Movement for a People’s Party

Last week Nick Braña announced the next stage in his effort–the Draft Bernie movement has become the ‘Movement for a People’s Party’. In a recent interview on the Jimmy Dore Show, Braña explained that although progressives have the numbers, they are ‘too atomized’ to be successful at the polls. He hopes to remedy that situation by enabling collaborative efforts toward independent politics. The new movement’s priority is coalition building, or a pooling of resources rather than a merging of various groups, however the end goal remains the same–the creation of a new party.

Previously the Draft Bernie effort looked like a catch-22. How do you recruit people without a platform, and what good is a platform if you don’t have the organizational structure to implement it? Furthermore, unless the new party could really challenge the Democratic Party it would have to compete for Democratic votes–somewhat like the Green Party in the 2016 election—which is not exactly an inspiring prospect for people who hoped to blow the Democratic Party out of the water.  Today all that remains is the conviction that the two-party system has to go–and a new strategy. Considering that the Draft Bernie team is not alone in their vision for a third-party, that should be enough.

Nick often cites a recent Gallop poll revealing that 61% of Americans are fed up with the existing parties. Then there’s the recent AFL-CIO conference, where a third-party was a hot topic of conversation. In other words, this is something people want. The Draft Bernie movement started out as a daring wager that Bernie would leave the Democratic Party. Little did they know, giving up would not be an option. People’s Party, it’s time to get serious.(forapeoplesparty.org)

Neoconservatives Against the World

We knew that this election was a contest between two deep state factions, but the most interesting thing in my opinion is the fact that both Trump and Clinton represent neoconservative influences.

It was Bill Clinton who allowed the left-wing neocons to take control of the Democratic Party.[1] (Page 36, Location 465) He did so because he needed their support for his first presidential campaign. This would explain the DNC’s treatment of Bernie Sanders in 2016. Bernie’s Democratic Socialism is more threatening to left-wing neocons than the right will ever be. However the neocon influence on the left tends to stay under the radar. It usually takes the form of neoconservative candidates posing as progressives, including John Kerry, Howard Dean, and John Edwards. Those ‘in the know’ hoped that the imperialist-democratic ideal was on its way out with the election of Barack Obama. Little did they know…

It goes without saying that the right-wing religious leaders who supported Donald Trump are also neocons, although everyone seems to chalk up their bizarre statements to religious extremism. The Christian Right has been considered a natural ally of the neocons since the time of Irving Kristol. The neocons shared the Christian Right’s aversion to the cultural revolutions of the 60s and 70s. They rejected the Democratic Party when President Carter proved to be too open-minded and respectful of people’s different lifestyles, and they were disappointed again at Reagan’s moderate stance on family and cultural issues. From that time the Christian Right has supported the most radical groups and it has violently opposed the Democrats, particularly the Clinton administration, which it considered too timid in foreign affairs.

This alliance has been courted by both the Christians and the neocons. Ralph Reed, head of the Christian Coalition from 1989 to 1997, had neocon sympathies, putting him somewhere between a sometimes anti-Semitic protestant fundamentalist and the pro-Israeli group in Washington. On the neocon side, PNAC sought to create links with key Christian groups such as William Bennett’s Empower America, and neocons like Kristol or Eliott Abrams showed their support by sharing extreme Christian positions on abortion and Aids. This alliance was boosted after September 11 when Christian Right think tanks, lobbies, and affiliated preachers adopted the neoconservative vision of Islam, Islamic terrorism and the ‘War on Terrorism’.

Many Americans are not aware of how often the Christian Right has swayed presidential decisions. George Bush was threatened with their sanctions when he condemned Israel’s assassination attempt on Hamas leader Rantissi in June of 2003. As a result of their threats Bush’s reaction to the successful assassinations of Sheikh Yassin and Rantissi in 2004 took on an entirely different character: he sided with Sharon. (When Empire Meets Nationalism, Page 35, Location 447)

Thus, starting from a deep-rooted anti-communism, the neoconservatives have gradually developed their analyses, which go far beyond the strict mould of their supporters to irrigate the whole political scene. During all their historical trajectory, there has always been a desire for American supremacy and a wariness of the rest of the world which can only lead them towards a re-legitimization of the Empire as a key to world order. (When Empire Meets Nationalism, Page 38, Location 489)

Given this discouraging state of affairs, it’s important to identify a pointed and coherent resistance. The position of Pope Francis in this struggle is probably best illustrated by the identity of his Catholic critics. As described in Todd Scribner’s book, A Partisan Church: American Catholicism and the rise of Neoconservative Catholics,[2] Francis’s critics are Catholic neocons. This is probably the faction represented by Paul Ryan when he stated that Francis should not be involved in politics. Bernie Sanders on the other hand, has been sympathetic to Francis’s approach.

Orthodox criticism of the Catholic Church represents political rivalry of another sort. The Orthodox Church is not a disinterested religious voice. It vies with Alexander Dugin for influence over Vladimir Putin.

Dugin’s neo-eurasianism represents a line of thought similar to neoconservative thought. His influence on both Vladimir Putin and Steve Bannon reveals the true dilemma of our time.

 

[1] Didier Chaudet, Florent Parmentier, Benoit Pélopidas, When Empire Meets Nationalism: Power Politics in the US and Russia. Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey, England and Burlington VT, 2009. (All page numbers and locations correspond to the Kindle edition.)

[2] As reviewed by Patrick Garry, Neoconservative Catholicism in America. First Things, December 2, 2015

Humanity at the Crossroads

I just read the New York Times article about the baby homes in Ireland. Patriarchal ‘morality’ creates a throwaway culture. It turns love to hatred, beauty to ugliness, and human kindness to cruelty. If we really want to make things better we have to let it go. [1]

[1] Ireland wanted to forget but the dead don’t always stay buried New York Times, 10/28/2017 (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/28/world/europe/tuam-ireland-babies-children.html)