Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Where are you, President Sanders?



The US Democratic Party establishment has now paid the highest of all electoral prices for previously sabotaging the candidacy of veteran socialist Bernie Sanders in favour of such a deeply compromised neo-liberal insider as Hillary Clinton.   At moments of deep national crisis and self-division, if you do not offer working-class voters a leftwing populism, you will tend to get a populism of the right –  and sometimes the far right – instead, as we ourselves recently saw with the Brexit vote.  Donald Trump appealed to an American working class which has lost out so deeply to globalisation, with many of its traditional manufacturing jobs exported overseas, and waves of mass immigration undercutting its grasp on the remaining low-wage service jobs at home. 

Can left-liberalism, or even the metropolitan Left itself, simply not see the truth in such arguments, or how deeply they accord with the experience of the US “rustbelt” or of our own working-class neighbourhoods?  Good as he is on many other policies, Jeremy Corbyn clearly doesn’t have a clue on this, as when he announced recently, of EU immigration to London, “I don’t think too many have come”.  Until we have a Left politics that can actually tap into contemporary working-class anxieties, as Sanders in his campaign to be Democratic presidential nominee did indeed seem to be doing, it will be the Right – Trump in the US, the Tory hard-Brexiteers or UKIP over here – that capitalises on the very profound disaffection with the current world economic system that so clearly exists.  

No William Morris link worked in here, I admit; but today's political events are so momentous I feel I can justifiably do without one for once.

5 comments:

Kotick said...

You're probably right about the bigger issues, Tony, but you should not forget the disastrous role played by Huma Abedin, the senior Clinton aide who, by not earlier revealing under oath all the electronic gadgets on which relevant e-mails were stored, allowed the FBI to re-open its investigation into Clinton e-mails at such a sensitive electoral moment. Dubbed by Hillary her "second daughter", Abedin has actually proved a complete catastrophe for the Democratic campaign.

Tony Pinkney said...

Yes, poor Abedin - she really damaged her boss's campaign! On the lessons for the Left of Donald Trump's success, see the good piece in today's Guardian newspaper by Owen Jones: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/the-left-needs-a-new-populism-fast

Tony Pinkney said...

And Bernie Sanders has his say here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/10/bernie-sanders-donald-trump-harnessed-anti-establishment-anger

Tony Pinkney said...

More Sanders reflections: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/13/bernie-sanders-democratic-party-progressives-grassroots

lou said...

sanders was seen as too extreme by those working class communities - there's no way he could 've won- same with Corbyn. The central issue is lack of education as most go along with emotion not intellect