Bernie takes on the billionaires

Bernie Sanders

By Mark Buckley

Following an unprecedented string of victories where Bernie Sanders effectively won the first three Democratic party primaries he is now the clear frontrunner to win the nomination.  As a result, someone who describes himself as a socialist is already up against the wrath of the billionaire class who dominate US politics, including the Democratic party itself.

While the other main Democratic candidates, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg and Klobuchar are political representatives of the billionaires, the entry of the oligarch Bloomberg into the race represents them taking matters directly into their own hands.  

Bloomberg had previously stated that he would only enter the race if there was a danger (to the billionaires) of Bernie Sanders winning.  He is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in TV and other advertising in an explicitly stop Bernie campaign.  His main handicap, apart from his own terrible TV performances, is that the continued stagnation of the US economy has radicalised broad layers of the US population, who don’t need Trump mark II.

Bernie Sanders is a genuine reformer, in European terms he would be regarded as a social democrat.  But, in sharp contrast to the general trends in Europe, he is genuinely committed to his reforms.  He repeatedly votes against the US military budget, has adopted the Green New Deal, advocates Medicare for All and says he will reduce enormous tax breaks to US companies to pay for it.   Not just US voters, but the whole of humanity stands to benefit from a Sanders presidency.

His campaign has also been rather sure-footed in face of a constant barrage from almost the entire mainstream media.   He has been accused of sexism (including by Harvey Weinstein!), climate change denial (for rejecting policies formulated by Big Oil), accepting that Cuba has made enormous strides in education (which is factually correct), and antisemitism (even though he is Jewish).  On the latter point, it is clear that this vile accusation is because Bernie is a supporter of Palestinian rights.  His response, to make no concession to the charge, has been highly effective.

In a string of national polls Bernie not only leads the field but is the party candidate who most consistently and most widely outpolls Trump.  As a result, the stakes could hardly be higher.  The US ruling class supports Trump’s policies, especially his efforts to aggressively re-order the world’s trading system in the US’s favour.  The principal criticism of ‘liberals’ is that he is insufficiently aggressive in the military arena, effectively that he doesn’t bomb enough countries.  This charge is led by supporters of the Clintons, CNN and MSNBC. 

No fraction of the US ruling class supports cutting the military budget, Medicare for all, higher taxes for businesses and the rich and the Green New Deal.  Therefore, despite the successes of the Sanders’ campaign the power and ruthlessness of his principal enemies must not be underestimated. 

The smear campaign will go into overdrive, the primaries’ distribution of delegates will again be rigged, candidates who have no prospect of winning will mysteriously remain in the race in order to block Sanders, the Convention itself will see every type of manoeuvre and fixing to prevent his nomination. 

If despite all this he wins it, the airwaves will be full of Democrats who declare they cannot vote for him and would rather Trump, as ex-Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein told the Financial Times.  The recent anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X is also a reminder that the US is a graveyard for political leaders who do not accept the status quo.

Trump trails narrowly in the polls, and has consistently negative approval ratings. But he remains the favourite to win precisely because all of these blatantly anti-democratic interventions are anticipated.   But the Sanders campaign has enormous momentum and he has built a winning coalition.  A Sanders presidential victory would benefit humanity and the planet.