America After Election 2016: the Gullible and the Shattered (II)
David KERANS | 27.10.2016 | WORLD / Americas

America After Election 2016: the Gullible and the Shattered (II)

See Part I
Both inside the US and around the world, political observers have been waiting a long time for an election that would promise relief from the most noxious features of the American system. Alas, while it is high time that the US lead the way in reversing these trends, the outcome of the 18 month struggle to elect a new administration looks likely to scuttle all hopes for serious leadership and reform.
The Shattered Left
«I think it's hopeless. The greed is just too big»
--a Brooklyn activist, despondent about Washington's disinterest in addressing climate change
When the gullible left is honest enough to admit that Hillary Clinton is unlikely to include anything more than palliative progressive gestures in her policy proposals once she occupies the White House, they implore concerned citizens to steel themselves to wage a powerful protest movement that can pressure the new President and Congress in healthy directions. At first glance this looks reasonable enough. After all, optimists can point to the overwhelming advantage Bernie Sanders earned among younger voters as a critical mass to drive a progressive agenda (take note: Sanders gathered more votes from Americans under 30 years of age than did Clinton and Trump combined).
But anyone who has been on the front lines throughout the 2016 election can tell you how unrealistic it would be to count on a mass movement arising to pressure Clinton from the left. Attendance at political activism organizational meetings is down more than 60 percent nationwide, we estimate (based on personal observation and conversations with a number of groups around the country). A stalwart minority soldiers on (thank goodness), agitating for progressive causes and down-ballot candidates, and will certainly carry on beyond the November 8th election. This brave minority is registering tangible successes via demonstrations and civil disobedience. The halting of the Keystone XL pipeline, swelling resistance to the TPP, the delaying of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the resonance of the Black Lives Matter movement are all cases in point.
But the mood of those who have stood down from political activism gives us the strongest clues about the prospects for progressive resistance to the Clinton regime. The mood is dark. Of the dozens we have spoken with recently, almost every one offered a version of «I'm burned out.» They have turned their back on politics, and it is not clear how many of them will ever come back.
The un-shattered: a sparsely attended meeting of Team Bernie New York, October 2016
A Party in the Sewer
We do not have to look far to find the source of the demoralization – the rot at the top of the Democratic Party. However much attentive observers knew about how the Democratic Party had been abandoning the interests of the bottom half or more of the population over the last few decades – and we knew plenty – the cynicism, collusion, and, yes, criminality of the party elites' handling of the 2016 election campaign has been stunning and insufferable. As Wikileaks recently tweeted: «There is no US election. There is power consolidation. Rigged primary, rigged media and rigged 'pied piper' candidate drive consolidation.» {«'pied piper' candidate» refers to the DNC's efforts to facilitate the nomination of an extremist Republican so as to clear the path for an easy Clinton victory in the general election – DK}
But it is worse than that. Notwithstanding the DNC's and the media's systematic subterfuge, it is quite possible that Bernie Sanders actually won the primary campaign, only to be cheated by electronic falsification of vote totals. Two persuasive statistical studies using entirely different approaches came to this conclusion, and no one has offered any meaningful rebuttal (an analysis conducted without reference to the provocative exit poll data is here, another that does draw conclusions from exit polls, among other data, is here). Despite the enormity of the apparent scandal, however, mass media in the US will not even take the topic seriously. This is an epic affront to nation and the world, not just to the millions who made the effort to support Sanders against the Clinton machine.
Furthermore, beyond the top leaders' subversion of the nomination process, the campaign has revealed the near asphyxiation of intra-party political life among the Democrats' office-holding class. Notice, for example, the tally of party endorsements for presidential candidates in mid-January, just before the primary elections began: Clinton 457, Sanders 2, O'Malley 1 (from, as cited by «All in with Chris Hayes» on MSNBC, January 14, final segment). Is this a living political party, or simply a heirarchy? Consider as well the sharp contrast between the two parties as they have come to grips with powerfully compromising material on their presidential candidates over the last month. Scores of Republican office holders have renounced their support for Donald Trump. But did a single Democrat in office other than Ohio State Senator Nina Turner renounce his or her support for Hillary Clinton? Even one?
The reputation of the Democratic Party is in the sewer, therefore, even among longtime Democrats, and even among those who do not follow politics closely. In these circumstances, how many will mobilize themselves for causes they believe in, if doing so means working under the umbrella of a party that no longer commands their trust and respect?
The upshot, therefore, is an America where support for progressive policies is increasing healthily, but the energy from below to propel policy in this direction is shattered. The demoralization is so bad, in fact, that it will deprive progressives of a critical victory in the effort to reform health care. The state of Colorado is holding a referendum on election day to establish state-wide government sponsorship of health insurance. If passed, this referendum would do more to set the US on course for a Social-Democratic style healthcare system than anything in the nation's history. Coloradans supported the Bernie Sanders campaign strongly this spring, and the Senator has been making appearances there to mobilize voters for this referendum. But recent polling shows it likely to fail, a clear casualty of the demoralization of progressives (health insurance industry misinformation campaigns are also tilting the balance in this referendum, we concede).
Front Line 2017: Los Angeles
As dismal and damaging as the subversion of the 2016 election cycle has been, America will have a chance to return to rational politics as early as the upcoming spring. The nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, is electing a mayor, and a genuine Berniecrat named Montgomery Markland has risen from the volunteer movement to pose a potent challenge to the Hillary-aligned incumbent, Eric Garcetti:
Montgomery Markland
Being an off-year campaign, the Los Angeles mayoral race will be the sole focus of the national progressive movement's electoral efforts for several months. And it will be the first ballot-box test of the gullible left's level of tolerance for President Clinton. Many of the gullible left will turn out for Markland, many of the shattered will recover, and more than a few from the Trump Train will be ready to back a Berniecrat for mayor. Los Angeles was an outsized producer of Bernie Sanders volunteers, after all, so this is a winnable election. And one that could begin to change the tone of American politics. Absent that? Well, perhaps «...catastrophe is the only correction we have left» as Snapshotist put it.
Foto: Time