While this can be read as a standalone, it is a follow-up to the article:
Pop feminism in the United States. Taking a look at the US, there is an undeniable link between gender and class, with women throughout the US not getting the right to vote until 1920. While women can now participate in electoral politics, their economic position has hardly budged since the suffrage movement. Prior to the […]
The DNC does not have to hold fair elections.
“Neoliberal theorists are, however, profoundly suspicious of democracy. Governance by majority rule is seen as a potential threat to individual rights and constitutional liberties. Democracy is viewed as a luxury, only possible under conditions of relative affluence coupled with a strong middle-class presence to guarantee political stability. Neoliberals therefore tend to favour governance by experts and elites.”― David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism
According to Politico, members of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) actually discussed changing the primary election rules to stop Sanders at the convention in 2020. If this is surprising to you, you’re likely unaware that there was a class-action lawsuit brought against the DNC for its handling of the 2016 election. Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders argued that they were denied a fair and impartial election, and that financial contributions were being made under the assumption that this was a fair democratic process. While the courts recognized that the DNC had, in fact, treated voters unfairly, a federal judge nonetheless dismissed the lawsuit. Why? Well, the DNC is a private corporation, and therefore isn’t required to hold fair elections at all.
And then we have classic voter suppression. Focusing just on the use of coronavirus to suppress voting, recall Florida, Illinois, and Arizona all held their primary elections despite medical professionals strongly pushing for quarantine and social distancing. Wisconsin held their primary elections even later into the pandemic, and long before the flattening of the curve. There’s 19 new cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin linked to election activities. Two poll workers for the Florida primary tested positive shortly after the primary was held (meaning they very likely infected many voters). After a Chicago poll worker died from the virus and another tested positive, the city was forced to warn voters that they may have been exposed to the virus at polling places. Considering the lack of available tests, it’s very likely holding these primaries spread the infection more than we can ever definitively know.
I could go on, but I’d rather not because talking about the DNC is honestly just boring. Now I’m not saying election corruption necessarily lost Bernie the nomination. It’s possible he’d have lost even if this were a fair election (though, not sure the extreme concentration of media ownership ever constitutes a “fair” election).
But all things considered, I’d understand if a lot of people heavily-invested in Bernie’s campaign (his “bros,” is the proper terminology, I believe) are furious with the DNC right now.
NOTE: People like me are not why he lost, if that’s what you’re thinking. I fully intended on voting for him in the primaries (I’m registered in a state that hasn’t voted yet, so it’s sort of moot now), and I strongly encouraged everyone and their grandmother to vote for the guy on the off-chance it worked. I’ve gone without healthcare before, I’ve had a number of shitty run-ins with the criminal justice system, and I’m in hella debt. I’d have been stoked if Bernie got in there and lifted that authoritarian boot off my face, even just a little bit.
Welcome to the Bern Unit.
So instead of Bernie, the DNC is riden’ with Biden…an old man riddled with dementia known for, uh, yeah…
Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden because he ultimately doesn’t believe a progressive movement is possible without backing from the DNC. He doesn’t believe a workers party is possible at all―the DNC and RNC are both political parties that represent the ruling (capitalist) class interests. This is why electoral politics in the US collapses into what is essentially a culture war…neither party represents the interests of working people. Nor do they represent the interests of small business owners…if lobbying isn’t in your budget, then expect this ruling class to throw you under the bus the moment it benefits them (e.g. COVID-19 bailouts that essentially screwed over everyone but massive corporations).
Staying within this two-party system framework forces you to assume the position that some workers do need to be sacrificed to maintain the existence of an extremely wealthy capitalist class. What changes is which workers you deem expendable. Do you draw the line at child labor, but excuse low wage labor exploitation? Do you draw the line at white workers, but excuse the exploitation of people of color? Do you draw the line at American workers, but excuse exploitation overseas? Do you draw the line at college-educated young adults, but excuse young military recruits being sent into excessively dangerous situations?
These are all morality arguments that hinge on the cultural norms you grew up with. And yeah, the Bernie campaign really did push back on this: Not me, us. No one needs to be sacrificed!
And such a stance is materially opposed to any political party representing the ruling class. Like, say, the DNC. A capitalist political party that really does love rules and formality and civility…which is why Trump is so offensive to them. He’s so crass, it’s no wonder the poors love him (which…they don’t really, but reality’s never stopped the libs before).
The libs love a good loophole, are suspicious of real democracy, and they want to maintain their own class (the ruling class) far more than they want their own little cultural wing of the party to succeed. Sure, they think Trump lacks taste, but at least he isn’t talking about redistribution.
They’re so ineffective, it almost seems…performative. Like they don’t really oppose Trump’s political agenda that much, they just think he’s gauche.
You fell for one of the classic blunders: the popular front vs. the united front.
The Bernie campaign wasn’t a workers movement, so much as it was a popular front due to its reliance on the DNC. A popular front is an alliance between workers and the capitalist ruling class…one that relies on that capitalist class support to sustain itself. The issue with this sort of organizing lies in that fundamental power imbalance. While workers in the movement sacrifice their political goals in an effort to make “realistic” demands (e.g. demands the ruling class may willingly give up), the ruling class is never actually obligated to give anything. You’ve made it clear you think working with them is the only route to power. You’re not a threat to them, so why would they give up anything?
This was the flaw in trying to “take over” the Democratic party. You’ve literally told them you don’t think a workers movement is possible without backing from the DNC. The leftwing of the capitalist class isn’t you’re fucking roommate…they’re not just going to give you rights because you showed a willingness to compromise.
This is opposed to the united front, which is a coalition of working people who unite around a shared political goal. For instance, the push for ending child labor in the US constituted a united front, with some groups in the coalition being explicitly socialist, while others were the working children themselves, many of whom likely did not identify as socialist. Still, others may have been small business owners (who are not actually in the capitalist ruling class despite not entirely being workers either).
The united front doesn’t need to make concessions to some ruling class allies to sustain itself. As such, it is typically this type of coalition-building that lends to a weakening of ruling class power, as opposed to a mere reshuffling of how labor exploitation occurs. Child labor laws didn’t mean adult workers would need to work longer hours at lower pay…they meant capitalists materially got to extract less profit from laborers. This was an actual economic win for the working class.
Of course, if your organizations dissolve because “we did it,” you risk capitalists slinking back to steal back the profits they lost while no one’s organized enough to react. They’ll always extract as much profit as they think they can get away with. My boyfriend grew up doing unpaid labor for commercial construction projects…so child labor in the US. This was in a religious cult, so the upaid part made him “closer to God,” or some shit. It also made the cult leader/capitalist a shit load of money. And while this might surprise some that this took place in the US, I hope it’s not news that US corporations use overseas child labor all the time.
This is what happens when your movement is about reshuffling oppressions, rather than materially changing conditions for all workers. Stop giving up ground to a capitalist party that literally owes you nothing in return. Meanwhile, that compromising is very often what’s limiting your movement. If your organizing could include all workers in the US, but you limit your scope to citizens as a stipulation of a popular front alliance with the capitalist class…the capitalists will fuck you over, and you’ve just shown non-citizens that their rights are negotiable. That is more damaging to the movement than telling the ruling class you will not capitulate to their demands. Honestly, that’s very likely why they proposed you do it in the first place. They didn’t just waste your time, they set you back.
That’s how you get supposed feminists telling rape survivors that they’re morally bad if they don’t vote for the blue rapist. That’s how you get all these motivated leftists thinking, what the fuck do I do now? That’s how you get people throwing up their hands and bailing on the political realm altogether. It’s how you get people thinking politics is just voting. That’s how you get black, transgender, and disabled comrades feeling like they have no place in the movement aside from occasionally being some sacrificial pawn so we can maintain an alliance with capital.
For more, read The Tactic of the United Front and How it Differs from the Popular Front (pdf) by Les Evans, and consider looking into a revolutionary socialist party, such as Socialist Resurgence. I also highly recommend you check out the article Corbynism Lost, Sandersism is Losing: Why Working Within Capitalist Parties Fails by Ezra Brain on Left Voice.