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Sanders’ Nevada Victory – The Re-emergence of a Class Conscious Political Consensus: A Blow Both to Trump and to Identity Politics.

February 23, 2020

Sanders supporters – overwhelming support in Nevada from Latinos voting their class interests

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A half century ago, the Chicano liberation movement, in which the Denver-based Crusade for Justice, led by Rodolpho ‘Corky’ Gonzalez, was a driving force, based their organizing work around the analysis that the growing Chicano population of the Southwest would, as it grows, become a key political force in the nation’s politics, especially if was able to find common ground with other non-white organized communities in tandem with the non-racist elements of the labor movement.

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1. Nancy “gets things done.”

Yesterday, my wife of 44 years, Nancy, went out to canvas door to door for Bernie Sanders in one of the poorer, working class, heavily Chicano neighborhoods of Denver. As someone once put it, Nancy, the family’s super ego, is a person “who gets things done.”  Very true. Plus she did her Bernie campaigning without using the campaign “ap” to which younger canvassers seem addicted.

With “Julian” a young Asian-American freshman at the University of Denver who, with Sanders as a model, wants to pursue a life of public policy. He only eats once a day “because he’s too busy with other things” she worked the Barnum neighborhood on the Saturday afternoon of the Nevada Democratic Party primary.

An Asian-American youth who grew up in part in China and a recently retired white working class retired nurse with family roots in rural Nebraska teamed up garner what support they could for a 79 year old Jewish social democrat whose family hails from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn New York. Flatbush used to be close to 100% – if not 110% Jewish: today it’s much more Caribbean and Arab.

As we spoke about it in the evening with neighbors and a poet friend. The Nevada results were already in, but we had had too much wine and beer to notice. Nancy was pleased with the response; strong Bernie support in Barnum both with people. Nancy and Julian were just two of many Bernie supporters going door to door in Denver where I expect that Bernie Sanders will – despite the opposition of those who run the Colorado Democratic Party – do quite well.

While Nevada results are still not complete, with 60% of the votes in, Sanders garnered some 46% of the vote – his nearest competitor Joe Biden getting a meager 20%, with Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchur having lost much of their earlier momentum. A breathtaking 67% of Latinos in Nevada supported Sanders, including many who went against the endorsements of their unions who had backed one or another of the other candidates. The looks on their faces – some of hope, others of anger – in virtually all the photos (like the one above) suggest their level of commitment.

A half century ago, the Chicano liberation movement, in which the Denver-based Crusade for Justice, led by Rodolpho ‘Corky’ Gonzalez, was a driving force, based their organizing work around the analysis that the growing Chicano population of the Southwest would, as it grows, become a key political force in the nation’s politics, especially if was able to find common ground with other non-white organized communities in tandem with the non-racist elements of the labor movement.

The Nevada primary gives credence to this analysis and as the Democrat primary season moves on to other states I am confident its validity will be strengthened.

2. Escobar’s warning

Pepe Escobar, a Brazilian born “global citizen” – he truly is that. He mostly writes a lot global political developments. His stuff on the Belt and Road Initiative – the economic and trade initiative undertaken by China a few years ago – is wonderful, most of which is available on Facebook for those interested (and at Asia Times). He is sharp and has more than a bit of the Hunter Thompson gonzo journalism style. He’s also “spot on” when it comes to Middle East developments – Iran, Syria – etc.

But I found his brief commentary Bernie Sanders’ Nevada primary elections less than satisfactory even if the points he makes can not be simply brushed aside. In fact, some of the same points he raises here in bullet point manner were touched on with our neighbors last night…how far can, will the Sanders’ campaign go; what forces he’ll have to deal with should he win the presidency, etc.

Writing on social media this morning after Bernie Sanders Nevada vicotry, Pepe Escobar wrote:

“Jackpot, maybe. But PERSPECTIVE is everything.”

“BREAKING – from top business sources in NYC: Big Capital is increasingly coming to grips with the fact that Bernie may get the nomination – despite the Clinton Machine’s Trojan Horse, sexist/racist Vacuous Bloomberg. They’d rather cope with Bernie’s “socialism” than Trump’s messianic streak.”

“The narrative that Bernie is Putin’s Trojan Horse came from INSIDE the Dem machine. That is, from The Witch herself. The Witch would rather support Trump than lose control of the Dem machine. Bubba Clinton, way smarter, remains mum.”

“Additionally, Bernie is NO threat to the Deep State. Always supported the proxy war on Syria.
Would support a pre-emptive strike on Iran and/or North Korea. Would be easily gobbled up by Deep State paranoia on Russia-China as major threats.”

3. The Hope Factor (Tinged with realism).

I take what Escobar wrote  seriously, the possibility is real Bernie Sanders would be no more than “Obama Lite”..and then there are other issues (Congress, the media, military industrial complex), undoing so much damage that Trump has inflicted upon the American people. That said, there is a positive aspect to Sanders’ current run missing from the commentary. I found it a bit too cynical.

It dampens hope, without which there can be no change and it fails to appreciate what appears to be a sea-change to the left in the country’s domestic political landscape and a challenge to the neo-liberal agenda of the first order. Yes, how far it will go – as well as the limits of the process – remain to be scene. But still.

Perhaps it is too early to tell, but it is possible that he has stimulated “a great awakening” particularly among the working class and people of color of this country. They are mobilizing – and finally – organizing around class issues, the need for racial unity in a manner unprecedented since the end of WW2. Escobar seems to simply write off this national upsurge because he’s spoken to a few “top business sources in NYC.” A bit flippant, no?

Perhaps it is too early to tell, but it is possible that he has stimulated “a great awakening” particularly among the working class and people of color of this country. They are mobilizing – and finally – organizing around class issues, the need for racial unity in a manner unprecedented since the end of WW2. Escobar seems to simply write off this national upsurge because he’s spoken to a few “top business sources in NYC.” A bit flippant, no?

So throwing cold water on Sanders’ victory in Nevada – he could have written his critic in a very different way – not so cynically. He seem to be missing what could be a new moment in U.S. domestic politics. As for his “top business sources in NYC”… interesting how quickly they can adjust to new realities on the ground.

4. More on “the other side of the story”:

1. Bernie Sanders is mobilizing youth and people of color around a left-of-center campaign
2. He is giving hope to the portion of the electorate where hope has been denied
3. I don’t agree that the ruling class (or as it is put “the deep state”) can easily absorb him. From where I am sitting they are running scared and not sure how to “adjust.” How little it takes to frighten the powers that be!
4. This is the opening round of a kind of class conscious politics that this country has not seen since the 1930s…

What Escobar does raise – and we all need to be thinking about it: the issue – let’s assume, even if it’s too early to – that Sanders wins… what compromises will he have to make with – is he willing to make – with the Clintonites in the Dem Party and with finance capital itself. And what principles will he uphold of the promises that he made to his constituents during the campaign.

There is the Obama Example – someone left-of-center (sort of) personally who literally caved once he was in office and gave away his power to the “moderate” Dems and to the likes of Larry Summers….and was thus a great disappointment, his presidency a sad reflection on what it might have been. At the same time, once in office Barack Obama dropped his grassroots organization like a hot potato and never looked back.

As my fellow radio host on KGNU’s Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues, Ibrahim Kazerooni and I have continually pointed out – unfortunately for some there are no messiahs in politics, American or otherwise. Bernie Sanders will not be one either, but he has opened doors, instilled hope, helped move the American political dialogue to the left, he embodies – at least on domestic issues – the aspirations of tens of millions of Americans. An elderly white man, he has stood firmly against racism, and for immigrant rights. To write him off as Escobar does in such a cavalier fashion seems unjust.

Bernie Sanders is the vehicle of a social movement. What can this movement do, given the current realities, to change the direction of the country? How far will electoral politics take us, and what are its limitations. Will Sanders, given all the ruling class opposition, the shenanigans of the Clinton types lose his bid for the presidency in a brokered convention? etc. etc…

We’ll see and we wont know the limits of the Sanders’ campaign until we test them.

Sanders supporters – Tacoma Washington at a recent support rally – young and mostly non-white in the photo…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ronald Parks permalink
    February 23, 2020 9:56 am

    I appreciate this thoughtful analysis. Rob resists the temptations of both the cavalier cynic and naive messiah worshiper. His essay takes Bernie and his movement seriously and is laced with cautious optimism about our political prospects. Thank you for expressing this perspective.

Trackbacks

  1. Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama – Similarities, Differences and the Mounting Media Hysteria Around the Sanders Campaign – a Few More Thoughts. | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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