Saturday, May 30, 2015

Is Senator Bernie Sanders really a Radical Extremist?

Which Presidential candidate said this? Was it Bernie Sanders? Or was It Rand Paul?

"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred."
It was Franklin D. Roosevelt in his address October 31, 1936 announcing the Second New Deal.

Later on January 11, 1944 when FDR gave his State of the Union Message to Congress, he proposed a Second Bill of Rights and argued that political rights guaranteed by the constitution and the Bill of Rights "had proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness."

Excerpts from his speech:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

So was it very odd that THE VAST MAJORITY OF ALL STATES overwhelmingly voted for FDR in FOUR CONSECUTIVE ELECTIONS?

FDR elections

Now 70 years later, we have so-called "moderate" Democrats, the so-called "liberal" media, and all Republicans who are all now defining FDR as some kind of "radical socialist" — much in the same way they are portraying Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The "powers that be" — the media, the big banks, multinational corporations, and the major political party machines — who are all controlled by the top 0.01% (the oligarchs, plutocrats and the rest of the economic elites) want us to vote for either Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton. They know that, no matter which one is elected, the status quo will remain the same — and no significant changes will ever be made to wages, taxes, labor laws, trade deals, or anything else that now mostly benefits the richest people in this country. They will only tweak around the edges to pacify the masses, to "appear" as though they're working on behalf of our best interests. Both major political parties have been doing this — the game has been rigged from top to bottom for decades.

As Winston Churchill noted, history is written by the winners. So long as 90% media is controlled by 6 multinational corporations — and so long as politics is controlled by two political parties that are more the same (economically) than they are different (such as on the social issues), they won’t let populist ideas (such as FDR's, Elizabeth Warren's or Bernie Sanders') grow — because that would be a Road to Perdition for the oligarchs, plutocrats and the rest of the economic elites in the top 0.01%.

These same people keep pumping the "American Dream" nonsense to the detached and ill-informed public, who eat it up wholeheartedly, believing that hard work and sacrifice are the way to the pot of gold. In reality, being born to rich parents is about the only way to strike it rich these days. The Guardian:

"Wealth inequality in the US is at near record levels according to a new study by academics. Over the past three decades, the share of household wealth owned by the top 0.1% has increased from 7% to 22%. For the bottom 90% of families, a combination of rising debt, the collapse of the value of their assets during the financial crisis, and stagnant real wages have led to the erosion of wealth."

When FDR used the phrase "Necessitous men are not free men", I interpreted this to mean people who lack "economic freedom" can't always peruse happiness either — as I mentioned in previous posts:

  • (April 14, 2015) "Money can't buy class, but fair incomes paying living wages can go a long way towards providing dignity, self-reliance, security, independence and economic freedom for those who already possess a whole lot of class."
  • (January 26, 2014) "That was Occupy Wall Street's message to the top 0.01% — Don't tread on me! — They were demanding the economic freedom to survive."
  • (September 26, 2014) "When the GOP talks about freedom, they exclude the economic freedom that millions of working Americans lack, and who are struggling paycheck-to-paycheck just to get by on. What about their right to earn a real living wage, so that they'd have the freedom to live better lives and pursue their happiness?"

(* The phrase used by FDR is found in the old English property law case, Vernon v Bethell (1762) 28 ER 838, according to Lord Henley LC)

Our Future -- Populists Are Driving the Ideas Primary (May 26, 2015):

In the run-up to 2016 presidential race, press attention is sensibly focused on the money primary – the candidates strutting their stuff before deep-pocket donors who will decide which candidates get a real shot to compete with the already established leaders, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

Overshadowed is the ideas primary – the competition to formulate a compelling message and agenda that appeals to voters. Hillary and Jeb have even postponed unveiling their ideas in order to focus on the money. But under the radar, in sharp contrast to the money primary, economic populism has become the coin of the realm in both parties. And on the Democratic side, populism is driving the ideas primary.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only formally announced challenger to Clinton, is an unvarnished populist, seeking to rouse working Americans across lines of race and region against what he calls the “billionaire class.” But Sanders isn’t alone. Former senator Jim Webb of Virginia has a proud populist record – opposing corporate trade deals, warning of rising inequality, challenging the national security elite’s efforts to police the world. Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is remaking himself into an economic populist, joining the opposition to President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Clinton, the establishment champion, has put off the unveiling of her agenda, but has proclaimed herself the “champion” of “everyday people.” She has criticized soaring CEO pay, and has delivered forceful addresses for comprehensive immigration reform and against mass incarceration and the systematic racial bias of our criminal justice system.

The force of this conflict between money and ideas is at the center of the furious debate over fast track trade authority and the still secreted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. The money – Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Agra – is almost entirely lined up in favor of fast track and the TPP, which is less a trade deal than an investment and special interest deal featuring tough negotiations to protect various American interests (like investment rights and drug patents) in exchange for offering greater access to American markets.

President Obama – like Bill Clinton and George Bush before him – has led the fight for fast track and TPP. The president has forcefully argued that this treaty meets traditional liberal goals, including allegedly the strongest provisions on labor rights and environmental protections.

The problem for the president, however, is that the debate has moved far beyond that. America has racked up unprecedented trade deficits – now totally over $7 trillion this century. The result, no longer denied by pro-trade economists, has been costly to workers whose jobs have been shipped abroad, and more generally to wage levels driven down by competition with low-wage labor. In addition, even conservative economists like former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke argue that the extreme trade imbalances contributed directly to the financial excesses that blew up the economy.

Among liberal economists, traditional supporters of trade accords – former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Nobel prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman – now are skeptics. Summers chaired the Commission for Inclusive Prosperity, designed by the Center of American Progress to be a precursor to a Hillary Clinton platform. It conceded that trade had contributed to income stagnation and inequality, and argued that trade accords ought to include protections against the currency manipulation that has undermined the U.S. trade position. Stiglitz not only calls for action on currency manipulation, but also opposes the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system that essentially erects a private judicial system for foreign investors, giving them rights not available to domestic companies or workers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made this arcane provision infamous.

The president also argues a national security case that if we don’t get the TPP, China will write the rules for the growing Asian economy. But the problem, as Warren and Stiglitz reveal, is that “we” aren’t writing the rules, multinationals are – and they are rigging them in their interests, not in the interests of American workers. (Moreover, the president’s entire argument is risible. China represents nearly 20 percent of the world economy. Countries want to trade with the Chinese, and China has made it clear that it writes the rules of access to its economy. Moreover, our trade deficits have contributed directly to China amassing staggering foreign currency reserves, which it is now using to buy companies and access across the world. TPP will alter neither of those realities.)

These arguments against fast track and TPP are backed by a massive mobilization of the Democratic base, with environmentalists, community groups and consumer groups joining with unions in opposition. This has put fast track and TPP at risk, with Democrats in the House lining up in large numbers against them. (Whether fast track can survive will depend in large part on whether the faux right-wing populists of the Tea Party listen to their donors or their voters.) One result is the increasingly deafening silence of Hillary Clinton on fast track and TPP, as she is caught between supporting the president she served and standing with the Democratic activists whose enthusiasm she needs.

Money still talks with a bullhorn – both in the presidential primaries and in the policy debates. But it is notable that senators up for re-election expressed the least support for fast track. The authority of the old elite arguments has been shattered. As the trade debate illustrates, Americans are increasingly skeptical of the old snake oil, and populist ideas are starting to drive the ideas debate.

So is Senator Bernie Sanders really a radical extremist? Or is he more like FDR or Elizabeth Warren — and the media and major political parties just wants you to believe differently for their own best economic reasons? After all, it was THESE two political parties (and the billionaires) who got us to where we are now — and no matter what they may claim, they like things just the way they are. But do you? If not, then vote for a "radical extremist". A vote for Bernie is a vote for Elizabeth Warren or FDR.

RELATED POST: At the Nation — Bernie Sanders to Billionaires: "You Can’t Have It All!"


  1. Is the Corporate Media Rigging Elections?

    Bernie Sanders takes heat for a 43-year-old "sexual" essay

    The Media and Cable Monopolies (Cont.)

  2. UPDATE:

    Al Jazeera --- The Democratic Party needs a swift kick in the ass: A grass-roots revolt from the left could remake the party into something electable again

    The party hasn’t had this little power since Herbert Hoover was president ... Of America’s two major political parties, the Republicans have become the party of extremists determined to privatize the commons, neuter the government’s ability to police polluters and corporate tax avoiders and redistribute wealth to the rich. The Democrats, on the other hand, have simply failed to stand for anything other than a watered-down version of what Republicans are proposing ... [The Democratic party machine] has made it clear they have no interest in changing course in their embrace of policies that disenfranchise the middle class, nor are they listening to the grass-roots movements demanding economic, environmental and racial justice. Even as the country moves further to the left, Democrats continue to lose ... What the blue party needs right now is a swift kick in the ass. And as much as independent parties like Socialist Alternative or the Green Party try to draw enough disaffected leftists from the Democratic Party in the next few election cycles, their ascent will remain a fantasy as long as America has winner-take-all elections ... Because primaries are almost always low-turnout elections, grass-roots movements such as Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street can make powerful statements by running their own candidates and mobilizing their members to vote in Democratic primary elections AGAINST entrenched {Democratic] incumbents. If the incumbent is ousted in the primary, one of two things will happen: Either a candidate with an unabashedly progressive platform will be your new state representative, governor or member of Congress or a Republican against all those things will win the seat. Either way, the grass roots will have pulled the state party organization significantly to the left, making it known that all future candidates had better adopt the populist values demanded by the people or be defeated. And when the grass roots have successfully shifted the conversation to be about the issues affecting their communities and livelihoods rather than the false issues trotted out by party bosses, conservative Democrats and Republicans won’t hold their seats for long.

    * In other words, if the 43% who identify as "Independents" (and others) didn't always vote for the "better of two evils", and if they didn't vote for people like Hillary Clinton (even if it means losing an election cycle to the GOP), it will move future Democrats more in the direction of people like FDR, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders — that, or they'd lose their elections. It all makes sense.