By Ben Tanosborn
We cannot help but smile at the shrill and jingoish display of fervid patriotism that the lady from the heartland of the north, Sarah Palin, brings to American politics. A faux conservatism which is made up mostly of geriatric memories celebrating America’s past glories as center of power and influence in a unipolar world.
We have witnessed her fiery spirit and enthusiasm light up once again, as she gave her tea party, conservative imprimatur to that celebrity gentleman who six months before had decided to lend America a hand, and take her from menacing oblivion to greatness it once had: Donald Trump. A strident endorsement that only Sarah Louise Palin can give, and Tina Fey perfectly imitate. It is doubtful that former presidential candidate McCain’s super-blunder of 2008, Sarah Palin as Vice President in the Republican ticket, will bring net-votes to Donald Trump. Her “touted” foreign policy credentials then – ability to see Russia from her home in Wasilla (Alaska)… and brandishing a diploma from a university in Moscow (…a city somewhere else) – were as genuine as her rounded preparation in political leadership. Fortunately for Americans then, mediocrity did not win the day, even if siding with a substantial electorate which had yet to give indications of trying to shake racist die-hardism or the desire for fundamentalist religion.
So much for another vignette in the ongoing self-immolation of the Republican Party, and its endangerment to continue as halfsies in the duopoly which has ruled American politics for one and a half centuries; an invitation to implosion, one might add, when leadership in the party has failed to recognize political conservatism as defined in much of the world: principally as economics-anchored, not socio-religiously based… and most definitely, not to the fusion of both as it’s occurred in the US. Only Rand Paul and the Libertarian wing of the GOP seem to understand the universal model of political conservatism, something which tends to silence the senator’s voice within the party and greatly diminishes libertarian influence; in much of a similar fashion as progressives have found themselves in the Democratic Party for seven decades… always asked to provide the vote but seldom granted a voice.
Bernie Sanders, a progressive from a different political source who recently found cover under the Democratic umbrella, has taken aim to enlarge the progressives’ impact on American politics, doing it from the very core of the Democratic Party; while the senator from Kentucky probably feels he is no David to battle Goliath Trump…which, apparently, neither does the RNC or the movers and shakers within the GOP-establishment.
Sarah Palin, a colorful potential campaign groupie for Trump, unwittingly may have started a flood of support for him on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, as Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr. of Liberty University, and the rooting-shooting anti-immigration sheriff of Maricopa County (Arizona), Joe Arpaio, have joined the endorsement parade before the Iowa count becomes another historical statistic, and they miss out on The Donald’s gratitude.
Whether Donald Trump, as Pied Piper leading the newborn version of the disgruntled mid-19th century Know-Nothings, ends up winning the Republican nomination, or the RNC finds a way to slither out of its Trump-mess, considerable damage has already been inflicted on the party; damage that some political pundits view as irreparable.
If such is the case, it might prove useful to analyze the two political currents vying for the soul of a new and progressive-tized Democratic Party: that which sees incremental progressive change as a pragmatic evolutionary effort, led by the party’s quasi-crowned matriarch, Hillary Clinton; and that which advocates revolutionary progressive change, led by Senator Bernie Sanders.
That incremental progressive change that Hillary spouses has been the trademark of the Democratic leadership for more than three decades, up to and including Barack Obama. An evolutionary effort that Bernie claims to fall short as he points to the ever-widening gap in wealth/income between rich and poor, as well as the deterioration in civil and human rights areas… which has taken America’s sizeable middle class from an enviable pedestal in the past down to a surface-mediocrity in the industrialized world. Bernie’s call to narrow the abysmal economic gap does not appear to be reached via trickled down evolutionary gains. Only giant revolutionary strides, following Senator Sanders’ logic, can keep most Americans not just from losing more ground but also catching up to other first world economies where the governments appear to care for all their citizens, and not just the moneyed elite.
Unfortunately for Bernie, and the success of his revolution, he carries the “S” scarlet letter in a society where only the young are exempt from cumulative political poisoning fed to us throughout our lives. Must the good senator have to explain ad nauseam why democratic socialism is not just another form of communism or anti-capitalism? And still be condescendingly tagged with suspicion or skepticism?
Even if all young people (18-25) went to the polls, it would not suffice to carry Senator Bernie Sanders to the White House. Not without a major shakeup in the current status. For the tide to turn and carry the day for Bernie, not just as presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, but as President-elect in November, two things need to happen… and they need to happen soon. First, he would need an endorsement from another honest politician, one just as capable to lead the nation, who would not only be ideologically compatible but also willing to team-up as vice-presidential candidate and join the campaign long before the Democratic convention in July. And no one better suited for that role than Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Second, and perhaps most important in bringing about the tide, would require for Bernie to sell his political agenda and gain the endorsement of groups that now follow a tradition where the leadership is often swayed by personal and “historical” loyalties, often not in consonance with the groups’ members – a behavior which prevails in unions and ethnic/racial groups and institutions. That has been the case with an already plurality of groups endorsing Hillary Clinton, where the membership would be much better served with Bernie Sanders in the White House. Not an easy sell for Bernie, or anyone else. Not easy to find leadership with the unbiased clarity exhibited by South Carolina lawmaker, Rep. Justin Bamberg, who switched his endorsement from Hillary to Bernie.
Meanwhile Donald Trump continues enjoying the permissive bullying allowed by his wealth or, rather, fears of his wealth.