I’m not sure what part of “We’re a private organization that can pick its candidates in a smoke-filled back room if we want to” some folks didn’t get, but after the DNC used exactly that defense against a lawsuit brought by Bernie donors, you’d think everyone would have wised up and Demexited. Watching people kvetch all these years later about the unfairness of this second Biden coronation, even after Obama engineered a Monday night massacre of all his rivals to secure the first, is kind of mind-boggling. It’s like watching the saddest movie ever made about an abused child. This is the scene where they try to appeal to their abuser with moral reasoning. In the next scene, the abuse escalates. In the scene after that, they’re living in Chicago with Willy the Pimp. What are they thinking? I figure it breaks down kind of like this:
You’ve got the island of misfit toys that is our very own alternative media space, where a lot of inmates have grown fat playing on the resentments of ex-Bernie Bros for so long that they wouldn’t know what to build their shows around if they were forced to be honest with them about the Democratic Party being a criminal enterprise that would probably be indicted under the RICO Act if we had an independent judiciary and prosecutors who weren’t too afraid of getting whacked by the CIA to give it a go.
Kyle and Krystal are the avatars of this grift, and as someone with a co-host, I feel for Saagar. He’s trapped in a Yoko situation without even a George or a Ringo to commiserate with. One day you’re telling The Hill to take this job and shove it, and the next she’s dating a bleached blond bimbo and they want to promote some half-assed guru on the show you’ve created. That’s a tough spot to be in, especially when your partner is a dilettante who’s only playing at politics to avoid the existential dread of an aimless life built on unearned wealth, who could sue you into oblivion with just a fraction of her $44M fortune if you try to make a run for it.
Along with Kyle and Krystal, you also have people who got to the scam late, like the Dumb and Dumber team over at the Vanguard, who are hoping there’s enough life left in the old girl to take her out for one last spin to 100,000 subs. But after some early interest it seems like even Kyle is embarrassed to be seen on their Fargo subplot of a show these days.
And then there are hosts who are honestly, earnestly, perplexed at the idea that we wouldn’t bother to support a Marianne or an RFK Jr., even if only to elevate our issues and put pressure on the DNC. I’m looking at you Brie.
In a recent exchange with Kshama Swant, Briahna Joy Gray wholeheartedly made her case for strategically supporting primary challengers to Joe Biden. Kshama respectfully dismantled her arguments until there was nothing left for her to do but make that face she makes whenever a guest punctures one of her occasional Pollyanna flourishes, like the time she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that Matt Taibbi hadn’t found more suppression of the left in the Twitter Files because the left is too ineffectual for anyone to bother: a mix of hurt, betrayal, defiance, and the lawyerly belief that the only problem with her position is that she hasn’t found the right words to defend it.
For the rank and file who don’t have a show to promote or a staff position on a doomed campaign to covet (what’s with Peter Daou and abusive women? It’s starting to get creepy), it may be like the zombies in George Romero’s classic, Dawn of the Dead. Presidential campaigns are the shopping mall they return to, because as one character explains in the film, “It’s some kind of instinct... a memory. What they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.” They don’t know why they’re drawn to this ritual every four years, they only know that it’s what they did before, and so they’re going to shamble mindlessly towards a candidate, even if the purpose of the exercise - winning an election, or at the very least, changing the trajectory of the national conversation - has been lost.
“There we were all in one place, a generation lost in space,” Don McLean once sang about the situation the boomers found themselves in after the deaths of John, Malcolm, Martin and Bobby. Replace “generation” with “movement,” in the case of the primarily non-white, and mostly female, former Bernie Bros, and that’s pretty much where we are. It isn’t so much the failure of Bernie to become President that wrecked us, it’s the failure of Bernie to become Bernie. The only thing surprising about his endorsement of his “good friend, Joe,” at this point, was that so many people were surprised by it. But the most prominent of those weren’t really surprised. It’s the role of priests, politicians, and pundits to reflect the people’s feelings back at them, and the most visible tweeters and 20-minute-clippers were just telling the last of the Bernie believers what they wanted to hear. No one in their right mind could have thought he was going to take a stand against Joe, when he wouldn’t even take a stand against Hillary, someone who, unlike Joe, he doesn’t remember fondly as the nice guy who let him sit with the cool kids in the Senate lunchroom every now and then, and never gave him a wedgie for being a socialist.
Watching him shill for Biden, at the same time that the establishment media are parading the Squad around almost like a conqueror demonstrating total triumph over all resistance, by making former rebel leaders Captains of the Guard, is bound to create feelings of helplessness and nihilism. No, you aren’t wrong to feel that way, and no, you should never back another candidate running in a Democratic primary who doesn’t unequivocally promise a dirty break. Fuck RFK, fuck Marianne, and fuck anyone else who asks you to give your hard-earned money and what little time you have to their vanity campaigns. In case you haven’t noticed, these folks are all rich - let them pay for it, if they really believe in their cause. They can afford it and you probably can’t. Hell, Krystal could pay for both campaigns and still have enough left over to live comfortably FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE!!!
If you want to put your time and money somewhere, here’s a list of worthy grassroots, people-powered causes:
Will it bring on the revolution? No. Not just yet. But we’ll need to build up these kinds of alternative institutions to have any hope of challenging the powerful interests that have made the US the hyper-capitalist freak show of the Western world, and you can do a lot more good helping out any one of these organizations than you can inside a failed system whose only interest is in perpetuating the privileges of it’s insiders. Yes, we absolutely need to have a conversation about where we go from here. But every minute we spend trying to turn an organized crime syndicate into a charity is another minute we’re putting that off.
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Here’s a conversation we recently had on this subject with Kit Cabello from Hard Lens Media, and our friends at Revolutionary Blackout Network. We’re not much past the bitching and moaning stage just yet tbh, but ya gotta start somewhere. Enjoy:
What an excellent example of the English language being used as a weapon against one's political enemies. Mark Twain and Winston Churchill would both love this column for that reason alone. Well done!
When it comes to people like Krystal Ball and Briahna Joy Gray, I know from personal experience that, for people who never looked into an empty refrigerator and felt that punch in the gut when they realized that there was no money to restock it until next Friday, poverty just isn't real to them.
I know because it wasn't real to ME until I was in my 20s. Once it was, though, it never left me. It is a lesson that the Reagan Administration taught me very well indeed.
It was also then that Marxism became more than just a theory I read about in college, but a tool I could use to at least understand what the hell was being done to myself and my family. Unlike me, Gray and Ball have never had the consequences of capitalism threaten their very existence.
The working class must always remain guardedly skeptical of such people. I know that because, had I not had some years in poverty and become working class myself, someone else could easily have been writing this same comment about the me who was never poor.
Your logic breaks down where you refer to America as hyper-capitalist. It’s not, and hasn’t been since 1913. A more accurate description would be hyper-fascist if you accept Mussolini’s definition.