Down with the Duopoly: The Republicans Have Split; Now It’s the Democrat’s Turn

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The split in the Democratic Party will become an unbridgeable chasm “when Sanders supporters are forced to recognize that the 40-plus percent of the Democratic base they represent cannot coexist with Hillary’s ‘truer and more fully explicit ruling class party,’ and needs its own electoral political formation.” The Republican side of the corporate duopoly has already been destabilized. Clinton’s hard right turn will fracture the Democrats.

Down with the Duopoly: The Republicans Have Split; Now It’s the Democrat’s Turn

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

If Clinton has her way – and she will – this will be the last national convention at which leftish Democrats will have a powerful presence.”

The centrifugal forces set in motion by the global capitalist Race to the Bottom have come home to roost in the United States of Wall Street, and will swirl through the streets and Democratic Party convention halls in Philadelphia, this summer.

Democratic honchos, fearing that last weekend’s raucous Democratic Party convention in Las Vegas is a harbinger of the impending meltdown, pleaded with Bernie Sanders supporters to unite in a common front against Donald Trump. “We just can’t have a repeat of that in Philadelphia because it’s distressing,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who was booed in Las Vegas. “I have a message to the Bernie people who are planning to be disobedient because the system is rigged... There is nothing to protest.”

The corporate media, acting as press agents for Hillary Clinton, filled their columns with calumny against Sanders for failing to condemn the “violence” of his supporters, many of whom appear to increasingly view Philadelphia as an “Occupy” venue. Sanders, understanding that the power of potential disruption is all that he has left, refused to denounce his followers. “At the [Nevada] convention, the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place," said Sanders, pointing out that there have been "zero reports" of violence at his campaign rallies around the country.

Nina Turner, the Black former state senator from Ohio and frequent spokesperson for the Sanders campaign, predicted, “It is going to be progressives who will disrupt. And when I say disrupt, I don’t mean in a violent or a terrible way, but I just mean upset the apple cart.”

Rose Ann DeMoro, whose National Nurses United union endorses Sanders, said “We will be a significant force inside and a significant force outside” the convention in Philadelphia. “The focus is going to be how disenfranchised the voters felt during this election by the D.N.C.”

“Sanders, understanding that the power of potential disruption is all that he has left, refused to denounce his followers.”

It will be difficult to differentiate between the Sanders Democrats and the leftish legions that will descend on Philadelphia, in July. The Green Party, which has attempted to open a dialogue with Bernie Sanders since 2011 – to no avail, according to Green presidential candidate Jill Stein – plans to muster a significant presence in Philadelphia, alongside the Socialist Alternative party and other leftish electoral groupings. The Democratic National Committee is huddling with Philadelphia police “to ensure the safety and security of all of our delegates and participants” in anticipation of the thousands of protesters that will attempt to mass near the convention site.

Hillary Clinton has largely left it to surrogates to attack Sanders and his supporters. She’s already in general election mode, reaching out to Republican “moderates” – defined as any GOP right-winger that is disgruntled with Trump, for any reason. Clinton’s think-tankers are salivating at the prospect of absorbing much of the GOP’s previous base, minus the 30 percent or so of white folks who demand an overtly White Man’s Party that rejects jobs-exporting trade deals – the twin cores of Trump’s appeal. Convinced that the rest of the Republican Party is up for grabs, Clinton is deep into her hard right turn, seeking to build a “Big Tent” party that will be even more inhospitable to its leftish wing – including Blacks, who are the most pro-redistributionist and anti-war constituency in the country, but are trapped in the duopoly by fear of the White Man’s Party.

If Clinton has her way – and she will – this will be the last national convention at which leftish Democrats will have a powerful presence. Clinton is also in the process of capturing, by default, much of the Republican Party’s fat cat financial supporters and the whole GOP-oriented imperialist political infrastructure, the permanent warmongers. 

“Clinton’s think-tankers are salivating at the prospect of absorbing much of the GOP’s previous base.”

“Get ready for the whiplash,” says the writer and activist Paul Street, author of They Rule: Democracy Versus the 1%. “The Democratic Party is about to go from being the party that allowed a self-declared democratic socialist to go very far in the primary process, to becoming, objectively, the truer and more fully explicit ruling class party in the country.”

Donald Trump, whose foreign policy is objectively way to the left of, not only Clinton, but of any modern U.S. president, rejecting the “national security” basis of the global American military presence, is accentuating his support for Social Security and Medicare – programs that Barack Obama began attacking even before he was sworn in for his first term as president, in 2009. When he is in the White House, says Trump, the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “will be renegotiated and probably terminated.” Trump says Clinton “is totally controlled by Wall Street.”

This is the kind of talk – enthusiastically received by Trump’s white nationalist masses – that flushes Big Capital and the military-industrial complex out of the Republican Party and into Hillary’s like-minded corporate Democratic network. The corporate-imperial core of the GOP cannot live with Trump’s politics (and may not let him live, if they conclude he stands a chance of being elected).

Whatever happens in November, Trump’s legions are on their own political trajectory, which will find expression either through a scaled down Republican Party or a new party formation. There is little chance that the GOP elite can field their own candidate in November – it’s much easier to simply back Clinton, this time around. However, the institutional Republican Party is huge, with office-holders of the old school in place at every level who will fight to continue as a corporate-militarist political force. But, without its white nationalist (overtly racist) and anti-Wall Street mass base, the GOP as we have known it has passed into history. The Republican side of the duopoly has been destabilized.

“The corporate-imperial core of the GOP cannot live with Trump’s politics.”

Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party, reinforced by millions of suburban erstwhile Republicans and the moneybags that refuse to feed Trump’s ambitions, cannot long accommodate the leftish Democrats arrayed around Sanders. The primary race has taught the Sandernistas that they are a coherent political force in opposition to Wall Street. They will learn just how unwanted they are in the party as the campaign plays out. Indeed, the Sanders enterprise is no longer a presidential campaign, since even its adherents understand that the nomination is lost. It’s not a “movement” either (a much misused word), but a fight to find space for progressives in a corporate Democratic structure. However, the extra space in Hillary’s “Big Tent” is reserved for Republican refugees from Trump. The “movement” chapter opens when Sanders supporters are forced by events to recognize that the 40-plus percent of the Democratic base that they represent cannot coexist with Hillary’s “truer and more fully explicit ruling class party,” and needs its own electoral political formation – with or without Bernie Sanders (almost certainly, without). Thus, the Democratic side of the duopoly is also unstable, and ripe for a split.

The fracturing of the GOP has, in fact, helped create the conditions for the Democratic split, both by encouraging Democratic corporatists to move further Right to scoop up unmoored Republicans and their financiers, and by shrinking the base of the GOP, rendering it less of an objective threat to scary lefties. Outsized fear of Trump is hysteria. These days, the “brown shirts” wear blue. Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street, War and Austerity – not Trump, the racist America Firster. And, he can’t win, anyway – not with tens of millions of “moderate” Republicans and most of the party’s funders rushing into Hillary’s welcoming embrace.

Again, the “movement” phase of this saga begins after Sanders and his followers are crushed in Philadelphia. A mass social democratic party is necessary to claim the immense political space to the left of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the corporate faction of the Party co-founded by Bill Clinton in the Eighties to wage political war against progressives, Blacks and labor within the party ranks. The DLC won that war, electing its second president, Barack Obama, in 2008, after which it went out of business for lack of a mission. Hillary will be the third DLC president, and should be the last leader of a zoo-like Democratic Party encompassing warmongers like herself (“We came, we saw, he died”) and Black people, the most anti-war constituency in the nation, only 7 percent of whom favored an Iraq invasion that “would result in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians.”

“Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street, War and Austerity – not Trump, the racist America Firster.”

However, Blacks will only abandon the Democrats in large numbers when it is clear that the two-party corporate duopoly has been broken – that the choice is no longer between The White Man’s Party (GOP) and the party that is more racially inclusive. When that happens, many Black people will find the new party to be a much better fit since, according to Black social demographer Michael Dawson, the biggest bloc of Black voters are most like Swedish Social Democrats, and a very large number of them are “more radical than that.”

The demise of the duopoly will also create the space for the kind of independent Black politics that is impossible under the hegemony of the Democratic Party in Black America. Again, “movement” politics is in order to prepare the way for this potential sea change. Black folks have been captives in the Democratic enclosure for more than two generations, without a movement to wrestle with the burning issues of the day. The extraordinary events of the 2016 electoral season moved the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations to initiate a process to create a National Black Political Agenda – a project that is absolutely crucial to breaking the shackles that have bound Black people to the Democratic Party’s corporate agenda. “We don’t have to settle for an outcome that’s determined by these folk who are tied to the ruling establishment,” said Black Is Back Coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela. “We can speak for ourselves and have an agenda of our own that will influence the political direction of Black people.”

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].