Friday, August 12, 2016

Editorial: Berniecrats’ Choice

The Democratic National Convention went about as well as could be expected for Hillary Clinton. On the first night, former rival Bernie Sanders gave her a strong endorsement. Some of his supporters weren’t willing to let go, and booed every mention of Clinton’s name at the convention, but they have little choice if they want to achieve what Sanders fought for.

In Clinton, the Berniecrats have a candidate who has agreed with Sanders on about 90% of his program, including the need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage; the need to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants; and the need to act on climate change,.

Sanders and Clinton agreed on a proposal to guarantee tuition-free college education for most students; they want to move toward universal health care, with a public option in their health care exchange and access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers.

Clinton also agreed with the Democratic platform’s calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clinton also supports overturning the Citizens United decision which allows the wealthiest people in America to buy elections. Sanders has noted that Clinton’s Supreme Court appointees will defend the rights of workers, women, the LGBT community, minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect our environment.

Bernie-Or-Busters who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary can opt for Jill Stein, the Green presidential nominee, who might have a more progressive agenda than Sanders, but she has never been elected to an office higher than the Lexington, Mass., town council and she won’t be elected president in November. Greens are on 20 state ballots as of July, according to

The worst alternative is Trump, a narcissistic sociopath who has gained support from the white working class with his attacks on undocumented immigrants and free trade deals, but in his business career he has taken advantage of those trade pacts to outsource manufacturing of his clothing lines to Mexico, China and other overseas factories and he has been known to employ undocumented workers. He has resisted union organizers at his resorts and he does not support a national minimum wage; instead he thinks states should have the right to lower the minimum wage below the current $7.25 an hour. He has resisted paying small businesses for work they’ve done at his resorts and casinos, forcing many of them to accept lower fees than they had agreed to, or sue him, knowing that his legal team could delay court action and starve the contractors out.

Trump also has voiced support for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act to break up big banks, but when he announced a 13-member economic advisory team Aug. 5, Zach Carter reported at, the team included bankers, hedge fund managers from Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns, a shale oil magnate, a real estate developer and the head of Cerberus Capital Management, a notoriously secretive private equity firm. “These are, in other words, mostly people who have backed traditional Republican policies: tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and free trade,” Carter noted. And in a speech to the Detroit Economics Club on Aug. 8, he proposed a moratorium on new agency regulations along with slashing tax rates, which amounts to a replay of Bush-era economic policy that nearly sent the world into a depression in 2008.

Unfortunately, many Sanders supporters have adopted the Republican talking point that Clinton can’t be trusted. They should know better. Clinton has been slurred over a quarter century by the right-wing echo machine and in the past few years the muck has been piled on by taxpayer-funded political action committees operated by Republicans in the House of Representatives with an eye to increasing her negatives. And they succeeded.

Progressives can and should keep an eye on Hillary to make sure she follows through on her promises, but she started left of center with an interest in public service since her college days. She may have friends on Wall Street but Trump has been looking out for his own bottom line since his daddy bankrolled his first real estate ventures in New York. And Trump won’t release his tax returns because he doesn’t want us to know about some of his more exotic business ties. If you believe in his promises of economic populism, you’re being taken for a sucker and you’re likely to join the legions who have gone broke believing Donald Trump’s promises during his long career of enriching himself.

Nicholas Kristof noted in the New York Times (Aug. 7) that a recent CBS News poll found that only 34% of registered voters said Clinton is honest and trustworthy compared with 36% for Trump. “Yet the idea that they are even in the same league is preposterous,” Kristof wrote. “If deception were a sport, Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y.”

As of Aug. 8, PolitiFact noted that 27% of Clinton’s statements it examined were “mostly false” or worse, including 11% that were false and another 2% classified as “Pants on Fire.” In comparison, 70% of Trump’s statements were rated “mostly false” or worse, including 36% “false” and 19% “Pants on Fire.”

PolitiFact judged 22% of Clinton’s statements were true, 28% were “mostly true” and 21% were “half true.” Trump’s statements were 4% true, 11% “mostly true” and 15% “half true.”

Likewise, the Washington Post Fact-Checker has awarded its worst ranking, Four Pinocchios, to 16% of Clinton’s statements that it checked and 64% of Trump’s. “Essentially, Clinton is in the norm for a typical politician,” Glenn Kessler, who runs Fact-Checker, told Kristof, while Trump “is just off the charts. There’s never been anyone like him, at least in the six years I have been doing this.”

Trump voters often argue that Clinton is an inveterate liar and a crook, Kristof wrote. Yet when pressed, they usually draw from the same handful of examples: Clinton’s 2008 claim that she landed in Bosnia “under sniper fire” and “ran with our heads down” from the plane, her statements to the families of the four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012, her disingenuous explanation of flip-flopping on the TPP and her accounts of her use of private email servers.

But this is junior varsity mendacity when compared with Trump, whom Kristof called “the champ of prevarication.” Politico found more than five dozen Trump statements deemed mischaracterizations, exaggerations, or simply false out of a week’s worth of public statements in March — an average of one misstatement every five minutes. The Huffington Post on March 30 chronicled 71 inaccuracies in an hourlong town hall session — more than one a minute.

Sanders supporters can be proud of what they have accomplished and we hope they have whetted their appetite toward political activism. Many of the current Democratic establishment got their starts as young supporters of progressive insurgents such as Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Fred Harris and Jesse Jackson (including Hillary Clinton, who cut her political teeth working on the McGovern campaign in Texas in 1972). Many others from those insurgent campaigns remain agitators and rabble rousers. The system depends on both sides staying in the game. A good way to keep the revolution going is the plan of some Sanders campaign staffers and volunteers to recruit and run 400-plus progressive candidates in a Brand New Congress campaign for the 2018 midterm elections.

For the next three months, however, Berniecrats and other progressive populists should work to elect Hillary Clinton and congressional Democrats to help Clinton and Sanders pass the progressive agenda the Democratic platform has outlined. — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2016

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