American Voters: The Establishment Claws

Establishment. Establishment. Establishment.

Word has lost all meaning.

I should have been happy when seemingly millions of previously alienated people felt energized to get involved in politics. I should have been happy that these people were rallying around many ideas with which I agree. I should have been happy that income inequality was being talked about center stage.

It’s not how I felt.

If you were suddenly excited about American presidential politics for the first time because you felt motivated by Bernie Sanders, that’s truly marvelous. He said things that needed to be said, and things that probably only he, as an old white guy, could say. The message got out there, and it pushed the conversation to the left exactly like I hoped it would.

But it wasn’t necessary to denigrate those of us who have been active and involved since before we could vote. It’s not necessary to tell us we’re not “true progressives” if we even consider Hillary Clinton. That we are just mindless political drones or “sheeple.”

I support Hillary Clinton, which now apparently makes me “Establishment,” which is also apparently bad, and therefore invalidates my opinions. If caucusing for Jesse Jackson in 1987-8, voting in almost every election since then, volunteering on political campaigns, being a delegate, voting in primaries and special elections, caucusing every presidential year (except this one… sob), serving on senate district committees, and being an election judge makes me “Establishment,” then sign me up.

I’m Establishment, and you could be too if you ever chose to get involved. And the Establishment might be different.

There will always be an Establishment. Americans shape that establishment through making choices, voting for candidates whose views they support, getting involved in local party platform creation. Or, by sitting at home on Election Day bitching about the Establishment.

The problems Senator Sanders is talking about are real and they are important. I truly believe that nothing—NOTHING—will change in American politics until we have real and radical campaign finance reform. The issue isn’t term limits, which only serve to keep experience and knowledge out of office. I’m talking true limitations on fund raising, funding sources, spending, and duration as well as accountability and oversight into claims being made, plus, and very importantly, rational redistricting. Oh and restoring voting rights. Followed by voter education.

And guess what? Senator Sanders, as president, would be able to accomplish precisely none of that. Neither could Secretary Clinton. Because, as president, they don’t get to make the laws. And because people couldn’t be bothered to vote in 2010 and 2014, the people who do make the laws are in the majority right wing demagogues.

The last eight years have proven that even the most intelligent, balanced, nuanced leader cannot make real change when voters send him blinkered idiots hell-bent on obstruction. If people don’t get out there and vote blue down ticket, nationally and locally, we will remain stuck with a broken House and an obstructionist Senate. If Bernie supporters slink back into their BAH ESTABLISHMENT holes and refuse to vote on November 8 or worse, vote GOP because “it’s all fixed” or at least Trump’s a dude, or it would be “entertaining” to have him be president, then the Establishment will continue to devolve, and you better hope your sanctimony will protect you.



  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    The last eight years have proven that even the most intelligent, balanced, nuanced leader cannot make real change when voters send him blinkered idiots hell-bent on obstruction.

    Uh, no. Dunno where you were during that interval, but in this spacetime continuum we had no such leadership. The smooth-talking liar (“most transparent administration in history”) we did get promptly pissed away the best political momentum in three generations with an utterly half-assed string of corrupt compromises plus total failure to mobilize popular support, ending up with an inadequate, complex, slow-motion implementation of a mediocre corporate insurance plan cranked out purely for propaganda purposes by a reactionary lie tank (“Heritage Foundation”) over a decade before.

    He thereby lost all control of Congress and spent the next several years blaming an endless string of failures on those he had empowered, and only after blowing his last chance at legislative leverage seemed to figure out his own personal charm would not sway hundreds of racists and fear-mongers into some sort of fairy-dust “Grand Bargain” happily-ever-after. However, he did succeed in greatly (further) dragging the Middle East into bloody chaos, instituted universal wire-tapping on a scale beyond all previous dystopian science fiction, accelerated the third-worldization of the economy, made zero progress on climate change, and left his successors with a thoroughly demoralized and disorganized caricature of a progressive grassroots and a terrifyingly energized parafascist movement.

    Who knows what he might have “proved” with a little less “nuance” and “balance” and a modicum of political know-how and guts?

  2. freemage says

    Excellent piece. Side-note on term limits: In addition to keeping out competent, experienced legislators, they also actually serve to encourage corruption–specifically, the sort of corruption that the pro-corporate folks just love, namely the one where the people who write the laws leave office after 4-6 years and go to work in the industry they just gamed the rules for.