Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing This Time?

Last night, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, director Michael Moore, and economist Darrick Hamilton gathered for an online panel discussion of "poverty, the decline of the middle class, and the consolidation of corporate power."

Amana Fontanella-Khan and Lauren Gambino at the Guardian report:
Speaking to the Guardian before the event, Sanders said: "We have to fight Trump every day. But we have to not lose our vision as to where we want to go as a country. We can talk about the disastrous role Russia has played in trying to undermine American democracy. That is enormously important. But we also have to talk about the fact that we have the highest rate of child poverty in any major economy of the world."

...Sanders and Moore both complained about the media's poor coverage of inequality and working people's struggles. Moore said: "You turn on the TV and it's 'Russia, Russia, Russia!'" Sanders interjected: "And don't forget Stormy Daniels!"

Moore continued: "These are all shiny keys to distract us …We should know about the West Virginia strike. What an inspiration that would be. But they don't show this, Bernie, because, what would happen if they did?"
A few thoughts:

1. Does a man who seriously wants to be President of the United States of America expect me to buy the premise that the subversion of (healthy) democracy and outcomes for children are unrelated issues? Because whoooooooooops!

Even in the United States, unequal access to participatory democracy has affects outcomes. That is: Communities who are disproportionately targeted for disenfranchisement from voting, and/or whose votes are disempowered via gerrymandering, have less power to effect changes and enact policy that benefit their communities.

But that's a discussion which requires intersectional analysis beyond class and into the area of "identity politics," which Sanders holds in contempt — even though it's abundantly clear [pdf] that race is even more important than class in the United States for Black and American Indian people, especially boys/men.

2. Russia is a "shiny key to distract us" from what, exactly? Class inequality? Working people's plight? I mean, do these bozos think those things are somehow going to improve if we turn over control of our country to Russia?

I don't understand the argument here — except, of course, inasmuch as calling Russia a "distraction" is itself a distraction from the fact that Sanders' campaign was aided by Russia and the fact that he doesn't want to talk about that.

3. Why is Sanders not angry that Russia fucked with his campaign and his supporters? He has no problem expressing angry about literally everything else, so why not that?

4. Stormy Daniels is also not a "distraction." She is a human being at the center of a serious story about the U.S. president, known to be profoundly corrupt and a confessed serial sex abuser, silencing women using alleged threats of violence and possibly illegal campaign fund payoffs.

Perhaps Sanders hasn't been paying close enough attention to the news, but this is not merely a story about a president who had a consensual affair with an adult film star. It's a story about corruption, misogyny, and ethics. All of which are things that should matter to a sitting senator, who is tasked with holding aforementioned president accountable and who is himself contemplating another run for the presidency.

5. The West Virginia strike was widely covered. Who does it help to pretend that it wasn't?

In other news, "Trump was barely mentioned during the event," but Sanders did manage to once again give Trump wildly undeserved credit on trying to start a trade war:
While Sanders doesn't agree with [Donald] Trump's tariffs, he said that they are a "weapon you can use" to address competitors from low-wage countries. "American workers are put in an extreme disadvantage in that kind of competition," Sanders said, adding: "We have to go broader [than Trump's tariffs]. I have called for the ending of permanent normal trade relations with China and NAFTA. I think trade is a positive thing, but it has to be done in a way that is fair."
Or he could have pointed out that Donald Trump's focus on trade is misplaced altogether, since automation is our future reality, and is a bigger threat than trade imabalances or "competitors from low-wage countries," which a majority of Americans have identified, even if the Senator yet has not.

It continues to be absolutely stunning to me how catastrophically unhelpful Sanders, Moore, and even Warren can be on the subject of class inequality, which is a subject of great importance to me, and to most other progressives, too.

How they continue to fail to see the critical need for intersectional analysis and a robust defense against any subversion of a healthy democracy, from foreign interference to domestic voter suppression, is beyond me.

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