Howell’s 2020 Campaign Predictions: You heard it here, first!

Allen Kit Howell
Aug 12 · 13 min read

Whereas Neoliberalism was brought about by a structural shift that led to corporate profits over economic justice for all, leading to the need — NOT for Elizabeth Warren’s politics of shared responsibility, or clever policy initiatives — BUT to rebuild the trade unions and leftwing political movements that can lead to a complete democratically driven overhaul of the political economy; now, therefore, be it

Resolved that true revolutionaries will unite in demanding that the only candidate acceptable to said revolutionaries— and the only candidate able to unite populists and mainline Democrats to defeat Donald Trump — is Bernie Sanders.

“But it wasn’t a moral failing that brought about neoliberalism, but a structural shift: corporations in the 1970s couldn’t keep up with militant wage demands from unions, the after-effect of the Opec oil shock and increased international competition. Profitability sagged. Without a broader ideological agenda, capital knew that it had to restructure itself and saw labor regulations and unions as impediments. Neoliberal mantras and ideology followed these developments.

“The only way to undo that U-turn is to rebuild the trade unions and leftwing political movements that could actually bring about a different sort of political economy. And that won’t come from the politics of shared responsibility, or clever policy initiatives, it’ll come from the mobilization of people on the streets, and in their workplaces and communities. Sanders is the only candidate that can open up those possibilities.”

I suspect strongly that the media and political elites already are planning to shift their support wholly behind Elizabeth Warren. I will save the proof for a future article when/if there is more evidence. As a betting man, I would wager that if you had a candid conversation with Jon Cowan right now, he would say that his think tank buddies don’t expect Joe Biden to win the Democratic nomination. I’d say that they already are betting (even though they still hedge) on Elizabeth Warren and will put increasing levels of support behind her going forward. I think they expect to give it to Warren in the second round of the National Convention using Superdelegates. You heard it here, first.

I believe that Elizabeth Warren could get the traction she needs (especially with the support of her biggest donors and dark money), to beat Bernie out for the nomination — especially if it comes to the almost inevitable situation that the convention is contested and goes to a second round. But I can guarantee you that she won’t beat Donald Trump.

Reason #1

The most progressive faction of the Progressive wing of the Democratic rank-and-file are hoping for a complete overhaul of the system and will not settle for tweaking.

from Colonized by Corporations

It’s clear that the progressive base doesn’t want to settle for moderate candidates, in 2018 or in 2020. This frustration was voiced at Netroots by Cynthia Nixon, the actress and activist who is challenging New York’s Democratic incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left.

“A lack of moderation was not the problem” in 2016, said Nixon during a speech Saturday. “We tried it their way, and we lost to a racist extremist. Republicans are going to call us socialists no matter what we do, so we might as well give them the real thing.”

But for all the left-wing fervor gripping the Democratic Party, Warren’s speech sounded like a blend of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 theme “Stronger Together,” combined with the progressive elements that make her appealing to the base. Warren didn’t spend her time criticizing the Democratic establishment like Nixon had done; she went after Republicans.

In the words of Chris Hedges:

“A change of power . . . requires the establishment of new mechanisms of governance to distribute wealth and protect resources, to curtail corporate power, to cope with the destruction of the ecosystem and to foster the common good. But we must first recognize ourselves as colonial subjects. We must accept that we have no effective voice in the way we are governed. We must accept the hollowness of electoral politics, the futility of our political theater, and we must destroy the corporate structure itself.”

The left flank of the left flank won’t swallow a milder, more Progressive version of Hillary Clinton. The following quotation came from the YouTube channel: New Progressive Voice (Published on Aug 11, 2019): Is Elizabeth Warren A Progressive? Is She Different From Bernie Sanders?

“Take Hillary Clinton: All of her tax write-offs, her wanting to expand Obama-care, her very mild forms of environmental intervention, still o.k. with fracking, still o.k. with the oil industry, still o.k. with taking Super PAC money. Take Hillary Clinton and upgrade her by one notch [and you get Elizabeth Warren]. [Warren is] not looking to make a fundamental difference to the economy. As she often likes to say, she wants to reel it in.”

“Mainstream media consider Elizabeth Warren to be more favorable than Bernie Sanders and I always think that is one of the prime indicators for Progressives. The candidate that the corporate media is supporting is likely the candidate we should not be supporting. One can argue right now that they’re trying to split the Warren and Sanders vote in order that Joe Biden has a clear pathway to the nomination. Elizabeth Warren has been making a steady climb [in the polls] and she is going to become more and more a part of our discussion whether we like it or not.”

This is from the article that was being discussed on that particular show:

“Warren and Sanders have been conflated for years — commentators often talk of a “Sanders-Warren wing” of the Democratic party. But the two are not the same, and though Warren is an ally of many progressive causes, the best chance that we have to not just construct some better policy, but reconfigure a generation of American politics lies with Sanders running and capturing both the Democratic primary and the presidency.”

And here is the response to that quotation from New Progressive Voice:
“. . . and though Warren is an ally of many Progressive causes” — “and the key word is ‘causes.’ She’s not really a Progressive in her backbone. She’s tepid. She’ll take on some causes. She does have a track record of having actually voted on some Progressive policy so we can’t rob her completely of having at least a little bit of a Progressive streak in her [back] bone.”

[From the article:] “. . . the best chance that we have to not just construct some better policy, but reconfigure a generation of American politics lies with Sanders running and capturing both the Democratic primary and the presidency . . .”

Response — “So if you want someone who believes that the foundation of America, economically, is fundamentally flawed and there needs to be a revolution of sorts, then it’s not Elizabeth Warren you’re going to want to vote for. You’re going to want to vote for Bernie Sanders who really recognizes that there needs to be a fundamental change in the way we do politics: Overturning Citizens United, Medicare for All becomes a fundamental right through a single-payer system, aggressive tactics toward ameliorating the climate crisis, actually banning certain things such as fracking, carbon tax sequestration . . . So he would be much more aggressive than would Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth wouldn’t look at the economic system as needing to be fundamentally changed. Instead, she feels, again, that it needs to be reeled in. Would she have been a better president than Clinton would have been? Not by much, but she would have been a better president when it comes to the Progressive label. In terms of whether she’ll keep what she says on the campaign trail — probably not. Would she keep some of it? Probably some of it — mainly as a way to get reelected.”

Again from the article:

“To understate things, Sanders’ background is unusual. He was trained in the dying remnants of the Socialist party and cut his political teeth in trade union and civil rights organizing. His lifelong lesson? The rich were not morally confused but rather have a vested interest in the exploitation of others. Power would have to be taken from them by force.”

And the response:

“So, in other words, he [ Sanders] believes that the problem is intrinsic to the system. And it isn’t that the rich people are immoral, they are just part of that exploitative system. And that’s his message, that’s what he believes fundamentally, whereas Elizabeth Warren believes that the system is old and rusty, needs oiling, needs an upgrade, but doesn’t need to be fundamentally changed.”

So you can expect that a Sanders presidency would get us to question whether or not someone should be able to own so much of the wealth of this planet or of this nation at the expense of everyone else. Warren likely wouldn’t question that as much as attempt to persuade the rich to give more out of a sort of loyalty to America.”

Reason #2

Has anyone heard a Kamala or Bust slogan being chanted? Biden or Bust? Beto or Bust? Booker or Bust? Warren or Bust? Amy or Bust? Jay or Bust? Castro or Bust? Buttigieg or Bust? You get the idea. Electoral leverage is being applied (again) for only one candidate for President, but #BernieOrBust is NOT the biggest problem for the Democratic Party establishment and their supporters.

Writing in Common Dreams, novelist John Atcheson concluded:

“A centrist candidate — which, let’s be honest, means one who is beholden to the uber-rich and corporations — cannot and will not address these truly existential issues. Only a progressive candidate can and will.

People understand two things. First, government has been taken over by oligarchs and second, it no longer represents them. Some of them are mad as hell, and they vote for the likes of Trump because he at least shares their inchoate rage at the system, even if he reinforces it with his policies. Others are justifiably cynical and choose to stay home on election day.

That’s how Trump won in 2016. Targeting a few more votes from the mythical center won’t change that. Getting the no shows to show will. And only a progressive can do that.” [Emphasis added]”

Warren’s Billionaire Donors — courtesy of @philosophrob

“Warren isn’t free from the industry either. Since she ran for Congress in 2011, she has collected more than $630,000 from individuals in the securities and investment industry, making it the sixth highest industry in political donations to her campaigns.

Warren also has received major backing from lawyers and law firms that represent Wall Street interests. $2.3 million in contributions have poured from the sector to her campaign’s coffers, the second most of any industry only behind those who are retired.”

“It is no surprise that Elizabeth Warren says one thing and does another when it comes to corporate interests,” Jacobson said. “Warren claimed that when she made several hundred thousand dollars in her private law practice while still a Harvard Law professor, she did it to help consumers and women. In fact, as my research demonstrated, Warren represented large corporations such as Dow Chemical, a major utility company and Travelers Insurance, against the interest of consumers.”

Reason #3

The third reason is the one I am most hopeful will lead her to drop out early. But if she stays in and actually gets the nomination, the following reason could explain why many mainline Democrats might shift their support away from her late in the primary process when she could most use their help. Because Democrats are so fixated on beating Donald Trump, some of them could shift their focus away from Warren at the crucial moment when she most needs them because they will have learned from the past about the influence/outcomes of populism in a general election. The Neoliberal majority of the Democratic Party has made defeating Donald Trump their top priority over any single issue (The Hill).

A majority of Democratic voters say they would rather back a candidate with the best chance of beating President Trump than one who agrees with them on their top policy issue, according to a new poll.

Timing is a critical factor with this third reason. Warren is issues-based (i.e., “wonky”). She was a Harvard law professor. She is not a populist. I believe that if all of the populist voters — especially those in desperate financial straits — from all portions of the country were to encounter her in a general election setting, most would choose Trump over Warren for the same reasons that they chose Trump over Clinton. They will not accept someone who will bring them more of what they have suffered under the last six or seven sitting presidents. Independent populists, especially, would favor Sanders over Warren in a matchup against Trump:

According to the SurveyUSA poll, Sanders — the 2020 candidate viewed most favorably by Democratic voters — would defeat Trump by 10 percentage points among independents. The survey showed Biden defeating Trump among independents by a smaller margin of six percent.

“Candidates such as senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris edged out Trump in potential runoffs, but their leads weren’t wide enough to overcome the margin of error,” Newsweek reported. “South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was measured at 42 percent, two points behind Trump in a potential matchup.”

This line of reasoning would require the Neoliberal majority of Democrats to come to these conclusions before the National Convention (and hopefully before the primaries). A majority of comfortable suburban mainline Democrats would need to comprehend that, even though they might prefer someone who would seek merely to make adjustments (instead of a complete overhaul) to a system that has favored them, the most politically savvy Neoliberals may be able to persuade others of their ilk that the rest of the country will not go along with that. If their efforts are too little/too late, however, then there will be a quagmire instead of unity and Warren will go into the general election in the same weakened state as did Hillary Clinton.

Reason #4

Bernie Or Bust/Bernie Or Trump

The final reason is the leverage of Bernie Or Bust. There are more than enough Berners already, both Democrats and Independents, who will stay home, vote third party, write in Bernie, or Support Trump and thus ensure his re-election, if a corporatist “wins” the Democratic nomination. When combined with the first three reasons, there isn’t much anyone could do, even including those who favor leverage, to stop this train. This is largely a leaderless revolution, as all true revolutions are. When considering the combination of Democrats, #dementer voters, and Independents who will simply refuse to back an anointed Corporatist candidate in the general election No Matter Who, “talking sense into these idiots” is not an option.

Bernie or Bust 2.0 rejects the Wall Street-backed neo-liberals who are reshaping the government to benefit large, American corporations instead of the people. Bernie or Bust 2.0 remains a war on neo-liberals, and pledged voters are the “army” in this “war.” Bernie or Bust 2.0 is a demand for progress and climate preservation. If the Democrats end up nominating someone like VP Biden, then Bernie or Bust 2.0 pledge-takers will vote for the progressive candidate for the White House of their choice. Media, take note: “Or Bust” does NOT mean voting for President Trump, Inc, the Libertarian candidate or staying home.”

And lest anyone tell you that that this sort of zeal to unrig the economic system is rooted in misogyny, heed the warning of Katie Fustich in her article: Bernie Sanders is the most feminist candidate, but white feminism is his biggest threat:

Women, I implore you not to make the same mistakes I did in blinding myself to the realities a candidate’s beliefs and core person simply on the basis of their sex. I long for a future in which female leaders will be responsible for shaping our society — but a Harris or a Warren is merely a stepping stone into a future of the same capitalist policies that have repressed women for so long, and only allowed a select few to squirm through the cracks at the expense of being a “capitalist to my bones.”

“Many women, and women of color especially, are already taking up the important work of exposing the idea that only white men would put their stock in a candidate like Sanders. Last night, in response to such critiques, women filled the #JustAnotherBernieBro hashtag with images of themselves, their families, their lives, their friends — all refuting the idea that the core of the Sanders campaign is comprised of a certain type of individual.”

Elizabeth Warren may still make a good show. She may even get as far as Hillary did, but I’m not predicting that. I will predict that corporate America and transnational pseudo-America (they are really one and the same) will find no better chance of avoiding the “existential threat” (in Jon Cowan’s words) of a Bernie Sanders presidency than Elizabeth Warren. We can’t guess to what lengths that Big Money will go to twist and warp the electoral process to achieve their ends, but if we figure out early enough what they are up to, we can put all of our eggs in the opposite basket. Here’s hoping. You heard it here, first.

Allen Kit Howell

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Political revolutionary, dad, grandpa, teacher, friend —

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