You Don’t Change the Party, the Party Changes You: AOC’s Iron Dome Vote Proves This Point

by Keaton Weiss

Whether to DemExit or to primary centrist Democrats and elect progressives within the party has been a contentious debate in Left circles since the 2016 election. Those in the latter camp argue that the party can be reformed from within if enough insurgent candidates can successfully defeat incumbent moderates. A common retort among the former is some version of the phrase, “You don’t change the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party changes you.”

Those words loom large this week, as on Thursday evening, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez switched her vote on the funding of Israel’s “Iron Dome” from ‘no’ to ‘present’ just moments before the tally was finalized. Fellow Squad members Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Cori Bush, were among only 9 representatives who voted against the $1 billion investment in Israeli’s military defense.

Among the possible explanations for AOC’s last minute change of heart is that she is considering mounting a primary challenge against Chuck Schumer for his Senate seat in 2022, and that were she to be perceived as anti-Israel, it would sink her chances. There’s also some speculation that her district will be redrawn to include Riverdale, a section of the Bronx with a sizable Jewish population.

Whether these political conundrums occurred to her just in time to change her vote, and whether or not they factored into her decision, are unknowable unless she herself offers her own explanation (she was also spotted exchanging words with Nancy Pelosi shortly before the vote). In any case, it’s fairly obvious that she wanted to vote ‘no,’ but ultimately lacked the conviction to do so, and that this was a purely political decision and not a moral one.

Of course, the #FraudSquad contingent of the online Left will have a field day with this, as they’ll point to yet another instance of AOC waffling on issues of importance to her progressive base (another recent example was her ‘present’ vote on $2 billion of Capitol Police funding).

And while it’s easy to sympathize with their disgust, we should also see this as a profoundly sad story. Reportedly, AOC had to be consoled by her colleagues on the House floor, as she seemed to have broken down in tears in the moments before and after the vote.

Perhaps she cried because she finally realized that the pressures of Washington had actually changed her. Once a renegade firebrand set to spearhead the progressive takeover of the Democratic Party, she now found herself having to break from her fellow Squad members and betray her values for purposes of protecting her own power. At just 31 years old, less than a year into her sophomore term, she had already compromised her principles in such an obvious way on an issue of particular importance, not only to her, but to her closest allies in Congress as well. Rashida Tlaib, the United States’ first Palestinian Congressperson and friend of AOC, gave a powerful floor speech against the funding bill, denouncing the Israeli government as an “apartheid regime.”

Parting with her most trusted and esteemed colleagues, especially on a matter as personal to them as this one, could not have been easy for her, which much better explains her emotional reaction than that her tears were somehow fake, as has been alleged by some in both Right and Left wing media circles.

Let’s not forget that in the wake of the 2020 election, when progressives were being blamed for Democrats’ House losses, AOC gave an interview to The New York Times in which she openly floated the possibility of quitting politics altogether. She lamented that Washington was “extremely hostile to anything that even smells progressive,” and said that “the odds of me running for higher office and the odds of me just going off trying to start a homestead somewhere — they’re probably the same.”

This is one of many examples when AOC has spoken publicly about the challenges of overcoming institutional and political pressures as a progressive Congresswoman.

We should also recall her statement in the aftermath of her 2018 victory in which she expressed a willingness to buck the system to the point where it might cost her her seat. In a video for Justice Democrats released in January of 2019, she proclaimed, “If you’re a one-term Congress member, so what? You can make 10 years’ worth of change in one term if you’re not afraid.”

Unfortunately, it seems now that she is afraid – afraid of party leadership, afraid of her own electorate, and afraid of what the future has in store for her as a politician.

And so rather than bludgeon her with #FraudSquad hashtags and accusations that she’s “sold out” her base, I think we ought to encourage her to ask herself that very same question: if you’re a one-term Congress member, so what?

Is she cut out for this, or would she be of greater service in some other capacity (we know from her previous quotes that she’s asked herself this same question from time to time)? She’s a giant star at this point who undoubtedly has a plethora of options in terms of how she can best influence the world she hopes to change. Is Congress the best place for her to do that, or is it not? She needs to revisit this question. Because right now, it seems she’s on the all-too-familiar path of young starry-eyed idealists who think they can change the system, only to find years later that the system has changed them.

At this rate, it won’t be too long before she sounds just like Nancy Pelosi did in her September 2019 interview, where she said, regarding progressives’ push for Medicare For All, “All of these issues – single payer and all that – I have those signs in my basement from 30 years ago.”

Will AOC be singing that same tune sooner than later? It sure looks that way. But as a young woman with a massive following and bona fide celebrity status, there’s no need for her to resign herself to such a depressing fate. Perhaps she should quit, as she suggested she might last year, and try to affect change from outside the system.

At the very least, she needs to rediscover her cavalier spirit as an activist who’s not afraid to lose an election or upset party brass. Because by casting such a blatantly hypocritical vote as this one, she’s betrayed the very coalition that propelled her to power in the first place – something for which she instantly felt remorse the moment she did it. She doesn’t have to do this anymore; the decision is hers to make.

We discuss this further in the video below. Click the player to watch, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos:

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Class Collaboration with AOC: You Can’t Wear a Movement

by Birrion Sondahl (originally published on An Appeal to Reason)

Class collaboration occurs when a member of one class is given special benefits by another class in order to contain or coopt revolutionary spirit. This happens in many different ways and is antithetical to the class struggle. The actions of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) at the Met Gala made quite the splash recently. Her “Tax the Rich” message at a multi-million dollar event only open to the rich was certainly cringeworthy. It is a good example of the larger systemic problem of class collaboration. As Earl Browder described, “It is not the personal corruption of an individual leader, but the ‘impersonal corruption’ of a whole section of workers that is involved. And it is far more important to understand such roots of class collaboration than the phase of direct bribery of individual leaders.” This is not an individual problem with AOC or other legislators, but rather a systemic problem which will require revolutionary system change to solve.

While this article will primarily be focused on class collaboration within the legislative caste, it is important to understand that this is an issue that impacts the entire United States proletariat. Because of exploitation of the global south, the United States’ proletariat enjoys a higher standard of living (even without healthcare) than most of the world. A quick glance at median incomes throughout the world shows how widespread this disparity really is. The working class in the United States receives better treatment from the capitalist class than the workers in Latin America, South America, or Africa. Indirectly we are benefitting from United States imperialism. This can make us unwilling class collaborators with the capitalist class because the comforts they give to us are taken directly from the working class of other countries. This is why an international perspective is so important to winning a better future.

Within the United States, there are varying degrees of class collaboration throughout the working class. A primary focus of socialists within the United States has been on revealing the class collaboration within labor movements which is especially prevalent within the leadership of many Trade Unions. The close relationship of the AFL-CIO leadership with the Democratic party is a good example of this. Union leadership are given benefits and privileges that are not shared by the rest of the working class and it is to their own personal benefit to collaborate with the ruling class. For example, the AFL-CIO president is given $292,140 in total yearly compensation while campaign coordinators salaries are rarely higher than $30,000. These added benefits given to leadership are one of the ways in which unions have been coopted and defanged by the capitalist class.

This brings us to the legislative caste. Members of Congress are paid $174,000 per year. The Senate and House Parliamentarians are also paid over $170,000, only slightly less than Congress. And in addition to this direct compensation, they are given direct access to the lobbyist caste – paid operators for capital. Cooperating with lobbyists gives legislators many benefits that they would not otherwise receive. This is a systemic problem – if a member of the working class is elected to Congress, they immediately start to receive benefits that differentiate them from their previous station as members of the proletariat. For this larger compensation, their work duties are quite light. For example, this month (September 2021) Congress is only in session for four days and the Senate for seven. Those are quite nice hours for the pay. It is only natural that given these privileges, legislators would begin to identify more with the bourgeoisie than the proletariat, no matter their origins. Class collaboration is different from corruption, of which there is plenty in Washington as well, but it is only by degree. These additional benefits and privileges are a more subtle form of control than direct bribery. When our legislators collaborate with the ruling class, this is still a betrayal.

Our movement has had experience with the timid progressives, who in words are loudly against the reactionary leaders, but who, when a decisive moment arrives, turn and run. In reality such progressives, if they deserve the name, are camouflaged followers and servants of the most reactionary officialdom. – Earl Browder

The Met Gala

These clips give us a blatant example of class collaboration. In the first clip, AOC identifies herself and her designer as members of the working class. Then in the second clip, AOC expresses that she wants to bring the conversation to all of the classes. But the class interests of the capitalist class are in direct opposition to those of the proletariat, so they do not deserve a seat at the table when any method of taking away their power is being discussed. This is not breaking the fourth wall, this is collaborating with the enemy and in fact playing along with the charade. These statements make AOC an easy target, but it is the entire system that feeds into this, not the actions of one individual.

The Met Gala is an elite event whose gate is kept by a $30,000 ticket. It is an event that is only accessible to the financial elite or those sponsored by the financial elite. According to the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Householdsonly 64% of adults in the US could come up with an unexpected $400 expense in November of 2020. More than one fourth of adults were unable to pay all of their monthly bills in full. While the working class struggles, the elite are doing just fine. Billionaires gained 62% in their worth during the pandemic.

Gains are not going to be made in the class struggle at the Met Gala. Having a conversation with the elite about taxing the rich is not the way to achieve an equitable society. While AOC was hobnobbing with the rich and famous, the scene on the street outside was very different.

These protestors are some of the most oppressed by capitalism standing up against the ravages inflicted upon them by the ruling class. As Mayor Bill DiBlasio attended the gala, these Black Lives Matter protesters called for defunding the police. The NYPD budget for 2022 is planned to be $5.44 billion. This is greater than the entire defense budget of Chile. AOC could have stood with the protesters. She could have had a dress that said “Defund the Police” or “Abolish ICE.” Instead, she chose one of the weakest slogans available. Taxing the rich is a good thing, but it does not fundamentally challenge the capitalist power structure.

The basic reason for this concerted swing to the right of the officialdom, for this studied and systematic co-operation with all the varying forces and institutions of capitalism, is the fact that the masses are swinging to the left, are being disillusioned, are becoming radical. The reactionary officialdom cannot go along with the broad, sweeping radicalization of the masses, without making a clean break with their peaceful past. They are either corrupt agents of capitalism, or are timid bureaucrats seeking nothing but a peaceful office life with a secure salary. In either case, their reaction toward the seething rank and file unrest is one of fear, and retreat to the protecting arms of the masters, the capitalist employers. – Earl Browder

What is rich? What is class?

In this clip, AOC in somewhat vague terms indicates what she considers to be “rich.” A huge problem today comes from a misunderstanding of what class is. Class is not wealth. Class is the relationship one has to the means of production. Does one own the means of production or does one work the means of production? Rather than educating her followers on this basic element of Marxist theory, AOC is attempting to circumvent this issue of class by defining “rich” as someone with hundreds of millions of dollars. When she says “Tax the rich,” this is what she means. Rather than “Tax the rich” we should be crying “Expropriate the capitalist class!”

By her own definition, she wants to tax “like 10 people.” This is not some type of bold statement. This is not making the capitalist class uncomfortable. Rather it distracts from where the battle lines should be drawn – capitalist class vs. working class. Not nesting doll yacht rich vs. slightly less rich vs. less rich vs. wish they were rich. All capitalists have profited directly from exploitation of the working class. These are oppositional class interests, you do not collaborate with those who are directly opposed to you and expect to gain.

Lee Camp has one of the best takes on this weak slogan of “Tax the Rich.” This must be emphasized. Taxing the rich as part of a Democratic party approved plan to make incremental change is not going to save us from the ravages of capitalism. Rather than having a conversation about taxing the rich, we should be talking about class struggle and uniting the workers of the world.

There is one fundamental trouble with these progressive friends of ours-they want progress only if they can get it for nothing. They will not pay any price for it. In fact, they become as indignant at a suggestion of risking anything in a fight, as they do at a suggestion that they are not genuine progressives. But sadly it must be recorded, that these timid progressives are not progressives at all. Always, when they come up squarely against a situation that calls for decision and action, the only real test of progressivism, they halt, waver, and run· away. They fly to the “cover of the official oligarchy.” – Earl Browder

Class collaboration is a very pervasive tool used by the capitalist class to distract from the opposing interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. AOC is not the first legislator to fall for this trap. Kristen Sinema was once a Green Party progressive who wrote, “Until the average American realizes that capitalism damages her livelihood while augmenting the livelihoods of the wealthy, the Almighty Dollar will continue to rule.” Now she happily votes down a 15$ minimum wage. The ‘Almighty Dollar’ does indeed continue to rule. Nancy Pelosi once supported universal single payer healthcare and now she refuses to even put it up for a vote. Bernie was far more radical in 1989 and even said in 2011, “My suggestion was literally to the Democratic leadership, simply change the name of the party from the Democratic Party to the Republican-lite versus Republicans and say, ‘Yeah, we’re bad, but we’re not as bad as these guys.’” This is a long shot from his capitulations to corporate owned candidates in 2016 and 2020. Bernie hasn’t sold out, he’s not directly corrupt, but his years in Congress have led to him collaborating with the exploiting class. This is a systemic problem.

Lenin addressed class collaboration as he prepared for revolutionary action in Russia:

You want to have revolutionary enthusiasm in the army, Citizens Chernov and Tsereteli? But you cannot create it, because the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses is not begotten by a change of “leaders” in cabinets, by florid declarations, or by promises to take steps to revise the treaty with the British capitalists; it can be aroused only by acts of revolutionary policy patent to all and undertaken daily and everywhere against almighty Capital and against its making profits out of the war, a policy that will make for a radical improvement in the standard of living of the mass of the poor.

Even if you were to hand over all the land to the people immediately, this would not end the crisis unless revolutionary measures were taken against Capital.

In order to fight class collaboration, Lenin proposed that bureaucrats be paid the same as workers. As he wrote in The Dual Power:

officialdom, the bureaucracy, are either similarly replaced by the direct rule of the people themselves or at least placed under special control; they not only become elected officials, but are also subject to recall at the people’s first demand; they are reduced to the position of simple agents; from a privileged group holding “jobs” remunerated on a high, bourgeois scale, they become workers of a special “arm of the service”, whose remuneration does not exceed the ordinary pay of a competent worker.

This would have prevented the creation of a bureaucratic caste, which happened under Stalin. In the US, if the legislators were paid the same as workers, it would prevent this class collaboration of the legislative caste with the capitalist class. Without the special privileges being accorded to them, Congress would be subject to the will of the people and would truly represent them. There would be no oligarchy, but a people’s government.

This is the heart of the matter. Wearing a gown to an exclusive gala will not build revolutionary enthusiasm. Capitalism is the enemy. This is the message that must be spread. Not tax the rich, abolish private property! Once the means of productions are back in the hands of labor, those who work will be rich from the fruits of their labor. No longer will their surplus value be leeched away by the bloodsuckers of the bourgeoisie. Only then will we be free.

We discuss and debate this topic further in the video below:

**To read more of Birrion Sondahl’s work, subscribe to his substack by clicking here.**

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Liza Featherstone Torches the Dismal Post-Presidency of Barack Obama

Liza Featherstone recently wrote an article for Jacobin entitled “Barack Obama Has Been One of the Worst Ex-Presidents Ever.” In it, she argues that Obama’s post-presidency has been “strikingly bereft of public-spiritedness,” the most recent example of which was his opulent 60th birthday bash at his Martha’s Vineyard mansion amidst surging Covid numbers.

She also points out that Obama, in the early days of the Trump presidency, was largely absent from public life. He was photographed on Richard Branson’s private island shortly after Trump’s inauguration – a time when his liberal base was wrought with fear about the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Rather than stay engaged and reassure his supporters that he would join them in their “resistance efforts,” he took off to the British Virgin Islands, where, according to Branson’s autobiography published months later, Michelle Obama actually exclaimed “We’re free!” Ironic that the former First Lady would feel this way just when a supposed fascist dictator just became her husband’s successor as the most powerful person on the planet.

Featherstone also cites that Obama’s two most notable interventions in politics, both of which took place over the phone, have been to protect the status quo.

First he intervened in the 2020 Democratic Primary in the days leading up to Super Tuesday, when Bernie Sanders was poised to effectively clinch the nomination. Obama convinced Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to suspend their campaigns and endorse Joe Biden, which they did, and this last-minute Hail Mary to stop Sanders proved successful.

Then, later that year, as protests erupted nationwide in response to the murder of George Floyd, NBA players, in a show of solidarity, walked off the court and went on strike. Obama convinced them to get back to work and continue the season.

Liza compares Obama’s vacuous ex-presidency to those of his predecessors, who, awful as they were, at least made attempts at public acknowledgment of their continued responsibilities as public citizens. Obama, on the other hand, has rarely flexed his moral authority as an ex-president, and when he has, it has been against the interests of ordinary people. She concludes, “Obama has not only largely opted out of using his high profile to serve the public interest, but he’s also chosen insultingly to flout it. It’s long past time to end the cult of hero worship around this narcissistic plutocrat.”

Liza Featherstone joined us to discuss Obama’s post-presidency and other topics on episode 121 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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AOC Was Elected To Call Out Elites in Their Own House – So What’s The Problem?

by Keaton Weiss

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stole the show at Monday night’s Met Gala when she appeared in a white dress with bright red lettering that read “Tax the Rich.” Immediately, “Tax the Rich” was trending on Twitter (at this writing, it still is), as well as – of course – AOC herself.

The backlash from the Right was predictable. They honed in on the irony of wearing a “Tax the Rich” dress to a gala which is itself an embarrassment of riches, as if said irony was lost on AOC herself – as if that obvious contradiction wasn’t in fact the very inspiration for her outfit in the first place.

But many in online Left circles were also quick to criticize her for her attendance at the gala, and dismissed her wardrobe design as “performative.”

Though AOC has deserved criticism at various points throughout her brief career (most recently, not leveraging her vote for Pelosi as Speaker, and benignly agreeing to support the American Rescue Plan even after eight Senate Democrats shot down Bernie Sanders’ minimum wage provision), the Left’s objection to her attendance at the Met is misguided.

For starters, I think we can all agree the point of electing AOC in 2018 – an effort borne of Bernie’s historic presidential run two years prior – was to send one of our own to Congress.

The 2016 Sanders campaign fell short of its ultimate goal, but was nonetheless hugely successful in helping to destigmatize Leftist political ideology. Suddenly, large swaths of the population were no longer afraid or ashamed to call themselves socialists. This was itself a major victory which made AOC’s candidacy possible.

Then, upon her unlikely triumph over Joe Crowley, we were poised to permeate the mainstream in a way we hadn’t been able to do before. We had sent a democratic socialist to Washington who was bound to become a bona fide star – yes, a “celebrity,” if you will – and we would finally have someone representing our interests not only in the halls of Congress, but on television shows, social media, and, indeed, the occasional red carpet at extravagant soirees like the Met Gala.

In this sense, AOC’s celebrity status as the most famous member of Congress is itself a boon to Left politics, because it creates an opportunity for Leftists to puncture elite bubbles that were long considered impenetrable by ordinary people.

The fact that Leftist politicians are now on invite lists to events like the Met Gala ought to be seen as a good sign – a sign that the Left is gaining influence among elite cultural circles from which we’ve always been deliberately excluded. Those who lament AOC’s legitimization of elite institutions like the Met Gala should have probably thought twice about electing her to Congress, because guess what: Congress is itself an elite institution.

The entire point of electing progressives to Congress is so that ordinary people can finally have representation in echelons of society formerly reserved for elites. This is the premise of representative democracy – that regular folks can have a seat at the fat cats’ table if they garner enough popular support.

To say that her attendance at the gala wasn’t “revolutionary” is fair enough, but it also misunderstands her role in the progressive movement. Elected officials, almost by definition, are not revolutionary figures. Notice, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X never ran for political office. AOC, on the other hand, is not a revolutionary, she’s a representative. As such, her job is to “represent” working class people in places where working class people rarely gain access.

In other words, the main point of electing Left politicians is to infiltrate elite circles with people we feel will use their esteemed position to do our bidding. In the context of the Met Gala, this is precisely what AOC did. She accepted the invitation, and then used her participation to “break the fourth wall,” as she puts it, and to “have a conversation” about the very nature of the event she’s attending.

To begrudge her appearance at the gala is to take the position that she ought not take advantage of this access to the elites which we granted her in the first place by sending her to Congress.

If that’s our attitude, then why did we bother voting her in? Why bother with electoral politics at all? Why not just be activists? There are many on the Left who feel that electoral politics is a waste of time and energy. This is a legitimate position. What’s not a legitimate position is to espouse the importance of electing Leftists to Congress, and then lambast them when they participate in the very bourgeois pageantry that defines much of what being a Congressperson definitionally entails.

After all, a gathering of elites in an opulent building with too many stairs describes both the Met Gala and a House committee hearing. Why is it acceptable for AOC to attend one but not the other?

To the extent that AOC has failed to live up to her obligations to represent the working class, she has attracted some much deserved blowback from her base. If she and her fellow squad members cave on the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package currently being negotiated (so far, there’s no indication that they will), progressives will be rightfully furious. But trolling the 1% at their own party, calling out the elites in their own house, is a big part of what she was elected to do, and not a bad use of time on what would otherwise be an unremarkable Monday evening in New York.

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Lara Hodge is Running for Congress in a Deep Red District, as a Progressive, and a Republican

In December of 2020, we published an article entitled “Why Progressives Joining the Republican Party Isn’t as Crazy as You Think.” In it, Russell Dobular argued that because of the shifting class dynamics within the Democratic and Republican electorates (Republicans have become more working class, Democrats more upper-middle class), populist Left economic policies could catch on in Republican circles more so than in Democratic ones. Additionally, in deep red states and/or districts where Democrats have virtually no chance of beating Republicans, it makes more sense for progressives to primary Republican incumbents than to try and oust them as Democrats.

Lara Hodge, friend and frequent listener of our podcast and reader of our blog, took this advice to heart, and is running for Congress as a progressive, and as a Republican. She submitted her bio below:

Lara is running for the U.S. House of Representatives for Arizona’s 5th district, in 2022. She is a Navy veteran and has lived all over the United States. She chose to settle her family in Arizona in 2019. She is not a career politician. She is an average citizen who is tired of waiting for the “adults in the room” to stand up in Congress. She has watched shifting political coalitions over the decades and realized that the people at the top are playing a game with the lives of the rest of us.

The turmoil of 2020 convinced her that our elected officials are looking out for property and capital, not the people. She also recognized that the Democratic Party isn’t the weak, ineffective party she had always thought them to be. She realized they are complicit. They have the same debts to their corporate donors as the Republican Party. But at least the Republicans are honest about it. So, Lara left the Democratic Party and filed to run for Arizona State Senate. And then in early 2021 she found out that her Congressman, Andy Biggs, was directly involved in the January 6th insurrection. She changed her candidate filing and is now running against Biggs for his Congressional seat.

Lara is a progressive, but not a liberal. She believes that all Americans should have ready access to food, housing, healthcare, education, and safety. She is for small government involvement when it comes to our personal lives, and big government spending when it comes to investment in human services and infrastructure. Most importantly, she believes in actual accountability for our elected representatives.

You can find more about her views on her website at proudprogressivepatriot.com. She also has a podcast/YouTube channel called Splash of Socialism. Lara is not a socialist in the classical sense. She realizes that socialism, just like communism and capitalism, as a strict, sole economic policy will never work, because people are people. Where there are people, there is greed and corruption. We need a blended economic system, a Splash of Socialism, if you will, to make sure that our human rights are being met. Rising to our full potential is difficult enough, even when all of our basic needs are being met.

Lara joined the podcast to discuss her candidacy as well as her stances on various issues affecting her district and the country as a whole. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Liberals Chose to Forfeit the Working Class in 2016, Yet Still Blame The Left for Their Loss

The Supreme Court recently voted 5-4 not to intervene and block the implementation of Texas’ anti-abortion law SB8, which bans all abortions past six weeks and offers monetary incentives for citizens who report anyone “aiding and abetting” an abortion.

Predictably, liberals took to Twitter and expressed their frustration at anyone whose support they feel Hillary Clinton was entitled to in 2016, and once again blamed Jill Stein voters and ‘Bernie or Busters’ for the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

The only thing more tiresome than listening to these complaints is responding to them, but it is worth reminding everyone that the Democrats ran exactly the campaign they wanted to in 2016. They knowingly and willingly shunned the working class, and instead attempted to woo moderate Republican suburbanites into Hillary’s camp. This strategy was articulated out loud and on camera by Chuck Schumer, who proclaimed with great confidence that “for every blue collar Democrat we will lose in Western PA, we will pick up two, three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

What this means is that the Democrats consciously chose to give up on blue collar voters, because they thought they could replace them with upper-middle class suburban whites (President Obama spending his final weeks in office pushing the TPP is a perfect encapsulation of their plan in action). Swapping out the working class for their professional managerial class counterparts was of course particularly tempting for centrist Democrats, because the latter group’s policy priorities are much more compatible with the party’s elite donor base.

And so, the Democratic Party deliberately alienated the Left in 2016. They never liked them much to begin with, and they saw that election as a golden opportunity to replace them with moderate Republicans, a more natural constituency for their neoliberal agenda. It was their calculation, their gamble, and ultimately, their mistake.

That high profile liberals pile on the Left every time a SCOTUS decision goes against them only exposes the contradiction within the Democratic Party that makes true “party unity” impossible. Centrist liberals want to welcome these moderate conservatives into their coalition, but still feel entitled to the votes of Leftists and working class voters who aren’t interested in sharing a political party with comfy suburbanites who are indifferent to their plight.

This is a circle that can’t be squared, which is part of why Democrats have trouble winning elections in the first place, and also why the party proves itself so impotent in its efforts to combat the Right. The only answer to laws like SB 8 is a united Left in which all of its siloed factions (reproductive rights advocates, climate advocates, labor advocates, etc) agree upon one platform that satisfies the needs and demands of everyone involved.

Without a mass movement based on true solidarity and empathy, the Right will win every time. Relitigating 2016 won’t change this basic truth.

We discuss the Texas anti-abortion law, the liberals’ blame game, and what’s needed for a viable Left response, in episode 119 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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The Military is Among Climate’s Biggest Enemies

by Charles Dunaway

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on August 9. The team of 230 scientists said, “Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years…unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”

As a recent editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out, “America can’t fix the problem alone, but the world can’t fix it without a fundamental shift in American culture – a shift away from coal, oil, gasoline and other polluting energy sources, and toward renewable ones like wind and solar.”

One facet of that necessary shift in American culture gets little attention from the media – the impact of the US military and US foreign policy on climate change.

The US military is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. The US is currently bombing targets in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting the government of Syria, and bombing Somalia. The US is also imposing sanctions on Iran, Libya, and Venezuela. All those nations have large reserves of fossil fuels. So the US is burning fossil fuel to force nations to sell more fossil fuel to US companies so we can burn more fossil fuel.

Any serious commitment to preserving life on earth must begin with a drastic reduction in the US military and an end to the forever wars and the sanctions.

US foreign policy over the last seven decades has focused on maintaining global dominance. If rival like Russia or China is gaining too much influence in a neighboring nation, the US will use the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID to foment unrest and chaos by funding and training opposition groups. NED is currently interfering in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia to counter China. They are in Belarus and every Central Asian nation to counter Russia. Regime change efforts cause resentment of US interference, and undermine the internal cooperation nations need to address climate change.

The US withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord in 2017, the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2018, and the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2019. The US signed but has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) , The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), and the Kyoto Protocol (2005). Of 18 international human rights treaties passed by the United Nations, the US has only ratified five. This destroys the trust needed to work together with other nations.

The US has long viewed itself as exempt from international law. All of the current US military engagements are blatant violations of the UN Charter, but you never hear that mentioned. The US, having signed the Rome Statute founding the International Criminal Court, subsequently withdrew its signature and has even passed laws authorizing the use of “all means necessary” to release any American detained by the ICC.

If the US government is serious about combatting climate change, it must give up any dreams of global dominance, stop interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, live up to its treaty obligations, and abide by international law. Ending our support for other serial violators of international law such as Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia would demonstrate our resolve.

America cannot curtail the worst effects of climate change on its own. It will need good working relationships with all nations. The technologically advanced nations must pool their talent and resources to find alternatives to fossil fuels and reduce their own consumption. The wealthier nations need to partner with less developed nations as they adapt to the changing environment and improve the lives of their people.

The days of America’s bullying of other nations are over. The US must lead by example, not by force. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

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The Taliban Was Always Going to Take Afghanistan, But Biden’s Withdrawal Was Still a Disaster

In the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent usurpation of the Afghan government by the Taliban, there seem to be two competing widespread opinions. Predictably, the corporate media, essentially an arm of the military industrial complex itself, has been nearly unanimous in its messaging that the turmoil in Afghanistan is a cautionary tale for why America must remain the World Police, and that the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw was a disastrous one.

Ironically, many on the Left are finally praising President Biden for sticking to his guns and defending his decision to pull out of Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation. Kyle Kulinski went as far as to (half seriously) brand himself a “Biden bro,” lauding the withdrawal of troops as “the best thing he ever did.”

What most in both the mainstream and independent media are missing here is that the decision to withdraw, and the manner in which the US went about its execution, are two different issues. Many would scoff at this, as Kyle himself has, and point out that no matter how long we remained in Afghanistan, this outcome was inevitable, and therefore it’s petty to critique the way in which the withdrawal was carried out.

Is he correct? Yes and no. But mostly, no.

He, as is almost everyone on the Left, is undoubtedly correct that the political outcome itself – i.e, the Taliban reclaiming Afghanistan – was a foregone conclusion no matter how the withdrawal was executed. But what wasn’t inevitable was the extraordinary level of chaos that ensued during this “transfer of power.”

Just six weeks ago, Biden expressed confidence that the Afghan army was ready to defend its country, insisting that a Taliban takeover was “not inevitable” (a prediction which directly contradicts his latest statements in which he emphasizes that it was). Had he and his administration been better prepared for this outcome that they now claim was inevitable from the beginning, surely a safer, more orderly evacuation of personnel and equipment would have been prioritized in anticipation for what was certain to unfold.

Instead, we saw horrific images of Afghans clinging to the sides of airplanes and then falling out of the sky from 2,000 feet in the air. We saw traffic jams of desperate people trying to flee at the last minute as the Taliban took over. And now, the Taliban has control over stockpiles of military equipment that we left behind.

So the questions of whether or not we were right to get out, and how do we go about doing so as safely and responsibly as possible, are obviously two different questions, and the latter is just as important as the former. Many have said that to obsess over the execution of the plan without acknowledging the overall merit of the decision to withdraw is to somehow nitpick and split hairs. This is absurd.

When the Seattle Mariners built their beautiful new Stadium, Safeco Field, they decided to demolish the Kingdome, its unsightly and retrograde predecessor; a decision almost everyone agreed was the right one. But if the demolition took place during a game, with 30,000 people inside, then of course it would be apropos to emphasize the extraordinary recklessness and incompetence with which the decision was carried out.

This is common sense. The way in which Biden’s administration went about this withdrawal was obviously a complete disaster that could have and should have been mitigated by ample preparation, if it could not have been avoided entirely. Acknowledging this in no way suggests that the decision to withdraw is itself a bad one.

We discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal and more on episode 118 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Andrew Cuomo’s Legacy Exposes the Hypocrisy of Democrats and Their Voters

by Russell Dobular

If God is a novelist, he has a disposition towards the trite, the obvious, and the too on-the-nose.  Case in point: Andrew Cuomo.  If one wanted to write a book whose theme was personal and political hypocrisy, you couldn’t do any better than to produce one in which liberals rally around one notoriously corrupt bully, in order to demonstrate their rejection of another.  In the annals of liberal idiocy, the cult of Cuomo ranks right up there with running Hillary Clinton for President and Michelle Obama unironically describing real-life war criminal George W. Bush, as her “partner in crime.”

Some may object that we didn’t know about Cuomo’s lechery until Lindsay Boylan opened the floodgates by coming forward. But we knew enough to know that Cuomo was a lying degenerate from way back. If you ask a Democrat which state in America is the most corrupt, they’re likely to name a Republican stronghold like Florida, or Texas, but in reality, based on the number of its political leaders prosecuted and convicted, that honor goes to Cuomo’s very own Empire State. The Governor’s response to that was to shut down the Moreland commission, which had been charged with investigating corruption in the state and going to war with Attorney General Preet Bharara who demanded that its files be preserved as possible evidence. This all played out even as his top aide was sentenced to six years in prison for bribery.  

And that’s just scratching the surface of what we already knew about Cuomo before the pandemic. Once it started there were a lot of voices speaking out against his newfound status as champion of the people and exemplar of good government. There were the front-line health care workers pointing out that New York had the worst outbreak on Earth, partly because Cuomo had been cutting the budget for public health and city hospitals for years. There was Assemblyman Ron Kim, begging anyone who would listen to look into the connection between Cuomo’s donations from the Greater New York Hospital Alliance (GNYHA) and the liability shield he created for nursing homes, thereby protecting them from lawsuits connected to Covid related illness and deaths in their facilities. Combined with Cuomo’s policy of forcing nursing homes to take Covid patients (a policy that might have led to the death of Kim’s own Uncle), it’s estimated at least 1,000 elderly New Yorkers died needlessly even as Democrats were loudly celebrating their “Cuomosexuality.”  Knowing his braindead and singularly incurious fan base would never hold him accountable, Cuomo even cut the Medicaid budget during the pandemic

And yet, right up until State Attorney General Letitia James dropped her report confirming the credibility of claims that 11 women had made against the Governor ranging from crude flirtation to sexual assault, only 21% of NY Democrats thought Cuomo should resign and 50% actually wanted him to run for a fourth term. Remember, these were the same people who couldn’t jack off at night without Tweeting a reference to Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy,” comment on Access Hollywood.  But when it came to Cuomo?  Fuck it. Franken. Have to stop eating our own, etc., etc.  

So, listen, God, we have a few notes on the manuscript. We’ve put them all here in this podcast. Take it in, maybe do some edits, ‘cause this whole Cuomo thing?  It’s just not credible that so many people would be so scorchingly hypocritical all at the same time without any of them noticing, much less that an entire political party could be made up of people like this. I dunno, maybe throw in a spaceship, some dinosaurs, that’s up to you, you’re the artist. Just, do better. I mean, just look at this montage of the media praising a man that every political insider on the planet knew was a goon and a bully.  Who’s going to believe this is real?

We discuss Cuomo’s resignation and more on episode 117 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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Don’t Mourn, Organize: How to Respond to Nina Turner’s Defeat

by Birrion Sondahl (originally published on An Appeal to Reason)

Joe Hill wrote this in a telegram to Bill Haywood shortly before he was executed by the capitalist state on trumped up charges for murder:

Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!

As Joe Hill’s lawyer said:

The main thing the state had on Hill was that he was a Wobbly and therefore sure to be guilty.

The same is true of anyone who supports working class struggle today. While execution is generally the last resort of the ruling class and reserved for non citizens, it is not beyond them. The fate of progressives running in the Democrat Party is not death, but rather smear campaigns and lies, shunning and shaming. We saw this clearly with Bernie and we have seen it again with Nina. No lie is too much for the establishment when it comes to stopping progressive momentum. Nina Turner was willing to tell truth to power and this is an unforgiveable sin for the establishment. The biggest liars have the greatest success in the Democratic Party. The truth tellers do not last long.

I understand the pain of electoral losses. The Bernie campaigns were especially brutal, but every loss hits deeply for those who donated and campaigned with their hard earned money and time. I know the volunteers for Nina worked incredibly hard and put their souls into this fight. Yet all the Dems had to do was manipulate the media and spend a few million in attack ads (and perhaps use a little fraction magic) to defeat a very strong grassroots campaign. And this is one of the primary issues of running progressives in Democratic Primaries. No matter how many volunteers and how much dedication you have, the establishment controls the narrative. The people wanted Bernie – record breaking donations and volunteers showed that. We got Joe Biden. The people wanted Nina Turner and we get Shontel Brown, who is under investigation for ethics violation. The change the party from within strategy is clearly busted.

Even when progressives win, they are still treated as the enemy by the party. Nancy Pelosi disparaged and marginalized the squad and when they could have prevented her from being reelected as speaker, they still voted for her. This is the power of the party. What good are progressives when in order to be accepted by the party they have to support Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden? The end result of cooperating with corporate Democrats is embarrassing. Could anyone imagine in 2016 that Bernie Sanders would end up in this degrading interview?

The answer does not lie in corporate parties like the Democrats. They have shown us that they will spend more time and money defeating Medicare for All and a Green New Deal than on defeating neofascist Republicans. As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Democrats are not the lesser evil, they are simply a different flavor of evil.

What Nina does after her loss is up to her. What we do now is up to us. We need to be building real movements, not expending energy within a corrupt party. The Democratic Party has not moved left, all they have done is drag progressives right. The Democratic Party will block progress until it is destroyed. This could have been done from within if Bernie had been willing to be truly revolutionary. As Bernie did not take that step, it is now up to us to lead the way to a brighter future, a future free of corporate control.

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. 

– Eugene V. Debs

It has always been the people that must free themselves. Working class solidarity is the answer. The Democratic Party does everything they can to prevent class consciousness and working class movements from gaining real traction. Do not mourn electoral losses, organize working class movements. Our future depends on it.

**To read more of Birrion Sondahl’s work, subscribe to his substack by clicking here.**

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Photo: Getty Images