An Airing of Grievances This Political Season
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
This other, quadrennial "silly season" that we charitably refer to as a general election cycle has come with its share of disappointments. It's been a sort of Festivus in which we've been raining blows on each others' heads by blocking on Twitter and unfriending each other on Facebook at the first sign of partisan non-compliance and waging flame wars to no effect. We've been airing our grievances with others not of like mind and letting them know whether they wish to hear it or not. To not be so engaged and passionate is tantamount to turning in your political wonk membership card. Suddenly, graduation parties and family BBQs involving red hot coals and sharp implements aren't as safe as they once seemed.
And I am no different. There's nothing wrong about showing concern and political passion when one perceives our interests are being threatened by those who would have us believe otherwise, to vehemently reject the polymer-based smiles and usual campaign promises by those who accept money from Big Business and Wall St banks (and, yes, Hillary, I'm looking right at you). After all, if the streets of Paris can be clogged with hundreds of thousands of people when austerity is threatened, then the least we can do for our own political process is to heave our distended rear ends off our Laz-E-Boys and shake our fists at our laptops (baby steps, baby steps).
And I'm not going to rail on about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump because I never had any illusions about either of them. Both of them have so many unpleasant things in common it's no wonder the two of them are neck-and-neck in virtually every poll taken over the last couple of weeks. This is why Bernie Sanders has never faltered in his lead over Trump- He doesn't remind people of the right wing loudmouth bully or of Wall Street.
No, this is about the disappointments to which we've been subjected elsewhere within the Democratic establishment. Over the last several months, many Democratic and liberal stalwarts whom we've admired over the years have been making some troubling statements, taken some dodgy stands and making some inexplicable endorsements.
Again, this is not about the Usual Suspects, the fish in the barrel. I never had the slightest illusions about Trump, the right wing media that has enabled him or Goldwater Girl Hillary Clinton or even DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who's in for the fight of her life against Tim Canova in FL-23). My airing of grievances is aimed toward those I'd come to trust and even admire over the years.
Yes, I Sold Out to Big Banks and That's Made Me a Better Liberal
My problem with Barney Frank is manifold. While I never quite lived in his district, sometimes in years past I felt as if he might have been. His decades of dedication to progressive causes, gay rights and the standard of living of people in Massachusetts is undeniable. It kind of made him a political Dutch Uncle to all of us. It was a sad day when gerrymandering would've given him a new constituency unfamiliar with him, forcing his retirement.
Then, after retiring from Congress, last June Frank did the unthinkable: He joined the board of a Wall Street bank. When the cries of dismay rose to such a pitch they couldn't be ignored, Frank then penned last December an article for the ages, a breathtakingly arrogant piece for Politico that's actually entitled, Yes, I Took Bank Money. And It Made Me a Better Regulator.
In it, Frank not only justified taking a highly lucrative position with Signature Bank's Board of Directors, he even had the effrontery to equate the dismay meeting this career move with a "liberal purity test." In other words, I'm not the only one who's sold out and you should get on board because there are no honest men any more and that we should end our Diogenean search for one.
Granted, Frank's career in public service was over and he had every right to take a job making him a lot of pelf. But considering his predominant focus as a Congressman and as one of the co-authors of the watered-down Dodd-Frank, the optics looked bad. Frank's move to Wall Street had just highlighted the sleazy collusion and well-oiled revolving door between Wall Street banks and its so-called regulators. It inevitably made those of us who still subscribe to "purity tests" how well he got to know these banksters while allegedly regulating them.
Frank's ridiculous, self defensive stance that accepting succor from Wall St making him a better regulator is like saying, "Taking countless men between my legs and getting infected with STDs has made me a better nun." But Frank couldn't stop there. His waspishness at criticism of his career move aside, he also, typical of the Wall St wing of the Democratic Party, decided to become a Hillary backer. Not only that, he's been openly hostile to the only candidate who's been honestly critical of Wall St and refusing its money: Bernie Sanders.
It didn't help his cause any when Debbie Wasserman Schultz named him to one of the three committees that will essentially govern the entire National Convention in Philadelphia in July. This is her right but again, Democrats have shown they are as willfully blind to bad optics as the Republicans, which is the first sign of arrogant politicians holding the voice of the people in complete contempt. In placing Clinton partisans Frank and Dannel Malloy to the committees, it gave the unmistakable perception that Schultz was stacking the deck against Sanders just as Roberta Lange had in Las Vegas several weeks ago.
A Fifth Column Pogrom
The hostility shown to Sanders by the likes of Wasserman Schultz, Frank and other Jews also touches upon an inexplicable antisemitic backlash against the Vermont Senator. This comes from the Democratic establishment, this new Tammany Hall that's been rearing its ugly head. The sharpest criticism against Sanders and the most naked collusion has been coming from Wall Street-backed Jews such as Schultz and Frank. An optimist would see that the Democrats aren't as religiously partisan as Republicans but pessimists would see it differently. As American Jews historically have voted Democratic and liberal, it's troubling to see so many of Sanders' fellow Jews piling on him publicly and privately because he won't play ball with Wall Street.
Another big disappointment has been Barbara Boxer, who chose to end her career is in a sad, sloppy, vicious way by giving the finger to Sanders backers in Nevada a few weeks ago. One could excuse her Hillary partisanship by saying that Boxer's daughter married Clinton's brother but that's hardly a reason to back one candidate or another for President. Considering that Boxer's not running for reelection this fall, one can breathe a sigh of relief at her impending retirement while knowing that, at the end of it all, she was no more progressive than her counterpart Dianne Feinstein (who had to use Google to look up Clinton's accomplishments during her brief time in the Senate. Unsurprisingly and undeterred by her ignorance, Feinstein sided with her fellow establishment Jews and endorsed Clinton over Sanders).
And perhaps the biggest disappointment of all was Rachel Maddow, an unabashed Hillary backer and Bernie basher. In a recent segment on the increasingly disappointing MSNBC, Maddow took the Sanders campaign to task for a letter written to the DNC by its legal team demanding that Frank and Malloy be tossed from the committees. What Maddow chose to elide over were the reasons why the Sanders campaign feels they weren't getting a fair shake. "Collusion, Wasserman Schultz? What is this collusion of which you speak, stranger?" Maddow might as well ask.
As with Trump acting as both a magnet and lightning rod for the racists, xenophobes, homophobes and misogynist holdovers still left in this country, Hillary Clinton has also been catnip for every corrupt, machine Democrat between the Beltway and Wall Street. Watching the endorsements come out for her during her campaign is like putting on the goggles and seeing the aliens among us for the first time. And a paranoid liberal by necessity has to look askance at what few remaining stalwarts remain to us, fearful that Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren have been pulling our legs the whole time.