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Voting With Our Feet
Posted on Mar 20, 2016
By Chris Hedges
Bernie Sanders’ political corpse in the presidential race is still warm, but some of his prominent liberal supporters already are urging us to flee to Hillary Clinton. Sanders, who knows the game is up, will soon become the Democrats’ pied piper. He will seek to entice his supporters into the Democratic Party rattrap. He has decried the disruption of Trump rallies—denigrating the only power we have left—saying “people should not disrupt anybody’s meetings.” His “political revolution,” like his promise of a movement, is a cynical form of advertising. Sanders will, like the Barack Obama of 2008, end as an impediment to the mass movements he claims to represent. And mass movements in our system of “inverted totalitarianism” are our final and only hope.
I understand the fear over Donald Trump. I too want to crush the growing fascist sentiments rising up from the rot and decay of American society. But voting for Clinton and supporting the Democratic Party will not halt our descent into despotism. It will only accelerate it. Trump is not creating phenomena. He is responding to them. It is up to us to halt the array of forces, including the Trump campaign, that are preparing a species of American fascism and orchestrating a global ecocide. The only way we have left to vote is with our feet.
When fundamental rights are abolished by the state, as novelist and activist Arundhati Roy has pointed out, “they are almost always won back only through revolution.” And it is not as if we have much time left. Josh Fox, in his brutally honest film about the looming effects of climate change, “How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change),” notes that we have to cut 80 percent of all carbon emissions by 2020 if we are to have any hope of saving the Greenland ice sheet. The Paris climate talks were a step backward. The loss of the polar ice will flood coastal cities around the globe. It will trigger a global ecological catastrophe. It will displace hundreds of millions of people. It will bring, if not revolution, violence, anarchy, chaos, suffering and death that will rival the black plague. And our elites intend to do nothing to stop it. That fact alone should send us into the streets.
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The Democrats, and in particular Hillary and Bill Clinton, are responsible as much as anyone on the right for our being sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit. They told the same lies as the right-wingers. They fed the same hate. They too orchestrated the corporate coup. The Clintons removed from the Democratic Party platform the progressive stances championed by Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. They spoke early in their careers in the coded racism of “law and order.” They transformed the Democratic Party into the old Republican Party. They unleashed the predators of Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry. They stripped us of our civil liberties, championed endless war and empowered the arms industry and agencies such as Homeland Security to suck the marrow out of the federal budget. The Clintons and the Democratic Party filled the prisons and destroyed welfare. And under President Obama it has gotten worse. Obama authorized the assassination of U.S. citizens. He signed into law legislation that permits the military to act as a domestic police force and detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without due process. He and the Democratic Party establishment are attempting to ram new trade agreements down our throats.
It pays to betray the citizenry. The Clintons have made more than $153 million for paid speeches alone since 2001. The Democratic Party is awash in corporate cash. And the Obamas will soon, like the Clintons, be multimillionaires.
The two parties colluded to turn American politics into anti-politics. The culture wars replaced political debate. The Democrats co-opted the liberal elites and unions. The Republican Party embraced the lunatics of the Christian right, nativists and opponents of abortion rights. The Republicans and the Democrats looked at their supporters as useful idiots. It worked for a while. Then the manipulated and the abandoned sent the elites back to their gated estates. Voters flocked to Trump hate rallies and fueled Sanders’ political insurgency.
It was a bankrupt liberal establishment that made possible the rise of totalitarianism in Germany and Russia in the 20th century. The great intellectuals, writers, philosophers and artists—from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Hannah Arendt—who fought against emergent fascism and communism warned about a failed liberalism. They understood that stories of rage were, first of all, stories of despair. Liberalism, by constantly betraying its stated values, neutered and discredited itself as a political force. Its self-destruction left the working poor bereft of their only means of halting their abject exploitation and abuse. Incremental and piecemeal reform became impossible. When the underclasses turned against the liberal establishment they rejected not only its representatives but also the values liberals claimed to represent. And they searched for a leader who promised new glory, moral renewal and vengeance.
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