In recent times the once dirty word in United States politics is being used to "red scare" the American voter ahead of the 2020 presidential elections. The powerful political right-wing establishment, especially those lurking in the POT (Party of Trump), have been vitriolic in their rabid condemnations, and bombastic in their pronouncements that "America will never be a socialist country." From all accounts this is the "fourth red scare" in the making with the direct intent of scaring and confusing the American population to stick with the Republican Party.
In this climate, Senator Bernie Sanders who has passionately argued for a "democratic socialist" United States, is being vilified and excoriated by the angry right-wing, and the equally frightened and confused Left in the Democratic Party. The pugnacious senator's clear arguments for a complete transformation of the USA shows why the mainstream corporate media and the leadership of the Democratic Party have tried unsuccessfully to reign in his presidential campaign while giving energy and free coverage to the preferred establishment candidate, Joe Biden.
Still, progressive thinkers have long exposed the roots of suffering and pain of the 99 percent at the bottom rung of the United States socio-economic ladder, the acute hardship and deprivation that today roils wide swaths of the United States. In this context there is a clear message: U.S. capitalism is the problem and democratic socialism is perhaps the solution. Indeed, the powerful counter-narrative to the entire political establishment of crony capitalism that is to blame for the social and economic catastrophe that is unfolding in working-class and poor communities all across America.
The litany of woes ranges from poor housing and health insecurity to starvation wages to the racism and inherent bias of the criminal justice system to the overwhelming reality of climate change, it's abundantly clear that things are unraveling and fast. Today, we have a large suffering, disenfranchised class of poor and desperate Americans invisible to the ruling elite driven by a gaping abyss of institutional disparities unprecedented in American history.
Today's America is riddled with "unfettered" greed and exploitation by the "billionaire class" that is THE central source of misery in the daily lives of ordinary, poor Americans. As Senator Sanders said: "While the rich get richer, they live longer lives. While poor and working families struggle economically and often lack adequate health care, their life expectancy is declining for the first time in modern American history."
This is a fact, and the reality of American capitalism. In a country where the political establishment has long denied the existence of "class" as a phenomenon in the United States, where notions of unfettered social mobility is supposed to be a defining feature of "American exceptionalism," that a leading candidate for the US presidency in 2020 has made the political bogeyman of "class warfare and socialism" the centerpiece of his campaign is a truly stunning turn of events in modern American politics.
In the last several decades, neo-liberalism has lamented the absence of "opportunity " as the source of hardship in the lives of ordinary Americans. This has meant the creation of an arrogant meritocracy of overvaluing skills training, education, and financial literacy to bridge the so-called "opportunity gap." Strategically, it has also meant an inordinate focus on mentorship, role modeling, grant-funded social initiatives, and other programmatic responses that essentially accept the limitations of capitalist society as a Band-Aid panacea and rather than challenge them.
And capitalist-minded conservatives have heaped blame on individual behavior s or lamented regulatory impingements on markets as the root of inequality. Among both Democratic Party liberals and the Republican Right, coalescing as the "Corporate Parties," there is an ingrained acceptance of a minimized role for the state in solving the crisis of inequality in the United States. In this context then, the Republican and Democratic Parties are all in bed with corporate, capitalist oligarchs and are only minimally different in relation to tactics not strategy.
Case in point: while Democrats today rail against President Trump over his aggressive stance with Iran and cautions him about going to was without Congressional authorization, I can't help but wonder if they would be singing this song had Hillary Clinton won the election. She is far more hawkish on foreign policy than Trump. Democrats hate Trump hence their hypocritical yapping about war with Iran. But these same Democrats said nary a word when Ms. Clinton egged on President Obama to attack Libya. Both parties are in sync with intervention in Venezuela with the Democrats failing to chastise President Trump for a first in American political history when he recognized and appointed an unelected opposition leader as the legitimate President of Venezuela as only a sitting monarch could do.
I join my voice to Sanders call for a revamped welfare state and his position that "economic rights" are human rights. This political narrative is a counter-position to the typical mainstream explanations for poverty and hardship. Indeed, white supremacists that occupy the very top of the Republican Party want all Americans to believe that the biggest problems in the country are not their grotesque, horrible policies that steal the wealth of the many and redirect it to the few. They sow the seed of division and obfuscate the reality by stereotyping and pointing the finger at Mexicans, Muslims, and "the blacks," and "others." Such weaponized racism is NOT outside of the norms of American politics because the privileged and wealthy in American society has historically used racism to destroy the living standards of ordinary workers by constantly dividing the ruling the poor and desperate. Infact, the depiction of crony, lessez faire capitalism and the billionaire class as the real culprits for today's chronic and acute inequality is vital to advancing a structural understanding of racial inequality in America.
Let me be blunt: There is no race without class in America. For example, Black people are overrepresented among the ranks of the poor and working class because racism was and is used to justify lower wages starvation wages that enforce and promote income inequality and economic hardships. It is also the harbinger of substandard housing, and tiered access to health care and education. Still, this doesn't mean that racism can be dismantled by only fighting against economic inequality.
I was thrilled when Senator Sanders attacked the oligarchs of the Walmart empire. And this is important very important. That is because this is about directly confronting the overlapping and intertwined issues of racism and class exploitation that is the very foundation of American capitalism. Walmart is the largest private employer of African Americans, with nearly 46 percent of its workforce identified as Black. When the company's notoriously pittance wages and exploitative business practices as prime examples of corporate institutionalized practices that drive gross inequality, the end result is ever greater levels of poverty and dispossession in Black communities.
And yes, every presidential election is spun as the most important in American history. However, the hyper-partisanship, white male machismo and the pandering to the basest fears of scared Americans, confused by the changing demographics of the nation, and the accompanying loss of white (especially male) privilege, makes this election a unique moment in modern American history. Today, we see the unleashing of punitive sanctions and trade tariff wars that hurt millions of the world's poor. We see the projection of global capitalism on the backs of the United States military and a new eagerness to rush to war on the flimsiest of excuses.
Capitalism has gone mad and the Hegemon is drunk with power. Monopoly capitalism has concentrated economic and financial power in the hands of a tiny cabal of oligarchs turning the world into a wasteland. The never-ending and insatiable greed for more and more profits is an unsustainable modern form of capitalism grotesquely deformed that see workers as disposable and of little consequence. So the 2020 presidential elections have spawned an alternative narrative about reforming and transforming the American capitalist system. True, this is a humungous task since power will never concede anything willingly. But it is a start.
Finally, the Bernie Sanders campaign has indicted American capitalism and put socialism at the center of the elections. In so doing he's embarrassed the Democratic Party and its clique of wishy-washy right of center candidates, lurching from one incomprehensible political fandango to another, all trying to out do each other in a luke warm, tepid political bath. Oh, BTW 40% of Americans today identify themselves as socialist.