a deflationary universe where wages are flat and a dollar keeps shrinking. Their daily sweat has been sanitized and turned into a market commodity. There is no profit left in labor for them. They know their children will have no inheritance because everything they own can be sold at a flee market.
The middle class that we usually picture in our mind is not the middle income folks of today. Popular culture’s view, reinforced by network TV’s portrayals of middle-class lifestyles, matches people making more than $100,000 a year, twice the median wage. Which politicians for federal office speak openly and bravely for this half of our hard working citizens who make less than $50,000 per year? You can’t reach them by talk of job creation! Most of them have more jobs than they can handle.
If we think of the lower half of wage earners as being made up of those who are working and those looking for work, then 7% unemployed minus the 50% who earn less than a middle wage leaves 43% of the wage earners who are not being represented by either party. Of this group, those who call themselves Democrats aren’t showing up to vote. Why should they? What will change when no one seems to notice them?
Republican in this same low income group do show up to vote, but that’s because they are cynically manipulated by the wealthy wing of the GOP. They are voting out of fear, anger and pain. The wealthy wing of the GOP hears their pain even as it twist the knife.
Democrats in public office, or running for office, don’t want to ruffle the feathers of the powerful minority groups (Wall Street, CEO’s, Billionaires, etc.) even though these folks aren’t voting for them. Money is tight. I get that.
Let me give you just two examples from two New Jersey congressional races that were below the national radar, The incumbent Republican, Rodney Frelinghuysen, raise 7 times more money than his Democratic challenger, Mark Dunec in the 11th District. Incumbent Republican Leonard Lance raised 8 times more than his Democratic challenger, Janice Kovach in the 7th District. All this money did not come from the 43% of hard working American’s who still need some form of government subsidy to survive.
And what help did these Democratic candidates get from their party elders? Very little! A decision was made to write off these districts. The slick election strategy that carefully targets resources to the most competitive races writes off the needs of millions of people who have every right to be represented. The big get out the vote strategy touted by the party fizzled because they didn’t have an explosive message to motivate the 43%ers.
People who live below the median wage level have one thing in common with the richest billionaires… their vote is just as powerful. One person! One vote! It isn’t how corporations operate; It’s how democracies operate. And until Democrats start collecting those uncast vote, instead of appeasing the rich, Democrats will continue to loose.
It is time to stop playing the Republican’s game.
Here is a helpful article by Robert Reich that says in fewer word what I am trying to say above.
Anyway, I’m done with my rant. Thanks for listening, even if you didn’t make it this far. All the best in the future.