NY Times, again, denounces the Sanders progressive movement. Its time to denounce them back.
The NY Times, official mouthpiece of the American liberal establishment, yesterday went out of its way to attack the progressive demands powering the movements that have coalesced around the electoral campaign of Bernie Sanders. The decades-long struggle for a single payer healthcare system, the free college tuition movement, the Fight for 15 — these, and others, have all found a ready messenger in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The response of the liberal establishment both to these demands and the Sanders campaign have ranged from condescension to derision and outright hostility. The NY Times in particular has perfected the art of subtle put downs and scaremongering. The most egregious example that comes to mind is the stealth editing of a story by Jennifer Steinhauer back in March of this year. What began as that rare positive story on Sanders was retroactively edited to become an unflattering portrait and edited to include attacks on key progressive policies.
With the Democratic primaries nearly over, the Democrat establishment is seeking “unity” between the disparate Hillary and Sanders camps. The NY Times now dutifully obliges, by striking a conciliatory tone towards the Sanders campaign in a new editorial. The softened tone however, only belies the fierce attacks on Sanders most prominent policy positions that they proceed to outline.
At this point, one would have to willingly blind oneself to the clearly stated opposition of both the NY Times and the Democratic Party towards two key policies: Single Payer healthcare and tuition free college education.
The NY Times in this latest salvo calls them both economically unsustainable.
I wrote a piece a while ago on tuition-free college: not only is it economically feasible, states such as California had it 50 years ago!
The United States is more than two-and-a half times wealthier per capita than it was back then, how does it make sense to argue that is not possible to do the same today?
Meanwhile, single payer healthcare remains popular not only within the Democratic party, but also among the broader population (58% of the population supports a Medicare For All program). To regard Medicare For All as unsustainable would entail ignoring every other industrialized nation that guarantees healthcare for all its citizenry. There are many pathways to universal access to healthcare, single payer is but one of them and has been implemented successfully in neighboring Canada. The NY Times implies that the status quo is “economically sustainable” — one in which the US spends roughly 17% of national income on healthcare —compared to just 10.5% in Canada. Furthermore, the current health system leaves out close to 27 million without any health insurance and millions more unable to use their existing coverage due to high co-pays and deductibles. The Canadians cover everyone. Which system, exactly, is actually “economically unsustainable”?
What’s especially troubling about these attacks is that they are explicitly right-wing arguments against social programs. In the March piece for example, the paper talked about “giant tax hikes” to fund college education and a “huge increase” in government healthcare. The liberal attacks on these programs have moved on from citing the impossibility of getting them passed in Congress to explicitly rejecting these programs, usually on the (false) basis of affordability, opposition to increasing the “size of government” or increasing taxes and the old-time reactionary classic of “no free lunches” .
On Wall Street
The Editorial board also attacked Sanders, for incredibly, not fully “explaining” how he would hold Wall Street accountable. We are talking about the very same candidate who has been disparaged as a “one note candidate” for his laser focus on Wall Street. His plan for reinstating Glass Steagal, breaking up the big banks and imposing a tax on financial speculation have apparently “not been well explained” they tell us:
And however acute his diagnosis of the 2008 recession, he never fully explained how he would hold Wall Street more accountable for the practices that sank so many homeowners during the recession. These shortcomings were most glaring in the primary campaign in New York, where Mrs. Clinton’s command of policy minutiae helped give her a pivotal win.
Let’s set aside the fact that Secretary Clinton has received the largest amount of campaign contributions from Wall Street of any candidate this election cycle or that she has received millions in speaking fees from Wall Street firms which she has refused to release the transcripts of.
Forget the fact that Hillary opposes reinstating the Glass Steagal Act.
The NY Times states -without any supporting evidence-that Mrs. Clinton’s “command of policy minutiae” helped her win New York. The delight in “wonkishness” is mostly a liberal elite obsession that is unmoored from actual voter preference. Even if it is true that Hillary has a much better grasp of “policy minutiae” what good is that if she is advocating the wrong policies or half-measures?
The “liberal” NY Times also opens a new front by attacking Bernie on his fracking ban. The liberal elite still demands “pragmatism” and “incremental progress” when dealing with a catastrophic global climate crisis and cites questionable research to back their claims.
Finally, the board ends their piece by thanking the Sanders campaign for “prodding the attention” of Democrats. We’ve already seen various versions of this condescending line trotted out by President Obama, Elizabeth Warren and other establishment figures. Bernie Sanders has “raised important issues” they opine. He has “energized the party” and brought “millions into the process” they croon. At the same time, they attack nearly every proposal he has brought up.
As Matt Taibbi recently wrote, the Democratic establishment seems determined to learn all the wrong lessons from the brush with Sanders campaign.
The NY Times proves Matt’s thesis to be essentially correct by denouncing the very policies that would ameliorate the conditions of the vast majority of Americans struggling under the weight of a moribund economy.
Make no mistake - these attacks are meant to combat the popularity of left policies among the broader American public. It appears no longer sufficient to simply state that they would never pass and thus trying is an exercise in futility. With the Sanders campaign having been on the cusp of victory, it is important to strongly attack the ideas themselves.
At this juncture it is important for all who want to work towards these and other popular policies to acknowledge that the liberal establishment is strongly opposed to left populist measures.
Many well-meaning progressives still labor under the illusion that the only true enemies of progress are recalcitrant right-wing Republicans . The Bernie Sanders campaign has brought a refreshing clarity to the actual reality: the liberal establishment is just as opposed to progressive measures. It is crucial to face down the enemy within the liberal/Democratic establishment. That will require the political revolution that Bernie constantly speaks of. The Times board describes such calls of revolution as “facile”, but their own editorial demonstrates that the revolution is in fact necessary.
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