Unless Bernie Sanders can beat Hillary Clinton, we’re about to witness the most astonishing political bait-and-switch in U.S. history. Or quite conceivably, in human history. A bait-and-switch that amounts, in cold hard fact, to human sheep, knowingly and without duress, consenting to vote for human wolves.
Of course, the bait-and-switch is nothing new in U.S. presidential elections, especially among Democrats. Progressives should be keenly aware how Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned by “playing progressives on TV” but actually governed on behalf of interests—like Wall Street and “War Street’’—no sane person would accuse of being progressive. And even George W. Bush, whom no one ever accused of being progressive, was a bait-and-switch of sorts; scarcely anyone expected the unmitigated sock puppet for ravenously greedy, eternally warmongering neocons he rapidly morphed into.
But Bernie Sanders voters grotesquely morphing into Hillary Clinton voters takes the political bait-and-switch to a whole new galaxy. Not merely will such a switch exhibit an astonishing failure to learn from the egregious prior examples of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and even “Dubya” Bush. Such a switch will replace a rare honest politician offering real prospects of overhauling U.S. government from functioning as a predatory machine (whose only face for many innocent, terrorized Arabs, is the predator drone) with a deeply corrupt one who’s the virtual indentured servant of plutocratic predators. So much so that the fittest form of address for President Clinton II—in splendid parody of the “Madam President” moniker now fondly polished by her supporters—would be “Madam Predator.”
Now, one scarcely expects average “low-information voters,” daily victims of mainstream media propaganda, to “grok” the hideous aptness of the “Madam Predator” label. But for early Sanders supporters—far more idealistic, politically aware, and policy-demanding than average voters—the damning truthfulness of the label should be self-evident. For Hillary Clinton is provably in bed with military, surveillance, financial, and fossil fuel predators who menace not just the peace, freedom, and well-being of U.S. and global citizens, but (through ramped-up drilling and fracking) the very survival of our species.
So why do so many Sanders supporters—the ones I’m apt to call “Bernie’s sheep—act as if the switch from delightedly voting for Bernie to choking back one’s vomit to vote for Hillary will be anything but a harrowing electoral tragedy? A tragedy we should, very arguably, refuse to take part in.
Now, before proceeding, let me make one thing clear: I’m a Sanders supporter, even an ardent one. And to Sanders supporters like myself, I can gladly apply the label “Bernie’s sheep” in a positive way. Namely, that we see in Bernie’s potentially historic candidacy a long-overdue chance to break our government’s vicious circle of deadly predation; that if we can elect Bernie and many others like him, the United States will no longer wear the face, long ago familiar to foreigners and nowadays, to many of its own citizens, of a “predator nation.”
But that historic chance will hardly fall in our laps, and is certainly not guaranteed by Bernie’s mere candidacy. Rather, it depends on “Bernie’s sheep” in the positive sense categorically refusing to play “Bernie’s sheep” in the negative sense and, should he lose the Democratic nomination, brainlessly and soullessly surrendering our votes to “Madam Predator” Clinton. Indeed, it depends on a free, responsible citizen’s act of political interpretation: that we take Bernie’s scarcely acknowledged call for a political revolution vastly more seriously than his pledge that, should he lose, he’ll support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Viewed in other terms, it means true Sanders supporters must combine support for Bernie’s campaign with Chris Hedges’ emphasis on the “moral imperative of revolt.”
Do not expect Bernie to make that call for you; this requires free exercise of adult responsibility. In a profound, but characteristic, irony of our degraded political system—a system where predators against the common good hold virtually all trump cards—Bernie had to surrender free speech for the sake of free speech. In other words, he had to accept the rigorous censorship imposed by the Democratic Party leadership and its handmaiden corporate media to have any chance of getting on ballots in all fifty states, participating in televised national debates, and reaching mainstream voters who’ve never heard his message. Refreshingly blunt-spoken as Sanders is, do not—given the draconian censorship he accepted for the sake of getting his message heard at all—expect from him anywhere near the full range of desperately needed truth available to his supporters. Bernie’s idealistic but also savvy, and being savvy, he’s fully aware of how the Democratic Party leadership sleazily sabotaged the far less progressive Howard Dean.
And already, the “predator Democrat” attacks on Bernie have begun. Clinton ally Claire McCaskill’s televised Morning Joe attack on Bernie’s “extremism”—meaning his advocacy for positions the sane majority of Americans outside the Beltway favor—forcefully demonstrates how early corporatist Democrats feel obliged to nip Bernie’s populist (and popular) opposition to predatory corporate agendas in the bud. And McCaskill’s support for TPP fast track (placed beside the damning fact of her being a Clinton ally) shows exactly how much of a strumpet for predatory corporate interests she is.
Again, Bernie himself faces a real quandary here. Besides his running as a Democrat placing him under a virtual gag order about pronouncing certain home truths about his opponents (say, that Jeb Bush is a war criminal’s brother, or Hillary a warmongering corporate tool), he would like to personally model a refreshingly clean style of campaigning based not on personalities but the issues. But in a political system as corrupt as ours, character is intimately tied to issues, and only by trumpeting the message that his presidential opponents are corrupt lackeys of a predatory system can Bernie successfully establish his unique value in voters’ minds. For the reasons just cited, do not expect him to do that.
Under severe censorship by a party whose leadership clearly detests him, the best hint Bernie can drop for his supporters is his call for political revolution. Which, for reasons I cited in a recent article, can’t be the same thing as his campaign. As a subsection title there notes, “Revolutions Break Eggs; Bernie’s Campaign Must Walk on Them”—at the ever-present peril of being shut down by the hostile Democratic Party leadership. Thereby annihilating any chance of Bernie’s campaign telling the simple truth that Hillary Clinton is a predator.
“Bernie’s sheep”—I mean the self-censoring ones who’ll surrender their votes without political cost to Madam Predator Clinton—seem to lack the faintest inkling of what political revolution is. Just consider: the Vietnam War protest movement was always far less than a political revolution, but it never refrained from such damning indictments of power as “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” A political revolution supporting Bernie Sanders—but in terms of Chris Hedges’ “moral imperative of revolt”—must be even more outspoken. Where the corporatist media has criminally abdicated its democratic responsibility of truth-telling, Bernie’s revolution must “be the media.” Therefore it must take relish in bird-dogging Hillary—brandishing such slogans as “Madam Predator” or “Show Us the Anti-Money.”
Revolt Against Plutocracy aspires to be the needed political revolution, leveraging Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign to fulfill Chris Hedges’ “moral imperative of revolt.” We categorically refuse to vote for “Madam Predator” Hillary Clinton, strongly endorsing a pledge to write in Bernie Sanders in November 2016 should he (God forbid) lose the Democratic nomination to her. And in the toxic atmosphere of party and media censorship, we alone (among supporters of electable candidates) intend to sustain the revolutionary tradition of “speaking truth to power”—which Democrats’ tight muzzle on Bernie keeps him from doing. To “Bernie’s sheep,” those who reject our attempt to take his call for political revolution seriously, we pose this question of conscience: What do you propose, in an election cycle virtually monopolized by propaganda and outright lies, to defang and declaw “Madam Predator”? With so much at stake and the odds so stacked against the sane majority, simply campaigning hard for Bernie seems a piss-poor substitute for political revolution.