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How Does the Democratic Nominee Earn Our Vote?
Don’t listen to the talking heads on cable news: Bernie Sanders supporters have every right to be angry. They have a right to be angry about what happened at the Nevada State Democratic Convention, they have a right to be angry that the Democratic Party has tried to stage-manage a coronation for Hillary Clinton, and they have a right to be angry about the corruption that has taken over our democracy.
First, let’s talk about Nevada. Despite all the hand-wringing from our so-called liberal media about rioting and chaos, there is still no real proof that things got all that out of hand and there’s no proof of any chair-throwing or other violence of any sort.
Were a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters upset that the Nevada Democratic Party stripped their candidate of some delegates? Absolutely.
Were a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters angry that the rules were changed in an undemocratic way that helped Hillary Clinton? You bet.
Did those Bernie Sanders supporters express their anger by protesting, shouting and booing? Yes, yes, they did.
And so what?
This is an election and things like that happen, especially, you know, in a democracy, where our disagreements sometimes get a little raucous.
Obviously, no one deserves to get death threats or even harassment, as Nevada’s Democratic Party chair did, but that doesn’t mean the anger Bernie Sanders supporters feel is any less real or any less legitimate.
And here’s what the corporate media won’t tell you: Bernie supporters aren’t angry at the Democratic Party because they’re obsessed with Bernie or want some old Jewish guy from Brooklyn to be president. They’re angry because they want real change and are being thwarted at every step of the way by a Democratic establishment that just wants to preserve the status quo.
What’s animating Bernie supporters -- and it’s arguably what animated some early Trump supporters as well -- is the idea that Washington doesn’t have be run as usual, that the Treasury Department doesn’t have to run by former executives from Goldman Sachs, that the FDA doesn’t have to be run by former executives from Merck or Pfizer, and that the Interior Department doesn’t have to be subservient to BP or Shell.
What’s animating Bernie supporters is the very simple and very American idea that the government should be the government, not a revolving door for corporate lackeys and special interests groups.
This is what Bernie is promising to do and what Trump has hinted at, even though in his case it’s just part of a scam he’s running on the suckers who vote Republican. In Bernie’s case, though, it’s for real, and it’s the source of most of his supporters’ passion. Just like Bernie, they want the government to work for We the People again, and just like Bernie, they understand that the Democratic establishment is as big a part of the problem as the Republican establishment.
The Reagan administration may have changed the game by doing the unthinkable and appointing industry types to cabinet positions, but both parties have followed its lead ever since.
The Obama administration is no exception. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew used to work for Citigroup. Former Attorney General Eric Holder worked at a corporate DC law firm before taking office, and he’s now returned to working at that corporate DC law firm. Robert Califf, the head of the FDA, has deep ties to Big Pharma, and is one of the most corporate FDA chiefs in history.
It’s not just the Obama administration that’s flush with corporate cronies, though. This is a Democratic Party-wide problem.
For example, Barney Frank, who now is on the board of a bank that’s being sued for running a Ponzi scheme, is going to help write the banking part of the party platform at this summer’s Democratic Convention. Allyson Schwartz, a former Democratic congresswoman who now spends her days pushing for privatized Medicare, is on the convention’s host committee. So is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who now spends his days lobbying for the fracking industry.
If Hillary Clinton is the nominee for president and wins, and she fails to do something about this, Bernie Sanders supporters will stay disenchanted, as they will have every right to be.
So if Democratic elites want Bernie Sanders supporters to “unify” with and rally behind their party, they better clean out their own closets first. They're going to have to, as Senator Nina Turner told me today on my radio show, "earn our votes."
And ending the corrupt revolving door in Washington DC is a vital starting place.