20 April 2016

Clinton vs. Sanders: who is the enemy?

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in her adopted state of New York by a landslide margin generated mainly in the biggest cities. Where I live, Senator Sanders crushed her, amplifying an unexpected volume of left dissent first expressed two years ago when Zephyr Teachout ran strongly against Gov. Cuomo in the Democratic primary. The way some see it, however, we must be a bunch of whitebread Bernie Bros up here. To some, the Sanders supporters are the right wing of the Democratic party, precisely because they are, to whatever extent, socialist. That seems to be the premise of a piece written on primary day for the Quartz website. According to Marcie Bianco, Sanders and his supporters are backward, or worse, in their failure to recognize, as Clinton supposedly does recognize, that "the long arc of equal rights in America is primarily based on identity." Sanders' sin is to propose a "revolution" that is primarily economic in orientation.

And despite what he may say [Bianco adds] an economic revolution is not tantamount to a sociopolitical overhaul. To put a finer point on it: Achieving a $15 minimum wage will not stop racially prejudiced cops from shooting black people. It will not stop immigrants or refugees from being detained at our borders. Dismantling Wall Street, whatever that means exactly, will not shore up or extend women’s reproductive rights.

Marxism itself is on the right of Bianco's political universe because  "The universalism of the workers’ fight against “Wall Street” or the “1%” or whatever term is currently being used to describe the capitalist bourgeoise deliberately overlooks oppressed identity groups such as women, people of color, the disabled, immigrant communities." Bianco notes cryptically that "The Achilles heel of Marxism is humanity itself." I find it cryptic, at least, because I'm not sure what she means. I suspect she means something along the line of "humanity has a tendency to oppress itself prior to the introduction of class, and Marxism at its worst only further empowers some of the oppressors." Whatever Bianco actually means, she paints herself into an uncomfortable corner with her rhetoric. What she's saying, after all, is that "the banks" or "Wall Street" (or any particular economic class) are not the real enemy, and that those who say they are are fools or knaves. What does that leave us? It seems pretty clear from Bianco's rhetoric that there is an enemy out there, and if there is, it may not be the white devil of a slightly different political imagination, but it is definitely the Man in any number of senses of the word. Equality in American won't really be equal for Bianco unless it is equal along racial, gender and sexual-orientation lines, at a minimum -- and to oppose Hillary Clinton, she implies, is to oppose all of this. Can Bianco really believe that Bernie Sanders opposes all of this? Her only real evidence for such a belief is that Sanders opposes Clinton. Perhaps any male candidate opposing any female candidate would be equally guilty of standing in the way of history, but to interpret the Clinton-Sanders race in all its particularity in this broad manner is absurd if not downright sinister. After every victory Clinton crows about breaking barriers, a concept that clearly resonates with her multicultural base. But if the Clinton campaign is as essentially about identity politics as Bianco claims, and as implicitly accusatory toward those who don't get with the program, it may build as many barriers to progress as it breaks.


Anonymous said...

This simply goes to show that NYC, like Hillary Clinton, is completely out of touch with reality.

hobbyfan said...

Swillary has so much baggage, and yet there are so many sheep that are willing to follow her, and not take a chance on a fresh name like Sanders. I believe that both conventions are going to have a contested ballot for the nomination. At this stage, this might be Sanders' only chance.

Anonymous said...

Bernie is far from "fresh". He's a career politician, like Hillary. Although at least he seems to have a sense of dignity and honor, unlike Hillary...and Cruz...and tRump...etc.

What annoys me is that Hillary, like most politicians, will probably walk scott-free from her illegal email activities. It also annoys me that her supporters refuse to look at her record and acknowledge that she has shown nothing but indolence and incompetence in her two political jobs - both of which she left to pursue higher offices. Which proves she has no desire to "stick to it", rather, it shows her to be nothing more than a political opportunist with a HUGE sense of entitlement. I guess Bubba wrote a check he had no way to cover, so now the DNC is covering it for him.

Anonymous said...

But to answer your question, it depends on whether you benefit from the status quo. If you do, then Sanders is the enemy. If, on the other hand, you are a typical wage worker, living mostly pay check to pay check, then Clinton is your enemy. That doesn't make Sanders your friend, necessarily.