The historic opportunity of the 2016 election is one which Bernie Sanders likely will not have the courage to embrace: The burning to ashes of the corporatist Clintonite neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party.
The scenario ideally plays out with Sanders contesting the nomination all the way to the convention and then running as a third party candidate, say on the Green Party ticket, siphoning away the base that Clinton needs to win. This will hand the election to Donald Trump, and force the Democratic establishment to realize it’s doomed unless it pivots sharply to the left.
The Clintons will disappear into the toilet where they’ve always deserved to be flushed. We can then look forward to 2020 after four years of Trump and—what? Who knows. He’s truly a wild card.
I went for Sanders in the primaries, even gave several hundred dollars to his campaign. But there’s no way I’ll pull the lever for Clinton, because I know what a Clinton presidency bodes. More of the same neoliberal plundering with a friendly Democratic smile to quiet the left.
It happened under Obama: the warfare state and Wall Street reigning supreme while we all sing kumbaya because a black man has stamped his imprimatur on an intolerable status quo. It will happen again under Hillary.
What’s needed now in American politics is consternation, confusion, dissension, disorder, chaos — and crisis, with possible resolution — and a Trump presidency is the best chance for this true progress. This is a politics of arson. I’d rather see the empire burn to the ground under Trump, opening up at least the possibility of radical change, than cruise on autopilot under Clinton.
I’m not alone here. Travelling across the country, I keep meeting people who voted for Sanders in the primaries but mutter under cover of night and a few drinks that they’ll vote for Trump in November. Friends out in the wildlands of the intermountain West, hard gun-toting anarchist redneck Amy Goodman progressives, say so. Big-city journalists, too. I suspect that the left-contrarian, anti-Hillary, pro-Trump arsonist crowd is larger and wider-spread than the cubicled creatures in the Clinton campaign have accounted for.
Trump arsonist-progressives are mostly embarrassed to go on the record. An editor of a major progressive website tells me in an email that if I outed him/her as a Trump supporter, “We’d probably lose the last funders that we have!!!”
That editor continued: “Absolutely, Trump by a mile. To the extent that voting for president matters at all, it is merely to give a certain secret pleasure to the voter in the privacy of the booth. I’ll get mine by casting a transgressionary ballot for the vile Trump, the greatest repudiation of the 25-year-long horrorshow of Clintonism I can imagine.”
A Bernie supporter in Idaho writes me, “With Trump it's a flip of the coin. Heads: his primary run was brilliant hyperbolic political theater that will mellow in the general, he's right on TPP, and less hawkish than Clinton internationally. Progressives gain ground in Congress (the more important body of government anyway) in the midterms, setting a foundation. Tails: he wasn’t acting and his presidency will summon a degree of economic uncertainty and social disorder that promises gasoline onto the flickering flames that is the nascent re-emergence of a grassroots radical left awakened with Occupy and given form in the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.”
Another Bernie man tells me, “Hillary is Wall Street’s candidate. They fear Trump. Enough for me.”
My old friend Vincent Nunes of Brooklyn doesn’t give a damn what people think., which is why I can quote him by name.
“The totally logical reason for voting for him,” says Nunes, “is that he’s never been a politician and he’s not tied directly into the power and the money structure of the political system. We know Hillary is a monster. We don’t know it about Trump.”
I disagree. At this point I like to think of the two presumptive big-party candidates as floozies flouncing on the stage. The one is painted, sweetened with perfumes, dressed in finery, and denies her involvement in the unseemly business. The other is at least an honest syphilitic, track-marked degenerate whose record on television and in his business dealings make plain his fealty to Mammon.
Both are monsters. But only one has a curriculum vitae as an agent of the state. Read Diana Johnstone’s Queen of Chaos about Hillary’s blood-soaked war-mongering career in the U.S. Senate and at the State Department. Or, for domestic policy, Andrew Levine at Counterpunch, who documents that the Clintons’ “lifelong project has been to make American politics as safe as can be for Big Business and High Finance.”
This is not to discount the importance that a woman for the first time in U.S. history is clinching the nomination of a major party for the office of the presidency. It would be wonderful and something to celebrate — if that woman was a decent human being. But Clinton is not. And how sexist would it be to cease judging her for her duplicity, avarice, and bloodthirst simply because she’s a woman?
Hillary’s successful candidacy only proves that women in the established system of power politics can be as vicious and corrupt as the men with whom they vie for control.
It may be that a Trump presidency, as Andrew Sullivan predicts in New York Magazine, will usher in the end of the democracy, the death of the republic, the rise of the hard totalitarian state. Given that we are already living in what Princeton political scientist Sheldon Wolin calls a soft or inverted totalitarian system, an illiberal democracy, the transformation feared by Sullivan will be welcome, clarifying, a fresh breath of honesty, in which the trappings are tossed aside and the ugly reality is revealed. Such a revelation, as the republic degenerates into tyranny, may inspire real resistance.
Or not. It’s the risk of the wild card. TRUMP! Let the fire burn how it will.