Last month, I penned an article that would go one to become one of my most popular works, titled Why I Fear The Democratic Establishment Just As Much As I Fear Trump. In it, I chronicled the saga of egregious acts employed by Democratic elites throughout the last two years-rigging the 2016 Democratic primary, then denying doing so, then starting a McCarthyite campaign that could result in war with Russia. You know, the usual-before concluding on the more hopeful note that these tactics have been employed because the oligarchs in control of the party know their reign is in danger of coming to an end. And now I'm following it up with a piece articulating why, in addition to fearing Trump and the neoliberal Democrats equally, I view the so-called resistance movement and the Trump administration as equally big threats to the country's future.
Namely, because the neoliberal Democrats are now aiming to continue their reign by going so far as dismantling the democratic process itself.
I'd first like to make clear to any pro-establishment liberals reading this that when I attack this movement-which my fellow blogger Caitlin Johnstone has so appropriately classified as the "McResistance"- I'm not helping Trump in the least. Because as David Rosen assesses, the persons and entities behind the McResistance are not actually resisting Trump: "Trump changed the game of establishment politics and now is president. The Democrats are floundering, unsure of how to face the demands of a trying historical test. The Democrats, overseen by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Wall Street’s inside man, have no clue as to what to do. The social order is in crisis, undercut by the restructuring of global capitalism, and he lacks the vision to see what’s going on, let alone do anything to address it. Equally challenging, he seems to be losing party discipline, with Wall Street Democrats in panic. Most revealing, today the Democrats follow — do not lead! — the popular insurgency spreading the country."
Additionally, Democrats like Schumer clearly don't even have any desire to fight against most of Trump's agenda, such as expanding the U.S. military empire, transferring wealth to the top, and taking away civil liberties, seeing as they share those goals with Trump. So by going after the McResistance, I'm not hurting a movement that fights the Trump agenda, but quite the opposite.
What is the point of this movement entities like the Democratic Party, the military and intelligence community elites, and much of the corporate media have gone to so much trouble in putting together if they don't even truly intend to fight Trump? That question was cleared up for us on March 8, when Politico published an article titled The Resistance Will Be...Underwritten By Corporations. You'd assume from the headline that it's a piece sarcastically denouncing the involvement of corporate and billionaire money with a movement whose anti-corporatism is crucial for its success, but in a political landscape so defined these days by Orwellian logic, intuition doesn't apply to things like this. The piece, it turns out, is a happy endorsement of corporate money.
It begins as follows:
Late last month, a few hours before the Democratic National Committee elected Tom Perez as chair, party officials held a vote on whether to accept donations from corporate political action committees. The debate was not conducted in the backroom, but in front of C-SPAN cameras. And Democrats, loudly and proudly, chose to accept corporate cash.
On the floor, California’s Bob Mulholland, after conceding, “I’m not a member of Mother Teresa’s sisters’ organization. I am a member of the Democratic Party” swam against the populist tide: “All those corporations in North Carolina, who stood up for the Democratic Party platform against the law there to try to outlaw or discriminate against transgender [people], why should the Democratic Party say now, ‘Hey, great what you did, but we’re not gonna take your contributions?’” Charles Stormont of Utah contended Democrats can safely accept money from corporations “as long as they understand I will treat them no differently because of it” while warning, “We cannot afford not to take corporate money, or we disappear.”Any half-respectable journalist would have followed up by pointing out the outrageousness of those statements. Namely: A, Mulholland basically bragged about the Democrats choosing not to do the most good possible, B, he then simultaneously implied both that Democrats can't choose to fight for transgender rights on their own and that there's nothing wrong with those corporations because they did one good thing, and C, Stormont told the two biggest lies about corporate money, which are that it doesn't necessarily influence the actions of politicians and that politicians can't keep afloat without it. Instead, because war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength, the piece's author, Bill Scher, writes:
The optics may be lousy, but the DNC made the right call. To maximize resistance to Donald Trump, Democrats need to win as many 2018 midterm election races as possible. And they can’t do it on $27 checks alone.
Of course, that’s not how the progressive populists see it. After watching Bernie Sanders raise millions for his presidential bid with small donations, and watching Hillary Clinton get skewered for her Wall Street ties, they are convinced the party is worse off with corporate cash. Jon Gardzelewski, a new DNC member from Wyoming, said on the floor, “This last election cycle, there was a fire lit under the voters of the American people [who] supported a message to get money out of politics … We’re going to need them … We need the votes a lot more than we need a little bit of corporate money.”Scher then goes on with an attempt to disprove this notion which, to his credit, consists of some very creative distortions of reality. He entirely dodges the point made by the Cenk Huegur quote included in the article correctly saying large amounts of money haven't done a thing for the Democrats' ability to win elections in these last eight years when that money has come from oligarchs. Scher instead doubles down on the claim that the amount of money candidates spend is always the chief decider of who wins. And when the time unavoidably came to acknowledge that Clinton lost the election last year despite wildly outspending her opponent, he somehow managed to twist it into a defense of Citizens United after implicitly acknowledging what refuted the claim he'd just made, which is that ideas can easily decide elections regardless of who spends the most money.
And it gets worse. As Scher goes on to state:
Furthermore, the parts of the Trump agenda that most disgust the left are not supported by Big Money. Most corporations do not have an interest in a border wall, mass deportations, a refugee ban, discrimination against the transgendered or the denigration of the free press. The business community likes Trump’s deregulatory zeal, but it’s divided over his border tax and trade war musings. The health insurance industry is nervous that repeal of the Affordable Care Act will cause market chaos, and the loss of the individual mandate will rob them of customers.When one reads that twice, one easily realizes Scher is not just minimizing the significance of big business' support for policies that transfer wealth to the top, but trying to get us to subconsciously support a number of those policies. If I understand Scher's reference to Trump's trade war correctly, he's talking about Trump's opposition to neoliberal trade deals like NAFTA. And the aspects of Obamacare Scher names that are supported by Big Money all include the corporatist parts of the law. This subtle effort to get us to believe corporations have our best interests at heart Scher then implicitly contradicts with this whopper of a paragraph:
Forging a big donor-small donor coalition is hardly unprecedented; it’s what the Democratic Party has done for decades. Obama had 4 million small donors in 2008, but 66 percent of his money came from larger donors and 20 percent came from Wall Street. Obama’s Wall Street take was a tick smaller than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 25 percent in 1932. Woodrow Wilson was a small-donor pioneer in 1912, but also had ample Wall Street backing. The trust-busting progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt also had a “monster 1904 slush fund” from Wall Street sources. All of these liberal icons did not hesitate to regulate corporations in office despite their funding sources, so there’s no reason to assume the taking of corporate money will cause a deathblow to the progressive agenda.So now that we know corporations can be trusted but it's still good that taking corporate money doesn't influence the decisions of politicians, we can relax and let the oligarchs take charge of the resistance. Except Scher has just presented us with utter nonsense. The links Scher provides to the situation with Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt reveal that in the case of the former, the Wall Street backers were advocates of progressive causes, and that in the case of the latter, the slush fund had resulted in the appointment of corporate executives to high positions within the White House and the Republican National Committee.
As for FDR, the only reason the New Deal came to be was that Roosevelt caved into enormous public pressure after his 1932 presidential campaign and abandoned the cause of his Wall Street donors, who up until then had held great influence over him. And it's a flat-out lie that Obama's Wall Street donations didn't affect his actions, as evidenced both by how he voted for the bank bailouts as a Senator and refused to sufficiently re-regulate Wall Street as president, not to mention how he admitted himself at one point that big donors' money influenced him.
Scher then signs off with the assertion that what he so authoritatively calls "The Resistance" is only viable if what he so self-revealingly calls "corporate shmoozing" can take place. I apologize for the length of the preceding deconstruction, but that article reveals a lot about the intentions of those behind the McResistance. And while the views it reflects are very much fringe (a glorious 84% of Americans think money has too much influence over the political process), it reflects the overwhelming consensus among current Democratic Party insiders, big-time corporate media pundits, and the other champions of the McResistance.
This is evidenced not just by the poll results that prove the members of the top 0.1% are generally less inclined towards a democratized political and economic system than most others, but by the opinions that they and their propaganda gofers express, with Scher's article being no exception. Corporate media outlets, Politico especially, have responded to the political awakening in regards to money in politics caused by the Sanders campaign with variations of Scher's piece like Why Hillary Clinton Can't Stop Raising Wall Street Cash and Why It's OK To Accept Wall Street Campaign Cash, complete with the same excuses for corruption that I just refuted.
"One of the most embarrassing aspects of U.S. politics is politicians who deny that money has any impact on what they do," wrote The Intercept's Jon Scharz in summer 2015, even before Bernie and his millions of small donors stirred up so much trouble. "For instance, Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s notoriously fracking-friendly former governor, got $1.7 million from oil and gas companies but assured voters that 'The contributions don’t affect my decisions.' If you’re trying to get people to vote for you, you can’t tell them that what they want doesn’t matter. This pose is also popular with a certain prominent breed of pundits, who love to tell us 'Don’t Follow the Money' (New York Times columnist David Brooks), or 'Money does not buy elections' (Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner on public radio’s Marketplace), or 'Money won’t buy you votes' (Yale Law School professor Peter H. Schuck in the Los Angeles Times)."
But by the time Democratic elites were finally able to get rid of Sanders a year later, the plutocracy and its defenders had seen their already flimsy narrative of how "money doesn't hurt democracy" had for the most part been irrecoverably blown apart, and many of them adopted a new one: "screw democracy."
It started with a lengthy piece, published on May 1st, 2016 by the these days occasional blogger Andrew Sullivan which, despite being in many respects brilliant, included some troublingly inaccurate diagnoses of the factors behind its subject Donald Trump. The article, titled Democracies End When They Are Too Democratic, had just that message. Sullivan rightly pointed to "global economic forces" as the reason so many in the Rust Belt and Middle America now felt inclined towards Trump's protectionist and isolationist rhetoric, but failed to mention that those global economic forces were engineered by powerful corporations rather than brought about naturally as Sullivan implies. Sullivan also, rather absurdly, pointed to American society these days being more democratic than in the past as the reason for demagoguery's rise, brushing off the proven fact that America is now not a democracy or even a republic but an oligarchy run by billionaires with anecdotal accounts of large amounts of big donor campaign cash not helping candidates. He then vaguely but strongly advocated for a far less democratized system as a means to stop Trumpism.
It continued with a similar piece in the July 2016 issue of The Atlantic, written by Jonathan Rauch, which proclaims political sanity has been done in by not just too much democracy but too little political influence among elite interests. The latter of which Rauch also ludicrously describes as more common in the past, and Orwellianly says "play a vital role as political bonding agents."
It really began to gain steam when beltway commentators, in reaction to Brexit, largely started saying the root of the demagoguery problem was allowing dumb people to vote and even seek information out for themselves, such was the case with the June 2016 piece It's Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses. Not to mention the even more pro-autocracy U.S. News article by one Harry Jaffe, praising the newly exposed top DNC officials for showing bias against Bernie Sanders.
But at a certain point in the middle of last year, the openly professed desire among elites to use Trump as an excuse to do away with democracy grew strong enough to compel Matt Taibbi to write an article titled In Response to Trump, Another Dangerous Movement Appears, which concludes as follows:
Donald Trump is dangerous because as president, he'd likely have little respect for law. But a gang of people whose metaphor for society is "We are the white cells, voters are the disease" is comparably scary in its own banal, less click-generating way.
These self-congratulating congoscenti could have looked at the events of the last year and wondered why people were so angry with them, and what they could do to make government work better for the population.
Instead, their first instinct is to dismiss voter concerns as baseless, neurotic bigotry and to assume that the solution is to give Washington bureaucrats even more leeway to blow off the public. In the absurdist comedy that is American political life, this is the ultimate anti-solution to the unrest of the last year, the mathematically perfect wrong ending.
Trump is going to lose this election, then live on as the reason for an emboldened, even less-responsive oligarchy. And you thought this election season couldn't get any worse.Given recent developments, though, the fact that Taibbi was wrong in that election prediction implicates an even bigger threat to democracy.
Since Trump's victory, the calls for ending democracy among McResistance leaders have only gotten more vocal. In a late 2016 piece that's oddly contradictory given how Trump was able to win because of the Electoral College, Michael W. McConnell praised the Electoral College as well as the two-party system (the allowance for viable third parties in other democracies, he says, lets "fringe factions" exert excessive control, presumably by making it so that anyone who supports the party that most aligns with their views can, reprehensibly, vote for that party as easily as any other). Citing the repugnance of the 2016 major party nominees, McConnel also advocated for the elimination of voting in the presidential nominating process, saying party elites can be counted on to choose the best nominees because they "have incentives to choose candidates with an eye toward popular electability and governing skill." This movement to alleviate the plight of today's power-deprived elites has since lived on with the corporate money-endorsing Politico article above, along with the statements from Democratic leaders about corporate money that the article quotes.
No matter that lack of a multiparty system and insufficient opportunities for regular people to get their views represented are at the core of why so many chose to support Trump last year, as evidenced by how most Republican voters do not feel either major party has listened to them. No matter that on the Democratic side, party elites actually did handpick their nominee last year, and chose a candidate who was neither willing to govern wisely nor evidently able to gain popular electability. And no matter that money in politics is what made "The Resistance" necessary in the first place. Because for the Deep State, the Trump-wary neocons, and the establishment Democrats, "The Resistance" is not about preserving democracy or even, in many ways, resisting Trump.
It's about getting towards the endgame of an attack on democracy that these forces started forty years ago, and that they don't intend to stop just because the majority of the American people now want them to stop it.
Throughout these next few years, we are going to see the neoliberal Democrats at their very worst. We're going to see more and more corporate media articles advocating for corporate and elite control over the Democratic Party and the centers of power in general. We're going to see more and more defiant and frequent actions from neoliberal Democrats to shut out progressives, possibly going so far as widespread election fraud and voter suppression in the 2018 elections. We're going to see escalating rhetorical attacks on Bernie Sanders and his movement, ranging from the personal to the ideological. And when the inevitable terrorist attack gives the Trump administration an opportunity to vastly expand its authority and quite possibly destroy the pretense of American democracy, the neoliberal Democrats will simultaneously partner up with Trump and Friends to work towards eliminating representative government and greatly ramp up their theatrical McResistance efforts, complete with all the blabber about "uniting against Trump," to marginalize progressive dissent.
When Debbie Wasserman Schultz responded almost a year ago to Bernie Sanders' complaint that the DNC wasn't treating him fairly with the private gripe, "Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do," what she meant likely wouldn't fully be made apparent till several years afterward.
And then, of course, the Sandersists will fight harder than ever, manage to retain what's left of our democratic system, and ride what will ultimately come to be overwhelming public opposition towards Trump and the neoliberal Democrats to landslide victories in 2018 and 2020. But in the meantime, not just Trump, but the phony and ulterior motive-driven movement that he's made possible, deserves our utmost concern.