Just when you thought this political year couldn't get any weirder, along comes the entire Democratic Party establishment rushing en masse to the cliff's edge, hurling itself headfirst into the presidential contest. What has spurred this gaggle of political operatives, fat-cat donors and former presidential hopefuls is a collective impulse to unite behind the very worst candidate the party could possibly put up against President Donald Trump in November's election: Joe Biden.
While practically everyone in the political swirl admits privately that the former vice president is pretty slow, awfully corporate and practically bent double with a bag full of very bad political positions he's taken during his decadeslong career as a Washington insider, his establishment cohorts are now resurrecting his dormant campaign by ecstatically proclaiming that he's a "winner."
When pressed, their main pitch for Biden is that he's "decent." Well, even Melania Trump would probably like to see something better than Donald's in-your-face, gross-out indecency in a president, but every contender for the Democratic nomination met this minimal threshold of suitability (and before the establishment hoists "Gentle Joe" onto a pedestal of decency, it might check with Anita Hill about his ugly political abuse of her).
A "winner"? How enthusiastic will seniors, low-income families and others be when they realize Biden has spent 30 years (including during his vice presidency) trying to cut spending for the people's crucial safety net, declaring: "I meant Social Security as well; I meant Medicare and Medicaid; I meant veterans' benefits. ... I not only tried it once. I tried it twice ... a third time ... a fourth time."
Also, how excited will young voters be to find that kindly, old Joe has constantly backed efforts by big bankers to make it harder for students to get out from under the bankers' price-gouging loan payments? And how thrilled will hard-hit manufacturing workers be that Biden has been a constant cheerleader for NAFTA and other job-killing, wage-busting trade scams?
At a time when big majorities are clearly sick and tired of business-as-usual politics and are demanding bold policies for grassroots progress, why would Democrats put up the poster boy of corporate-purchased, inside-the-beltway status quoism? Biden would be uniquely vulnerable to Trump this fall and lose the political future for Democrats by turning off voter turnout — especially among young people and others who feel abandoned by the establishment.
Cynically, the Democratic Party's moneyed and political elites have rushed to hug up Joe Biden, not because he's the best the party's got but because of what he's not: He's not Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The party powers are ganging up on Bernie and, more specifically, ganging up in a political panic against the growing grassroots insurgency of young activists, women, Latinos, Asian Americans, working-class whites and others who're fed up with the party's same-old, same-old politics that's knocking down the middle class and holding down the poor. Funded by the uber-rich, the elites are colluding in a blatant power play to cut off this rising democratic majority inside the Democratic Party, pushing old Joe forward not because he has any appeal to those they're trying to shut out but simply because he's one of the inside clique — a trusty who's no threat to the corporate order that's suppressing America's democratic possibilities.
Of course, they don't have the integrity to say this. Instead, they claim Sanders and his supporters are advocating free health care-for-all and other ideas that "scare" voters — even most Democrats. Hello. In the 12 states where it was specifically polled in this election, that overdue reform has won handily, including getting 94.3% "Hell Yes" support in the recent Democratic primary in my state of Texas!
Still, the money boys are pressing a Bernie Panic Button, saying he's too hot, too progressive — too Democratic — to beat Trump. The clueless plutocrat billionaire Mike Bloomberg (who even stooped to calling Sanders a communist) is setting up a one-man super PAC to enthrone Biden as the nominee. Yet, recent polls in key swing states, and in supposedly red states like Texas, confirm that the Vermont anti-establishment populist is the strongest candidate of all Democrats against Trump.
What if the people were to have a candidate in November who is not controlled by big campaign donors, who has the authenticity to stand unequivocally for what he believes in and who will fight the corporate powers — as former President Franklin Roosevelt once put it, "to restore America to its own people"? It could be a landslide for progress.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes "The Hightower Lowdown," a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.
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