In their desperation to retain power over the Democratic party, neoliberals/Centrists/corporate oompaloompas are desperately, but gently, cannibalizing themselves in the Democratic primary. Their shared ideology – extreme wealth is fine as long as they get some of it – is sucking the air out of the debates. To assist in the endeavor, corporate news moderators seem intent on avoiding meaningful and necessary questions. (How many questions did they ask Pete Buttigieg about his wildly misleading roll out of the “Douglass Plan”? Oy vey.) Instead, they help candidates tee up potential memes and tired clichés that mean literally nothing.
With a field loaded with neoliberals, the red meat for candidates is scarce. So, with nowhere to turn without all endlessly piling on Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard, the inevitable is occurring and it is winnowing the field in ways the capital “E” Establishment probably didn’t intend. To call it dog-eat-dog would be misleading, generous even. No, this is dog-bore-dog-to-death.
The neolib candidates are all so similar, so nondescript, so very Pete Buttigieg that the whole primary feels like a slap fight among end-stage patients in a cancer ward.
It is excruciatingly dull to watch. The primary has seen one propped-up neoliberal candidate after another get their moment in the corporate-sponsored sun that is cable news and the New York Times/Washington Post propaganda machine. One after another they rise and then sink beneath the waves of voter ennui. Overall it’s a pretty bloodless affair because, you know, civility. Yet despite their best intentions, someone has to lose. Yesterday it was Kamala Harris. Before that Beto O’Rourke. And some dude from Montana faded from obscurity into more obscurity. I mean, these milquetoast shades hardly count as people given how little passion they have for anything but notoriety.
Furthermore, they’re all so similar, so nondescript, so very Pete Buttigieg that the whole primary feels like a slap fight among end-stage patients in a cancer ward. Vigor is reserved for brutally non-spontaneous meme-ery. Centrism is, at its cold dead heart, surrender. So how in hell are you supposed to work up passion among the defeated anyway?
Joe Biden is one way. Why? Senility works. I mean, ol’ Joe can be worked into a semi-rage and not even know he’s doing it. Moments later, he’ll break out that well-polished George Washington smile of his, totally unaware of anything that he said or did. Which is pretty much his campaign: “Huh? What? Obama!”
In contrast, it’s ironic that everyone in corporate media harps on and on about “Angry Bernie.” What they’re really upset about is that he still has an intact memory. Between corporate news goons and the seemingly all-powerful “donor class,” the only thing they want these candidates to remember is just how much money the donors are dropping into their bank accounts. After that, just put on the Pete Buttigieg skin suit and read the script the billionaires and CEOs hand you.
New ideas aren’t on that script.
The “act” of sanity is calm, composed, obsequious. That’s what the current neoliberal/Centrist/Pete Buttigiegist DNC embraces and regularly displays.
In “Hate, Inc.,” Matti Taibbi points out that the unpredictable political rise of Donald Trump is due to his following of a script that his opponents in the RNC and DNC never actually grasped: professional wrestling villain. Trump bullied and boasted and shamelessly said awful things by the hour. The resultant soaking up of airtime and media coverage for his bombastic bad guy schtick helped him drain the fight out of his Republican primary opponents, leaving them dumbfounded, voiceless and…eventually…obedient sycophants. (“Never Trump” Republicans had as little staying power as a fart in a hurricane.) MSNBC and CNN couldn’t get enough of the Trump show on air. The corpulent, repugnant billionaire bully performance decimated the “Reagan was God” act that had dominated the Republican party for decades and replaced the Gipper with an X-rated “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Political thuggery became the accepted strategy for gaining the presidency.
This is a terrifying precedent, and the languorous, good-mannered pomposity of Pete Fucking Buttigieg is hardly the appropriate response. Rageful senility, which seems to be Joe Biden’s standard response to potentially running against Trump in the general election, is pathetic. How about a Hillary Clinton impersonator? Elizabeth Warren has that down. She certainly can get snippy, but usually she reserves that for the rare reporter who actually asks valid questions. Trump would call her “Pocahontas” and she’d never recover. It seems insane, but it’s true.
The “act” of sanity is calm, composed, obsequious. That’s what the current neoliberal/Centrist/Pete Buttigiegist DNC embraces and regularly displays. It’s generating about as much excitement as you would expect from a rap battle between an earthworm and a rotting octopus.
Actual sanity, actual confrontation of Trump’s corrupt and corrosive administration looks a lot more like someone who’s had enough, who really isn’t pretending to be upset but is genuinely pissed off. Politeness in the face of villainy, as I suspect Sanders and Gabbard know, will get you head-butted into a turnbuckle.
The rest have rolled around with each other like a herd of seals in a Jell-O wrestling tournament, hoping against hope to become Biden’s running mate.
Now I’m not advocating that these candidates in the Democratic primary start acting like pro wrestlers. What I am advocating is that they grow spines, stop reading the teleprompter of unabashed predatory capitalism and put an end to this “Stepford Wives” debacle. We need more candidates to express genuine anger about the sorry state of our economy, our corrupt justice system, our wretched healthcare system, our endless global military interference on behalf of corporations, etc. We need them to stop treating policies like thousand-piece Lego models that they lazily modify by removing one or two pieces and then claim it as their own. We need them to have unique and original ideas that they will actually fight for. We need them to be willing and eager to fight for us.
Up to this point, the sustained fight has primarily come from Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. The rest have rolled around with each other like a herd of seals in a Jell-O wrestling tournament, hoping against hope to become Biden’s running mate. You can’t tell one from the other and the exertion is minimal and undistinguished. No one is trying to win an election so much as they’re trying to get million dollar tips in their g-strings from the “donor class” shitting their pants in the wings.
It’s a sad spectacle and a toothless one, doomed to lose, and it almost seems like that’s what was intended. As if eight years of a Donald Trump administration wouldn’t be so bad after all.