Wednesday, August 10, 2016

We Won't Get Anywhere Until We Realize How Many Sanders Supporters Are Neoliberals in Populist Clothing

The definition of neoliberalism has changed over time, but for Americans in 2016, it boils down to doing what's profitable in the name of doing what's right--whether it's right or not.

Hillary Clinton will support green energy as soon as the people behind it are willing to give her more money than the fracking industry. Until then, you can expect neoliberals to insist that there's a profound moral difference between Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge climate change and Clinton's refusal to do anything about it.

Barack Obama will support reforming police departments throughout the country as soon as doing so becomes more profitable than oppressing communities of color on a nationwide scale. Until then, you can expect him and his neoliberal media apologists to pay lip service to the problem by providing highly controlled and emotionally loaded (but politically impotent) coverage of Black Lives Matter and Mothers of the Movement.

Joe Biden and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will support the war on drugs and the prison-industrial complex until someone pays them more to leave non-violent U.S. citizens alone than they're currently being paid to support locking folks up. Until then, they'll keep telling us that forcing Americans to rot in jail is the only way to protect us from ourselves.

Dianne Feinstein will continue to support spying on citizens until it becomes more profitable for Silicon Valley to protect the privacy of consumers than it is to compromise that privacy. Until then, she'll keep telling us that the slightest possibility of cyber-terrorism justifies the U.S. government's decision to terrorize its own population through constant surveillance.

Andrew Cuomo will continue to support attempts to quash the BDS movement until it becomes more profitable to recognize the humanity of Palestinians than to support their oppression. Until then, he'll keep equating empathy for human beings in Palestine with anti-semitism.

Loretta Lynch will continue to support prosecution of Edward Snowden for the crime of exposing the criminal behavior of our government until it becomes more profitable for her to protect the Fourth Amendment than it currently is for her to subvert it. Until then, expect her to keep insisting that national security considerations require us to treat the exposure of crime as a more grievous offense than the perpetration of it.

None of these arguments stand up to scrutiny, but the neoliberals can make them because the neoliberal media refuses to challenge such nonsense. However, thanks to the Sanders insurgency, more Americans are "woke" in 2016 than I ever thought possible.

More precisely, I believe we were always woke. We just had no idea how many of us there were until Sanders exposed us to each other.

Our problem is that with Sanders out of the race for the presidency, we're not sure what to do with our collective energy. Some of us are supporting Jill Stein and the Green Party. Others are more interested in Brand New Congress. Still others are throwing themselves into local politics. The one thing all of us have in common is a growing awareness that we're not using the current lull in the political cycle as effectively as we should be.

Even if we're aware, as Anoa Changa is in this video, that we have to go through the growing pains associated with figuring out how best to organize ourselves, that doesn't necessarily make us feel less frustrated about the fact that what was once a clear plan ("Let's get Sanders elected!") has become much murkier ("Let's continue the political revolution!").

So I want to call everyone's attention to an insight that Tim Black shared last night in a live broadcast on YouTube:

Tim is absolutely right to observe that if this disappointing time is good for nothing else, it is good for revealing who our true friends and allies are. We're learning that many of the people who seemed to be champions of the Sanders movement (such as Robert Reich, Shaun King, and Jim Hightower) are plainly less committed to the cause than they pretended to be.

Here's the problem with our fair-weather friends: Focusing on the danger that Trump poses to the present is simply a distraction from the danger that Clinton poses to the future. When Reich calls Chris Hedges nonsensical for pointing out the many policy particulars that are identical between Trump and Clinton, he is engaging in the same sort of neoliberal water-carrying as King and Hightower when they choose to become alarmist about connections between Trump and Russia.

Even if we don't all agree on what we should do next, I think most of us do agree about what we have to recognize, which is that neoliberalism is the chief threat to our future and that the people who insist on tilting at neoliberal windmills are not trying to help.

Instead of arguing with them, we need to figure out how to move forward without them.The question isn't whether the neoliberal powers that be are going to install Clinton. They are. The question is: What are we going to do about it? We won't find an answer by lamenting the betrayals of presumed allies; we'll find it by debating amongst ourselves, which is why it's even more important to pay attention to YouTubers such as Black and Changa now than it was before Sanders dropped out.

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