The only thing missing from the Democratic National Convention that nominated Hillary Clinton was a display of tanks, missiles, bombers, fighter jets and several battalions of soldiers marching past the nominee to show the world how “powerful” the US military is, which of course it means how “great” the country is because military power, including the most advanced weapons and highly trained soldiers, equals greatness! “America is already great” was the theme and how strong its military and its killing machines are was the evidence.
It seemed as though they had gathered there to declare war on the entire world. Ironically, however, during all that jingoism, bravado and military pride that made the gathering look like a convention of the German Nazi Party, some lost souls were holding up signs that read “Love Trumps Hate”! Those people could not have looked more out of place there. Love? Really? The only love displayed there was for endless and nonstop wars and the troops for killing as many brown and Muslim people as they can. And this was the other glaring irony there. They condemned Donald Trump for his xenophobia and wanting to prevent Muslims from entering the US, while priding themselves of destroying several Muslim countries and killing hundreds of thousands of their inhabitants, which in their sick and twisted minds shows greatness. While Trump has so far displayed his racism against Muslims in words, Obama and Clinton have shown it in action.
What was also on display during the Convention was how incredibly disconnected Democratic Party leaders are from reality. What else could they have used as evidence of America’s greatness and “exceptionalism”, if not its military and belligerence? What else could they have used to rally people behind them, if not nationalism and hollow patriotism and empty words? The income and wealth gap between rich and poor is at an all time high. So is poverty and rate of incarceration from lower classes, especially among racial minorities. Police continue to brutalize, shoot and kill innocent and unarmed Blacks and get away with it. Higher education is as unaffordable as ever. Millions of college graduates can’t find a job, even after taking on tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Still millions of working people have no access to healthcare and millions, who have insurance, still can’t get care, due to high out of pocket expenses. Racism remains a big problem. The environment has been ignored and climate change is accelerating as a result of global warming. Highways, bridges and other infrastructure are in disrepair. State governments are cutting back on services for lack of money. Prisons and classrooms are overcrowded. Millions of children go to school hungry. Jobs are being shipped overseas and wages keep going down. So, what else besides unrivaled military strength and the power to bully and wage war on any country they want could show greatness?
But, not everything is bad in this country. Actually, things are fantastic, if you’re a multimillionaire or a billionaire. Things are just great for weapons manufacturers, Wall Street banks, oil, pharmaceutical and other giant corporations like Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, Northrop and others. But, they couldn’t say that. They had to put their focus on military greatness and patriotism and that they can fight several wars, simultaneously.
Historically, however, it’s been the Republican Party, which used such nationalistic and war propaganda to rally people to vote for the economic elite and against their own economic interests. That role was reversed during this election cycle. Republicans still did use fear of “Muslim terrorists” and immigrant bashing to rally their racist white base, but this time, the war mongering was mainly used by the Democrats, who had to defend Obama’s policies and convince people that no change is needed. And, that’s hard to do when all they have to show for is more economic hardship for millions and more wars – much more wars. Hence, “look how powerful we are and how many wars we can wage”.
But, words can only go so far. Conventions do influence minds and raise poll numbers, but the disconnect has its unexpected consequences, too. And this is where Trump has the edge over Clinton, an edge her campaign is underestimating to its own peril. He has tapped into people’s frustration and anger with both parties. While Clinton campaign keeps telling people everything is great, people know they aren’t. That’s why Trump’s demagogic motto of “Making America Great Again” sounds closer to people’s hearts than Clinton’s defensive motto of “America is Already Great”, which doesn’t carry much weight, anymore.
Bernie Sanders was similarly able to excite the liberal base that was similarly frustrated with Democratic leadership and their lies and false promises, before he capitulated and decided that Clinton was right and he was wrong after an entire year of telling his supporters otherwise and leaving many who believed his lies and false promises and who still can’t buy the Clinton-Sanders line of “see how great everything is”, nowhere to go. And many, I believe and polls show, will either sit the elections out, which is a form of protest, itself, or vote for Trump. Sanders, meanwhile, will go down as nothing more than Clinton’s sheepdog who herded disillusioned liberals back into the Party of Wall Street and endless wars.
He had a choice. He could have broken with the Democrats and their corrupt party, which serves the super wealthy, and formed a third party to push for a more progressive agenda. But, instead, he chose to remain with the Democratic Party so he could continue his job as an insignificant senator from Vermont and to be accepted by the Party elite as one of their own. His choice was not surprising, given his 30 years of service to the white wealthy ruling class, but hopefully, it was a lesson for his supporters, who find themselves in a box and put their hope for achieving real and meaningful change in career politicians, running in multibillion dollar elections that are set up and designed to maintain the power structure, which is what remains intact, after countless hours of TV programming, endlessly discussing the race, after billions spent on advertising and after all the polls are taken and all the speeches given and after the cheering and singing spectators have left the large auditoriums and convention halls and all the balloons are popped and lights turned off, only to reset the clock and begin preparing for the next big circus show. There is a principle in science that says if it can’t be disproven, it’s not science. If change is made impossible, then it’s not democracy.