The following list of counterpoints is a rebuttal to Rob Hager’s CounterPunch article, “Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast” which makes agenda-driven and false assumptions.
- The article begins with the false assumption that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren supporters need to unite behind either Bernie or Elizabeth. This is the same false assumption as “Vote Blue No Matter Who” but substitutes “Vote Bernie or Elizabeth No Matter Who.” A better option would be: “Vote for anyone who has never previously run for POTUS as a Democrat but has endorsed Hillary No Matter Who” coupled with: “Vote for anyone who is not beholden to Big Money and especially is not beholden to the Industrial-Military Complex No Matter Who.” Elizabeth fails on both accounts!
- The article is long and comprised of formal insistence. It has no punch. Most voters won’t get past the title and perhaps the false assumption mentioned above. But that false assumption is a doozy. We need to address it via the education of an electorate that doesn’t typically pay much attention.
- This article is an attempt to sheepdog voters who long have admired both Elizabeth and Bernie. It’s a sort of party unity ploy. To make this stick, Rob makes valid criticisms (albeit cherry-picked) of both candidates and pretends that he is objective about his choice of Elizabeth over Bernie because he presents so much information.
- Don’t be fooled. He is using the abundance of information to attempt to persuade readers that all of the pieces of the story are equally important/valid. He presents two truckloads of cherry-picked information (but he doesn’t want you to see the cherrypicking part). Bernie’s load weighs this much. Elizabeth’s load weighs this much. It’s a false comparison because not all of the items of information are equally important/valid and there is missing information from both loads.
- That isn’t the real problem, though. All of the information is a smoke screen to distract you from what the article is really designed to do—to get you to (a) first accept the false equivalence of two candidates who both have conceptually been lumped together in people’s minds and then to get you to (b) see that one is slightly better than the other. It’s a tricky premise for Rob because he wants his readers to think of Bernie and Elizabeth as two versions of the progressive brand and then show that one version is better—quantitatively rather than qualitatively. That’s why he works so strenuously to debunk the WaPo article that attempts to differentiate the candidates in a qualitative way that most voters can easily swallow: Bernie is a revolutionary and Elizabeth is a reformer/regulator. I can see why he wouldn’t want this easily digestible idea to stick in voters’ minds.
- Elizabeth Warren is actually a stealth Neo-liberal. Caitlyn Johnstone, Jerry Dore, Lee Camp, Niko House, Kathy Padden, and others have substantively fleshed out this assertion. They show the qualitative differences between the candidates. That’s what Sanders’ supporters also need to do, especially when they see or hear a former supporter of Bernie expressing support for Warren now.
- Although he probably doesn’t see it this way, Rob is working the same angle as Jon Cowan, President of Third Way. Jon also assumes that Bernie voters and Elizabeth voters represent a bloc that might be used against a corporate sock puppet like Joe Biden (or any of the other sock puppets Third Way might try to anoint). However, Rob wants to hold this bloc together to defeat the plutocrats and Jon (who demonstrates a better understanding of the fact that Bernie voters probably won’t vote for Elizabeth—viz. the Emerson poll that shows 26% of Bernie voters won’t support Elizabeth in the general election) simply wants anyone but Bernie, even if it’s Donald Trump.
- Both Rob’s thinking and Jon’s thinking are exceedingly dangerous for the future of the planet. If we do the math, it becomes obvious that Rob’s way will never work. He can’t unite Bernie voters behind Elizabeth. Jon’s way is dangerous because it will lead to four more years of Trump. Jon has already given up on the idea of any “acceptable” Democratic candidate winning the election. He simply wants to defeat Bernie.
- There is one more piece of the puzzle that we need to acknowledge that Rob’s article does not address. The teaming masses of economically disenfranchised voters, regardless of information level (Rob snidely addresses the idea of “low-information” voters—we should never refer to voters this way), are not the lynchpin in this battle. While it is important to involve as many economically disenfranchised voters as possible, the rigged system will not be unrigged by them. The game will be won or lost by the traditional “voting class.” Comfortable suburbanites must be the target of Bernie or Bust. The DNC knows this (Jon Cowan and the Third Way know this) and they are terrified that we might figure it out.
- Unity in suburbia is the lynchpin. These are the people who actually show up to vote. These are the opinions that have heft in the game that pundits and pollsters (think RealClear) play. Comfortable voters are out of touch with the pain and suffering that the rest of the world faces. They may say the right things but they don’t really want the teaming masses to go to school with their children. And they don’t really want to give up any of their socioeconomic status for the sake of those who never have been given a fair shake in life. The cloaked bigotry of comfortable voters is the most devastating factor when it comes to combating the insidious evil of Neo-liberalism.
- Therefore, we need to play hardball with the suburbanites. When it comes to disenfranchised voters, Bernie’s message is at least as effective as Trump’s. The truck drivers, who are traditionally conservative, are seeing through Trump’s lies. We can leave Bernie’s message to do it’s own good work here. What I we need to do is use leverage and shame to make it Real Clear to comfortable suburbanites that the solid left flank of the Bernie voting bloc will not be bamboozled again. Real progressives need to show them what Neo-liberalism actually is and shame them into not supporting it in any of its political manifestations.
- Some of us need to relentlessly but respectfully attack President Obama (e.g., Tim Black, Niko House, Mike Render, Nina Turner, Cornel West, and others from the independent media who can get away with it). This is painful but necessary. There is no better way to effectively differentiate Neo-liberalism from Progressivism than to show how President Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership “free-trade” agreement would have “fundamentally transformed” the United States and 11 other countries into corporate-crafted legal orders. Suburbanites need to be shown clearly what Neo-liberalism has wrought over the last 50 years and what true Progressives can never allow going forward. The time for lip service is over. Ethical compassionate world citizens need either to put up or shut up. Now is the time.
- If the suburbanites begin to be moved by our message sooner rather than later (and it must be sooner if Jon Cowan’s Third Way plan is to be thwarted), we will know by watching the RealClear polls. Admittedly, these polls do not represent the new energy that is coming into the political landscape, but they very effectively show us what is going on in suburbia. If Bernie or Bust is effectively doing what needs to be done there, RealClear will tell us. The armchair rah rah “I hope my team wins this time” suburbanites need to be shaken (violently if necessary) from their tribalistic complacency.
- Rob correctly posits that high information wealthy people favor Warren over Sanders. That’s a problem, kid. At first blush, we were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt—that his arguments were well-meaning and in good faith. But when he brought in the gender crap at the end of the article, we rapidly shifted our opinion. He’s sleazy and intentionally manipulative. He’s the kind of leftist that history should warn us about.
To help others avoid being shepherded by such rhetoric, please consider signing the Bernie or Bust 2.0 Pledge , getting a Bernie or Bust bumper sticker to send a message to suburbanites and/or making a donation to the Revolt Against Plutocracy’s PAC.