An earlier version of this opinion piece was published in Counter Punch. The following piece was co-authored with Edward Martin.
Last week, Bernie Sanders published an opinion piece in the New York Times called “Democrats Need to Wake Up.” He spoke to the current “increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite”—the very capitalist system that has utterly failed us, the 99%.
Many of Sanders’ readers likely agreed it is deeply troubling that the super-rich should enjoy unthinkable wealth and luxury while at the same time “billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.”
And many of those sympathetic to the facts likely agreed with the Democratic National Party’s only progressive presidential candidate that there’s something wrong when “the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population”—that is, when the top 1% lays claim to more wealth “than the whole of the bottom 99 percent.”
Surely, though, there were many who took issue with Sanders’ piece.
For instance, take Katherine Ho of Illinois. She published a letter to the editor in the Times the very day after Bernie’s piece and titled it “Dear Bernie Sanders: What You Didn’t Say.”
In her letter, Ho claimed that “…[Bernie Sanders] needs to wake up to a modern reality in which globalization is both inevitable and beneficial, creating domestic jobs and raising millions worldwide out of poverty.”
In other words, Bernie needs to get a grip and get out of the way of the economic progress wrought by global neoliberal policies and capitalism rigged by a plutocracy.
In other words, Bernie doesn’t get it: Market forces and individual liberty are the 99%’s saving grace, especially in a fated, perpetually liberalizing global economic order (the kind that Hillary pretends to uphold no matter how egregious the cost).
These are the people supporting Hillary, and this is their mindset.
And they’re precisely the ones taking issue with the message in Sanders’ piece.
So, however unwittingly, the Times has elucidated a major contention amongst the DNC faithful. It’s a political powder keg with a long fuse, and it’s been burning in the corner of the DNC’s basement for some time now.
Ho, as do many of Clinton’s most fervent supporters, is willing to peddle undemocratic economic logic just to spite Sanders. No, they won’t admit to being so petulant, but they’ll readily tell you Bernie doesn’t “get it:” that he and his supporters are contemptuous for so audaciously daring to keep the DNC from being the first American political party to put a woman in the White House.
What a calumnious ruse.
They’re worried about their party losing, but they’re not worried about the economic, ecological, or political ramifications of putting Hillary in charge. In fact, in the eyes of the Clinton supporters, all who are nauseated by the thought of a Clinton commander-in-chief are unthinkably misinformed, backwards, sexist and “just don’t get it.”
Of course, this rhetoric only serves to indemnify Hillary’s personal ambitions, and her supporters readily strafe with fallacies just to exact damage and gain ground in the make-Bernie-seem-quixotic campaign they so absurdly wage.
And Ho’s is certainly not the first voice to sound from the Clinton camp and condescendingly champion free trade, informing all who are categorically anti-Hillary that Sanders’ economics “just don’t make sense.”
But this is a serious problem with so many members in the cult of Hillary: They have taken to making a case for fundamentally free markets and capitalist status quote, which, despite all evidence to the contrary, they suppose to be the best mechanism for allocating scarce goods and services.
Whether they are intelligent enough or populist enough to realize it, this (to use Ho’s words) has been the “modern reality” for the last few decades, and it has culminated in the Great Recession and sinful gains of the plutocracy.
And this is precisely what has failed us, the 99%.
But the Hillary camp doesn’t care. They only care about defeating the evil straw man that is Donald Trump. They only care about having their nominally progressive team win.
What Ho and company are promoting by supporting on principal Hillary over Bernie, or Jill Stein, is that governments govern best when they secure property and the private ownership of the means of production, and not a thing more.
Like the rest of Hillary’s career-long transgressions against democracy, her followers are sure to ignore or dismiss the latest news about the ongoing email scandal. They’re likely to spin the unfolding fiasco as a testament to her proclivity towards transparency and positive proof of her leadership.
And what scandal of Bernie’s (or Jill Stein’s, for that matter) will the Clinton camp be able to use in support of their beloved candidate? The answer: None.
As evidenced by their supporting Hillary, they actually believe that human interaction through markets alone can make the 99% free—or the “millions worldwide” that neoliberal globalization has been so graciously able to lift from the grips of poverty, according to Ho.
Ho’s short letter further lambasts Sanders for his “aversion to basic economics” and his “inability to accept the results of the Democratic primaries.” As a hallmark of many Clinton supporters, Ho presumably means to invoke Sanders’ supporters whenever she uses his name.
But even if Americans have had to learn something from the so-called Brexit, as Bernie says in his piece, Ho alleges that Sanders has learned nothing.
She complains, like many of Hillary’s supporters, that Sanders has not adequately pressed into service his political purchase with so many millions of Americans so as to adequately support “the one person standing between us and a Trump presidency: Hillary Clinton.”
Again, Ho isn’t alone in her inability to grasp the nonplussing actions of Bernie in light of a potential Trump presidency. Nor is she alone in her confusion about the general disdain that millions of Americans harbor for Hillary.
Actually, just last week, Robert Reich posted on his Facebook account a Times article about the deadlock between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the polls. One would think this would sink in for all the Clintonistas—that they would have enough sense to gather that Hillary is not the only person standing between “us and a Trump presidency,” to reiterate Ho.
But, somehow, they just don’t get it.
Reich proves as much in his post. He writes, “I don’t get how Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump can be deadlocked (according to a new national poll of registered voters released this morning), with 42 percent supporting her and 40 percent backing him.”
This frankly worries me. Trump hasn’t put up a single television ad, his campaign is in shambles, he has almost no field staff, he’s spent almost zilch and his campaign bank is nearly empty, and he’s been getting nothing but horrible press. Hillary Clinton has been blanketing swing states with ads, her campaign is being run like clockwork and it’s huge, and she’s pulling in and spending money like mad.
More to the point, Trump is a bigoted petulant egomaniac with the temperament of a hyena. She’s experienced, competent, and intelligent.
Baffled by the recent metrics, Reich cries out in his Facebook post as if to God: “What’s going on?”
Well, perhaps Reich, like Ho, is a true believer.
Trump’s dismal popularity notwithstanding, Hillary’s warranted disapproval doesn’t boil down to misogyny, though some would prefer it. And the confusion about Hillary’s deadlock with Trump is not all that hard to understand. To quote Liza Featherstone on the faux feminism of HRC, that “…[Hillary Clinton] has actually dedicated her career to austerity, state repression and imperialism…”
Clinton supporters knows all this. But they just don’t care. Why should they?
It’s safe to say that Ho and Clinton supporters are the ones to need “to wake up to a modern reality” in which globalization is neither inevitable nor beneficial, does not create domestic jobs or raise millions out of poverty, and only exists to stratify the wealth that the superrich are able to accumulate and enjoy.
Obviously, many Marxist thinkers have long treated neoliberalism, globalization and the American project for development as the latest incarnation of imperialist exploitation—something that certainly plagues people in the Third World.
And many of us who have been critical of neoliberalism —even well before the IMF itself called it into question this June— still bemoan the highly predatory structural adjustment programs that capitalist non-state institutions have forced down the throats of billions so that, as Bernie wrote, “the wealthiest 62 people on this planet (might) own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population…”
Ho’s (and Hillary’s) ideology pivots on gross global inequality, economic inequities, rampant unemployment, utter alienation and the destruction of sociability, the raping of the environment and cultural inculcation.
Illuminating the negatives that have resulted from neoliberalism and a globally liberalized economic world order is not hard. Illuminating the ills of market fundamentalism, deregulation and the gnarly externalities of privatization is not hard.
But getting the Hillary stalwarts to support a democratic platform is difficult. Getting them to make sense of reality, if not, for themselves, is difficult, too.
In her letter, Ho voiced exactly what has been the quintessence of the Hillary camp ever since it became apparent Trump would be her opponent. That is, the rallying cry of a truly desperate, reactionary and fascistic plea. It screams, “Stand with me, Hillary Clinton, and let us fight Trump’s reactionary fascism with my own trusted brand of it.”
Many of us, however, aren’t fools.
Mateo Pimentel is a sixth-generation denizen of the Mexico-United States borderland. Mateo writes for political newsletters and alternative news sources. He also publishes in academic journals. Mateo has lived, worked and studied throughout Latin America for over a decade. He is a graduate student at Arizona State University and composes and records music in his free time. He tweets from @Mateo_Pimentel.