Running Out of Masks!
Similar to the 2016 primaries, the Democratic Party establishment is currently pulling out all the stops — which means all the candidates not named Biden — in a desperate attempt to block Bernie Sanders from winning the party’s presidential nomination. This in spite of his popular support among that plurality of Democrat voters who are tired of their party’s slow boat to communism, this plurality preferring to get there in the Concorde.
Why the resistance? After all, the Democratic Party has been strategically, systematically nudging America ever closer to Marxist socialism for generations. They have done it through compulsory school “reforms” that increasingly load the political dice in favor of progressive social justice moralizing, casual dismissal of traditions and old wisdom, and ignorant disregard for the foundations and practices of civil society and republican self-government. They have done it through “civil rights” legislation of all kinds that undermines the principles of private property ownership, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. In recent decades, they have increasingly done it through direct attacks on those institutions and aspirations that used to comprise the popular content of “the American Dream.” They have done it through generations of apologies and moral equivalency arguments, from elected party officials and establishment intellectuals alike, intended to normalize and legitimize the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Castro’s Cuba, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the African National Congress in South Africa, and a wide range of other openly communist and socialist factions, right up to and including the recent Chavez catastrophe in Venezuela.
In addition, the party establishment has embraced a national alliance with the Communist Party USA, which has actively campaigned for every Democratic presidential nominee since John Kerry in 2004. It’s most popular recent representative was of course Barack Obama, a lifelong Marxist who advocated many programs, including the infamous Obamacare, which were designed as gateway drugs to further socialist developments down the road, and who publicly promoted wealth redistribution and mocked private success.
So why should this same establishment, which certainly and undeniably bases its platform on Marxist premises, and has built that platform with a view to shifting America incrementally in the direction of progressive totalitarianism, show such resistance to the potential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who has been a tireless and relatively uncompromising fighter on the vanguard of “democratic socialism” for his entire adult life? (By the way, if my ascription of the goal of “progressive totalitarianism” to modern democratic progressives irks you, I direct you to my essay series, “Progressivism 101,” and in particular to the final installment, “Does Progressivism Exist?”)
The answer is hidden in the question. The party establishment espouses the Frankfurt School theories of incremental insinuation. Sanders, by contrast, is an uncompromising fighter on the vanguard of American Marxism. The two positions are entirely compatible in principle, but do not quite mesh pragmatically. Or rather, they are compatible precisely to the extent that the radical vanguard — the “idealistic” wing of the movement — agrees to serve its useful function within the strategy of incremental progress.
Specifically, the role of the Bernie Sanders types (in more modern terms, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez types) is to slowly normalize Marxist rhetoric within the mainstream political conversation precisely by appearing to leap out onto progressivism’s lunatic fringe alone, in order to create the societal optics (the “spectrum”) in which the Democratic establishment, by always pulling up two steps shy of the shouting fringe, can sell itself to the masses as a relatively moderate voice for change, thus continually moving the markers down the field toward tyranny without ever appearing as “extremists” in the public discussion.
To state this another way, the establishment is the fringe, but wearing a mainstream mask.
Sanders’ is popular among those Democrats, particularly the young, who have learned their public school lessons and bought into the mainstream propaganda so well that they no longer see any reason to remain patient, when there are so many victims of social injustice to save, and so many billionaires to imprison. The establishment therefore has to make a hard choice: finally be honest about their goals and publicly join forces with their own grassroots supporters at last; or resist the vanguard’s tyrannical lunge one more time, in the name of preserving a more realistic path to electoral success and the continued corporate support this success requires.
It seems that they have chosen to follow the money, and cleave to the long-term project of multi-generational subversion — which may have decayed into the ego-gratification of careerism and personal glory — yet again. The mask has hardened to become their face. It remains to be seen whether the ever-growing contingent within the Democrats’ support base who wish to throw off the mask will finally cow before the elite once more, and agree to wear the relatively agreeable face of moderation for the election. After all, “But Trump,” as their leash-holders will warn, in a direct mirroring of the cry the Republican half of the Washington establishment used to rally its constitutionalist wing to forsake everything they ever believed in, and vote for Trump, in 2016.