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What Do Progressives Eat for Breakfast?

By       Message Steve Weissman     Permalink
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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
(Image by The Young Turks, Channel: TheYoungTurks)
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Progressives and democratic socialists in this year's elections are working for radical change or even a nonviolent "political revolution," as Bernie Sanders likes to call it. Not being fools, we knew from the start that the odds were stacked against us. Some of us even suspected that liberal pundits like Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait would berate us for risking a complete rout in the elections, as George McGovern and Walter Mondale suffered in 1972 and 1980.

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Why are these liberals so eager to help the right wing fight against ever electing a socialist, an anti-imperialist, or anyone dedicated to working night and day to break Wall Street's chokehold on so much of the global economy? Do they really believe that Hillary Clinton would work as hard as Sanders against her patrons and playmates on Wall Street or their global pipeline deals and trade agreements? Did they ever hear her condemn her husband's role in deregulating Wall Street and creating the economic crash of 2007 and 2008? Why, then, do they lend their voices to the red-baiting that has already begun?

Don't get me wrong. The risks of electing a radical right-wing Republican are real, just as they were in 2008 when a little-known African-American with a Muslim father and the provocative name of Barack Hussein Obama ran in the primaries against Hillary. The risks today are far greater, as galloping economic inequality, a new Cold War, racism, overt white supremacy, nativism, xenophobia, Christian nationalism, Islamophobia, and even fascism now threaten both sides of the Atlantic.

These are historic threats that only a root-and-branch political revolution has any chance to overcome. By contrast, Hillary's have-guns-will-travel imperialism abroad and incremental tweaking at home will only deepen the economic, social, and ideological divides.

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The bigger risk -- if we can believe the recent Quinnipiac poll showing a virtual tie nationwide between Sanders and Clinton -- is that we will win the elections and lose the more decisive battles, as we did to a large extent with Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012. Go back and read the transcript of Thursday's debate in New Hampshire between the two candidates, especially the segments on foreign policy.

Hillary may have sounded more gung-ho about using US and allied special forces to work with local Arab and Kurdish forces in fighting against the Islamic State, while Bernie worried more about quagmires and not becoming "the policeman of the world." But both generally supported Obama's continued military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, which guarantees that US and NATO forces, special or otherwise, would remain in the region for decades to come.

Is this what those of us who support Sanders really want? If not, we had better start speaking out now. A serious political movement has to have its own voices apart from whatever political candidate we may be supporting at a particular time, and that distinction is the only way we can remain true to ourselves and to Bernie's better instincts.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a (more...)
 

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