Sunday, January 24, 2016

Did You Think Ted Cruz Was The Only Candidate Using McCarthyite Tactics In His Campaign?


Corey Robin, author of The Conservative Mind is one of the most credible scholars on the pathology of conservatism and neoconservatism. In the introduction to that book, Robin wrote that "[w]hen the conservative, looks upon a democratic movement from below, this (and the exercise of agency) is what he sees: a terrible disturbance in the private life of power. Witnessing the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Theordore Sedgwick lamented, "The aristocracy of virtue is destroyed; personal influence is at an end."...Conservatism, then, is not a commitment to limited government and liberty-- or a wariness of change, a belief in evolutionary reform, or a politics of virtue. These may be byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and ever-changing modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose. Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force-- the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere." Later in the book, he fleshed outer conservative mind more fully:
Conservatism is the theoretical voice of this animus against the agency of the subordinate classes. It provides the most consistent and profound argument as to why the lower orders should not be allowed to exercise their independent will, why they should not be allowed to govern themselves or the polity. Submission is their first duty, agency, the prerogative of the elite.

Though it is often claimed that the left stands for equality while the right stands for freedom, this notion misstates the actual disagreement between right and left. Historically, the conservative has favored liberty for the higher orders and constraint for the lower orders. What the conservative sees and dislikes in equality, in other words, is not a threat to freedom, but its extension. For in that extension, he sees a loss of his own freedom. ... Such was the threat Edmund Burke saw in the French Revolution: not merely an expropriation of property or explosion of violence but an inversion of the obligations of deference and command. "The levellers," he claimed, "only change and pervert the natural order of things."
I always watch for his writings and this weekend he penned an essay on the presidential campaign for Like many of us, he's worked up about how far the Clinton campaign is already swinging in dark, ugly directions and brought up the orchestrated smear campaign against Bernie, beginning with a few lines from Dan Roberts at The Guardian: "The dossier, prepared by opponents of Sanders and passed on to The Guardian by a source who would only agree to be identified as 'a Democrat,' alleges that Sanders 'sympathized with the USSR during the Cold War' because he went on a trip there to visit a twinned city while he was mayor of Burlington. Similar 'associations with communism' in Cuba are catalogued alongside a list of quotes about countries ranging from China to Nicaragua in a way that supporters regard as bordering on the McCarthyite rather than fairly reflecting his views.
This is becoming a straight-up rerun of the 1948 campaign against Henry Wallace. Except that Clinton is running well to the right of Truman and even, in some respects, Dewey. It seems as if Clinton is campaigning for the vote of my Grandpa Nat. There’s only one problem with this strategy: he’s been dead for nearly a quarter-century.

As was true of McCarthyism, it’s not really Sanders’s communism or his socialism that has got today’s McCarthyites in the Democratic Party worried; it’s actually his liberalism. As this article in the NY Times makes clear:
Some third party will say, ‘This is what the first ad of the general election is going to look like,’” said James Carville, the longtime Clinton adviser, envisioning a commercial savaging Mr. Sanders for supporting tax increases and single-payer health care. “Once you get the nomination, they are not going to play nice.” . . .

A Sanders-led ticket generates two sets of fears among Clinton supporters: that other Democratic candidates could be linked to his staunchly liberal views, particularly his call to raise taxes, even on middle-class families, to help finance his universal health care plan; and that more mainstream Democrats would have to answer to voters uneasy about what it means to be a European-style social democrat.
Raising taxes to pay for popular social programs: that used to be the bread and butter of the Democratic Party liberalism. Now it’s socialism. And that-- now it’s socialism-- used to be the bread and butter of Republican Party revanchism. Now it’s Democratic Party liberalism.
Later in his essay he points to a Bloomberg poll for the Des Moines Register which hasn't gotten a lot of media attention but that shows 43% of likely Democratic caucus participants describe themselves as socialists, including 58% of Sanders’s supporters and about a third of Clinton’s. And it's not because so many Iowa families have roots in Scandinavia.
Senator Bernie Sanders’s speech on Thursday explaining his democratic socialist ideology carried little risk among supporters and other Democrats: A solid majority of them have a positive impression of socialism, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released this month.

Fifty-six percent of those Democratic primary voters questioned said they felt positive about socialism as a governing philosophy, versus 29 percent who took a negative view.
Robin's poem, First They Came For..., indicates a certain dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party establishment that is echoed from coast to coast:
First they came for the Revolution
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Revolution.
Then they came for the Parliamentary Socialism
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Parliamentary Socialism.
Then they came for the Third Party
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Third Party.
Then they came for the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.
Then they came for the Green Lantern
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Green Lantern.
Then they came for me
but that was cool
because I’m a Democrat.
If you'd like to contribute to Bernie's campaign and/or to the campaigns of any of the congressional candidates who have endorsed him and are running on his platform... here's an ActBlue page for you.

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