Saturday 12 November 2016

Sanders should be US Senate Minority leader (Pakistan Observer)

 | M D Nalapat
AS predicted in these columns in July 2015, Donald Trump has defeated Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential elections. But for the manipulations indulged in by the Clinton political machine, it would have been Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who challenged the billionaire for the world's top job. Sanders would have had a much better chance than Clinton to defeat Trump, in that the millions of unemployed and under-employed who voted for the Republican candidate on November 8 would mostly have remained loyal to the Democratic Party ticket.

The Clintons have become too smug and too obviously wealthy to gain the loyalty of those who have seen their lifestyles plummet since the 2008 financial crash caused by Wall Street. And as this column has often pointed out, the Clinton Foundation has become a vehicle for patronage, its primary utility being as a vehicle for the political ambitions of Hillary Clinton and the extravagant lifestyle of Bill Clinton, whose penchant for travel in corporate jets and stays in luxury hotels began while he was Governor of Arkansas a quarter century ago. The tab for a significant share of such travels gets picked up by the Foundation, which markets itself as a saviour of the underprivileged. The Clintons were certainly close to impoverishment for years, but that was before he took office as Governor of Arkansas and later as President of the United States. Since then, both he and his wife are millionaires several times over, while daughter Chelsea is married to one of the richer families of New York.

Those in contact with the Clintons say that it has been Bill's ambition to launch his telegenic and gifted daughter into politics, but that this had to be put on hold because of the hunger for the US Presidency of Hillary Although reliable figures are difficult to come by in view of the secrecy maintained by the Clintons, it is estimated that $ 608 million was spent on the Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, which began in 2013, including money spent on securing the nomination. Cash has flowed in from multiple sources, and this must now be seen as a dead investment, in view of the fact that the Democratic Party has lost the White House while remaining a minority in both the US Senate as well as in the House of Representatives.

To Hillary's credit, even though such a step may have been politically advantageous in a close election, she refused to oblige Both Hillary and Bill Clinton are certain to remain the most powerful couple within the Democratic Party, even more so than Michelle and Barack Obama. The current President and First Lady of the United States lost a considerable amount of respect and goodwill in the final weeks of the campaign, when it seemed as though they were at Hillary's beck and call. Seemingly to the neglect of his awesome official responsibilities, Barack Obama criss-crossed the nation begging people to vote for Hillary Clinton. Whether by accident or design, the Clinton campaign showcased the couple with an African-American context, believing that the Obama would be able to generate a firewall of black votes in crucial states that were expected to win the contest for Hillary Clinton.

The reality is that President Obama has run the government in a neutral way and not as a representative of the African-American community, although that is the ethnicity to which he belongs. As it happened, although citizens of every colour – brown, yellow, white and black – flocked to listen to one of the most charismatic individuals on the planet, a much fewer number were enthused about Hillary Clinton, whose husband as US President introduced changes in the justice system which resulted in several hundred thousand African-Americans going to jail, often for long periods of time. At the same time, others were put off by the spectacle of their popular President and the First Lady (who has the elegance of a fashion model and the looks of a filmstar) serving almost as hired hands of Clintons, going from place to place at their bidding.

During the campaign, Obama lowered the dignity of his office by indulging in partisan politics on a scale never before seen in US elections, and that too, making the most personal and derogatory remarks about an individual who was on the road to being his successor Apart from Barack Obama, another individual tarnished by the campaign is Bernie Sanders. Although he had repeatedly pledged to take the battle for the nomination up to the Nominating Convention floor, he retreated and emerged instead as an admirer of Hillary Clinton. Together with the Obama, the Clinton political machine sent Sanders across the country to seek votes for Hillary, but the extravagant way in which he praised a candidate whom he knew to be close to Wall Street turned off several followers.

The same fate befell Senator Elizabeth Warren, who acted as a Clinton surrogate despite her idealism and the knowledge that Hillary Clinton was in league with interests that Senator Warren had courageously and consistently opposed. Now that Hillary has been defeated, both Sanders and Warren are left with very little leverage to fulfil their wishes in the matter of public welfare, unless Bernie Sanders bids for the post of Minority Leader of the US Senate. Should he take over this position, the New Yorker who has spent a lifetime in the service of the underprivileged may be able to have a potent influence on policy, or at least be able to challenge decisions of the Trump White House much more strongly than as a lone voice.

Hillary Clinton may not approve, but the reality is that Bernie Sanders is the fittest candidate to serve as Senate Minority Leader. Should a Sanders associate become the House of Representatives Minority Leader as well, the pair would be a formidable force in Washington. Senator Sanders has walked away from a fight before, that with Hillary Clinton over the Democratic Party nomination, and that retreat had disastrous consequences for his party. Will he have the will to wrest the leadership of the Senate and House for himself and an associate? Should he do so, the Sanders revolution will endure in the ashes of the Clinton Presidential flameout.

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