The Democratic Party is sounding a lot like the House Un-American Activities Committee these days.
HUAC was the star chamber convened in the late 1930s for the ostensible purpose of rooting out Communists and other subversives in government, the media, and the entertainment industry. It was finally disbanded in 1975 in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
HUAC's main underlying agenda, however, was the dismantling of the New Deal. If proponents got smeared along the way, too bad. They were the collateral damage of the right wing counterrevolution.The public was supposed to be scared witless into taking money away from social programs and plunking billions, and later trillions, into Superpower's global agenda of regime change and corporate hegemony. The Red Menace was the manufactured terrorism of the day, and the effectiveness of its propaganda lasted until the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Fast forward to 2016. The New Deal is still barely hanging on, with FDR's social programs either long gone, whittled down, or under constant threat of dismemberment. And then along comes Bernie Sanders, exposing the bipartisan right wing for what it truly is: The Island of Doctor Moreau. The Republicans are the main torturers and sadists. The Democrats are the grisly lab assistants who will occasionally sneak up to the cages to give the victims an anesthetizing choice morsel or two to make their trip to the vivisection table more befuddled.
The audience was never supposed to know about the subplot. After all, they are merely the audience and not the actors. And if millions of people did have an inkling, they had nobody to represent their interests and nobody to amplify their voices. Until Bernie came along, giving Hillary Clinton a run for her corporate, anti-New Deal money.
Clinton, who merely vows to "protect" Medicare and Social Security from GOP depredation, has a long sordid history when it comes to the New Deal. Specifically, she was the impetus behind the 1996 destruction of FDR's Aid to Families With Dependent Children and transforming it to the cruel Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The result has been the doubling of extreme poverty after the Clinton deregulation bubble finally burst from the excesses of its own greed.
Sanders, meanwhile, wants to actually expand Social Security as well as increase Medicare benefits to all citizens, regardless of age, health and financial status. He wants to lessen the power of behemoth financial institutions by reinstating the Clinton-demolished Glass-Steagall Act. His proposals, taken as a whole, would actually go beyond the New Deal reforms.
Thus the Democratic bosses of Psy-Ops "There is No Alternative" Theater are all in a tizzy, because the denouement of the movie -- the vindication and the coronation of their neoliberal heroine -- is coming up in only two months. The star is in danger of being upstaged at her own premiere. Instead of throngs of cheering, adoring fans lining the red (ooh, scary!) carpet, she might be faced with throngs of protesters.
So the Party and its mouthpieces are going all HUAC on Bernie and the Sandernistas. It's a coordinated media campaign which sounds, ironically enough, as if it comes straight out of Pravda. Either Bernie and his supporters take the loyalty oath to the Empress-in-Waiting right now, or the election of Donald Trump and the rise of a fascist state will be totally on them. The inherent corruption and weakness of Hillary herself will have nothing at all to do with it. When Clinton backers accuse Sanders of not being a "real Democrat," the dog-whistling subtext is that he is not a real American. It's just a more subtle variation on the anti-Obama "birther" theme rhapsodized to perfection by Donald Trump himself.
"Party unity" is suddenly trumping (sorry!) the interests and rights of the body politic. Protest at your own peril, people! And anyhow, resistance is futile.
|(graphic by Kat Garcia)|
To his credit, Sanders is not caving to the Party psy-ops offensive, which has included a nonstop barrage of ad hominem attacks by such Democratic luminaries as Paul Krugman and Barney Frank. He's apparently morphed from progressive saint to violence-enabling demagogue overnight, breaching some invisible red line into traitorous anti-American territory. "Even progressives are criticizing him now after he's shown a harder edge!" shrills Politico. Flying chairs and flying broomsticks abound in Liberal Land.
But without even one speck of flying spittle in evidence on the Sunday talk show circuit, Bernie calmly noted that if Hillary Clinton hopes to ever rise above her "lesser evil" status, then it is actually on her - not us - to change her tune.
“I have every confidence that if Hillary Clinton is prepared to stand up to the greed of corporate America and Wall Street; is prepared to be really strong on the issue of climate change; support, as I do, a tax on carbon; is prepared to say that the United States of America should join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people, paid family and medical leave; is prepared to say that the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality today in America, where almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. If she is strong on those issues, yeah, I think she will win and win by a large vote,” Sanders said.“But if she is not, she's going to have her problems.”