The ‘Values,’ ‘Vision,’ and ‘Democracy’ of an Inauthentic Opposition

Average Americans, whose economic survival is threatened, have no political party to represent them, including deceptive Democrats who claim to be their champions and blame others when their deception fails, says Paul Street.

By Paul Street Special to Consortium News

Never underestimate the capacity of the United States’ Inauthentic Opposition Party, the corporate Democrats, for self-congratulatory delusion and the externalization of blame.

Look, for example, at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) recently filed 66-page lawsuit against Russia, WikiLeaks, and the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. The document accuses Russia of “mount[ing] a brazen attack on the American democracy,” “destabilize[ing] the U.S. political environment” on Trump’s (and Russia’s) behalf, and “interfering with our democracy….”

“The [RussiaGate] conspiracy,” the DNC Complaint says, “undermined and distorted the DNC’s ability to communicate the [Democratic] party’s values and vision to the American electorate” and “sowed discord within the Democratic Party at a time when party unity was essential…”

Yes, Russia, like numerous other nations living under the global shadow of the American Superpower, may well have tried to have some surreptitious say in 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Why wouldn’t the Kremlin have done that, given the very real and grave threats Washington and its Western NATO allies have posed for many years to post-Soviet-era Russian security and peace in Eastern Europe?)

Still, charging Russia with interfering with US-“American democracy” is like me accusing the Washington Capital’s star left winger Alex Ovechkin of interfering with my potential career as a National Hockey League player (I’m middle aged and can’t skate backwards). The U.S. doesn’t have a functioning democracy to undermine, as numerous careful studies (see this,this,this,this,this,this,this,this, and this) have shown.

We have, rather, a corporate and financial oligarchy, an open plutocracy. U.S.-Americans get to vote, yes, but the nation’s “unelected dictatorship of money” reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, as leading liberal political scientists Benjamin Page (Northwestern) and Marin Gilens (Princeton) find, “government policy…reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”

Our Own Oligarchs

Russia and WikiLeaks “destabilized the U.S. political environment”? Gee, how about the 20 top oligarchic U.S. mega-donors who invested more than $500 million combined in disclosed campaign contributions (we can only guess at how much “dark,” that is undisclosed, money they gave) to candidates and political organizations in the 2016 election cycle? The 20 largest organizational donors also gave a total of more than $500 million. The foremost plutocratic election investors included hard right-wing billionaires like casino owner Sheldon Adelson ($83 million disclosed to Republicans and right-wing groups), hedge-fund manager Paul Singer ($26 million to Republicans and the right), hedge fund manager Robert Mercer ($26 million) and packaging mogul Richard Uihlein ($24 million).

Adelson: Home-grown oligarch.

How about the multi-billionaire Trump’s own real estate fortune, which combined with the remarkable free attention the corporate media oligopoly granted him to help catapult the orange-tinted fake-populist beast past his more traditional Republican primary opponents? And what about the savagely unequal distribution of wealth and income in Barack Obama’s America, so extreme in the wake of the Great Recession that Hillary’s primary campaign rival Bernie Sanders could credibly report that the top tenth of the upper U.S.1% possessed nearly as much wealth as the nation’s bottom 90%? Such extreme disparity helped doom establishment, Wall Street- and Goldman Sachs-embroiled candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Mrs. Clinton in 2016. Russia and WikiLeaks did not create that deep, politically- and neoliberal-policy-generated socioeconomic imbalance.

Double Vision

And just what were the Democratic Party “values and vision” that Russia, Trump, and WikiLeaks supposedly prevented the DNC and the Clinton team from articulating in 2016? As the distinguished political scientist and money-politics expert Thomas Ferguson and his colleagues Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen noted in an important study released three months ago, the Clinton campaign “emphasized candidate and personal issues and avoided policy discussions to a degree without precedent in any previous election for which measurements exist….it deliberately deemphasized issues in favor of concentrating on what the campaign regarded as [Donald] Trump’s obvious personal weaknesses as a candidate.” Strangely enough, the Twitter-addicted reality television star Trump had a lot more to say about policy than the former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a wonkish Yale Law graduate.

The Democrats “values and vision” in 2016 amounted pretty much to the accurate but hardly inspiring or mass-mobilizing notion that Donald Trump was an awful person who was unqualified for the White House. Clinton ran almost completely on candidate character and quality. This was a blunder of historic proportions, given Clinton’s own highly problematic character brand. Any campaign needs a reasonably strong policy platform to stand on in case of candidate difficulties.

By Ferguson, Jorgenson, and Chen’s account, Hillary’s peculiar policy silence was about U.S. oligarchs’ campaign money. Thanks to candidate Trump’s bizarre nature and his declared isolationism and nationalism, Clinton achieved remarkable campaign finance success with normally Republican-affiliated capitalist sectors less disposed to abide the standard, progressive-sounding policy rhetoric of Democratic Party candidates than their more liberal counterparts.

One ironic but “fateful consequence” of her curious connection to conservative business interests was her “strategic silence about most important matters of public policy. … Misgivings of major contributors who worried that the Clinton campaign message lacked real attractions for ordinary Americans were rebuffed. The campaign,” Ferguson, Jorgenson, and Chen wrote, “sought to capitalize on the angst within business by vigorously courting the doubtful and undecideds there, not in the electorate.”

Other Clinton mistakes included failing to purchase television ads in Michigan, failing to set foot in Wisconsin after the Democratic National Convention, and getting caught telling wealthy New York City campaign donors that Trump’s white supporters were “a basket of” racist, sexist, nativist, and homophobic “deplorables.” This last misstep was a Freudian slip of the neoliberal variety. It reflected and advanced the corporate Democrats’ longstanding alienation of and from the nation’s rural and industrial and ex-industrial “heartland.”

Fake Progressives

As left historian Nancy Fraser noted after Trump was elected, the Democrats, since at least the Bill Clinton administration, had joined outwardly progressive forces like feminism, antiracism, multiculturalism, and LGBTQ rights to “financial capitalism.” This imparted liberal “charisma” and “gloss” to “policies that …devastated…what were once middle-class lives” by wiping out manufacturing, weakening unions, slashing wages, and increasing the “precarity of work.”

To make matters worse, Fraser rightly added, the “progressive neoliberal” blue-and digital-zone Democrats “compounded” the “injury of deindustrialization” with “the insult of progressive moralism,” which rips red-and analog-zone whites as culturally retrograde (recall candidate Obama’s problematic 2008 reflection on how rural and small-town whites “cling to religion and guns”) and yet privileged by the simple color of their skin.

Wolin: Inauthentic opposition.(Photo: Princeton)

Such insults from elite, uber-professional class neo-liberals like Obama (Harvard Law) and the Clintons (Yale Law) would sting less in the nation’s “flyover zones” if the those uttering them had not spent their sixteen years in the White House governing blatantly in accord with the wishes of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the leading multinational corporations. Like Bill Clinton’s two terms, the Obama years were richly consistent with Sheldon Wolin’s early 2008 description of the Democrats as an “inauthentic opposition” whose dutiful embrace of “centrist precepts” meant they would do nothing to “substantially revers[e] the drift rightwards” or “significantly alter the direction of society.”

The fake-“progressive” Obama presidency opened with the expansion of Washington’s epic bailout of the very parasitic financial elites who recklessly sparked the Great Recession (this with no remotely concomitant expansion of federal assistance to the majority middle- and working-class victims), the abandonment of campaign pledges to restore workers’ right to organize (through the immediately forgotten Employee Free Choice Act), and the kicking of Single Payer health care advocates to the curb as Obama worked with the big drug and insurance syndicates to craft a corporatist, profit-friendly health insurance reform. Obama’s second term ended with him doggedly (if unsuccessfully) championing the arch-authoritarian global-corporatist Trans Pacific Partnership.

This Goldman Sachs and Citigroup-directed policy record was no small part of what demobilized the Democrats’ mass electoral base in ways that “destabilized the U.S. political environment” to the benefit of the reactionary populist Trump, whose Mercer family-backed proto-fascistic strategist and Svengali Steve Bannon was smartly attuned to the Democrats’ elitist class problem.

There was a major 2016 presidential candidate who ran with genuinely progressive “values and vision” – Bernie Sanders. The most remarkable finding in Ferguson, Jorgenson, and Chen’s study is that the self-declared “democratic socialist” Sanders came tantalizingly close to winning the Democratic presidential nomination with no support from Big Business. The small-donor Sanders campaign was “without precedent in American politics not just since the New Deal, but across virtually the whole of American history … a major presidential candidate waging a strong, highly competitive campaign whose support from big business was essentially zero.”

Sanders was foiled by the big-money candidate Clinton’s advance control of the Democratic National Committee and convention delegates. Under a formal funding arrangement it worked up with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in late September of 2015, the depressing “lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary’s campaign was granted advance control of all the DNC’s “strategic decisions.” The Democratic Party’s presidential caucuses and primaries were rigged against Sanders in ugly ways that provoked a different lawsuit last year – a class-action suit against the DNC on behalf of Sanders’ supporters. The complaint was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled on the side of DNC lawyers by agreeing that the DNC was within its rights to violate their party’s charter and bylaws by selecting its candidate in advance of the primaries.

How was that for the noble “values and vision” that “American democracy” inspires atop the not-so leftmost of the nation’s two major and electorally viable political parties?

Under Cover of Russia-gate

That’s what “sowed discord within the Democratic Party at a time when party unity was essential…” Russia didn’t do it. Neither did WikiLeaks or the Trump campaign. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party establishment – themselves funded by major U.S. oligarchs like San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer– did that on their own.

Could Sanders – the most popular politician in the U.S. (something rarely reported in a “mainstream” corporate media that could barely cover his giant campaign rallies even as it obsessed over Trump’s every bizarre Tweet) – have defeated the orange-tinted beast in the general election? Perhaps, though much of the oligarchic funding Hillary got would have gone to Trump if “socialist” Bernie had been the Democratic nominee. It is unlikely that Sanders could have accomplished much as president in a nation long controlled by the capitalist oligarchy in numerous ways that go far beyond campaign finance alone.

Meanwhile, under the cover of RussiaGate, the still-dismal and dollar-drenched corporate-imperial Democrats seem content to continue tilting to the center-right, purging Sanders-style progressives from the party’s leadership and citing the party’s special election victories (Doug Jones and Conor Lamb) against deeply flawed and Trump-backed Republicans in two bright-red voting districts (the state of Alabama and a fading Pennsylvania canton) as proof that tepid neoliberal centrism is still (even after Hillary’s stunning defeat) the way to go.

Along the way, the Inauthentic Opposition’s candidate roster for the upcoming Congressional mid-term election is loaded with an extraordinary number of contenders with U.S. military and intelligence backgrounds, consistent with Congressional Democrats repeated votes to give massive military and surveillance-state funds and power to a president they consider (accurately enough) unbalanced and dangerous.

The trick, the neoliberal “CIA Democrats” think, is to run conservative, Wall Street-backed imperial and National Security State veterans who pretend (see Eric Draitser’s recent piece on “How Clintonites Are Manufacturing Faux Progressive Congressional Campaigns”) to be aligned with majority-progressive left-of-center policy sentiments and values. It’s still very much their party.

Whatever happens during the next biennial electoral extravaganza, “the crucial fact” remains, in Wolin’s words nine years ago, “that for the poor, minorities, the working class and anti-corporatists there is no opposition party working on their behalf” in the United States – the self-declared homeland and headquarters of global democracy.

Paul Street is an independent radical-democratic policy researcher, journalist, historian, author and speaker based in Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois.  He is the author of seven books. His latest is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

57 comments for “The ‘Values,’ ‘Vision,’ and ‘Democracy’ of an Inauthentic Opposition

  1. Lucius Patrick
    May 6, 2018 at 10:16

    Why all The mention of Trump’s orange hair? No mention of Trump’s defense of the 2nd Amendment, tax cuts for the middle class and the poor, and his pro-peace foreign policy regarding Syria and Ukraine. I automatically categorize people who reference Trump’s hair color as Trump-haters who generally support Clinton–glad to see you are not supporting Clinton.

    • Ray Oliver
      May 7, 2018 at 23:18

      I disagree with all your comments. Tax cuts? You are in another world. Trickle down is an aberration.

  2. Piotr Berman
    May 5, 2018 at 17:43

    My opinion is that while an attempt can fail, and even while attempts to change status quo fail more often than not, it does not mean that they are futile and perpetually doomed. Third party in USA would work roughly like in Thatcherite Britain (right wing Labour splitting off to Liberals, and eventually, the remaining right wing Labour taking over the party). The success of “tea party” points to genuine potential of a takeover of an existing party by forming a wide movement.

    From that point of view, “sheepdog” behavior of Sanders after primaries was correct, on domestic issues Clinton was definitely a lesser evil than Trump, and Sanders did not overly care about the foreign or military policy — which was in tune with the swing electorate that Clinton was alienating with her corporate ties, opposition to fire arms etc. etc. Take-over makes sense only if the party does not split the day after the primaries, party solidarity is a value that can be a boon in the future, so it should not be abandoned for speculative (and not particularly probable) gains. A party, impure creature as it is, entails some moral contract.

    It is indeed disappointing that the elite of Democrats resolutely refuses to analyze their mistakes. The need to balance vestigial progressive planks with the needed friendship of “progressive” plutocrats contorts the policies into incomprehensible packages that work so-so at best. Affordable Care Act is exhibit one. It only haltingly delivers a modicum of cost control and health care for all (with many exceptions, alas) by creating “markets” that first choked the computers, as complicated rules are hard to translate into computer programs, and than worked somewhat haltingly, and pretty much becoming a welfare system for insurance companies and other parasitical actors in American health care. No wonder that voters learned to love it only when Republicans mustered all the needed muscle to abolish it. By the way of contrast, Sanders proposed a much simpler idea, single payer, that voters would actually prefer AND which would work much betters (voters may be stupid, but much less so on issues that they face in daily life).

    Second cardinal issue is financing the elections. Democrats can offer their bodies to plutocrats 24/7, but Republicans offer more genuine sentiment, and garner more funds. Ideas to decrease plutocratic influence may be widely followed. But Russian influence? If we are to believe “horror stories”, Russian could create a leak because DNC did not train the staff to avoid phishing traps and cunningly influenced voters by echoing some memes that were circulating already. And any sober political observer knows that a politician with compelling persona can be highly immune to leaks, slander and what not.

    A compelling persona cannot be polished by an outfit like Clinton Foundation, and contorted programs cannot be translated into catchy slogans. If it true that the bridge has fallen right after a caterpillar attempted to cross it, eradication of caterpillars misses the true problem.

  3. Piotr Berman
    May 5, 2018 at 17:07

    “Such extreme disparity [in the share of political money] helped doom establishment”

    The news of the demise of the establishment are a tad exaggerated, perhaps “helped doom the candidates overtly aligned with the [corporate] establishment”

  4. Kay
    May 5, 2018 at 15:57

    LOVE Mr. Streets work! So glad to see it here on Consortium.

    Clinton devastated the middle class with NAFTA. Devastated the poor with welfare reform and the crime bill. Devastated taxpayers with the repeal of Glass Steagall, that led to the ’08 crash. Devastated what was once news and made propaganda legal with the Telecommunications Act. Clinton was put into power to do all of the above. A racist, bigoted corporate and military loving sociopath. A master manipulator. Obama was the same, only WORSE with WAR, yet this is what fools people into voting for them. They vote according to presentation, not what’s under the Luciferian veneer. Democrats got away with what they have because they EXPLOIT identity politics, while being fiscally right wing and then some.
    They are the party of the wealthy. They represent the UPPER, middle class white voter, who believe we shouldn’t discriminate against people of color yet fiscally relegate them into prisons for profit or homelessness. These people are the most VILE of all.

    But the rest of the 80% in society have no representation at all.

    Democrats are also dangerously militant. This is where their corruption is most extreme. Covering up for the CIA, FBI, DOJ, OBAMA, CLINTON and the DNC in their primary rigging and election fraud while utilising Russiagate as their cover but worse now, to cheerleading for confrontation with Russia. They are all Zionist FIRSTERS and traitors to the American people.
    .I mean John Brennan as MSNBC foreign policy analyst? People who commited treason sitting for MSNBC.
    WHY…..WHY do people support this party when they are so blindingly obvious???

  5. May 5, 2018 at 11:06

    “We have, rather, a corporate and financial oligarchy, an open plutocracy. U.S.-Americans get to vote, yes, but the nation’s “unelected dictatorship of money” reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, as leading liberal political scientists Benjamin Page (Northwestern) and Marin Gilens (Princeton) find, “government policy…reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”

    The last three lines pretty much sums it up The choices the electorate has are among those committed to the money class, which isn’t much of a choice. You are not apt to find among those choices ones who present a platform which includes universal health care, true progressive taxation, rejection of identity politics and rejection of militarism. Added to that a platform that declares the nation will abide by international law, not be above it, or to selectively employ it. Try to raise money on that platform.

  6. John Puma
    May 5, 2018 at 08:57

    Re: Who “distorted the DNC’s ability to communicate the [Democratic] party’s values and vision to the American electorate.”

    An outline of HRC’s 2016 presidential campaign is presented below

    I’d suggest that she and the DNC should sue someone, anyone, (any 10 ones) for NOT having distorted those “values and vision.”

    The essentials:
    ??1) he bad?
    2) his supporters bad?
    3) I am not he?
    4) I have different anatomy?
    5) I will work with his party in congress, see #1, above?
    6) $15/hour bad for YOU; $333,000/hour MY minimum?
    7) Putin bad
    ?8) My husband’s $500,000 from Putin-controlled bank good?
    9) neo-cons good?
    10) Kissinger very good?
    11) suburban Republicans and their country club $’s even better!?
    12) Obama legacy good (TTP, coddle TBTF banks, prosecute whistleblowers, do NOT prosecute illegal foreclosures [several million], drone terrorism, bomb OTHER Nobel Peace Prize winners, etc., etc., … )?
    13) Assad bad; medieval, Wahhabi kingdom of Saud, generous donor to Clinton Foundation, good
    14) lead in your water not MY problem?
    15) your kids shot in the street by cops not my problem … they are assumed to be incipient super-predators who needed to be brought to heel anyway, even if they live long enough to prove otherwise?
    16) Dem congressional majorities? who the “F” cares??? see #5 above

    • John Puma
      May 5, 2018 at 09:00

      Those ubiquitous question marks presumably are artifacts of cutting-pasting-editing.

      • pierre seize
        May 6, 2018 at 07:35

        As Theresa May would say, it’s “highly likely”.

  7. exiled off mainstreet
    May 5, 2018 at 02:40

    Wolin’s view of things in the yankee imperium and his concept of 21st century totalitarianism have been proven to be valid by the events of recent years.

  8. incontinent reader
    May 4, 2018 at 12:28

    In the past I’ve thought and suggested that these people and their organizations (companies, think tanks, NGOs) should be identified and listed in a directory by name, address, phone number and explanation of their connection to the war industry (whether as legislators, government officials, business oligarchs, etc.) – which should then be published for free on the internet for all to see. The directory would be huge, but the list could start with the world’s wealthiest oligarchs (approximated 75 people or less), with combined wealth in excess of the wealth of the poorest one half of the world’s population (i.e., 3.7 billion people) – or the 75 of the most pernicious sort based their war policies and their implementation. The world at large needs to know who these people are and what they’ve done or are doing, if they are to be held to account.

    • Aussidawg
      May 6, 2018 at 13:23

      Of the nation’s wealthiest oligarchs, it doesn’t take the combined wealth of the top 75 to surpass the bottom half of the world but rather only 3. That would include Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. Inequality? Nah! Never.

  9. Charles
    May 4, 2018 at 12:18

    Very well done and very accurate

  10. Strngr - Tgthr
    May 4, 2018 at 11:50

    /recall candidate Obama’s problematic 2008 reflection on how rural and small-town whites “cling to religion and guns”/

    That was not problematic, he was just telling the TRUTH. Like he was here:

    Those jobs are not coming back or are the wages. Period. There is no Magic Wand that can be waved.Instead, the
    Trumpkins cling to there belief that The Donald can do something about it. (fake news + magical thinking)

    The Democrats are leading us into the new future, which is a Global Community, with plant healing Green Energy and
    Universal Basic Income and equality and social justice for everyone once and for all.

    Obama’s plans were so great that he needed two administrations to do all that needed fixing and that was where Hillary
    was supposed to come in.

    Instead of Americans delighting in all the great changes that were made, all the accomplishments, they looked back at the past. What was so great about that? All you had then was a grubby little job and pay check from businesses that were destroying the planet.

    People need to stop being selfish and spread the wealth around. What goes around comes around is all I can say.

    And for all the conservatives out there, I will finish by quoting from there obsolete bible: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”

    That does not mean elect Donald Trump to get your bread back. It means all good things come to those who wait.

    To be Stronger Together is to heel America.

    • Charles
      May 4, 2018 at 12:24

      Total bullshit. We have been waiting for some help from the Dems. I voted for Obama twice but he dropped more bombs than anyone. I hated to vote for Trump but every time I voted for “the promise” I was let down. Globalism is very dangerous… it narrows down the decision power to a handful of thugs. If history is correct then that means game over for humanity.

    • Skip Scott
      May 5, 2018 at 06:23


      It is very funny that you choose “heel” instead of “heal”. Very True! Americans are being brought to heel by the corporate wing of the democratic party you represent with the help of the Deep State oligarchs.

    • jon connor
      May 5, 2018 at 08:53

      Your going to just love centralized control.

      Hope you don’t give them a reason to turn your chip off.

    • cosmo mcmoon
      May 6, 2018 at 07:37

      Was that sarcasm? I hope so.

      • Skip Scott
        May 6, 2018 at 07:59

        I am starting to believe that strngr-tgthr might be some kind of foreign provocateur. He/she has many errors in the text, such as “heel” for heal, “are” for our, and “witch” for which that spellcheck won’t catch. Either strngr-tgthr is not very bright, or he/she is having the kind of difficulty with the english language that a foreigner would have.

  11. May 4, 2018 at 11:20

    20 YEARS AGO: President Clinton Fails Vision, Values Test —

  12. Kiwiantz
    May 4, 2018 at 08:46

    The whole American Political & Electoral System is irredeemably corrupt & needs to be totally scrapped? The writer is quite correct in stating that the US system masquerades as a Democracy, but its really a Corporatist Oligarchy? The sad thing is American’s go through the illusion & charade of so called democratic voting, every 4 yrs, but it is really just a waste of time, as it really doesn’t matter which Party you vote for, either red or blue, elephant or donkey, their both just two peas on the same corrupt pod? What the American people need is to have a binding referendum on changing their Electoral system from this current two party Republican or Democratic Party dictatorship & it’s tired “first past the post” electoral system & replace it with MMP or a mixed member representation system? That’s what we did in NZ, we had a binding referendum to change our system, as we got sick of our previous two main party dictatorship’s & scrapped our old FPP system & replaced it with MMP, based on Germany’s Electoral model? And although it’s not perfect by any stretch, at least it’s a more democratic electoral system, as it eliminates the two party domination, as no one party can govern on its own, they are forced to work with minor parties such as the greens or other progressive, socially conscious parties who implement policies more in line with the wishes of the majority of people, over the greed of the rich? Imagine if you can either the Republican or a Democratic Party winning the Election but not having the numbers on their own to form a Govt & being forced to work with smaller Parties in order to govern? Imagine either a Trump or a Clinton being forced to work with others, such a Bernie Sauders Party or the Greens & having to make concessions on social policy such as universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage or taxing the rich etc. wouldn’t that be great to see? NZ’s MMP Electoral system also severely restricts Campaign & Party donations to minimal amounts thus preventing the absolute corruption evident in American politics & the Clintonist “Pay for Play” campaign & super delegates elites buying the Election process to suit their own interests? If we can do it here in a small Country such as NZ, this could work just as well in a large Country such as America?

  13. Realist
    May 4, 2018 at 04:43

    This passage from the piece beautifully characterises the system of governance by the Washington regime:

    “The U.S. doesn’t have a functioning democracy to undermine, as numerous careful studies have shown. We have, rather, a corporate and financial oligarchy, an open plutocracy. U.S.-Americans get to vote, yes, but the nation’s “unelected dictatorship of money” reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, as leading liberal political scientists Benjamin Page (Northwestern) and Marin Gilens (Princeton) find, “government policy…reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”

    The people of the United States need, not only a cleansed and reorganised Democratic Party dedicated to fair and honest democracy (along with a similar functioning Republican counterpart), we need an entirely revamped system of governance, as the present constitution has never had the teeth to guarantee its own enforcement or to protect the people from the rank abuse and corruption that permeates the system from top to bottom. The first pieces of dysfunctional undemocratic machinery that ought to go include the Electoral College, the Senate, the independent presidency with its privilege of veto, and, certainly, the filibuster if the Senate is not jettisoned. The independent presidency basically ensures gridlock and escalating partisanship when its incumbent is from a different party than that controlling either the House or the Senate. The president might more wisely be elected from within the ranks of a unicameral legislature, as they do it in most parliamentary systems. Moreover, a parliamentary system allowing for snap elections when governance becomes stalled, would eliminate our having to wait years to correct a clearly dysfunctional administration… or do-nothing congress. It would also eliminate the modern inclination to impeach the incumbent president for purely political reasons.

  14. ToivoS
    May 4, 2018 at 04:05

    I have to agree with Jerry Alatalo’s comments above. I find it a bit ironic that Paul Street is showing up here at CN. He is a member of what I call the Counterpunch gang of four. These are four writers that contributed to a series of articles at Counterpunch that launched a viscous attack against Caitlyn Johnstone who has recently appeared here at CN.

    This gang includes Paul Street, Joshua Frank, a Dreitzer and a Litvin. After this episode I stopped reading Counterpunch which I had followed since its beginning because of the writings of Alexander Cockburn. Why I like reading Caitlyn is that she is a very good writer with a lively style, sensible positions and ability to present them with original turns of phrase and avoidance of cliches. The writings of the gang of four is characterized with leaden phrases and extreme ultra leftist positions denouncing people like Bernie Sanders.

    Litvin is a real piece of work. Here is a link to one of his writings. To summarize this article he denounces Caitlyn, yet again, Doctorov (another CN contributor), Julian Assange and even Consortium News itself for antisemitism.

    The basis of the attack on Caitlyn is that she is willing to promote and take seriously those on the antiwar/anti-imperialist right whose foreign positions are consistent with her admitted left wing positions. What is even more ironic it was Alexander Cockburn who was the first prominent leftist writer who recognized that the anti-war left was too small to affect change and on this issue a coalition with rightwing forces should be encouraged.

    In short Paul Street is a leftwing purist and any effort to build a coalition around any movement that appeals to more than 4% of the public will be denounced by him.

  15. Zhu
    May 4, 2018 at 00:30

    All true enough. Not much hope of anything improving, either.

  16. Pavel Kanaliev
    May 3, 2018 at 23:21

    The non-cyclic democracy is a permanent, constant election process which has its point of commencement but is infinite in terms of time perspective. It enables people to vote at any time they wish with no limitation on the number of votes.

    Open vote means the right of people, in case they wish, to step out of their anonymity as voters in the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    Vote of correction means an open vote of confirmation or rejection at any, desired by people time from the continuous election process with the non-cyclic democracy.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the number of mandates is changeable. It is defined by the sum from the number of anonymous cyclic votes, combined with the number of open and correction votes at any time from the continuous election process.

    Threshold of trust of an elected via voting candidate in elective office means half of the number of people who have voted for them minus one vote.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the duration of the mandate of an elected via voting candidate is discontinued with the expiry of the allotted for the mandate time or with the reaching of the threshold of trust.

    The list of candidates in elective office is bulk of information of free public access with data about each candidate in elective office. There, at any time from the election process, each voter and each public organization can add candidates or withdraw their trust from the proposed by them candidates in elective office.
    The open-type voters have the right of a correction vote at any time from the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    The vote of correction is as follows:

    1. Open vote against one’s own choice, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process.

    2. Open vote in favour of another candidate from the list of names, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    3. Open vote in favour of a chosen by other voters candidate, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust, distancing the newly-elected from the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the current updated rating of a candidate in elective office for the purpose of their positioning towards the threshold of trust must be freely and publicly accessible in the list of candidates at any time from the continuous election process…

  17. robjira
    May 3, 2018 at 19:56

    Excellent article, and excellent commentary from Mark, Skip, and Joe.
    Rocky Anderson / Ajamu Baraka 2020

  18. Abby
    May 3, 2018 at 19:28

    Obama not only bailed out the banks, he also destroyed OWS that was formed because of the bailouts. That his supporters stayed loyal to him after he did that is something I’ll never understand.

    But then those same supporters stayed loyal to him after he continued PNAC’s goals in the Middle East, his use of drones in countries that had nothing to do with the supposed terrorists of 9/11 and his invasions of Libya and Syria.

    And then knowing that Hillary would have continued the Obama wars people voted for her anyway. Then they joined the Resistance and after the democrats voted for most issues that Trump wanted they are staying loyal to the democrats! Figure this out because I can’t.

    • Lois Gagnon
      May 3, 2018 at 20:43

      I have experienced the same phenomenon as you regarding Dem supporters. They are a baffling bunch. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as the Dems make them feel good via imagery and appeals to Identity Politics, they will happily ignore the outcomes of the policies they pursue.

      Cindy Sheehan who is organizing a Women’s March on the Pentagon in October said she saw a poster at the Pink Hat March that said “If Hillary was president, we’d be at brunch.”

      I don’t think these people want to have to do the real work of democracy. They want someone else to just take care of it. The thought that the rise of Trump is systemic rather than an attack by another country means they have to get off their duffs and do something. I’m not holding my breath they will get a clue any time soon.

      • LarcoMarco
        May 3, 2018 at 21:24

        “If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this. The United States is an exceptional nation…And part of what makes America an exceptional nation, is that we are also an indispensable nation.

        “The United States is an exceptional nation. I believe we are still Lincoln’s last, best hope of Earth. We’re still Reagan’s shining city on a hill. We’re still Robert Kennedy’s great, unselfish, compassionate country.

        “When America fails to lead, we leave a vacuum that either causes chaos or other countries or networks rush in to fill the void. So no matter how hard it gets, no matter how great the challenge, America must lead.”

        Killary Clinton
        Cincinnati, Aug 2016

        @Lois Gagnon – “the Dems make them feel good via imagery and appeals to Identity Politics…”

        Yes, some great imagery and, necessarily, Identity Politics from a (former) female SOS, who served under a Black president.

      • cosmo mcmoon
        May 6, 2018 at 07:42

        How can you “be at” brunch. Is a bogus meal now a state of being?

  19. Jeff
    May 3, 2018 at 19:14

    As John J Norris who wrote A History of Venice proposed, the presence of such qualities as liberty, freedom, equality, etc in a society is usually in inverse proportion to which qualities are proclaimed.

  20. Zim
    May 3, 2018 at 15:51

    As always, well said Mr. Street. Proudly #DemExited & #LeftOut.

  21. Someone in the crowd
    May 3, 2018 at 15:18

    What Skip Scott said.

    • Abe
      May 3, 2018 at 17:51

      Ouch!! Got to like Armstrong when he got a full head of steam up.

      Class act Armstrong has lots of stories to tell.

      He even spews Bill Browder’s favorite line:

      “They even tried killing me.”

      Of course, Armstrong never quite manages to say who “they” are.

      Maybe he’s just talking about “the dark-side of the nature of the beast”. Or something.

      • WC
        May 3, 2018 at 21:19

        Abe. Parodies and attempting to shoot the messenger make you look amateurish. Armstrong’s numbers and prediction that the next crisis will be trust in government agree with the premise of this article. And you somehow disagree with this?!

        So what’s your point here? Nothing, really, except for an all too anxious and ill conceived attack on me.

        I told you, you were happy to have me back! :) :)

    • Abe
      May 4, 2018 at 00:50

      The Hasbara trolls are busy pumping “professional” prognosticators like “Fourth Turning” authors Neil Howe and William Strauss, and “Economic Confidence” man and ex-jailbird Martin A. Armstrong.

      Yep. This stuff’s been around for years.

      Armstrong’s “numbers” definitely “predicted” a “Big Bang” on October 1st, 2015 at what he termed “2015.75” or in layman’s terms, a Thursday. Needless to say, Thursday came and went.

      In 2016, Armstrong also “predicted” that “Britain is moving into an Ice Age.

      Now Armstrong proclaims “The greatest risk of war does not come from Trump’s policies, but the collapse of the EU thanks to mismanagement.” He’s probably got “numbers” for that prognostication too.

      “The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near” as the Doors “predicted” in “Roadhouse Blues”.

      And Hasbara hilarity (including the usual all too anxious claim of “attack”) predictably ensues.

      • WC
        May 4, 2018 at 01:31

        See what happens when you get that lil’ push from me. :) Now we got Ol’ Abe in high gear, trolls an’ all!!

        ALL future predictions are guess work. Some are right and some are wrong. But the point here was Armstrong’s prediction that the next crisis will be trust in government, which concurs with the piece. All things considered, I would tend to agree with Armstrong on this one, ex-jailbird and all.

        What amazes me is that you want to argue the point. If Armstrong is right the whole rotten structure will come crumbling down and we can rebuild it all from scratch with a collective, altruistic base to celebrate the final triumph of the goodness of the human spirit. Nirvana at last!!!! ;)

    • TS
      May 5, 2018 at 15:27

      Well, since he shows the representation since 1789 in Congress of the Republican Party (which was not founded until the mid-nineteenth century), I can’t take his statistics very seriously…

  22. Sally Snyder
    May 3, 2018 at 14:27

    This is the sad reality for many of us in other nations who have no political party that really represents what we believe. With the 4 or 5 year election cycles, politicians pander for votes rather than providing any platform of substance and when their platform does appear to have substance, they generally ignore it as though it never existed once they get into office. This is why Bernie Sanders appealed to many people. His vision and his behaviour are linked strongly – a refreshing individual who really is a “man of his word”.

    • Strngr - Tgthr
      May 4, 2018 at 14:13

      Did you ever think if Sanders wasnt in the equation, like stopped before he began, Hillary could have attacked DT from the beginning and we would not be wear we are today? Hello! In politics you need to be real! All the BS campaig got us was Trump! Should be a lesson learned there, which is why they are trying to stop all the Democratic Candidates BEFORE they even become candidates. Witch is what all the tape non-sense was about. Trying to get are country back!!!

  23. Abe
    May 3, 2018 at 14:06

    In the Preface to Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2008), Sheldon Wolin stated that inverted totalitarianism primarily “represents the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry” (page x).

    Wolin observed in “Domestic Politics in the Era of Superpower and Empire”, Chapter 10 of Democracy Incorporated:

    “The most dramatic change in party politics has been the transformation of the Republican Party: from deficit hawks to proponents of the largest deficit in governmental history; from isolationists to preemptivists; from a party renowned for its anti-intellectualism to a party that nurtures its very own intellectual luminaries and think tanks; from a midwestern party with Grant Wood’s American Gothic as its icon to a southern-southwestern party boasting a cowboy capitalism with the robber baron as its appropriate icon. All this suggests that inverted totalitarianism has evolved a politics to support its imperial ambitions.

    “While the transformed Republican Party reveals what a ‘party of government’ might look like under inverted totalitarianism, the Democrats reveal the fate of opposition politics under inverted totalitarianism. The Democrats’ politics might be described as inauthentic opposition in the era of Superpower. Having fended off its reformist elements and disclaimed the label of liberal, it is trapped by new rules of the game which dictate that a party exists to win elections rather than to promote a vision of the good society. Accordingly, the party competes for an apolitical segment of the electorate, ‘the undecided,’ and puzzles how best to woo religious zealots. Should Democrats somehow be elected, corporate sponsors make it politically impossible for the new officeholders to alter significantly the direction of society. At best Democrats might repair some of the damage done to environmental safeguards or to Medicare without substantially reversing the drift rightwards. By offering palliatives, a Democratic administration contributes to plausible denial about the true nature of the system. By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes that the party can make their interests a priority, it pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system. In the process it demonstrates the superior cost-effectiveness of inverted totalitarianism over the crude classic versions.

    “This underscores the contribution of the ‘public ideology’ being promoted by elected Republicans and pseudoconservative ideologues. Although ideologies profess consistency and boast of their coherent ‘worldview,’ there is typically a suppressed, or downplayed subtext in the message. The suppressed component of the prevailing ideology is the political status of corporate power. While the public ideology celebrates economics in the form of ‘entrepreneurship,’ ‘small start-ups,’ and ‘free enterprise,’ it ignores the political significance and power of the corporation. The public ideology of conservatives boasts of their commitment to reducing governmental power; hence the mantras of archaism: returning to “the original Constitution,’ ending ‘social engineering,’ and demanding no taxation – even with representation. In that imaginary ‘original Constitution’ neither Superpower nor empire exists.” (pages 200-201)

    • John
      May 4, 2018 at 23:44

      Pretty articulate stuff. What I don’t get though is what is the difference between inverted totalitarianism and fascism?

    • Abe
      May 5, 2018 at 20:28

      “While the Nazi totalitarianism strove to give the masses a sense of collective power and strength, Kraft durch Freude (‘Strength through joy’), inverted totalitarianism promotes a sense of weakness, of collective futility. While the Nazis wanted a continuously mobilized society that would not only support the regime without complaint and enthusiastically vote ‘yes’ at the periodic plebiscites, inverted totalitarianism wants a politically demobilized society that hardly votes at all. Recall the President’s words immediately after the horrendous events of September 11: ‘Unite, consume and fly,’ he told the anxious citizenry. Having assimilated terrorism to a ‘war,’ he avoided doing what democratic leaders customarily do during wartime: mobilize the citizenry, warn it of impending sacrifices and exhort all citizens to join the ‘war effort.’ Instead, inverted totalitarianism has its own means of promoting generalized fear; not only by sudden ‘alerts’ and periodic announcements about recently discovered terrorist cells or the arrest of shadowy figures or the publicized heavy-handed treatment of aliens and the Devil’s Island that is Guantánamo Bay or the sudden fascination with interrogation methods that employ or border on torture, but by a pervasive atmosphere of fear abetted by a corporate economy of ruthless downsizing, withdrawal or reduction of pension and health benefits; a corporate political system that relentlessly threatens to privatize Social Security and the modest health benefits available, especially to the poor. With such instrumentalities for promoting uncertainty and dependence, it is almost overkill for inverted totalitarianism to employ a system of criminal justice that is punitive in the extreme, relishes the death penalty and is consistently biased against the powerless.

      “Thus the elements are in place: a weak legislative body, a legal system that is both compliant and repressive, a party system in which one party, whether in opposition or in the majority, is bent upon reconstituting the existing system so as to permanently favor a ruling class of the wealthy, the well-connected and the corporate, while leaving the poorer citizens with a sense of helplessness and political despair, and, at the same time, keeping the middle classes dangling between fear of unemployment and expectations of fantastic rewards once the new economy recovers. That scheme is abetted by a sycophantic and increasingly concentrated media; by the integration of universities with their corporate benefactors; by a propaganda machine institutionalized in well-funded think tanks and conservative foundations; by the increasingly closer cooperation between local police and national law enforcement agencies aimed at identifying terrorists, suspicious aliens and domestic dissidents.”

      Inverted Totalitarianism
      By Sheldon Wolin

  24. mike k
    May 3, 2018 at 13:20

    No democracy, no justice – just a bunch of greedy immoral warmongers ruling over the USA. Forget the media lies and patriotic bullshit, and look at the deadly mess we are in. And if people can’t see it for what it is, then we are headed for much, much worse………….

    Paul Street is one of my favorite commentators.

    • May 3, 2018 at 17:34

      I like Paul as well. And, interestingly, he has made it clear, elsewhere, that the “presidential candidate who ran with genuinely progressive “values and vision” is a faker. Paul may not see that he is being inconsistent here, but he is.

      I have a soft spot for Paul, or have had, because, unlike most of the Left, he has been helpfully resistant to Camelot propaganda.

      • May 3, 2018 at 21:01


        As somebody who put a lot of time and effort supporting Sanders against Clinton, Paul Street’s articles critical of Sanders during the Democratic race for the nomination caused immense frustration. The thing is: Mr. Street’s preferred candidate Jill Stein was going to be the Green Party candidate for president whether Sanders was the Democratic choice or not, so Mr. Street’s seemingly incessant bashing of Sanders as a “sheepdog” did nothing but hurt Sanders while affecting Jill Stein in no manner whatsoever. Mr. Street could have chosen to leave Sanders alone, and concentrate on writing and supporting Jill Stein for the general election featuring potentially Sanders-Trump-Stein.

        As it turned out, Sanders refused Ms. Stein’s offer to join forces. A Sanders-Stein ticket from this perspective, taking into consideration the mood for change of Americans, could have taken the election, but one might suspect Bernie was given an offer he couldn’t refuse (most moderately informed observers know what really happened to JFK, MLK, RFK etc.) and decided on sucking air for a time longer, so Mr. Street’s Sanders-bashing in the end was neither here nor there and inconsequential.

        Not many are willing to travel the path which leads them to sacrifice life itself for their friends, perhaps only those who believe the soul is eternal.


        • May 3, 2018 at 21:50

          This is my critique of ignoring Sanders’ collusion with the Democratic Party and his ‘kinder gentler machine gun hand” support of the American Imperial Project:

          We had an opportunity in 2015 and 2016 to really build an alternative leftist party. But all the energy to do that was sapped by Bernie. When that became clear I did return to the Democratic Party so I could help Bernie, only in hopes he’d destroy the Clinton machine.

          But now the base for a true alternative is still captured by the Democratic Party, in no small part due to Bernie.

          I’ve become convinced the only hope is for the Democratic Party to fail and fail big time in 2018.

          • May 4, 2018 at 09:50


        • May 4, 2018 at 09:49

          I completely agree with Street on Bernie, but the above article is disappointing in the way I have indicated. (I don’t care how annoying certain “leftists” found Paul’s truths about Sanders.) But it may be that Paul is simply not looking at Bernie’s true character here so much as he is looking at his relative desirability, in which case I can only say that of course I would have preferred that Bernie was elected rather than Trump or Clinton, not that the President can truly singlehandedly change America.

          Bruce Miroff, whose book I’m almost finished (and was recommend by Paul Street) notes that Presidents have more to say in the area of foreign policy than domestic policy. The last little while has me doubting that the President has any more clout there than in domestic matters, although Miroff’s thoughts are worth considering and it could be that that was once more true than not. Miroff, Like Richard J. Walton (another recommendation by Paul, which I recently read), to a great extent takes JFK’s measure, accurately – but not perfectly accurately – in my view, and he too presents to readers a failed President. And both of those authors had the Camelot bug! (You can be establishment but not useless, depending on your work ethic.) Walton’s book is the better treatment, in my view, but it doesn’t cover as much ground as Miroff’s. I really got a good idea what I was dealing with, with Miroff’s treatment, for example, when he could go on and on about ideology (which, in itself, is welcome) and yet use the word “terrorism” only in relation to the Viet Cong. The only other instance in which he uses the a variant of the word (I have literally only about 10 pages left, so we’ll see) in relation to perpetrators of terrorism, rather than victims, is in relation to the terror experienced by Blacks at the hands of racists. And that is the case even though Miroff, as does Walton, makes it very clear that JFK, was the modern day father of American State counterinsurgency (aka State terror).

          “The American counterinsurgency establishment which burgeoned throughout the 1960s was fundamentally Kennedy’s creation, as Maxwell Taylor pointed out in a 1965 speech…” -pg 144 of “Pragmatic Illisuons – The Presidential Politics of JOHN F. KENNEY, by Bruce Miroff (pub 1976)

  25. Mark Thomason
    May 3, 2018 at 13:17

    True. This article has a focus on the Democrats pretending to help on economic issues, while actually serving big money.

    It is equally true that Democrats do the same thing on race. As Kanye West just pointed out, they make claim to represent African Americans as if they belong to Democrats by right, but they do little for them, just take them for granted.

    This does not mean that Republicans do any more, not economically, and not by race. It just means that Democrats are liars manipulating on these claims.

    What is to be done? Elect Democrats anyway, because Republicans might be even worse? Or refuse to elect lying Democrats until they put up candidates who will do the things they claim?

    They are both losing options in the short term. However, forcing Democrats to put up different candidates has a long term hope. There is no hope in any way with Republicans.

    So the liars among Democrats must be defeated, despite short term pain, because long term hope is all we’ve got now. They’ve taken everything else. That is why I opposed Hillary, and why I think she lost. Not because of anything about Trump, it was just Her, and by extension Them.

    • Skip Scott
      May 3, 2018 at 15:03

      The corruption within the democratic party is rampant to the extent that reform is impossible. Bernie’s candidacy proved that beyond a doubt. Our only hope is to have a mass exodus over to the Greens, or to start a new populist party from scratch. The lesser of evils is still evil, and nowadays it’s hardly even lesser.

      • Joe Tedesky
        May 3, 2018 at 16:02

        Let me tell ya Skip, over the long many years I have tried to be apolitical, a Democrat, and once even I attempted to be a Republican, and let me tell you Skip other than the apolitical life I once led, hooking up with our two political parties is like dressing up with no place to go.

        While reading Mark’s comment I felt the grief and despair along with Mark. I mean we are like wandering independents looking for a political party. We all know that siding with a Third Party in America is like standing on principle alone. Not that principle should not be recognized, but when do these honest to their soul people get a winning candidate? Never in the system we now have.

        I wish I had an answer for everyone who wants one, but I don’t. Because of what this article states, is one of the reasons I come to this site, and why I especially make it mandatory to myself to read this comment section… at least there are others out here with me.

        Thanks for being here with me Skip, and thanks to all the same. Joe

        • Joe Tedesky
          May 3, 2018 at 16:09

          I’m just posting this link so I can find it later, but this story coming from a msn site is rather interesting. You might wish to read it, because not that it’s anything that new, but in away it is…..

        • Loz
          May 4, 2018 at 05:16

          You – American people – have what, a 19% threshold before a third party candidate is elected. Really? Are you serious?

          Never going to happen.You will NEVER have a strong democratic re-presentation of popular wishes this way.

          Yet you – Americans – do nothing to change it.

          You – American people – have social media at your disposal.

          Nothing -NOTHING – stops you – American people – from campaigning for re-presentation of your diverse views and interest groups in proportion to the votes those various political parties might receive,

          Those parties could exist.

          If YOU want.

          They don’t.


        • May 6, 2018 at 14:58

          Joe, you voiced what I rarely articulate. I don’t have any answers for the people I talk to, and one of the reasons I also read the comments on this site and other alt far-left-of-center indy investigative reporting sites is because “at least there are others out here with me.” Thanks for that.

          None of what I read (or you for that matter) is going to turn out well. And I read far too much being a natural speed reader. Not the politics, not the war mongering madness of mind sick f**ks that rule the world with world-killing nuclear buttons under their sweaty psychotic fingers, and certainly not the climate that is heading for the death of most everything far quicker than the worst nightmares of those climatologists who were deemed ‘radicals’ or ‘alarmists’ fifteen years ago as the rate of acceleration runs right off the top of all charts…

          Do something fun every day.


      • Sam F
        May 3, 2018 at 19:47

        Yes, new progressive parties mist be formed to make coalitions, rather than split the progressive vote.
        They must explain coalitions to their voters and guide them to the choice among them most likely to win.

Comments are closed.