With the end of the presidential primary season, what was also mercifully halted was the media holding pattern over the last weeks of the campaign. Every week’s post-primary talking-head blather about the Democratic race ended up circling the same drain—into the inevitable electoral “math.” Every week, the same narrative. Watching CNN was like watching “Groundhog Day.”
The media knew from the very beginning of the campaign that the establishment preferred their tested and loyal servant, Hillary Clinton, as the next US president, and so operated in their usual way throughout—that is, with highly refined public relations tactics—to deliver the goods. For example, there are few more effective propaganda tools than the concept of “inevitability.”
What has been truly absurd about the post-primary coverage has been the media’s effort to reassure the public that the system is in no way “rigged.” Rules are rules, and Bernie knew that when he got into it, they say—even on the official left.
A little lesson we can learn from history is that, in the Third Reich, the media was not controlled by the state, but “coordinated,” under propaganda minister Josef Goebbels’ direction (Goebbels, by the way, got most of his ideas from American advertising). Hitler hated reading the same thing in every newspaper. He wanted the press to carry the same Nazi message, of course, but expressed in individual voices, to make the message seem less like propaganda. There was even a Jewish newspaper publishing in Berlin until the very end of the war—relentlessly on message.
The US mainstream media fulfills a similar function today, broadcasting a coordinated narrative on behalf of the transnational elites who control our political, economic and mass media systems.
True to form, Bernie Sanders remained a principled (perhaps too principled) prophet of political revolution and economic and social justice for all Americans throughout the campaign and into its closing moves. His livestream speech to his supporters two days after the last primary was a brilliant pivot to the next phase of that revolution, both within the Democratic party and out into the grassroots.
His call for progressives to concentrate efforts and magnify their influence in state and local governments is precisely the message his supporters need to hear. If there is any hope of reclaiming democracy in America, it absolutely depends on scrubbing as much corporate influence as possible from state legislatures before the 2020 census, after which the entire nation will be redistricted. Who controls state legislatures in 2020 is of paramount importance, if the populist revolution now under way in America is to remain nonviolent.
Personally, I’m disappointed that Bernie didn’t choose to join forces with Jill Stein and run on the Green party ticket. He certainly doesn’t owe the Democratic party—which seemed to do just about everything in its power, officially and otherwise, to guarantee a Clinton nomination—his loyalty. And I think, by running against the two most unpopular politicians ever to be major party nominees, he would have an excellent chance of being the next president running in a party that’s already on the ballot in almost every state, and winning easy pluralities in enough states to carry the electoral college.
But I understand that Bernie is a man of his word, and that he doesn’t want to contribute in any way to making Donald Trump president—which may happen anyway, of course. It’s a volatile political environment, open to some uncomfortably real possibilities.
I’m not as concerned as Bernie seems to be, however, about the potential for damage from a Trump presidency; in the 21st century, the power of American presidents, as well as other world leaders, is pretty well circumscribed by transnational corporate interests. And it’s difficult to make the case that he’d be more of a hawk internationally than Hillary, the darling of the neocons. But Trump can do some real damage domestically, and his personal fascist inclinations are arousing some ugly and dangerous undercurrents that have been with us throughout American history. So it’s better that he doesn’t become president.
In fact, for the purposes of political revolution, it’s actually better that Hillary become the next president.
When we revolutionaries seek her impeachment for war crimes and influence peddling, as an example of what should happen to presidents who pledge their loyalty to global capital and the military-industrial complex rather than to justice and the welfare of the American people, we’ll already have well over half the public on our side, including our usual right wing enemies.
With any luck, Elizabeth Warren will be Veep.