The media’s big Bernie Sanders myth: Here’s how we build the coalition that shatters Clintonism, neoliberalism

Hillary-bots argue that Sanders only appeals to white Iowa & New Hampshire voters. Here’s how he proves that wrong

Source:Salon.com

Author:Anis Shivani

Emphasis Mine

Bernie Sanders is showing swift-footedness in making all the moves necessary to not only establish but consolidate his new front-runner position in Iowa and New Hampshire. Some in the media may not yet have caught on to the way the momentum continues to shift, but eventually the reality will sink in.

There are three things Sanders needs to do—and has already started doing in a noticeable way—to move clearly and permanently ahead of Hillary Clinton at the national level: a) dramatic emphasis on minority outreach; b) expansion of his economic message to one of social harmony; and c) delegitimization of the negative populism pervasive in the Republican primary.

Already, Cornel West has given a rousing introduction to Sanders in South Carolina. Sanders has been trying to reach out to the Congressional Black Caucus, though not yet with much luck. They might as this message becomes clearer: Sanders is a much better deal for minorities of every stripe—from embattled African-Americans to Hispanics and Asians and others—because of what his policies of economic justice represent compared to the neoliberal repressiveness of Clinton and the establishment Democratic Party.

The Clintons talk a good game when it comes to African-Americans (Bill, after all, was supposed to be our first black president before the real first black president showed up) but the truth is that Clintonian neoliberalism really tightened the screws on African-Americans by legitimizing extreme income inequality as the normal course of things—smashing, in effect, the Democratic Party’s bargain with minorities since the New Deal.

The Clintons ended welfare as we knew it, for example, by delusionally hoping that technology-driven productivity would somehow make poverty cease to exist, or by expanding the surveillance, prosecution and incarceration capacities of the state, building on the war on drugs initiated by Ronald Reagan to impose a stark omnipotence much less forgiving of mistakes made by poor people. Rhetorically—and emptily—the Clintons may align themselves with African-Americans, and claim some sort of honorary status with that community, but their policies have been death—literal death on the streets—for African-Americans.

It is a myth created by the establishment media that Sanders’ appeal is limited to well-educated white coastal liberals, particularly males, and that he has a natural barrier to how far and deep his support can extend. The claim is that South Carolina—and then Nevada with its Hispanic population—will be the firewalls that will break Sanders’ momentum if he wins in mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

But the truth is that Sanders’ potential appeal to minorities is unlimited—unlike Clinton’s upper limits due to the nature of her past and present policies and her utter incapacity to enunciate anything real that resonates with people beyond recycled neoliberal micro-platitudes. Therefore, Sanders must go for broke in reaching out to African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians as their natural candidate, and in the process rewrite the whole script for how the Democratic Party courts voters. New, and unprecedented, promises must be made to shatter the silence around issues that neoliberal candidates have zero interest in highlighting.

Secondly, while it has so far been a necessary and indeed winning strategy for Sanders to emphasize a straightforward recital of agenda items—especially single-payer healthcare, free college tuition and a $15 minimum wage (outlined by Jonathan Tasini in “The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America“)—Sanders needs to open this up to a message of optimism that reaches well beyond the listing of economic policy items. Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn has already shown how to do this.

Of course, these need to continue being hammered into consciousness until they became accepted parts of liberal discourse again (as the necessary antidote to Reaganite social darwinism that we never got from the Democratic Party), but I’m sure that Sanders will also figure out a way to connect these policy prescriptions to a radically expansive vision of the good life, part of which must involve reimagining America as an honest and responsible citizen in the world community.

There’s a reason why Hillary Clinton—like Tony Blair in Britain—has always been utterly incapable of humor. It is not a character flaw, per se, as it wasn’t for Blair, but the fact that neoliberalism demands a pure administrative outlook, managing at the margins with faith in private enterprise as the only salvation, that simply does not allow any glimpse of humor—by which I really mean humanity—to peek through.

Young people everywhere are looking for this streak of humanity in an increasingly robotic, unforgiving, rules-based world. Perhaps Sanders, despite his age, or perhaps because of it, can tap into his bona fide countercultural heritage to establish new norms for millennial liberal discourse, making a rousing case for old-fashioned liberty based in economic justice.

This is the ideal Martin Luther King Jr. and other visionaries at the time were beginning to fashion when we got sidelined, for nearly half a century, by an entirely different vision—Nixonian and ruthless and divisive (Donald Trump is playing from the same script). Neoliberals, it should be noted, will continue to indulge in the false bromides of the culture wars when pressed to the wall; they remain immersed in this methodology of false attack and counterattack, rather than seeking the roots of liberty in economic fairness.

Finally, Trump has gifted almost the perfect platform for Sanders to work against: a dark populism rooted in xenophobia and protectionism, a Machiavellian worldview pitting true Americans versus the racially unacceptable other, setting the stage for Sanders’ authentic populism, rooted in participatory democracy, to make all the more sense. The contrast with Trump is one big reason why Sanders has had so much resonance.

Here, Sanders’ outreach, such as when he spoke at Liberty University and was introduced by Jerry Falwell Jr., is a longer-term investment, and it will be more difficult to gain traction with this voting constituency than with African-Americans and other minorities. But fascistic populism of the talk radio variety needs a strong counterweight, which neoliberalism for the past quarter-century, coinciding with the rise of the Clintons, has refused to provide.

See: http://www.salon.com/2015/09/20/the_medias_big_bernie_sanders_myth_heres_how_we_build_the_coalition_that_shatters_clintonism_neoliberalism/

Culture wars trumped security: economy trumps culture wars!

Frank Rich, in todays Times (NY, not London), notes:

“SOMEDAY we’ll learn the whole story of why George W. Bush brushed off that intelligence briefing of Aug. 6, 2001, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” But surely a big distraction was the major speech he was readying for delivery on Aug. 9, his first prime-time address to the nation. The subject — which Bush hyped as “one of the most profound of our time” — was stem cells. For a presidency in thrall to a thriving religious right (and a presidency incapable of multi-tasking), nothing, not even terrorism, could be more urgent.When Barack Obama ended the Bush stem-cell policy last week, there were no such overheated theatrics. No oversold prime-time address. No hysteria from politicians, the news media or the public. The family-values dinosaurs that once stalked the earth — Falwell,RobertsonDobson and Reed — are now either dead, retired or disgraced. Their less-famous successors pumped out their pro forma e-mail blasts, but to little avail. The Republican National Committee said nothing whatsoever about Obama’s reversal of Bush stem-cell policy. That’s quite a contrast to 2006, when the party’s wild and crazy (and perhaps transitory) new chairman, Michael Steele, likened embryonic stem-cell research to Nazi medical experiments during his failed Senate campaign.

What has happened between 2001 and 2009 to so radically change the cultural climate? Here, at last, is one piece of good news in our global economic meltdown: Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford.

Not only was Obama’s stem-cell decree an anticlimactic blip in the news, but so was his earlier reversal of Bush restrictions on the use of federal money by organizations offering abortions overseas. When the administrationtardily ends “don’t ask, don’t tell,” you can bet that this action, too, will be greeted by more yawns than howls.

Once again, both the president and the country are following New Deal-era precedent. In the 1920s boom, the reigning moral crusade was Prohibition, and it packed so much political muscle that F.D.R. didn’t oppose it. The Anti-Saloon League was the Moral Majority of its day, the vanguard of a powerful fundamentalist movement that pushed anti-evolution legislation as vehemently as it did its war on booze. (The Scopes “monkey trial” was in 1925.) But the political standing of this crowd crashed along with the stock market. Roosevelt shrewdly came down on the side of “the wets” in his presidential campaign, leaving Hoover to drown with “the dries.” In our own hard times, the former moral “majority” has been downsized to more of a minority than ever. Polling shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans agree with ending Bush restrictions on stem-cell research (a Washington Post/ABC News survey in January); that 55 percent endorse either gay civil unions or same-sex marriage (Newsweek, December 2008); and that 75 percent believe openly gay Americans should serve in the military (Post/ABC, July 2008). Even the old indecency wars have subsided. When a federal court last year struck down the F.C.C. fine against CBS for Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl, few Americans either noticed or cared about the latest twist in what had once been a national cause célèbre.

It’s not hard to see why Eric Cantor, the conservative House firebrand who is vehemently opposed to stem-cell research, was disinclined to linger on the subject when asked about it on CNN last Sunday. He instead accused the White House of acting on stem cells as a ploy to distract from the economy. “Let’s take care of business first,” he said. “People are out of jobs.” (On this, he’s joining us late, but better late than never.)

Even were the public still in the mood for fiery invective about family values, the G.O.P. has long since lost any authority to lead the charge…”

The religious right is alive, well, and working from the bottom up, but they no longer have the culture wars on their side.

see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/opinion/15rich.html