I do hope you read it.
Here on Long Island where I come to teach my labor union workshop, this is a cross section of heartland America. Here, you can see the Stars and Stripes flying around every street corner, and you can see churches at every five blocks. Here, they have practically no public transportation, and people with three or four members in the family drive large SUV’s. They have almost no MacDonald’s, and no Burger Kings or KFC. This is suburban America. Here, people believe the American Dream still exists.
My class is largely a Democratic Party constituency. Out of my 1,500 union colleagues I teach every year, most of whom come by rotation, I bet 1,400 will vote Democratic.
So, we’ve been indirectly having this conversation about various candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Most of them know Hillary is the same-old wine in a newly-packaged bottle. They know she’s been a flip-flop on many critically important issues, and she has been a spokesperson for the 1%. They know she will say anything to get elected.
But most will vote for her, because they truly believe she is a lesser evil than the Republicans, and is a big-name candidate who can win. Teacher’s union AFT has already endorsed her — without any open debate. It is possible AFL-CIO will also endorse her, although surprisingly, it has delayed its decision today.
To these union members, Republicans are anti-union and pro-big-corporation (they are right), and they hate people like Scott Walker or his ilk of union busters. They laugh at Donald Trump’s hate speech against immigrants.
Now, thanks to our classes over the years, many of them also know about Bill Clinton’s destructive NAFTA, his overturning of Glass-Stegall Act (a measure that destroyed the age-old separation between private banks and investment banks), and they also know Hillary Clinton’s long association with Wal-Mart, and her secretive position on TPP.
They have reluctantly accepted that even though these two big parties are flip sides of the same coin, they have no choice but to find the so-called “lesser evil,” every four years.
They know how Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan Chase are taking advantage of a weak Obama administration, looting America, and they know how GE, Exxon and Apple are not paying taxes. Some of them who came to my classes all these years also know about IMF, World Bank, Greece, Iceland, Bangladesh, India, Union Carbide, and Monsanto. These are well-informed people with serious political commitment. They participate in phone banking during elections.
Yet, many of them do not know who Bernie Sanders is, or what he has done to try to overturn Citizens United. They don’t know that what he has done in Vermont could be a pragmatic, futuristic model for tomorrow’s America. They don’t know that his proposed socioeconomic platform is not outlandish or far left. They don’t know he is not going to take their guns away.
Yet, some of them know about Elizabeth Warren and her progressive politics, but they also believe she will not run against Hillary Clinton.
This lack of knowledge about viable, strong alternatives has happened because of what I keep calling “Journalism of Exclusion.” Not just the New York Times, NBC, PBS, NPR or CNN, even the so-called lefty media such as MSNBC or The Nation are, in all likelihood, going to take a pro-Hillary position, effectively excluding Bernie Sanders from any possible democratic discussions or debates.
**There will be no debate on mainstream media — on real bread and butter issues.** This is my fear.
If my Bernie Sanders friends think I am being negative or pessimistic, you can hate me. My absence from this scenario will not change anything. Your life, and my life, will go on.
But hopefully, you will not hate what I have to say here. In America, I have a non-Judeo-Christian name, and I am a first-generation immigrant with no money or pedigree. But I bring in decades of political organizing experience, from the two biggest democracies in the world. I have worked with thousands of political activists, and I have worked on American and Indian elections all my life.
I know what I am talking about.
Partha Banerjee (Wikipedia link)
Brooklyn, New York