Bernie Sanders has placed his campaign in the hands of Hillary Clinton just weeks prior to the Democratic National Convention. Sanders has not dropped out of the race officially, but has agreed to support the Democratic Party at all costs in order to defeat Donald Trump in the general election. The concession to Clinton comes a week or so after the corporate media as well as the Democratic Party machine virtually anointed Clinton the winner of the Democratic Party nomination. The question now is whether the movement behind the Bernie Sanders campaign will accept defeat or continue to search for an alternative to the corporate controlled US electoral system.
It is safe to say that the conditions exist for the Sanders camp to be a force in the 2016 elections even if Sanders is not in the general election picture. A significant portion of Sanders supporters believe Clinton stole the election. And by all accounts, she did. Over two million votes had yet to be counted when Clinton was named the winner in California. Numerous states have been reported totake part in voter fraud. And the super delegate system has been criticized heavily for giving Clinton a large lead before voters cast their ballots.
Early polls have indicated a significant portion of Sanders supporters will not vote for Clinton in the general election. The Democratic Party has granted concessions to Sanders to convince him to hand over his voter database to the Clinton campaign. The DNC chair was replaced and rumors have emerged of Elizabeth Warren possibly receiving an invitation from Clinton to be her Vice President. None of these moves represent a shift in policy orientation from Hillary Clinton herself. Clinton has attempted to align herself with the most popular policy points of the Sanders campaign in word, but it has already been established throughout the election period that her historical record offers no hope that her words will match her deeds.
Hillary Clinton has been anointed the Democratic Party nominee and the favorite to win the general election because of her long time service to the ruling class. Clinton has received enormous donations from Wall Street and Big Pharma. Her campaign rhetoric regarding war has targeted Russia and China. Clinton’s campaign program promises an intensification of Obama era policies. It was the Obama Administration that took Bush era policies of austerity, militarism, and domestic surveillance to a higher level. If the 2016 elections have revealed anything, it is that millions of people are fed up with the bi-partisan consensus of democracy for the few and misery for the many.
The imperialist system behind Clinton has attempted to stifle popular discontent with a heavy dose of fear. Donald Trump has been the primary object of this fear. Trump’s right-wing rhetoric has spurred an entire campaign dedicated to keeping Trump from the White House. The campaign has coined the slogan “Dump Trump” and protested Trump events. While some on the left have wrongly supported Trump due to misguided faith in his rhetoric around jobs and war, he certainly poses no more of an existential threat to the lives of the oppressed than a Clinton Presidency. The movement behind Bernie Sanders needs to dump both.
Unnecessary fear of Trump has drawn attention away from a sober and objective analysis of the US political landscape. For one, many of Trump’s most vile comments have already been enacted into policy by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Trump’s bigotry toward immigrants has been materialized by the draconian immigration policies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s administrations. Trump has called for a wall on the US-Mexico border yet it is the Democratic Party that has militarized the border over the last three decades with deadly consequences. The Trump campaign has received much heat for its proposal of a Muslim identification system even though civil liberties for Muslims and all Americans have been eroded greatly over the last eight years of Democratic Party rule.
The movement behind Bernie Sanders will have to transcend the fallacy of lesser evil politics if it is going to develop into an independent political force. Just days after Sanders announced he would work with Clinton to defeat Donald Trump, thousands of Sanders supporters gathered in Chicago at the “People’s Summit” to discuss where the movement goes from here. It was clear from the event that while a significant segment of Sanders supporters may not vote for Clinton, the politics of Sanders supporters may struggle to break from the grips of the corporate liberal establishment. Activists such as Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now urged Sanders supporters not to make the same mistake of not voting for Humphrey in 1968, a development that gave Richard Nixon the Presidential bid. In other words, vote Clinton to keep Trump out of the White House.
This stance must be rejected at all costs. Trump is not the biggest threat to US society. His newfound prominence in the Republican Party reflects decay in the political, economic, and social foundation of US society. The movement behind Sanders will have to decide whether it is primarily concerned with fighting the rule of capital itself or upholding the mythical portrait of a progressive Democratic Party. The former is a step in a revolutionary direction, the latter a historical error of significant consequence. So which way will it be, Sandernistas?