by Mike Krieger
In a February post titled, It’s Not Just the GOP – The Democratic Party is Also Imploding, I noted the following:
Yes, of course, Trump winning the GOP nomination marks the end of the party as we know it. After all, some neocons are already publicly and actively throwing their support behind Hillary. While this undoubtably represents a major turning point in U.S. political history, many pundits have yet to appreciate that the exact same thing is happening within the Democratic Party. It’s just not completely obvious yet.
While it might sound strange, a coronation of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary will mark the end of the party as we know it. There’s been a lot written about the “Sanders surge,” with much of it revolving around Hillary Clinton’s extreme personal weakness as a candidate. While this is indisputable, it’s also a convenient way for the status quo to exempt itself from fault and discount genuine grassroots anger. I’m of the view that Sanders’ support is more about people liking him than them disliking Hillary, particularly when it comes to registered Democrats. He’s not merely seen as the “least bad choice.” People really do like him.
The Sanders appeal is twofold. He is seen as unusually honest and consistent for someone who’s held elected office for much of his life, plus he advocates a refreshingly anti-establishment view on core issues that matter to an increasing number of Americans. These include militarism, Wall Street bailouts, a two-tiered justice system, the prohibitive cost of college education, healthcare insecurity and a “rigged economy.” While Hillary is being forced to pay lip service to these issues, everybody knows she doesn’t mean a word of it. She means it less than Obama meant it in 2008, and Obama really didn’t mean it.
Hillary is the embodiment of a sick and detested status quo. She stands for nothing, is nothing, and a vote for her all but guarantees both murder abroad and oligarchy at home. I think a large number of Bernie Sanders supporters understand this and won’t be going off silently into that quiet voting booth to commit ethical self-sacrifice despite the terrifying prospects of a Trump presidency. I think they’ll stay home, but they won’t sit there passively. They’ll be seething inside, and many will renounce the Democratic party forever. Many rank and file Republicans already came to such a conclusion years ago, which is precisely why the nomination was wide open for a man like Trump to capture. Democrats will do the same, and before you know it, political pundits will be tripping over each other to write about the death of the Democratic Party.
Fast forward three months, and the evidence of this reality is starting to flood in. As I’ve maintained for what seems like forever, a very significant percentage of Bernie Sanders supporters will not go quietly into that corrupt, neocon Hillary Clinton night. People have seen enough. They’ve had enough.
The latest proof come to us via New York Daily News columnist Shaun King. What he writes isn’t particularly earth-shattering or novel, but it carries weight for me due to Mr. King’s political history. As he shares with readers in his latest post, Here’s Why I’m Leaving the Democratic Party After This Presidential Election and You Should Too:
Right now, the Democratic Party, which I have called home my entire life, is deeply in love with money. Consequently, its leaders have supported and advanced all kinds of evil, big and small, in devotion to this love affair.
My sweet mother, who worked in a scorching hot light bulb factory for over 40 years of her life, introduced me to the party. While I’m not so sure it was ever really true, she taught me that Democrats were for the poor and working class of America. We waffled between those two groups ourselves, so for me, I chose to be a part of the party that represented us.
As a senior in high school, I attended my first political rally in 1996 as President Bill Clinton spoke at the University of Kentucky in his reelection bid. He was amazing.
In 1999, Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, whom I loved and revered, recruited me to campaign for Al Gore and encouraged me to get involved with the party. As student government president at Morehouse College, I spoke at campaign events alongside Vice President Gore and his family and fought hard as hell for him to win. How he lost stung as much as the fact that he lost.
He goes on to describe a personal love affair with candidate Barack Obama. So this is a guy who bled Democratic blue his entire life — until now. Faced with an undeniably rigged and dangerously corrupt system, Mr. King came to see Senator Sanders as a true champion of reform, and Hillary Clinton as a disingenuous creature of a discredited status quo. As such, he “felt the Bern,” and proceeded to see the establishment of the party he grew up with act like a bunch of shady villainous thieves.
“For the most part, they (the lobbyists) said, the DNC has returned to business as usual, pre-2008. The DNC has even named a finance director specifically for PAC donations who has recently emailed prospective donors to let them know that they can now contribute again, according to an email that was reviewed by The Washington Post.”
Campaign watchdog groups were furious. This is a disgusting and unnecessary reversion, but it gives us a real clue into how the Democratic Party sincerely sees money in politics. They love it. They certainly didn’t do this for Bernie Sanders. His campaign does not accept donations from SuperPACs or lobbyists and he’s won 21 primaries and caucuses without it. The Clinton campaign, on the other hand, is awash in this type of money.
In essence, Hillary Clinton and the DNC each wants us to believe that lobbyists and SuperPACs don’t expect anything from them in return for their money. This is the most basic, foolish, offensive lie they could ever tell. Of course they want something in return. That’s the business they’re in.
On April 18, the Sanders campaign wrote an open letter declaring that Clinton’s campaign was violating campaign finance laws through an unethical joint arrangement with the DNC. The Clinton campaign’s response was that she was actually raising money for down-ticket Democrats. Two weeks later, though, Politico released an amazing investigative report which found that out of the $61 million the Clinton campaign was raising for state parties, the parties were only allowed to keep 1% of it. You read that correctly. I’ll spell it out so that you know a digit wasn’t missing. They got to keep one percent of the funds she claimed she raised for them.
It appears to be a money laundering scheme. Do you remember when George Clooney said that Bernie Sanders and his supporters were right to be disgusted by the fact that some seats at the fundraiser cost $353,400 per couple, but that he could live with it because the money was mainly going to help smaller candidates win local elections?
He was wrong.
The thing is, though, the Democratic Party isn’t really very democratic. It’s sincerely just a machine for Hillary Clinton.
This isn’t just “sour grapes,” as Clinton surrogates contemptuously claim. This a genuine and painful admission from a critical thinking American citizen that the game is nothing more than a rigged sham.
We’ve all had such moments. I’m sure everyone reading this can recall precisely what event it was that “woke them up” to the false reality peddled to us by the mainstream media, politicians and corporate lobbyists (feel free to share your personal stories in the comment section). For me, it was the crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. It affected me so deeply, I quit my Wall Street job and within a year had moved from the place of my birth,New York City to Colorado. That’s what “waking up” does to you. It hits you so hard, you can never see the world the same way again. You might still be stuck in that same soul crushing job or geography for reasons beyond your control, but your perspective is forever changed.
For Shaun King and many other lifelong Democrats, 2016 is their year of waking up. It took Clinton vs. Sanders to shake them out of their slumber and admit the very troubling state of the Republic. It doesn’t matter when someone wakes up, what matters is that it happened and is happening.
To prove the point, read Shaun King’s closing paragraphs:
Whatever happens between now and the Democratic Convention – what’s next is that we form a brand new progressive political party from scratch. It has never been more clear to me that millions and millions of us do not belong in the Democratic Party. Their values are not our values. Their priorities are not our priorities. And I’ll be honest with you, I think too highly of myself, of my family, of my friends, and of our future, to stick with a party that looks anything like what Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are leading right now.
Clinton’s refusal to release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Her indignant and irrational excuses made no sense — particularly in light of the reports stating that the transcripts would ruin her campaign and made her sound like an executive at the company.
I’ll start where I left off — the root of all of this is the love of money. In this campaign, Bernie Sanders, with a ragtag group of misfits, proved to the world that another way exists. He has created a blueprint for us on how we build a political movement without the money from billionaire class and their special interests.
In my heart, I believe we are on the brink of something very special. It isn’t going to be the presidency of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump either. It’s going to be what those of us who’ve seen a better way do next.
Don’t believe what anyone tells you — the ball is in our hand and we have more power than progressive people have had in a very long time in this country. I will fight for Bernie Sanders until he is no longer running for president.
After that, this will be my last election as a Democrat. I’m moving on and hope you do, too.
These aren’t the words of a man simply blowing off some steam. He isn’t a Bernie supporter who’s about to swap bumper stickers and start groveling to the plutocratic, neocon war criminal that is Hillary Clinton. He’s a man who sees the problem for what it, and bore witness to what happens to society when you continue to accept the “lesser of two evils” for multiple decades.
Shaun King and I probably disagree on most issues, and that’s ok. I’m not about telling everybody I know best and that everyone else is wrong. I’ve been wrong enough to know better. Rather, I’m about open dialogue, the rule of law and an equal playing field. I want a nation of courageous, independent, generous and informed citizens, as opposed to a nation of slobbering, submissive sheep. There’s nothing more offensive to me than the latter.
It’s important to understand that being a sheep has nothing to do with money or status. My life was overflowing with both back in 2009 when I voluntarily left the finance industry at the height of my Wall Street career. I was on the fastest track possible, yet when I looked at myself in the mirror I saw a sheep. Being a sheep is state of mind and nothing more. Shaun King appears to be done being a sheep. Let’s hope tens of millions more follow his lead.
Enough is enough.