In the aftermath of the party’s national convention, Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton has shifted sharply to the right, centering her campaign strategy on forging an anti-Trump alliance with sections of the Republican Party and the military-intelligence apparatus.
Clinton’s criticism of Trump has revolved around claims that he is an agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he will be insufficiently aggressive against Syria and deferential to the military brass. Clinton has also stepped up her efforts to woo billionaires who have traditionally supported Republican campaigns on the grounds that she will be a more effective “commander in chief” and defender of the interests of Wall Street.
Clinton’s moves following the convention expose all the more fully the political role of her main rival during the Democratic Party primaries, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Following his endorsement of Clinton—and his groveling display at the Democratic National Convention, where he called for a vote for Clinton by acclamation—Sanders has assumed the task of covering Clinton’s extremely right-wing campaign with the threadbare cloth of Sanders’ own “political revolution.”
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, published on August 5 and titled “I support Hillary Clinton. So should everyone who voted for me,” the senator attempts to bully his supporters into voting for Clinton through a combination of fear-mongering and outright lying.
Sanders begins his comment by declaring, “Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her.” Following a denunciation of Trump as a racist and bigot, he writes, “In these difficult times, we need a president who will bring our nation together, not someone who will divide us by race or religion, not someone who lacks an understanding of what our Constitution is about.”
Sanders says nothing about the actual policies of Clinton or the role of the Obama administration in which she served as Secretary of State. In fact, Obama has gone further than Bush in undermining core democratic rights, including his assertion of the power to assassinate anyone, including American citizens, without due process as part of his drone killing program. Obama has also overseen the further militarization of the police, which kills more than 1,000 people every year.
Sanders goes on to claim that Clinton has shifted to the left, repeating the mantra that the two “worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics.” Sanders further states that Clinton will work to overturn Citizens United, “which made it possible for the billionaires to buy elections.”
That Clinton has the backing of many of these billionaires doesn’t cause Sanders to blink. As for the “progressive” Democratic Party platform, it includes meaningless pledges for minor social reforms with the insistence that the US must maintain the strongest military in the world, take action against Syria and “stand up to Russian aggression.”
In his comment, Sanders says nothing about foreign policy, in line with his entire campaign, during which he combined occasional tactical criticisms of Clinton’s support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq—which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people—with full support for the Obama administration’s war policy, including the drone assassination program.
In complete Orwellian fashion Sanders concludes, “During the primaries, my supporters and I began a political revolution to transform America. That revolution continues as Hillary Clinton seeks the White House. It will continue after the election.” Such statements lay bare the actual content of his “political revolution,” which was intended to trap mass anger behind the Democratic Party and con workers and youth into voting for candidates completely beholden to corporate America.
Particularly significant is the fact that, since the Democratic National Convention, Sanders has said nothing about the release of roughly 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails by WikiLeaks, which reveal the DNC’s moves to undermine the Sanders campaign and the party’s corrupt fundraising practices.
Since the initial release, the Clinton campaign and the media have focused on the leak in order to attack Republican nominee Donald Trump from the right, on the basis of the unsubstantiated charge that they came from a computer hack organized by the Russian government. Putin, the narrative goes, released the emails in order to shift the US elections in favor of Trump.
Even as the corrupt practices revealed in the emails confirm Sanders’ earlier criticism of Clinton, he is ignoring them as he attempts to promote the candidate of Wall Street.
As recently as May 2, the Sanders campaign issued a press release criticizing the Clinton campaign for operating a “money-laundering scheme” through the Hillary Victory Fund, also known as the Victory Fund or HVF. The accusation came from an exposé by Politico, showing that the fund was directing the bulk of donations into the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC, instead of state parties as Clinton had claimed.
The fund’s practices are confirmed by the leaked emails. They were arguably illegal based on campaign finance laws, which limit the amount a single donor can contribute to a candidate or the DNC.
Other leaked emails further revealed the Democratic Party’s “pay to play” fundraising activity. As contributors could be given different benefits packages based on their donations, with the highest package requiring an individual to raise $1,250,000 or personally give $467,600 between January 2015 and June 2016.
In at least one case, multinational conglomerate Honeywell was given a hotel for the national convention with a relatively small contribution of $60,000 since it is the “biggest PAC contributor in the country,” and the Democrats wanted a better relationship with them “for later in the election cycle and for years to come.”
Prior to backing Clinton on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, Sanders responded to booing from his supporters by insisting that “this is the real world we live in.” In the two weeks since he made this comment, the content of Sanders’ “real world” has been even further exposed: it is a world of endless war and political reaction, in which both parties are controlled by the rich, and the American people are offered a “choice” between a fascistic demagogue and a warmonger with the closest ties to Wall Street.
Within this “real world,” Sanders is playing the most duplicitous role in his attempt to gloss over Clinton’s record. Sanders shameless promotion of a virulently pro-war corporate candidate confirms the analysis of the WSWS that the real role of his campaign was to direct anger over inequality back into the safe channel of the Democratic Party.