Millionaire vs. Billionaire

Tuesday’s primary election results bring us closer to the inevitable November match-up: Hillary “Corporate” Clinton versus Donald Trump, the idiot billionaire.  With the Pennsylvania primary more than a month away, those of us sane enough to oppose Trump or any candidate of the GOP are urged – almost expected – to close ranks behind Clinton in a show of “unity” and a nod to “reality” or the “real world.” But it’s precisely the accepted lamestream version of reality that should be opposed.

Sanders’ opposition to the power of the big corporations and the wealthy has been consistent throughout his political career. Why should he give up now with delegate-rich states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, Wisconsin, New York and California on the horizon?  The contest isn’t over until June, or until Clinton wins a majority of delegates.

The pundits respond that since Sanders can never win against Clinton in places with substantial numbers of black voters – because Hillary just loves black folks and they adore and trust her – he may as well hang it up now so that Clinton can concentrate her fire on Trump and the Republicans.

But some of us have noted the cynical paternalism at the heart of this argument and alleged love affair, which saw the Clintons appoint and befriend a few successful African Americans, while publicly maligning – as well as locking up and denying social benefits to – huge masses of black folk. You remember: they called it crime and welfare “reform.”  And many more in the middle were squeezed by a Clinton recovery characterized by a low-wage jobs market.

Corporate Black Caucus

Despite all the pathetic antebellum-preacher-style pandering of Rep. John Lewis, neither he nor the Corporate . . . er, uh, Congressional Black Caucus opposed President Bill when he was getting his neoliberal agenda on, back in the 1990s. Instead of criticizing Sanders for being too white (as if it’s his fault that his home state is 95 percent white) or not being where John Lewis was when he got his head split open (as if John Lewis’ particular freedom ride was the only place to be in the 1960s), Lewis and the CBC should have been closing ranks with an independent congressman named Bernie Sanders.

Back in 1988, during his first run for Congress, Sanders – white and from Vermont though he may have been – supported Jesse Jackson for president.  Sanders lost but made it to Congress two years later.  In 1992, Clinton swept into office – destroying the incumbent George H.W. Bush – and the historically progressive Black Caucus swelled from 25 to 38 members.  Looking good, right?

Wrong. Clinton did what all the Republican presidents since 1971 hadn’t – he tamed the CBC and tamed them good, while keeping the black vote for the Democrats.  Lewis – and probably a few other CBC members – almost wanted to commit suicide over deciding to support Obama over Hillary in 2008, but does he shed tears for the millions and millions of black people who have languished in prisons, substandard housing, abandoned schools and otherwise suffered for lack of a humane safety net?

Sanders has been consistent over the years. He has the common sense (not so common these days), integrity and decency that deserves any progressive person’s vote. If he were president, he’d most likely listen to his black allies rather than try to co-opt them.  Sanders has the money and the organization to keep fighting, so he should.  The longer he fights, the longer we’re spared the sickening spectacle of Hillary Millionaire vs. Donald Billionaire, and the longer we keep talking about economic justice.

Yes, Trump is a proto-fascist and it would behoove us to do everything possible to stop him in November. But it’s not November yet: on April 26, why not vote for Sanders?

And three cheers for the young people, who have sense enough to support Sanders for all the right reasons. These are the same people, more or less, who gave us Occupy Wall Street, and before that the anti-globalization movement.  Young people today are tolerant; love children, animals and the earth; and they hate war.  They’re often criticized for their lack of intellectual rigor in the policy and endgame-forecasting arenas, but I humbly suggest that we older folks take a look around and ask ourselves what our efforts, sincere as they are, have gotten us.  I’m ready to follow the youth.

Lest we forget

There’s still no state budget and at this point, it’s safe to say that we’re experiencing a GOP-spearheaded lockout of social spending – keeping money from us that is really ours. This money has already been collected, banked and allocated, but it can’t be spent because the GOP opposes a return to pre-Corbett spending levels.  As a result, people have suffered.

I still haven’t heard any accounts or allegations of actual deaths that were caused by the crisis, but I don’t believe it. One of Governor Wolf’s line-item vetoes affected funding for close to 80 hospitals, including 13 critical access facilities, located mostly in rural areas and serving a high percentage of people on Medicaid.  No possible harm there.

Meanwhile, the wealthy continue to benefit from low income and corporate state taxes, while consumption and income taxes for regular people keep going up. And the Department of Education helpfully issues guidelines on how to shut your school district down.

Unions in this state and country used to know how to battle a lockout. If they still do, they might consider sharing that expertise with people and communities who don’t know how to organize a fight back.  Who knows, maybe forcefully aligning itself with community interests might help reverse the failing fortunes of Pennsylvania labor.  Maybe?

James Collins

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