24 Feb 2020 – Anyone sensitive to the American political scene has become aware of an emerging collision between surging citizen support for Bernie Sanders and the lamentations of portfolio (stocks & bonds) driven Democrats who purport to question Sanders’ electability, and even if they now most reluctantly acknowledge the robustness of his electoral challenge to Trump, contend that he will be never be able to govern given his left agenda and considering the likely embitterment of the DNC establishment.
Admittedly, in my voting lifetime there has never been a credible candidate that is disliked by Wall Street, the Pentagon, and AIPAC. Yet, until now over many decades there has also never been a candidate that has been so ardently affirmed and trusted as Sanders by those who are tired of this regressive electoral hegemony achieved by these three pillars of the bipartisan American establishment. The person who came closest in the past to posing a similar challenge was, of course, Sanders in 2016, which had his challenge back then been allowed to happen, we might have been relieved of the present agonizing prospect of the renewal of Trump’s electoral mandate. The Sanders challenge is long overdue, and yet the Bloomberg millions and the wish for establishment continuity should not be underestimated. It is certainly not underfunded.
These pale blue forces, although anti-Trump, are determined to spend and intensify their anti-Sanders campaign until they achieve their goals. They are down, but far from out, and seem in the end to care more about securing ‘a three pillars candidate’ (whoever it might be) than defeating Trump. For Trump, despite his explosive bombast and crazy tweets has pandered to Wall Street (tax breaks for the ultra-rich), Pentagon (highest budget ever in peacetime), and AIPAC (Israel gets green light for settlements, Jerusalem, Golan Heights that even prior pro-Israel partisan presidents held back on). In this sense, despite the ridicule of liberals, ‘Trump gets American politics.’
Against this background, principled pragmatism suggests a formula: Elizabeth Warren soon withdraws from the primary battle, despite her admirable campaign, throwing her support to Sanders. In turn Sanders pledges compatibility with her programs on health, education, and immigration, or proposes ways to blend her detailed proposals with his proclaimed objectives; he also promises her selection as his chief economic advisor throughout his presidency, while indicating an unconditional commitment to be at most a one-term president, coupled with some language suggesting that he will do all in his power to secure the 2024 Democratic Party nomination for Warren.
Such a formula is likely to be difficult to make operational, but if the alternative is a blue-tinged red billionaire becoming either candidate or kingmaker, we will be living under Trump in what amounts to a choiceless democracy for at least another four years. If portfolio Democrats win this battle, as they did in 2016, we might as well reconcile ourselves to an ‘always Trump’ future, dimming the lights of genuine democracy for a long, long time. They will express shock and regret as the Trump victory becomes apparent, but will unusually sleep well that night!
Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, Distinguished Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies, UCSB, author, co-author or editor of 60 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to two three-year terms as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and associated with the local campus of the University of California, and for several years chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is On Nuclear Weapons, Denuclearization, Demilitarization, and Disarmament (2019).