American Herald Tribune | Danny Haiphong: The New York Times reported on Labor Day weekend that top Democrats are already preparing for the 2020 election. Countless Democratic Party officials have been busy on the fundraising trail, making visits to wealthy donors in their popular vacation destinations. This includes popular names such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. The Times notes that the Democratic Party’s preparations are unprecedented this early into Donald Trump’s presidency. What the preparations reveal is both desperation and opportunism as the Democrats seek to position themselves for the next election campaign.
Democratic Party efforts to develop a campaign strategy for 2020 have focused primarily on fundraising rather than the issues affecting poor and working people. The Times article describes in great detail the excursions to Martha’s Vineyard taken by potential Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Warren has lamented in the past about the Democratic Party’s reliance on Wall Street money yet has spent much of the summer courting wealthy donors. Kamala Harris, meanwhile, has emulated Warren and has spent ample time studying the online fundraising methods used by Bernie Sanders.
Some of the wealthy donors seeking to line Harris and Warren’s pockets include Boston real estate developer Richard Friedman and Oakland Athletics owner Guy Saperstein. The courtship of wealthy, capitalist donors places the Democratic Party on a losing path. Even as figures such as Harris try to learn how to appeal to Sanders voters, their fundraising activities repeat the very mistake Hillary Clinton made in her 2016 campaign. It was Clinton’s ties to Wall Street that made Bernie Sanders attractive to Democratic Party voters who found themselves in Wall Street-facilitated debt and poverty. WikiLeaks struck the final blow to Clinton’s campaign when it revealed that Hillary Clinton had used her influence over the Democratic National Committee to rig the primaries against Sanders.
The fact that Warren and Harris have not learned from Clinton’s mistakes should come as no surprise. It really isn’t up to them. The Democratic Party has long been a wholly owned political subsidiary of the corporate oligarchy. During the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton’s financial ties to Wall Street hedge funds, military contractors, and energy conglomerates through the Clinton Foundation. However, the corporate ownership of the Democratic Party didn’t start with Hillary Clinton. This has been a decades long trend that reached its pinnacle under the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
A quick look into the Democratic Party’s top donors gives a clear picture as to why its top brass cannot break from the corporate oligarchy. Top Democratic Party donor Tom Steyer is a billionaire hedge fund investor who owns stock in the Corrections Corporation of America. Other top donorsinclude Hedge Fund magnate Donald Sussman and co-owner of Facebook Dustin Moskovitz. These elements of the ruling class only skim the surface of the corporate patronage involved in the numerous PACs that donate to the Democratic Party in exchange for favorable political policy. Under these conditions, trips to Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons are just part of the job of being a prospective Democratic Party presidential nominee.
But business as usual will be the death of the Democratic Party. The Clinton-Obama wing of the party remains dominant. That means opposition to universal healthcare remains the consensus in the party despite over eighty percent of Democratic voters supporting the measure. It also means that the Democratic Party will continue to support policies that simply make life harder for poor and working people. This is not to mention how establishment Democrats have taken the lead in waging endless war around the planet at the expense of all of humanity.
The Democratic Party elite hope that figureheads such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren can hide these inconvenient truths. For all of their branding as guardians of a mythical “middle class,” neither Harris or Warren possess a clean record. Warren is a staunch defender of Israel even when it conducts genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. She is also a strong supporter of sanctions against Iran. So while she gives lip service to reducing military spending and student loan debt, Warren has been historically unwilling to challenge the military machinery that contradicts her domestic policy positions.
Then there is Kamala Harris. Harris was once called the “best looking” Attorney General by none other than Barack Obama. But looks can be deceiving. Harris has defended both banks and prisons from punishment. She failed to prosecute OneWest Bank in 2013 despite ample evidence that it violated the law in over 1,000 foreclosures. The year before, Harris defended the right of prisons to inflict cruel and unusual punishment by fighting federal court supervision in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown V. Plata.
So even in the midst of Trump’s chaotic Presidency, his opponents fare little better. The system of US capitalism and empire is in crisis. Neither political party has any solutions. The broad masses of poor and working people in the US will have to look toward independent forms of political organization to achieve their interests. In the meantime, it appears the Democratic Party is preparing for another losing corporate campaign in 2020.