There were strong signs last year that the public was ready to repudiate both establishment parties, but the cream rose to the top. A billionaire who brags about being rich and a billionaire-in-training. Their parties deserve to have them. Before that water went under the bridge there was a third way. The one Sanders didn’t take.
To get attention he ran as a Democrat, pledging not to mount an independent run and to eventually support the party’s nominee. Let’s say whatever happened after that surprised even him.
It soon became apparent that the traditional candidates from both parties couldn’t draw flies. Trump created all the excitement on the right and Sanders did the same on the left. Trump’s message was that you’re all chumps because you’re not like me. Sanders’ message was that you’re all chumps because the deck is stacked against you.
When Sanders realized that his chosen party was stacking the deck against him he had ample grounds to rescind his promise not to run outside the party. He of course didn’t.
What presently interests me is a thought experiment: What would have happened if Sanders had said yes to Jill Stein’s offer of heading the Green Party ticket? She did offer this, and since this is only a thought experiment, let’s further suppose that Ms. Stein would have been willing to step away from the second spot in favor of Elizabeth Warren.
That’s a lot of supposition for two people who are now enthusiastic supporters of HRC (and by default WJC), and wouldn’t have wanted to play the role of spoilers, at least in Sanders’ words. He said he didn’t want to end up like Ralph Nader. That’s a helluva thing to say.
He might also not want to end up like Ramsey Clark, or Daniel Ellsberg, and we know how he feels about Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. Both Sanders and Warren assiduously avoid the left position on US foreign policy.
Maybe they avoid criticizing US foreign policy because it’s smart politically. Then again, maybe they like it. If they do have any qualms about US hegemony they’re keeping it to themselves.
Still, that leaves domestic policy. It’s already been discounted by worldwide planners that the gap between the haves and the have-nots will be widening, with consequences for future generations. Few of the planners see it as their mission to try to halt or reverse this predictable consequence of neoliberal globalization. Rather, financial and military planners seek to manage it to their advantage, most recently “The Future of the Army” report put out by the Atlantic Council.
Quoting from Credit Suisse’s 2013 Global Wealth Report:
“Two generations ahead, future extrapolations of current wealth growth rates yields almost a billion millionaires, equivalent to 20% of the total adult population. If this scenario unfolds, then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too — eleven according to our best estimate.”
There’s a new word in there for us. The wealth of the capitalist class will race away from the worker class like a receding star.
Back to our gedanken. Let’s put Sanders (and Warren) into the debates. Their right-leaning foreign policy wouldn’t even be noticed. I don’t think too much has to be said about their advantage on everything else. You can’t be for the people unless you’re of the people, and both Trump and Clinton are distinctly not normal people leading normal lives. Trump plays king in the castle and Clinton has had secret service protection for the last one-third of her life.
Would it have been close? Opinions vary but for two reasons they are beside the point. One, even if a losing proposition it carries the fight by seizing upon a seminal moment in American history — the point at which the people stopped trusting anything from above.
Two, it didn’t come close to happening. More water under the bridge.
James Rothenberg views U.S. foreign and domestic policy from a left perspective. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org