Many Sanders supporters claim there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. As I write, Democratic Congresspeople are holding a sit-in to demand gun control while Republicans after Orlando still march under the NRA’s orders.
Today they are calling the Republicans out, demanding change, leading. Today there is no doubt there is a difference, and lives are on the line. When corporate give-aways are on the line, it’s much harder to tell the difference.
This isn’t an accident, it’s a trap. This is the trap that all honest Americans are in. We can’t just say gun control is no biggie, and claim that the parties are the same, and be living in reality. But our politicians are largely bought and sold by the same corporate donors. Conservatives who honestly believe that life begins at conception or that gun control will create more problems then it solves, but who want to see more integrity and competence in DC, are stuck in the same bind.
This isn’t an accident. Forty years ago the Republican Party stood for the interests of the richest of the 1%. But they needed 51% of the counted votes, so they built an election machine based on social issues.
Bernie Sanders movement represents two deep desires. One is for a return of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, for leaders who follow in the footsteps of FDR. The American left has had no leaders vying for the presidency in quite a long time, so long we’re forgetting who we are. The other deep desire is for honesty and integrity. Not all leftists have integrity, not all moderates and conservatives lack it. But right now both integrity and traditional Democratic values are wrapped together in Sanders’ double-movement.
Trapped between the Democratic corporate machine & the NRA Think of the Southern Strategy like a bear trap. Our obvious choices are to stay in the trap, fighting for women’s right to choose, for sane gun control, for one war instead of two (Afghanistan but not Iraq, had Gore won.) Or tear our foot out of the trap with a third party run, which will express our anger and almost certainly leave us righteously bleeding to death. Is there a way to spring the trap instead?
We tried to be the left’s answer to integrity in the primary. Sanders double-movement went to the Democrats, and shouted that we should be the honesty party. When that fails, if corruption rules the Democrats even in their own primaries, we need to leave them to fight their own fight with a little support. We should not undermine them from the left nor pretend that they are something they are not. Rejected by the Democrats, instead our movement needs to tack to the center for an election cycle, and focus on integrity. Find allies among conservatives who hate bureaucracy and corruption, or hate strong-man populism, find the libertarians who oppose oil wars, and build a movement in the center. A movement willing to call for a stall or compromise in the social wars — where honest people scream at each other — and instead focus on crony capitalism and corrupt politics together.
Today honest Democrats and progressives alone can’t fight against corporate interests without doing real damage on social issues, without handing the day to the NRA. The trap is real — we will lose if we try that strategy. The trap is real — it doesn’t go away just because we see it. The only way out of the Southern Strategy trap is for honest people on left and right to put our differences on ice and focus on corruption. This will have to involve communication and compromise, it will have to happen during this election cycle only if conservatives and moderates with integrity join, not the left going it alone.