by Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report Executive Editor. This originally was published by Black Agenda Report on 01/07/21.
For the first time in this century, significant numbers of young people of all races are expressing raw hatred for the Democrats and denouncing “The Squad” for collaborating with the oligarchy.
The most volatile elements of “left” Democrats have finally understood that you can’t oppose corporate duopoly rule while living in the oligarchs’ (out)house. The former Sandernistas brought in the New Year loudly demanding that “The Squad” — the handful of Democratic Representatives that style themselves as the “progressive” cutting edge of the Congress – refuse to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House unless the 80-year old millionairess and corporate bag woman agreed to submit Medicare for All to a full House vote. “A vote on Medicare for All will prompt a national conversation on guaranteeing health care in the middle of a pandemic,” wrote former Bernie Sanders press aide Briahna Joy Gray. A roll call tally “will show the country who really supports it, not just rhetorically, but in practice. Then we can hold our representatives accountable.”
The goal of the exercise was to expose and embarrass those lawmakers that pretend to back legislation favored by nearly 90 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of all Americans, but who always buckle to Pelosi’s corporate discipline. Gray, Dr. Cornel West, Movement for a People’s Party national coordinator Nick Brana, NFL player Justin Jackson and podcasters Katie Halper, Krystal Ball, Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore held a #ForceTheVote Town Hall to compel The Squad to act as the people’s operatives in the legislative bowels of the beast. As it turned out, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and her leftish congressional cohorts chose to serve as the first corporate line of defense against the #ForceTheVote strategy — originally conceived by Jimmy Dore .
AOC threw up flak like a veteran corporate dissembler, tweeting that she and her allies had won a great concession from Pelosi to exempt Medicare for All from the PAYGO (“pay-as-you-go”) House rule requiring big-money bills to identify enabling revenues before consideration for passage. PAYGO was put in place by Pelosi in 2019 to demonstrate that Democrats were “fiscally responsible,” continuing Barack Obama’s second term quest for a Grand Bargain with the GOP. “Progressives in the House have won a rules change that would allow Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or other big ticket agenda items to be exempted from paygo,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This was a necessary step in opening the way for it.”
But of course, the gesture was merely a reshuffling of marked cards. Jimmy Dore responded to an AOC defender at The Intercept: “Unwittingly, what he’s doing here is making the case for #ForceTheVote, because now we’ve got rid of the hurdles that would stop it, so we can just go do it.” AOC was “pretending to be part of a movement,” but was in reality still “running cover for Nancy Pelosi.”
Justin Jackson, the Los Angeles Chargers running back whose mother died from breast cancer when he was a child, unable to afford adequate treatment, refused to accept the corporate logic. “You have politicians that are saying they are supporting us for a fight, but when we actually come up with a strategy to do it, now it’s ‘I can’t do that particular thing’…it doesn’t make any sense. What other time than now? There’s a pandemic raging right now.”
Ocasio-Cortez retreated into a weird combination of corporate rationalization and feigned victimhood . “To be 100% honest,” she tweeted, “it was hard during this to be targeted+marred as some sellout-enemy of the people over a late tactical disagreement over 1 floor vote. Also a bummer to see figures excuse comments like ‘f- her and f- anyone who protects her.’ That’s not tone, that’s violence.”
But, that’s what is supposed to happen when faux insurgents act as corporate defenders. As #ForceTheVote advocates pointed out, the death of 40 to 60 thousand Americans a year due to lack of healthcare, and 300,000-plus Covid-19 fatalities to date, is corporate-inflicted violence on a horrific scale. AOC has endured only slights to her celebrity as payback for defending the indefensible.
In the end AOC, newly-elected St. Louis Congresswoman Cori Bush, and Barbara Lee voted to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House for the fourth time, after initially abstaining on a procedural ballot. In collapse, The Squad had shrunken to three fingers of one submissive hand.
It must be noted that back in 2005-06, when Pelosi was gearing up for her first her successful run for Speaker, she prevented Democrats from holding hearings on the Katrina catastrophe in fear of identifying the Party too closely with Black issues, and then forbade the Congressional Black Caucus and all other Democrats from attending Republican hearings on Katrina. All of the Black Caucus meekly complied with her diktat – except for Atlanta Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was shunned by her fellow Black congresspersons as a result. As Peter Gamble and I reported in The Black Commentator, Pelosi “was able to convince the Congressional Black Caucus, as a body, to stand down in the face of a horrific crisis: the displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents of New Orleans.” The Black Caucus’s political irrelevance and impotence can be dated to that debacle. AOC and her Squad are on the same path – and the slope is much steeper in this era of accelerating national and imperial decay.
In her self-pitying funk, the Bronx fashion-plate and champion tweeter — a rival of Trump, in that regard – sounded no different than the standard “because…Trump” Democrat, blaming the outgoing Orange Menace for her own political cowardice: “[I]n a time when the Republican Party is attempting an electoral coup and trying to overturn the results of our election, this is not just about being united as a party. It’s about being united as people who have basic respect for the rule of law.” Having nothing to offer their “base,” Democrats make Trump the excuse for their refusal to buck the corporate masters. What will they do when the Orange Ogre is finally gone?
Doubtless, they will blame the Russians and a “handful of outspoken left-wing activists,” as MSN dubbed the #ForceTheVote advocates, for undermining the smooth workings of “American democracy.” However, the exodus of the leftmost ranks of the Democratic Party has finally begun, and will accelerate in the excruciatingly unending Covid-19 crisis, and as the post-Covid corporate economic order emerges with the full collaboration of the Democratic Party. The biggest benefactor of the New Year’s revolt is the Movement for a People’s Party, coordinated by Nick Branna, which vows to run a slate of congressional candidates in 2022 and mount a presidential bid in 2024. For the first time in this century, significant numbers of young people of all races – most of them unabashed Democrats only yesterday, it seems – are expressing raw hatred for the Democrats, who are richly deserving of the utmost contempt.
Having witnessed and participated in the largest demonstrations in the history of the United States in the past year, these young activists correctly see elections as only one aspect of “politics.” Indeed, the corporate monopoly has rendered electoral projects the narrowest, most circumscribed arena of U.S. political expression. Left political parties’ electoral activity must be an extension of grassroots and “street” advocacy.
Covid-19 ensured the demise of Trump and has laid bare the anti-people nature of racial capitalism and the corporate duopoly that serves the oligarchs. Pelosi and her Democrats have shown themselves to be one with the Republicans in enforcing the Race to the Bottom that capitalists have imposed, worldwide, and whose noose has been tightening in the United States for two generations. Medicare for All is anathema to both corporate parties because it would go far towards deprivatizing one-sixth of the U.S. economy but, just as importantly, it would greatly diminish the precarity and desperation of workers who fear they must take and hold any job that provides health insurance. The oligarchy understands perfectly that its super-profits are derived from super-exploitation of the precarity-stricken workers of the planet, and on the deepening desperation of its own workforce.
It is with these forces that The Squad is collaborating, through their subservience to Pelosi and the duopoly.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford (at) BlackAgendaReport (dot) com
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