Once the Bernie Sanders threat has subsided, Elizabeth Warren will be required to further neuter herself to allay the fears of billionaire Democratic donors.
Once upon a time not so long ago the U.S. corporate media was a livelier place, where the rich people that owned the presses argued among themselves about the destiny of the nation and the world through the pages of their publications and allowed some leeway for lowly reporters to disseminate pertinent facts, even if such information sometimes tended to favor politicians, movements and countries disliked by the ruling classes. Of course, “Reds” were always demonized and Black public opinion disregarded unless backed up by Molotov cocktails. But elements of truth could eventually be found between the lines and in stray articles of corporate media, providing more reason to read the New York Times and the Washington Post than simply to find out what the ruling classes were thinking and planning.
The War of/on Terror and Russiagate–both involving mass psychological warfare operations to stamp out domestic resistance to the global U.S. imperial offensive–signaled that the Lords of Capital’s tolerance for dissent was approaching zero. The contradictions of late stage capitalism and the increasing precariousness of U.S. empire squeezed all vestiges of liberality out of the boardrooms, as was reflected in the content of their ever-consolidating media.
Finally the Internet, that vast digital outback where the Left’s survivors had sought refuge from corporate monoculture, was targeted for political cleansing. McCarthy-era censorship was resurrected, with publications like Black Agenda Report at the top of the blacklist. However, it’s not just us real radicals that have been rendered non-persons in the headquarters nation of the “free” corporate-ruled world. Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator, has joined the ranks of those whose name will not be spoken by corporate media, except in the negative.
Sanders’ mission is anything but revolutionary: it is to “sheep-dog” back into the Democratic Party fold the millions of stray, leftish Americans that despair of the duopoly electoral system. Sanders believes that the “more inclusive” half of the corporate duopoly will allow itself to become the vessel that will enact single payer health care, free higher education, a dignified minimum wage and confiscatory taxes on billionaires, whom he proclaims “should not exist.” But the billionaires that actually control the Democratic Party’s structures have decreed that it is Sanders whose existence will not be acknowledged in the pages of their properties, unless it is to pillory him.
Corporate media vengeance against Sanders has been fierce, and comprehensive–approaching the anathema that has been heaped on Trump, the overtly racist billionaire that took over the GOP and made it a purer White Man’s Party, and who converted the previously bipartisan Deep Imperial State into Deep Blue Democrats with his questioning of U.S. regime-change and “free trade” policies. The Democrats and their corporate media partners thought Trump would be easy to beat in 2016–and to make sure he was the Republican nominee, they provided him with billions of dollars in free air time.
The GOP, an imperial and “free trade” party like the Democrats, tried to mob Trump. They threw every party notable and vote-getter into the primaries, 16 in all–precisely as the Democrats would do to head off Sanders’ second bid for the presidency, four years later, with 26 contenders assembled with the party’s blessing. Joe Biden, the consummate but rapidly fading corporate shill, was their Great Hope, but they had plenty of minions in reserve.
It would also take a unified corporate media to stop Sanders, who in 2017 was the most popular politician in the United States, eclipsing all others in favorability. His core policies were backed by two-thirds of all voters and even larger super-majorities of Democrats. But the rich man’s press was up to the challenge. Having been drilled for three years in the daily delivery of a unitary, Democrat-spook concocted Russiagate scenario, the corporate media had been disciplined to the task of no-holds-barred political assassination.
It was a blitzkrieg. Every minor Democratic presidential contender in the Party-summoned menagerie had a more interesting story for the press to tell than Sanders, who was buried at the end of articles, most often in a negative context, or not mentioned at all despite his long-time second-place ranking to Joe Biden. CNN and MSNBC hated Sanders 24/7–as if he were Trump–with MSNBC permitting its legal analyst, Mimi Rocah, to exclaim that Sanders “makes my skin crawl.” Polls were rigged, in that few of them were capable of reaching statistically viable numbers of the under-40 voters that strongly favored Sanders but use only cell phones–a fatal professional flaw often acknowledged in the fine print, but pollsters then made up numbers, anyway, to Sanders’ detriment.
Sanders and his super-majority-supported issues must be defeated, because they represent the clearest threat yet to the 40-year-long bipartisan policy of “austerity”–which, in plain language, as I discussed last week, is the dragooning of the American workforce into the Race to the Bottom that capitalism has imposed on all of the global working class within its reach. The aim is to remove every social support that might allow workers to reject participation in the “gig” economy of low-paid, contracted, part-time jobs–the “shit” work that makes up the majority of “new jobs” under late stage capitalism and fuels the phenomenal growth of the billionaire class. Deindustrialization is austerity = Race to the Bottom. The Lords of Capital have no other strategy for the future, and neither do their minions in the Democratic Party. So, they reject Sanders, the social democratic reformer, like the plague. But Sanders’ issues are not so easily slandered, sidetracked or buried.
The deliberately overcrowded Democratic primary field is designed to dilute the austerity-busting agenda introduced by Sanders, through the diversion of multiple personalities. When it became clear that Biden was not a good bet for the ruling class to stake its systemic life on, the corporate media fell in love with Sanders’ mimic, Elizabeth Warren, who had already signaled her loyalty to “the Party” and an openness to gradualism on Medicare for All and the rest of her agenda. For the time being, until Sanders is effectively neutralized, that’s reassuring enough to make Warren a favorite of much of corporate America and their media. Once the Sanders threat has subsided, however, Warren will be required to further neuter herself to allay the fears of billionaire Democratic donors who threaten to withhold their money, or even support Trump, if the capitalist boat is rocked. Every indication is that she will try to present as little problem as possible to the rulers.
Warren and the corporate Democrats were vastly assisted in their get-Sanders campaign by Alicia Garza, the Black Lives Matter name-holder and disburser of capitalist political philanthropy, who organized a shameful slander against Sanders after the Working Families Party board engineered an endorsement of Warren. Although Sanders and his campaign officials said nothing at all of a racial nature in response to the questionable actions by the WFP, 80 percent of whose board and membership backed him in 2016, and despite the fact that Sanders has polled consistently second to Biden in Black support–and has the most diverse backing of any candidate–Garza pretended that a racial crime had been committed. (See Margaret Kimberley and Danny Haiphong’s articles on this travesty.)
Donald Trump, the Democrat’s FrankenCracker who won the presidency partly on the strength of the billions in free air time the corporate Democrats guided his way ($5 billion worth, by Election Day), remains useful to the Party, which may be why Nancy Pelosi took so long to give the nod to impeachment proceedings. The Democrats still want to run against Trump and his roaring racism, just as they did in 2016, because it allows them to avoid economic issues. “Anyone Blue Will Do” is a corporate Democratic slogan designed to blunt resistance to the Race to the Bottom and to protect the billionaires.
Sanders’ quest for the nomination is probably doomed if he continues to play by rules while the corporate media (and Warren) conspire in a dirty game against him. His best hope is to attempt to turn his campaign into a “movement”–to take to the streets with his rallies and march on the nearest iconography of the 1 percent; to make such noise and motion that the corporate media cannot ignore him. That, too, would be cause for shrieks from both the Party and the press, but at least Sanders’ anti-Race to the Bottom message would be heard, and maybe a real movement would outlive his candidacy, organized outside the oligarchy’s bought-and-paid for property: the Democratic Party.