Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bernie Sanders Champion of the Truth [Anthony McCarthy]

Once I found out he was doing it, I found Bernie Sander's non-filibuster for the truth being live cast online and listened to as much of it as I could. I don't know when the last time such a sustained act of truth telling happened on the floor of the Senate, I'm not sure that this might not be the record for telling the truth, but if anyone has outdone him it's not within my memory.

If you didn't listen to any of it, Senator Sanders gave a remarkable speech, it was a short course in what is wrong with the country today. Hour after hour of coherent, substantial, and enormously important discourse on why the agreement among Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and the Republican leadership was an abominable idea that shouldn't be accepted by Democrats, honest Independents or even rational Republicans. If there is any indication of who is right on that and the other issues that Senator Sanders covered in the speech, it is in that coherence, that substance and the numerous citation of how the Republican-Neo-Liberal policies are destroying the working class, the middle class and the destitute in this country.

If you don't have time to listen to it, here is a summary of some of the highlights.

I kept wondering if Senator Sanders' remarkable marathon of continual truth telling would be relieved by progressive Senators and it was briefly by Senator Sherrod Brown and, surprisingly by conservative Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu. I don't know if other progressives in the Senate offered to relieve him or to contribute or if Senator Sanders asked for help. I can only hope that his example was one for them, giving them the spine they have so obviously lacked for the past two years and longer.

One thing that is almost certain, the corporate media will ignore Senator Sanders' speech with all its might, mentioning it only to dismiss it or to ridicule it.
It's what the "free press" in the United States does, the more than effective majority of it, many of whom directly benefit from the Bush bonanza for the super-rich.

Barack Obama and his neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party has dominated its official power center for two decades. Those decades have seen the erosion of the only possible, effective opposition to the party of the corporate-bigot coalition. They have concentrated on selling out to the same corporate power, giving the rich a safety net when the propagandized majority of the electorate desperately unites behind a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama in a futile attempt to change the massively unjust system that has prevailed since the election of Ronald Reagan.

Barack Obama bought the votes of tens of millions of people with spoken promises, such as his promise to kill the huge tax bonus that George Bush II and the Republican-Neo-liberal ruling coalition has given to their oligarchic patrons and many of themselves. He promised us that over and over again, only to fail to fight hard for that position. Just as he has failed to fight for just about every other position he promised us he would take, touting watered down bills that managed to pass, often without much help from him, as being good enough. In the negotiations on the billionaire tax bonus, largely conducted by Joe Biden and his chief of staff, Ron Klain, the Republicans got everything they insisted on, for the next two years, but, in an astoundingly stupid move, the Obama administration gave them an election issue, blackmail and hostages in order to make those bonuses permanent in the next presidential election.

I don't believe, anymore, that this is simple political ineptitude, it's too obviously bad politics for it to have been those. You would have had to believe that the President, the Vice President and Ron Klain, a team that includes two magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, somehow missed that part of it. I can believe there is a component of political cowardice in it, though I think the lack of real fights undertaken by the President all during the Obama administration is more like slacking. Those who believe that it is an example of intentional betrayal gain credibility every time one of these things happen.

The fact of a Democrat holding the presidency was an important enough possibility that I've said we should hold out hope as long as it was possible to that Barack Obama would grow in office and take the responsibility that he asked us to give him. I said that he had a few weeks in the lame duck session after the debacle of the mid-terms to convince me. He has convinced me that he is not good enough to continue as president. Only being slightly less bad than Republicans, while being a serial hostage to them is not good enough to do what MUST BE DONE, it's not good enough to even hold the office.

It's time to find a challenger to Barack Obama for the 2012 election. That choice is extremely dangerous, Barack Obama has a completely understandable place in the hearts of one of the most valued, most constant and most deserving parts of the Democratic Coalition. If black voters can't be convinced that Barack Obama shouldn't be reelected, it could fracture the coalition even further. But losing with Barack Obama is not going to be any worse than losing without him. One thing is obvious, the neo-liberals are doing damage to the Democratic Party that is as bad as challenging Obama would. If we can't take the leadership of the Democratic Party away from Republican lite, it will be destroyed from within. A third party challenger to him, who couldn't win but who could spoil the chances of preventing a Republican win gains credibility with every sell out, with every capitulation.

If Barack Obama continues as he has, if he works and campaigns against the Democratic heart of the Democratic party, he has given Democrats in the Congress, state legislatures and governorships little choice but to consider leaving the decaying corpse of the party and striking out on their own. If they were an independent entity that could hold the balance of power, trying to force the corporate Democrats to live up to the ideals of the party, they could force things in a better direction. I believe that many state Democratic party memberships would enthusiastically join in that effort. But that isn't a certain thing. It would be irresponsible to not point out that they run the risk of allowing the corporate Democrats to formalize their coalition with Republicans, they might not be able to force the sell-outs to the left. But they risk their souls by continuing to go along with the blue-dogs and the neo-liberals. If real Democrats don't insist on basic decency, they have made themselves irrelevant to the struggle for democracy. They must not do that. A real challenge by those already proving they can win a real election has a chance to succeed where the past third party attempts have failed. Barack Obama has depended on voters having no alternative, seeing that as insurance covering his sell outs. We have to remove that assumption.