Elections 2016

Frank da Cruz
Bronx NY
1 March 2016 (Super Tuesday)

Imagine having a president who always speaks the truth.

Bernie Sanders for president!  I have never endorsed a presidential candidate before, but I'm doing it now. Here's why:

Franklin D. Roosevelt, believe or not, was the president when I was born. I grew up in the afterglow of the New Deal and – for a few brief years, before the Korean War – at a time when the USA was perceived as the Good Guy of the world and America was also a pretty good place for almost everybody to live, at least from an economic standpoint. Jobs were secure with good benefits, education was good. Health care was affordable. Stress was low. Returning veterans had GI loans to buy houses and the GI Bill to pay for college.

It has been downhill ever since. And the decline has accelerated since 1980 and especially since 2007. Do I need to spell it out? The covertly sponsored coups; the wars of aggression, almost countless by now, millions upon millions dead, maimed, displaced, poisoned, and impoverished. The erasure of the once-prosperous American working class, and increasingly the middle class too. The disappearance of almost all manufacturing except of weapons. The crushing of organized labor. The voter suppression. The blatant corruption of several Republican Supreme Court appointees and the disastrous effects of their decisions. The privatization and monetization of everything. The escalating cost of the essentials of life, as wages decline and benefits disappear. The ongoing destruction of the environment and therefore the future prospects of every living species on the planet. The ever-accelerating concentration of wealth at the very, very, very top, and the impoverishment of everybody else. The utter charade of the electoral and legislative process, totally controlled by Wall Street and the big corporations with very few exceptions. The destruction of public education and of any pretense of real journalism in the mass media. The vicious "free trade" "agreements". The relentless cuts and austerity in all areas of public welfare and safety. The neverending mergers and acquisitions of huge megacorporations, further increasing their power if that is even possible. And on and on and on without end.

Why is this happening?  Only Bernie will tell you. Listen to him. Every politician except Bernie and a handful of others is bought and paid for by corporate money, or contributions from extremely rich persons, all of whom have "wants and needs". In return for financial campaign support, and often promises of future lucrative employment, politicians arrange tax breaks and other favors for their benefactors. Sometimes very big favors, like wars to secure foreign oil reserves, or to prevent some country from taking control of its own natural resources. All the bad things that are happening, the wars, the pollution, the offshoring of jobs, the confiscation of pensions, the union busting, the high credit-card interest rates, and all the rest... These things are not happening because we, the voters, want them to happen. We didn't vote for for any of these things. The politicians do what their sponsors want, not what we want. So how can the USA be called a democracy any more? The correct term now would be plutocracy.

It's depressing. I have so much nostalgia for the 1930s and 40s, the Roosevelt administration when the USA was a hopeful place, building a better future for everybody. And when a war had to be fought, it was against fascism and genocide, not to rule the world. People who are younger than 60 or 70 can't even imagine how much the USA has changed since the FDR administration and the postwar years. People under 40 can't even imagine what it would be like to have a decent, secure job, 40 hours a week, with full benefits and retirement. Or to have some money in the bank, or not be drowning in debt, or not be still living at their parents' house.

That's why the election of 2016 is the most important one since World War II. This is the first chance we have had to reverse the theft of our republic and the destruction of our environment, and to end the nightmarish cycle of perpetual war. Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate since FDR who will put things right, or die trying. He is one of the very few politicians since WWII who is not in anybody's pocket. He is completely correct in his analysis of what has gone wrong, and he is the only one speaking the truth. For example, that the way to fix the economy is not to give trillions of dollars to big companies; it's to put people to work in decent jobs with fair pay.

Everybody should vote for Bernie and for legislators and governors who are like Bernie. Anybody who knows history knows how to fix a rigged, dysfunctional economy because it has been done before. And Bernie, like me, is old enough to remember the afterglow of the New Deal and the postwar prosperity and optimism. Even the rich and powerful should vote for Bernie, because capitalism is on course destroy itself and our planet with it if left totally unregulated as it is now. Like 2-year-olds, corporations can't control their destructive behavior; they need grownups to set limits.

If we don't elect Bernie, nothing will change, just as nothing changed when we elected Obama. I'm sorry, but Obama was in no way progressive. The massive upwards transfer of wealth accelerated on his watch and it will only get worse with the TTP. The wars, the drones, the coup in Honduras, the locking up of immigrants in unaccountable for-profit hell-holes, the destruction of Libya and Syria and Yemen and who knows how many other countries that don't even get in the news. And the rise of ISIS because the US and its NATO allies will just simply not leave other countries alone. Hence the expansion of American military bases to every conceivable country on earth, to stir up more anger and resentment and more excuses for retaliation, thus keeping the war machine busy and our tax money flowing in to the proper pockets. But you can't kill your way to world peace. We have to relearn the Golden Rule that we were taught as children.

Obama and Clinton are good at progressive rhetoric but look at their records, then look at Bernie's. Who paid for whose campaigns? Who do you believe? Who can you trust? Obama took office in 2008 with a huge mandate as the "Anti-Bush" and with a friendly congress; he could have been the next FDR but instead, from Day One, he chose to be Bush II: the exact opposite of what we voted for. He put Wall Street sharks in charge of the economy, he prosecuted whistleblowers and let war and financial criminals off the hook, he created a health care plan that is a massive giveaway to for-profit insurance corporations and big pharmacy, he was ready to cut Social Security, he promoted fossil fuel development and fracking and nuclear energy, his regulatory agencies (FDA, SEC, FCC, OSHA, EPA, DOL, etc) do everything but regulate; CIA and NSA are out of control; he's spying on everybody's cell phone; he proposed a trillion dollars in new nuclear warheads; he's doing his best to rekindle the Cold War by sponsoring a coup in Ukraine and pushing NATO right up to Russia's border, and he set out to topple regimes all over the Mideast that were perceived as "unfriendly to American interests" and to prop up others that are friendly, regardless of their behavior.

Seven years later, Syria and Libya are in ruins, Iraq and Afghanistan are the same horrible nightmare they have been since the Bush days, Europe is drowning in refugees, glaciers are melting at an ever accelerating pace, sea levels are rising, the weather is scaring everybody, economic inequality is at an all-time high, mass incarceration continues with for-profit prison factories demanding more and more slave labor. Racial conflicts are breaking out all over the country in response to police violence; poor Central American children fleeing from countries where we facilitated coups or trained death squads are held in concentration camps; huge corporations are richer and more powerful than ever, and the entire planet is boiling over with people crazed with hatred for a United States that invades their countries and kills their families. Meanwhile most Americans don't understand what is happening or why but they are angry, stressed, depressed, losing their hair, and escaping into drugs or fantasy because there is no joy in real life and nothing to look forward to. No surprise, then, the sharp rise in mass shootings, suicides among veterans, and other symptoms of a seriously ill society.

Establishment politicians no longer inspire hope or optimism. Clinton (if elected) will be as much like Obama as Obama was like Bush. The power of Wall Street and the big banks will not be diminished. The wars will not stop. The highly profitable prison-industrial complex will continue to expand. Good jobs will not come back. There is no credible reason to believe that Clinton will make any fundamental changes. Look at her record, she's been all over the place on every issue, whereas Bernie has been consistent and sincere his whole long life. Anyway, she has said as much herself: she will continue Obama's policies, it's her whole platform.

What really do we have to lose by electing Bernie?  Despite all the corporate media talk about being unelectable, inexperienced, an impractical dreamer, a one-issue candidate, on the ropes after South Carolina, doomed among Black voters, etc etc etc... If you think what Bernie says is true, then vote for him! Then he will be electable, and once elected, he will be the long-awaited next FDR, and the first president since FDR to stand up to big capital and to build up the country for everybody. Bernie will be better for working people, for people who wish they were working, for the former middle class; for women, old people, people of color, active duty military, veterans, children, poor people, sick people, immigrants, small business, just about everybody. Even people who would never even consider voting for him. Seriously, because we all need a stable, secure economy that works for all of us. The current fraudulent and lopsided one is simply not sustainable, and nobody but Bernie is willing to even try to fix it. Maybe he'll have trouble enacting his programs if he doesn't have a friendly congress but (a) that's why we should all vote for congressional candidates who stand for the same principles, and (b) Hillary would do no better with a hostile congress than Bernie, so why not think big? Chances like this only come along about once in a century, don't blow it!

Or if you do, don't say I didn't warn you.

Disclaimer:  All opinions mine alone. Obviously FDR himself wasn't perfect, and there have been presidents since FDR who did some good things. For example Truman integrated the Armed Forces but then sent them to Korea in a misbegotten war to prop up a corrupt and brutal dictator installed by the USA, plus he used atomic bombs on Japan unnecessarily. Eisenhower maintained New Deal economic policies and a highly progressive tax system, and he put a lot people to work building the interstate highway network. But he also engineered a coup in Iran that continues to have repercussions to this day. Jimmie Carter was a good guy but he approved Brzezinski's "cunning plan" to destroy the Soviet Union by aiding insurgents in Afghanistan who later became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Lyndon Johnson (an old New Dealer) pushed civil rights and Medicare, but also launched a full-scale war against Viet Nam, a country that just wanted to be left alone. Obama avoided war with Iran but he destroyed Libya and is largely responsible for the mess in Syria ("Assad has to go"); he opened relations with Cuba but he sponsored a coup in Ukraine. I think Bernie has sufficient grasp and experience of history, not to mention morality and reality, that he won't make us (and the world) swallow poison pills as the price for whatever good he might do.


Midterms 2010

For comparison, here's what I wrote in 2010. Just to emphasize the huge difference between then and now, because unlike in 2010 (or 2008, or 2012, or almost any other time since 1944) in 2016 we have a real choice.

“Polling seems to indicate 100 house seats may switch and 8 Senate seats to the Republicans. We'll see how much of BHO's stealth socialist agenda brings out the voters.”

  1. There's nothing wrong with socialism; I wish we had some actual Socialist candidates to vote for, and I'll bet I'm not the only one. Obama could hardly be farther away from socialism, he's the best friend Wall Street ever had since, well, every other President. Americans aren't freaking out about him because he's a “socialist”, it's because he's black. But most of them know better than to say it this way, so they say “socialist”.

  2. Some prominent Republican, I forget who but I saw it on the news yesterday, said he realized that people were not voting for Republicans but against the current economic situation. The people currently in office apparently can't fix it, so people vote for anybody who is not in office now. The sad truth, however, is nobody is going to make it better because any measure that would actually do any good is off the table.

In NY we have something called the Working Families party that endorses progressive candidates. NY law lets a single candidate run on more than one line. So typically a Democrat will also appear on the WF line. When a candidate gets a lot of votes on the WF line instead of on the Democratic line, they get a message that people want them to stand up for working people and against Wall Street. This way, progressive voters can express their feelings without having to vote for a third party candidate who hasn't a prayer of winning, thus splitting the vote and handing a victory to the Republicans. It's not much, but it's something. Of course the new media never report the Democrat/WF split because they want us to buy into the fiction that the US is composed only of center-right Democrats and far-right Republicans.

So today I held my nose and voted for all Democrats on the WF line, except for Charles Schumer, a very good friend to Wall Street. Our other Senator, Kirstin Gillibrand, is very nice, she is the only candidate who never said a bad word about anybody in the whole campaign. (Showing my age, I remember when there actually used to be Socialists and Communists on the ballot...)

Anyway, the depressing part is that nobody ever learns and nothing ever changes, except for the worse. Party A runs on some platform promising A Lot Of Things, gets elected, does the opposite, the people get disgusted and vote for Party B next time, which promises Lots Of Things, gets elected, and then does the opposite. The “opposite“ in both cases is whatever it takes to further enrich Wall Street and the big corporations at the expense of ordinary people, to the extent they are willing to sacrifice lives and livelihoods and the future of the country and the world to please their already obscenely rich patrons. To divert the attention of the voters from this, they busy themselves with setting up false enemies (Communists, welfare cheats, Muslims, Mexicans) to keep us frightened and preoccupied.

So I'm sure my little trip to the voting station this morning was a complete exercise in futility, no matter who wins, because it is a choice between the really bad Democrats and truly awful and scary Republicans, neither of which question the causes for our national disgrace – our ignorance, wars of agression and conquest, racism, and the unbridled, voracious, and utterly unscrupulous greed of our capitalist class and its blatant ownership and control of our government.

If we ever had a government of, by, and for the people we certainly do not have one now. The “American way” is a sick joke, nobody wants to copy it any more, they run the other way screaming. Think of it: a country that has exported all its good jobs, attacked its own working people and destroyed their unions, with a government that can function only on behalf of the oligarchy and never for the benefit of ordinary people; a country therefore entangled in endless senseless wars because our foreign policy is controlled by oil companies and the “defense” industry, and which has created its own caste of “soldier ants” who fight and kill and die and fight and kill and die again and go crazy without end while the rest of us become obese zoning out on Dancing with the Stars; a country full of angry people because they are losing their homes and their jobs and drowning in debt because every family is working two, three, or four jobs to support not only themselves but the unseen hordes of investors who do no useful work and serve no social function; a country building walls on its borders like the one that President Reagan told Premiere Gorbachev to tear down, with some 12 million undocumented immigrant workers that we can't live with and can't live without, and with the biggest prison population on earth; a country with rampant racism and poverty, a failing public school system and the cost of higher education in the stratosphere; a country where medical care is a privilege of the wealthy; a country hostage to big oil and coal companies wrecking the environment beyond repair, with a mass media that is practically devoid of actual news and one major network that is nothing more than a vicious hate and fear machine, and where most people will believe any silly lie they are told because they don't know how to think for themselves. This is a system designed by and for the super-rich; it has taken them sixty years to recover from the New Deal, but the result is a thing of beauty to behold, it works perfectly for its intended purpose; Americans who are suffering as they haven't suffered since the 1930s buy completely into the most outrageous propositions and vote consistently against their own interest, truly believing that Social Security and affordable housing and secure employment with benefits are evils that must be struck down, that public employees with unions and decent salaries and benefits and pensions (like most American working people had only 2-3 decades ago) are un-American, and that ideas such as universal health care, a living wage, and a secure old age are threats that must be fiercely resisted. It's surreal, but I have to admit it's a stunning achievement.

Suppose, one day, the people wake up and wonder if perhaps the government should be oriented more towards promoting the general welfare of the population and the economic self-sufficiency of the country. What would the people do to bring this about? That is the Question of the Twenty-First Century. Because in 2008 they thought they were doing exactly that by voting for progressives and what happened? They got pretty much the opposite.