No Illusions


I’ve been getting a lot of pushback from liberal friends about my disdain for Democrats. “You’re helping Trump,” with your criticism of the blue team, they tell me.

Let me be clear–I’ve come to despise the tribalism that passes for politics. Instead, the identity politics practiced by team blue and the culture war practiced by team red are mutually reinforcing, in that they both beguile their respective supporters, to the delight of the plutocratic owners of both parties. For instance, we have one party that’s committed to Wall Street and to neoliberalism and is deeply and earnestly committed to a notion of diversity and multiculturalism, and another party that’s committed to Wall Street and neoliberalism, and is deeply opposed to multiculturalism and diversity.

With all of the challenges facing us, we can’t afford to have illusions about our enemies or our so-called allies. With that in mind, I’ve come to hate the Democrats more than Republicans because of their duplicity. I expect the Republicans to be evil, and they don’t disappoint, but the Democrats pretend to support progressive policies when it’s simply kayfabe.

“The problem we have is actually with the Democrats,” said Jessica Early, a nurse practitioner and health care justice organizer, in a 2017 interview with Truthout. “We know how Republicans are going to vote on this issue. The obstacle we face is getting Democrats who will support us into office.”

To understand why the Democrats have become the way they are it’s important to understand some history. The term “New Democrats” refers to an ideological and strategic movement that argues the U.S. is fundamentally a center-right country and the Democrats must embrace this — and corporate donors — to win elections. During the 1990s it was the most powerful wing of the party: Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden and most of the party’s top names were on board.

Our last President–Barak Obama–was also a “New Democrat”, something that a lot of liberals don’t want to acknowledge.

I’ve long been critical of Obama, having read The Audacity of Hope, where Obama professed his admiration of President Reagan, and the writings of political scientist, Adolf Reed Jr., who warned us about Obama, before the Senator from Illinois was elected President. I wasn’t alone. Many progressives have pointed out that hope and change were largely symbolic rather than substantive, and that Obama failed to use the transformative period after the Wall Street Crash to transform our extractive financial system, while his Justice Department let Wall Street criminals off the hook. Obama also deported staggering numbers of immigrants, supported fracking, killed American citizens with drones (and then made sickening jokes about it), killed lots more non-American citizens with drones, conducted violent regime-change operations in Libya, Ukraine and Syria, promised “the most transparent administration ever” and then was “worse than Nixon” in his paranoia about leakers, and pushed a market-friendly healthcare plan based on conservative premises instead of aiming for single-payer.

Obama’s defenders respond to these criticisms by blaming mean Republicans, but nobody forced Obama to nominate Joe Biden as Vice-President, or Tim Geithner as his Treasury Secretary. No one forced Obama to single out charterization advocate Arne Duncan for Education Secretary, and push a horrible “dog-eat-dog” funding system called “Race To The Top.” The Republicans certainly didn’t force Obama to choose Hillary-we came, we saw, he died-Clinton, as his Secretary of State.

Obama supporters think all of this is deeply cynical and unfair. But, as I said, we can’t afford to have illusions about our enemies and especially about our so-called allies.

And Trump, like so many before him, has been projecting with his well publicized disdain for socialism. After all, his MAGA regime, is simply a variant of Herrenvolk socialist-democracy, a system of government in which only the majority ethnic group participates in government largess, while minority groups are disenfranchised. Again, some history is in order. To be brutally honest, the New Deal was socialism for white people, as African-Americans and Hispanics were largely excluded from the government largess. This, I believe, is the America that Trump supporters long for.

The problem for all of us is that the owners of both parties have moved past offering benefits to average Americans. The logic of extractive capitalism mandates that the same policies of structural adjustment that gutted Third World countries must come back to the homeland. Indeed, since the 1970’s, Americans have been ravaged by four forces — financialization, monopoly, the implosion of the job, and austerity.

We’re used to thinking that offshoring simply transferred jobs from the US to Mexico, or India, or China. But the truth is subtler, and more ruinous. As jobs went to corrupt nations without decent labour or environmental laws, a boomerang effect happened. Our plutocratic owners discovered that they could do here what they had done there, and so they began stripping away everything that created the American Middle-class. Because the US economy was increasingly composed of monopolies, giant companies, banks, and investors had the power to do so with impunity. Speculators began raiding pension funds. Managers began stripping away benefits of every kind, from childcare, to vacations, to healthcare.

Until at last–we have the United States of Precariat, where a con-man like Trump could be seen as an agent of change.

The salient question is what are we going to do now?

We can continue to fight each other over cultural or identity politics like crabs in a pot of water, or we can focus on the real enemy.

It’s now or never.

The water is almost boiling.



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