Corporate Candidates Are Not Merely Bad for Us, They Have Become Unelectable: Doing the math in the #bernieorbust era
I read an interesting article this morning by Lauren Martinchek that I want to highlight as an example of well-meaning but patently dangerous: If You Want Another Trump in the Future, Biden’s Your Guy: What exactly will a return to normal get us?
The initial point of the article is solidly advanced:
“We have to remember that Joe Biden has been a crucial component in what has gotten us to where we are today. Joe Biden and the politicians like him are what got us Donald Trump in the first place. I would argue that while he may be more “likable” and come off as less elitist, he is nothing more than a further-to-the-right Hillary Clinton. Even if Joe Biden were to secure the democratic nomination and go on to defeat Donald Trump, we have to pause and consider for a second what that could actually mean.
If we do end up electing Joe Biden and go back to the neoliberal status quo, then there is an excellent chance we’ll simply get an even worse version of Donald Trump ten years or so down the line.”
While this is an excellent point to make, there are at least two crucial missing elements. I address the first missing element in some detail in this article: Define Bigotry, but I’ll summarize here: Given the number of Sanders supporters right now who are wising up and will not support candidates (not even for dogcatcher) such as Biden, Pelosi, Perez, Schumer, Harris, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, and, yes, Elizabeth Warren; the elephant in the room needs to be addressed. To extend Martinchek’s logic, not only will the U.S. get someone worse than Trump going forward, we will get Trump in 2020 — guaranteed. When we consider that a full 12% of Sanders supporters voted directly for Trump in 2016 (that was enough to cause Hillary to lose Pennsylvania and other swing states), everyone on the left needs to come sooner, not later, to the new math. Statistically, there is zero chance that someone like Biden can win in the 2020 general election and for foreseeable future elections. Whether we like it or not, the schism on the left will not be mended unless moderates are willing to unite behind someone who is not beholden to Wall Street nor to the Third Way sponsored current leadership in the DNC.
The bloc of voters unwilling to vote for corporate candidates has a stubborn core forming around Revolt Against Plutocracy’s Bernie or Bust movement (https://citizensagainstplutocracy.org/). Not only will these voters not vote for someone like Biden, they currently are insisting that truly progressive voters should refuse to vote for anyone who was a delegate or superdelegate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In the book Bernie or Bust: Pioneers of electoral revolt, the authors make this case by detailing the myriad dangers of neoliberal policies that have been advanced by both parties over many election cycles. Given this higher standard of accountability for elected officials (and younger voters increasingly are embracing this standard), the problem Martinchek describes with politicians like Joe Biden can only make the schism wider going forward unless moderates begin to wake up to the new reality. To get right to the point, Martinchek’s article should have ruled out nearly everyone in the current field of Democratic presidential candidates — not merely because their policies are not what we need, but because these candidates are flat out unelectable. The following statement from Martinchek’s article is thus false:
“While I’m almost certain that Joe Biden could beat Donald Trump, we have to pause and remind ourselves that when it comes down to it, this really doesn’t mean anything at all. I’m sure that even though we cannot underestimate the challenge, virtually everyone currently running to be on the democratic ticket has the power to beat Donald Trump.”
The current math narrows the field of electable candidates much further than Martinchek’s article would imply.
Here is the second missing element: Martinchek is dead on when she describes the power of the “nostalgia effect.” Comfortable suburban Democrats, however, seem to have trouble realizing that foreign trade policy, including interventionary wars and rapacious “free” trade deals favoring transnational corporations, has given us almost nothing good to feel nostalgic about. Everything rosy we might look back on is nullified if it merely has served as a smoke screen for vile acts. No informed voter should be able in good conscience to look back to either party over at least the last 50 years without flinching. Perhaps comfortable Democrats will feel nostalgia for their own cushy personal situations, but they cannot look back and honestly believe that we’ve made progress in foreign policy and in the area of economic justice for all. We’ve been moving inexorably backwards on the continuum that ranges from democracy down to oligarchy.