Town Hall with Bernie Sanders | Part 1 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses his tax returns, his tax plan, the perception of socialism, calls for new Democratic leadership, ...
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At last, after nearly three years of gloom, since the early summer of 2016 when Bernie was out-muscled from the Democratic party nomination and the inevitable denouement was set on its course, the depression has lifted!
Bernie is in, and if anything, compared to his run three years ago, he finds himself in much more favorable territory, based on any number of measures, not least because of the alternative narrative he himself, and through prominent disciples who have picked the baton from him, has created and spread far and wide in the body politic. The heresies and unorthodoxies of his last run are mere commonplaces now (wealth tax, Medicare-for-all, $15 living wage, free college), to the extent that the media should find it easy to depict his policy prescriptions as so much ho-hum, not much different than, oh, say, Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren.
But make no mistake about it, Bernie is the only candidate on the Democratic side with a radical agenda that takes on the perversions of capitalism, while all the rest of them""every one of them, to some extent or other""continue to offer, in the best Clintonian tradition, paeans to American exceptionalism. It was precisely this obeisance to exceptionalism""America is already great, in the words of Michelle Obama, or Hillary Clinton, whoever said it""that crashed the political system last time around, and it is precisely this naïve, faithless, robotic, uninspired, spectacular ode to exceptionalism, whether it comes from the mouth of Cory Booker or Julian Castro or Beto O'Rourke or Kirsten Gillibrand, that would guarantee Trump another four years.
Despite what the establishment liberal media would have you believe, in a din that hasn't let up for two years, Trump is in exceptionally good position to retake the White House in 2020. Since 1980 presidential incumbents have been reelected every time, with the sole exception of Bush the first in 1992, and that was only because of the Ross Perot candidacy and the challenges of a fourth consecutive term for the same party amid the turbulence caused by the end of the Cold War. Time is rapidly running out on a recession before 2020, and Trump only needs to be slightly underwater, just below fifty percent approval rating, to stride right back in. Ohio, Florida and North Carolina seem to have become lost causes in normal circumstances, and while Virginia belongs to the Democrats, Trump only needs to win a couple of the old Democratic Midwestern states to win the electoral college (though he may well lose the popular vote again).
Every action he has taken since inauguration has been with an eye to getting those necessary Midwestern electoral votes. If the economy doesn't flounder, he's in""and we can expect the usual liberal justifications and excuses about why that happened, though with the myth of Russian collusion out of the way, it will have to be even more twisted explanations. Measured according to liberal pieties, Trump's performances""his rally speeches, State of the Union addresses, and extempore press conferences and sit-downs with the media""are unmitigated disasters, because linguistically he doesn't come up to par. But measured according to what he needs to do to win again, based on the solid parameters of his established constituency, he is in terrific shape.
Trump is going to wipe the floor with inauthentic candidates like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, but on the other hand he will have no words with which to counter the ideological salvo that would come his way in the form of a rejuvenated Bernie Sanders. If we get a match between these two, as we should by all rights have had in 2016, then it will be a miracle in politics, where these things are usually just one-off occurrences and don't have any great odds of happening a second time.
The last two years should have proved beyond any doubt that Bernie is the one to take on Trump, and not any of the pretenders. We have had two tracks of "resistance" going on in this period of time, and it's important to pause at this moment, now that Bernie has announced, to consider where his renewed declaration to capture the presidency fits into this bifurcation.
One, the fake neoliberal resistance, hardly worth the name, indulging in paranoid conspiracy theories about Russian interference and various forms of blame and fear-mongering""and yes, even their own version of race-baiting and narrow-mindedness, only directed at the race they disapprove of""all in order to excuse the legacy of nearly forty years of neoliberal economic policy, resulting in the dire inequality that was the cause of Trump in the first place.
In other words, the very people""the technocratic "meritocrats" ensconced in the coastal and other gentrified enclaves""who were clueless about why Trump won were offering what they sleekly appropriated as the resistance, complete with fake nostalgia ("we are better than that"), indifference to or intolerance of the "deplorables" (meaning the half of the country that is poor and uneducated in the norms of genteel behavior), and a knee-jerk arrogance toward their own role in the political calamity that has come about.
This fake resistance has pretended for two years that FBI-affiliated figures are bound to deliver us from Trumpist hell, when the domestic spy agency ought to be the most untrustworthy American institution of all, based on its century-long record of anti-liberal tyranny. Consider SNL's two-year long recurrent fantasy that special counsel Robert Mueller (embodied in Robert de Niro) is about to haul Trump and his associates off to jail any minute, a delusion about the valorized "intelligence community" that will soon implode.
The second resistance track""the only authentic one""was spawned by Bernie's movement in 20152016. It gave us Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. It gave us bold ideological alternatives like the Green New Deal, which is a potent metanarrative to sweep in the whole slew of legitimate grievances against rapacious capitalism, and it gave us honest opening conversational gambits about the role of AIPAC in American foreign policy or accountability for acknowledged war criminals like Elliot Abrams. It gave us the much-needed retreat of Amazon from New York City, reversing decades of abject cave-ins by cities catering to arrogant technology firms which leave a landscape of ruin and inequality in their wake, feeding freely at the public trough when they are the last entities in America deserving such special consideration.
The legitimate resistance has offered, in these two years, many occasions for self-reflection about the limits to and even counterproductiveness of identity politics taken as an end in itself.
The entry of Bernie Sanders into what had so far been an utterly demoralizing spectacle of self-interested politicos, making over their public images in terms of what they think the Democratic constituency needs to hear in the wake of Bernie's authentic revolution, is likely to supercharge the real resistance, so that the next two years, until November 2020, are going to illuminate and clarify the public discourse to an even greater extent than the last two.
This comes in the wake of a shameful performance by American media across the board, in trying to pull a fast one over the electorate, as they obsessively ranked the potential of Democratic candidates for the next go-around.
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