Wednesday, May 25, 2016


It’s weird and dangerous — more so each day.

The media is focused on giving advice to Sanders: quit now or “his chance to build a lasting legacy may be slipping away.” Why complicate things? Why not just get on with it: Clinton vs. Trump.

The fact is things are complicated, very. For one thing, look at Robert Kagan’s column in the Washington Post: This is how fascism comes to America. On the face of it, this is a bold indictment of Trump and the GOP, one that echoes warnings from many progressive democrats.

Look again. It’s not at all irrelevant that Kagan is the leading voice of neoconservative hawks. He rose to that status after his early service with Cheney in pushing for the Iraq War, continuing as a GOP advocate for more aggressive military interventionism, leading the charge against Obama as “weak” and reluctant to employ US military power. His wife and colleague, Victoria Nuland, was a major figure in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, notorious for recklessly stoking revival of  ‘cold war’ tensions in Europe.

Even before Trump threw his hat in the ring, Kagan accompanied his attacks on Obama with an embrace of Hillary Clinton. He stressed that the neocons would be “comfortable” with her. No surprise, that makes a lot of people “uncomfortable”: those who favor a turn away from the proven risks and failures of superpower militarism and war.

The neocons fear Trump as a 'loose canon', who might not march in rhythm with the particulars of their agenda. But it would be a travesty if some who oppose the neocon hawks were to conclude that Trump is an alternative. There’s no quarrel with sounding the alarm that Trump and the GOP have opened a Pandora’s box of fascist possibilities. And those possibilities — violent nativism, racism, and bullying based on “America First” military power — will never serve peace at home or abroad.

So things are not simple. Beating Trump is the clear and certain priority. But progressives have a lot to ponder and a lot that needs doing.

There is much that the millions of voters for Sanders and Clinton share. That’s the basis for unity that is so urgent no matter who faces off against Trump. But unity has to be dynamic. Agreement on the main priority doesn’t mean that the fight for change should be hidden away or surrendered.

My focus here has been on foreign policy, but the argument could be made with regard to a range of issues that involve the battle against economic and social inequality. At issue is whether the powerful energy brought forward by the Sanders campaign can be a force that is decisive in a landslide defeat of Trump; also, can it emerge from the elections as a new and influential factor opening up politics to the public interest as opposed to control by big money.

So I root for more successes for Bernie’s campaign and will vote for him in the California primaries. A very promising move is his recent encouragement of new candidates at state and local levels. I wish for a Democratic Convention that unites to beat Trump and the GOP. I root for a Convention that recognizes and values the historic contributions of the Sanders campaign. I root for a convention in which the Democratic Party establishment is challenged and more delegates, both office holders and grass-roots participants, are open to changing policies and practices that impede unity and make electoral candidates more vulnerable.

That would make me “comfortable” voting for Trump’s Democratic opponent in November. In any case, the “miracle” of the Sanders campaign holds promise of an effective independent political movement beyond the presidential election. That calls for a concept of unity inclusive of millions on either side of the Sanders-Clinton primary divide.

We choose our priorities and cast our votes. Support may be strong based on a major consideration, but critical or non-existent on other important particulars. In my memory, we have not had a president who didn’t have to be strongly opposed on important policies, often on issues of war and peace. That battle goes on past elections. There is no other option. And sometimes the president has to bend.

Bernie is right to keep going. It won’t be over even when the primaries end. Unity to defeat Trump can be more meaningful to a lot of young people if it’s connected to “a future to believe in”. Just another political insider deal woudn’t pass. 

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