By Arthur Z. Schwartz
New Yorkers will have a stark choice in April. We will have a presidential primary after Super Tuesday and primaries in another half dozen states. And there is a good chance that even discounting “super delegates” (those undemocratic figureheads and friends of the party establishment, who have far too much power to affect the final outcome at a close convention) Hillary Clinton will be ahead in the delegate count. The media, which paid attention to Bernie Sanders for 10 days after New Hampshire, will have anointed Hillary Clinton, yet again, as the inevitable Democratic nominee. According to the media, it will not even be worth voting. Interestingly, the media is still drumming up the idea of Rubio beating Trump (even though Trump has been doubling Rubio’s numbers), while declaring Bernie’s campaign as “hopeless,” even though to date Clinton and Sanders are in a virtual tie.
But voting on April 19 will be very important. Democrats face a stark choice this year. A vote for the scandal-plagued Hillary, which may look to some as a vote for womens’ empowerment, will also be a resounding ratification of business as usual—the corrupt marriage of big money and machine politics, practiced by the Clintons with the zest of Boss Tweed. You also get with Hillary a hawkish interventionist whose approach to international “diplomacy” has already dangerously destabilized North Africa and the Mideast, and whose vote in favor of the Iraq War was hardly an aberration. She is a death-penalty supporting woman of wealth (worth over $100 million) who has been vague from the outset of her campaign about her presidential policies and goals (and who still won’t give us the transcript of her speeches to Goldman Sachs). And 65% of the American people don’t trust her, a badge she wears proudly as though she is a victim of some sort of prejudice.
Thanks to several years of the Democratic Party establishment strong-arming younger candidates off the field for Hillary, the only agent for fundamental change became Bernie Sanders, an honest and vanity-free man who has been faithful to his core progressive principles for his entire career. Reflecting a lot of pent up anger among Democratic voters, Sanders has made phenomenal progress nationally against his near total blackout over the past year by the major media, including the New York Times.
The Democratic National Committee, and its network in every state (which I know too well from my vantage of being a Party official) has gone all out to end the Sanders movement, characterizing his vision as utopian and unachievable. The Party, which was forced to fall in behind Barack Obama’s Change platform in 2008, now talks about achieving incremental change, or holding back the flood, and denounces the notion of dreaming, and making life qualitatively better for the bottom 99%.
A vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote against the machine, the obscenely money-mad and soulless juggernaut that the leadership of the Democratic Party has become, interrupted for 8 years by Barack Obama, who wasn’t supposed to be President. It was supposed to be Hillary’s turn in 2008, not because of a lifetime of principle, but because she was ready to become the head of the Party apparatus which Bill Clinton had built, and which really didn’t like Al Gore or John Kerry, the nominees in 2000 and 2004. In 1992 Bill Clinton was elected as the candidate of party leaders who had had enough of folks like Jesse Jackson, and Jerry Brown, and wanted to move to the “center.” Bill sponsored “welfare reform” and crime bills with mandatory sentences, and exacerbated the inequity between those at the bottom and the rich on top. Hillary was his partner, and suffered through the indignity of Monica Lewinsky so that she could have her turn.
Bernie stands at the opposite pole. Sanders’ attack on the crass excesses and unpunished ethical lapses of Wall Street is a great awakening call, at a time when the super-rich have accumulated proportionally more wealth than at any time since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. His call for “Medicaid for all,” free higher education, the reversal of student debt, and an end to a corrupt campaign finance system, has moved millions of people. A vote for him on April 19 will help keep that movement alive, and promote to leadership in the party, forces which can turn it around.
Arthur Schwartz is the Village Male
Democratic District Leader and Counsel to Bernie Sanders’ Campaign in New York.