by BURKELY HERMANN
In perusing reddit, looking at where my posts ended up, there was a plethora of responses to my article titled ‘A Progressive Surge of Deceptive Hope’(1) which talked about politicians who put out an image saying they were populist when in reality they were in the pockets of vested interests. This article is written to respond to those criticisms.
The responses to this article were varied. One person said on the American Politics subreddit that what I wrote was “propaganda” but went no further. (2) I’m not really sure what this means, but probably is just an expression of how they don’t like this article to begin with. The response on the OccupyWallStreet subreddit was one of the best, with a commenter saying that some compromise is needed in politics but rightly saying: “there are many troubling things in this article beyond that. It’s clear the Democrats won’t save us.” (3) The response on the alltheleft subreddit was the most comprehensive of left-leaning views, (4) which is what this article will address in full:
Criticism #1: “ …You cannot be in government without having to make compromises. So is it better to have an Elizabeth Warren and an Alan Grayson for example and have some expressly say things that we want said or not? We do not have a multi party system and may never have one. In Europe you get real progressives but they rarely if ever get real power. So what is the difference? This article simply says everyone is compromised.”(5)
My response: That’s exactly the point. Everyone is compromised. As a general rule, don’t trust any politician, regardless of the party because they love to just lie, get re-elected, etc… At least, that’s how I feel. This view is one that is shared across this country as hard-working people realize that government is helping the rich, and powerful and not them. This article can be read by anyone, but it is specifically meant to counter this idea that Republicans are bad, and Democrats are good. This is utter bullshit. Both parties are funded by vested interests. Open Secrets shows that in the election cycle leading up to 2014, the big technology and the entertainment companies poured money into the powerful. Democratic National Committee.(6) As for the Republican National Committee, Goldman Sachs and other financial “service” organizations give huge gobs of money. (7)This is a fact and is indisputable. I was just reading this article recently by the late Alexander Cockburn describing that a good amount of Democrats voted for Taft-Harley in 1947, a law which restricted the power of unions in this country. (8) Wikipedia describes this law very well, and how it basically gave the green light for right-to-work. (9) This is utterly disgusting. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1961, “in our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.” (10) Yes, Harry Truman vetoed this law, but then he used it later in his presidency, and he started a war in Korea without congressional approval. To get back to the question, in a sense we do have a multi-party system in the US. There are five major parties in the US: the Democrats, the Republicans, the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Constitution Party.(11) Now, while these parties may be highly centralized and not as democratic as one would like, you can’t deny that these parties exist. That is sadly what a recent Gallup poll on third parties did. (12) Beyond the Dems and the GOP, these parties haven’t essential cracked into the national level, but they have to some extent done this on the local and state levels.
Criticism #2 (sorta): “I think this is too simplistic though. It suggests that everyone in politics has been corrupted, that everything is rigged and predetermined, etc. But you only have to look at the clusterfuck that is the American Congress to see that it’s clearly not all rigged, if anything, it’s a bunch of people running around with no idea what they’re doing. Society is certainly rigged in the larger systematic sense, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in Congress thinks the same or that there aren’t people in office who are better than others.”(13)
My response: While there is a good deal to truth to this, there is something missing. Simply put, everyone in politics is corrupted by some interest or another. An example is, as my liberal friend tells me, Chuck Schumer works for the big banks in New York. In a sense everything is rigged, not necessarily in a conspiratorial way or a secret one, but by the influx of money itself. Campaign contributions are legalized bribery. I’d even go as far to say, this statement applies to anyone who gives campaign contributions. The title of this article, comes from the comment the criticism is responding to, which should be read in full. (14)
Criticism #3: “…this article seems determined to take purity trolling to another level. For instance, it implies that Alan Grayson shouldn’t be trusted because he accepted a grand total of $5,000 from employees of defense companies. I’m also not sure the relevance of criticizing people simply because they made money, which is probably what allowed them to run for office in the first place given the way our political system works. The bottom line is that if these candidates can achieve positive things…I’m not saying I’m such a big fan of Grayson, in fact I don’t really know about all of his positions. I just thought the criticisms in the article were kind of a stretch, for instance Warren supported a guy for chairman of a committee who supported SOPA…I’m more interested in a substantive, policy based critique of the Democratic party and American liberalism as a whole.”(15)
My response: This doesn’t talk about ‘purity’ of candidates. In the section of the article that is being referred to, it is a small section of the overall analysis. Alan Grayson took a noble position on Syria, and that seems not debatable at least in my view. What I said was that “in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, he has received $5,750 from defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell International along with technology giants like Google and AT&T.” That makes the comment that he accepted $5,000 from employees of defense companies to be blatantly false. It was more than that. That is only a SLIVER of what he received. The focus on this minor detail is just absurd. Yes, the system is awash in money. I do NOT think the criticisms in this article were a stretch, as for the most part, they were not my words, based off the words of others. In fact, to expose these politicians I mostly used two resources: Wikipedia and OpenSecrets. You want to challenge them? Go ahead. The fact that these is no criticism of anything else I wrote in that section is deeply revealing. It seems clear that the commenter didn’t read the one and half paragraphs I wrote about Grayson, but instead picked at a certain little detail, to help discredit it. Then, the commenter mentions that it is a stretch that I highlighted that Warren “supported a guy for chairman of a committee who supported SOPA.” Actually, that person, who is named Mel Watt, and “has been nominated to be the next executive of the Federal Housing Finance Agency…[who] voted to have derivatives deregulated [and] supported the internet censorship bill, SOPA…[and] he helped gut Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Fed.” This is NOT as stretch. The reason why is that Warren put out a press release (which was a bunch of lies) about this on her own government website! (16) Come on. I relied on such sources as well, as they come directly from the candidate. To be clear, all quoted sections are from the original article unless noted otherwise.
Criticism #4: “i found it interesting that ‘voted for obamacare’ was a negative. we all know obamacare was a sysem to enshrine the insurance companies in our medical system, but it’s not like they were going anywhere. and voting against it doesn’t make single-payer any more viable.” (17)
My response: Some say that implementing Obamacare is better than the status quo, and should be a net plus. Part of this logic revolves around the idea that single-payer healthcare is not a feasible leftist alternative. If you want to deal with feasibility, consider that both parties are funded by different sectors of the business community. Look it up on OpenSecrets if you don’t believe me. This logic is utterly absurd. Single-payer has been introduced in Congress numerous times:
1. In February John Conyers introduced the H.R. 676, “The Expanded And Improved Medicare For All Act.”
2. In May 2011, Bernie Sanders and Jim McDermott introduced legislation that would put in place systems on a state level that implements Medicare-like healthcare systems for all the residents of the states called the American Health Security Act of 2011
3. In June 2012, members of the corporate-funded Congressional Progressive Caucus said they would push for a Medicare for All System if Obamacare was struck down
There is no point in arguing about the past, and saying that people only had certain choices to vote for either. All I will say is that if one argues there were only two choices available for people to vote for, that is promoting a false dilemma. All of this reminds me of this well-known exchange of words in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:
Nick Carroway: “You can’t repeat the past.”
Jay Gatsby: “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”
I could go on and on with this. Single-payer healthcare is definitely feasible. Read what the Physicians for a National Health Program has to say about this, the history of Single Payer by SP Education, and a post titled ‘Public Option Vs. Single Payer’ by Factcheck.org in December 2009. One can just look all of this up on my two favorite search engines, DuckDuckGo.com or startpage.com for starters. Then, some will still say that this is ‘purity trolling’ which is also utterly absurd. This article is meant to challenge people’s views, not push some bit of purity. I have had a recent view that politicians were just slimy, nasty scumbags who didn’t care about me, so in part I wrote this articles to figure out if that was true, and educate others on what I learned. That is all.
Ok. Its time to bring back my article I wrote on my old tumblr blog, HermannView, about the Affordable Corporatist Act as well. Here’s a snippet: “Obamacare is not for the people… Now back to this corporatist piece of legislation. If you still think this law was all nice and dandy…then you are wrong… Also one must remember that big corps. like McDonalds were offered waivers and eventually added up to over 2 million employees. As the most recent information it seems the program ended as of accepting new waivers but old waivers issued stayed. They are planned to end in 2013… Now if you still don’t believe this narrative consider these articles from CounterPunch. One said that the vote upholding the healthcare law helped the “corporate right,” another said that it was a bailout, another said it was a “disaster”, one said that the law is a lack of remedies, another said it was a “deception,” one notes that the program to stop companies from denying pre-existing conditions has long numbers of people enrolled and the law doesn’t provide universal coverage (here), how the law is unconstitutional, how it kills real healthcare reform, how it is simply a “facade or regulation,” and how it is simply corruption. I could go on. With all of this evidence showing that the Affordable Corporatist Act I bet there are still some that say I’m all wrong. Maybe this is because they conned you into support it (also here).”(18) Also see these interesting twitter conversations I had as well. (19) There is also a great article about this on Black Agenda Report as well. (20) A debate on Democracy Now! about this was pretty good as well (21).
There are number of sections not addressed by the criticisms. These include most of what I wrote about Elizabeth Warren, what I wrote about Dennis Kucinich (who I deeply respect), Kyrsten Sinema, Tammy Baldwin, Tulsi Gubbard, Tammy Duckworth, Sherrod Brown, Keith Ellison, and my final conclusion. Like the rest of the article, these points stay completely valid, even with some of these reasoned and strange criticisms. In the end, I recommend everyone read this article (if you haven’t done so) in its entirety, instead of just selecting certain parts you don’t like. (1)
(15) http://www.reddit.com/r/alltheleft/comments/1on10k/a_progressive_surge_of_deceptive_hope/ccu5zdx and http://www.reddit.com/r/alltheleft/comments/1on10k/a_progressive_surge_of_deceptive_hope/ccv9t1i