Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Advice for Clinton supporters

Corey Robin has some advice for Clinton supporters: if he were truly worried that she might lose, they should actively court leftist voters. They definitely should not attack them.
If . . . I were a big booster of Clinton and if I were at all worried that she wasn’t going to win in November . . . I’d spend every waking or at least spare minute of my life between now and November making sure that every potential Clinton voter that I or my committees could reach was converted into an absolutely solid and reliable vote for Clinton come November. . . .

And here’s what I’d not do: spend my time on social media or in person castigating every member of the left who is a potential Clinton voter but is skeptical or leaning toward Jill Stein or thinking about sitting this one out, castigating them as reckless, irresponsible, childish, purist, fanatical, immature, incompetent, cultish, blinkered fantasists of the revolution, and so on, and then deliver long, sonorous monologues—where I demonstrate zero desire to listen or understand, much less engage, with what the people I’m trying to persuade are thinking—about the need for a popular front that includes the very people I’ve just dismissed as childish and irresponsible.

I get this. Nobody likes being bullied, and those of us sincere commitment to actual progressivism and not just slower regressivism have been being bullied for more than a generation. When does the story stop being give in to keep things from getting worse and start being about making things actually better?

Robin speculates on possible reasons why Clinton and her supporters are not adopting a primarily positive approach to the left, and he nails it with his final possibility: "they don’t think they share any values with the Clinton skeptics on the left; they think those leftists actually believe in very different things."

Clinton is on the right; she's been on the right her whole career. The only reason the left is even considering her is that the Republicans are not only farther to the right, they have moved off the scale and have become officially (instead of informally) batshit crazy. Clinton wants to move to the right, because she sincerely believes that would be best for the country (and her career, but she is at least not a pure opportunist). She can move to the right; there are any number of neoliberal Republicans who see Trump as if not actually fascist then deeply damaging to capitalist class interests and will vote for Clinton.

Why shouldn't she move to the right? Why should she court leftist voters? Even if she had to move left to win, she has her career to worry about: the capitalist class doesn't give six figure speaking fees to socialists.

The only worry she really has on the left is that either a left faction of the Democrats will take the nomination in 2024, or the left will split off from the Democratic party and challenge her in 2020 or 2024. Neither of those outcomes are likely. Enough Sanders leaders will be co-opted and stay within a more explicitly neoliberal Democratic party, the institutional power of the Democratic party is sufficiently large that a third party (or a second party, if the Republicans completely fall apart) on the left will always be marginal.

More importantly, the left can't fight, and they don't have a good story. Today's capitalist left is the residue of professional-managerial class (PMC) rule that was defeated in 1980. Today's left is driven by nostalgia; it is regressive in the literal sense of a return to the past. Moreover, the PMC is fundamentally hostile to the working class (although less so than the bourgeoisie), they demonstrated both their impotence and their loyalty to the bourgeoisie, and the workers don't trust them. "Back to the 1960s!" is not a good rallying cry.

Clinton will move to the right, and the left will let her; what choice do they have? Absent an actual revolution (probably fascist), we'll have eight more years of neoliberalism, eight more years of Middle Eastern wars, eight more years of substandard medical care, eight more years of worker income stagnation, eight more years of global warming, eight more years of mass incarceration and police murders, eight more years of financial parasitism, eight more years of filthy water, filthy air, filthy slums, shitty McJobs.

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