Thirty two year, former Congressman and former, frequent MSNBC guest, Representative Barney Frank, published a column in Politico arguing progressives should back Secretary Clinton, not Senator Sanders, for President. Because he has claimed to be a “progressive,” it may be puzzling for some people to see him shilling for the Wall Street bankers who back Secretary Clinton’s campaigns. Frank’s concern is avoiding an expensive contest for the Party’s nomination to give Democrats a financial head start over Republicans in the general election.
Frank pointed out that Senator Sanders has prided himself on being an “outsider” to the party system, and he’s right. He doesn’t mention for some “strange” reason, that Sanders is not running a typical campaign for office; he’s leading a political revolution!
Frank asserts, “Without any substance, some argue that she has been insufficiently committed to economic and social reform — for example, that she is too close to Wall Street, and consequently soft on financial regulation, and unwilling to support higher taxation on the super-rich. This is wholly without basis.” Seriously? The Democratic Party has been influenced by Wall Street money, and fewer people more-so than Hillary Clinton. The Clinton/Obama neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party has sold out policy to Wall Street and other large corporate interests. Sanders’ progressive revolutionaries will not take Hillary for an answer. Who backs Secretary Clinton? Wall Street bankers, just as they did her husband, President Clinton and President Obama. During President Clinton’s administration, job-destroying NAFTA was passed just as President Obama is pushing the Wall Street-backed, international, corporate coup des lois called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Perhaps Barney, the “dinosaur,” is an inappropriate image to cast. Purple is misleading because Sanders’ agenda will appeal to a broader coalition than the corporate order President Clinton would continue to push. Political novice, Diane Dubreuil Dalton, for example, is leading a “Purple Revolution” on Facebook to convey Sanders’ appeal in both blue and red states. She’s promoting the idea of people using purple lights on the evening of September 30th to show their support for Senator Sanders’ revolution. Democrats and other Americans are going to figure out that the best political choice is a matter of following the money.
Frank is also being a hypocrite with his argument. On MSNBC, he once complained about how Occupy Wall Street folks didn’t get involved with election politics the way the tea party folks did. A lot of Sanders’ supporters were involved with OWS, and they are not about to support another Wall Street-backed candidate for office. Not only that, but some of them are demanding Sanders as the Democratic Party nominee or else!
The revolution will not be denied. The Supreme Court may have made peaceful revolution impossible, but if genuine progressives do not support an “outsider” in opposition to politicians, who are in bed with Wall Street, an American, non-violent revolution may will not be possible until after it’s too late. Climate change has made the neo-liberal world status quo unsustainable. Global warming changes everything, including politics — and campaigns for office — as usual.
Almost as concerning as climate change, the U.S. is on the verge of something else almost as dangerous: Obamatrade. The three trade-and-regulatory treaties about to mow down American self-government and Secretary Clinton’s tentative support — during the debates and votes on the unconstitutional, treaty-enabling “fast-track” legislation — for Trade Promotion Authority alone is reason enough for progressives to refuse to back her.
To see Barney Frank shilling as a willing fellow-traveler of neo-liberals suggests that some people’s understanding of the word progressive doesn’t comport with that of actual progressives who watch in horror as Obamatrade comes rolling down the fast-track Senator Sanders fought to derail. To genuine progressives, Hillary is Republican-lite. Representative Frank is not a progressive; he’s a neo-liberal. There is a significant difference between these two ideologies. When Rush Limbaugh and others made liberalism a four-letter word, liberals started using the label “progressive” to disguise their morally bankrupt, corporate-oriented neo-liberal ideology. The fight for the Democratic Party nomination in the next primary season will be between liberals backing Secretary Clinton and progressives backing Senator Sanders. According to polls, that battle should become a very close contest.
Revolt Against Plutocracy co-founder, Patrick Walker, wrote of Frank’s column on Facebook, “For progressive revolutionaries like us, Bernie’s candidacy is a referendum on whether we get a voice in the Democratic Party. Our best answer to Frank is to call his bluff and signal our readiness to walk away from Democrats if we don’t.” Plutocracy, their website notes, is “a country or society governed by the wealthy few.” He added later, “this is a revolution.”
People are registering and changing party affiliations to assist with the Senator Sanders’ revolutionary attempt to take the Executive Branch of the U.S. government out of the hands of the Republican/Democrat political duopoly that’s all-in with neo-liberalism. Senators Sander’s “democratic socialism” is not any more radical than Rooseveltianism, both Teddy and FDR. Ironically, Senator Sanders’ ideology is more in line with the tradition of the Democratic Party than any of the other candidates for President in that party.
Frank claims Clinton would combat “the flood of post-Citizens United right-wing money.” Yes, she would do that with the help of her own billionaire-funded super PAC, Priorities USA. Hillary Clinton’s statement about the need for disclosure of political contributions, “if it takes a constitutional amendment,” was a strange claim for a lawyer to make. The constitutionality of such disclosure laws has never been questioned by the Court! Perhaps she was pandering to the growing movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United and all related decisions. As Rob Hager notes, Clinton “not only blows the dog-whistle for those diverted to that futile approach by professional activists for the past five years, but also prepares a convenient exit for herself from even the truncated ‘dark money’ issue.” She best hope those activists are ignorant about the relevant case law.
There should be nervousness about Senator Sanders leading the Democratic Party by the party elites. They embrace the party/Wall Street legalized corruption and the power that accompanies big money in politics. The only way Senator Sanders can win the White House is if people power can trump money power in the Citizens United/McCutcheon era. It’s going to take a revolution that began with an announcement in April, continues with record crowds and an innovative primary campaign strategy by revolutionaries driving a stake in the ground of the political landscape that demands: #BernieOrElse!
Update, 7/29/2015: Matt Taibbi wrote a great piece referencing Frank’s column: “In the Age of Trump, Will Democrats Sell Out More, Or Less?”