“Everybody wants to get inta da act! Inka dinka doo, a dinka dee, a dinka doo.” Our parents, our grandparents, remembering the ‘40s or ‘50s are likely to smile if reminded of that entertainer, Jimmy Durante, who traversed from vaudeville to the early days of television with his antics.
Here we are in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign politically playing that very same show-biz theme in the Democratic ranks, Hillary Clinton shrilly showing up at the primaries’ stage waving the banner of political progressivism as a mature, battle-hardened Joan of Arc, mounted on a splendid, virgin-white filly saddled with a golden super-PAC, firmly assuming undisputed leadership in the fight for America’s underclass. An underclass that in early 21st century America might represent 80-plus percent of the entire US population!
Yes, Jimmy, you were right: Everybody wants to get into the act! Well, Hillary does.
Wowee, Hillary; we have always accepted you as a talented, moderate Democrat; a very reasonable, evolutionary liberal at best . . . but a progressive? You . . . a true-blue political progressive? YOU, in italics and caps? Has the dictionary of American politics been rewritten while we were sleep during some literary insurrection taking place in the steal of the night, or is Ms. Clinton simply living a quixotic wannabe moment?
One gets the feeling in these preface days to the upcoming 2016 presidential election that we are sitting through a morality play of old. You know, one of those plays popular in the 15th and 16th centuries, where the drama was represented as a battle between good and evil, a play which indisputably offered a moral lesson. Well, I do believe that the true morality play is yet to come, but it won’t arrive until mid-summer when the two ruling parties let their gladiator-nominees enter the coliseum’s arena for the political main event, which this time around might surprise us, and not be the same old replay pitting Tweedledee against Tweedledum.
If we get lucky, we might see an ideological battle between two bright, distinct political colors, and not shades of just one. An election that could finally bring a revival to American politics: a democratic, revolutionary battle between Right and Left; something Americans have not experienced for eight decades. (I don’t consider the anomaly of the 1968 election, an anti-Vietnam War movement championed by Eugene McCarthy, as an ideological clash since it lacked the key socio-economic element: true, or perceived, economic injustice affecting living standards and/or wealth distribution.)
Meantime, until the parties convene next July to choose their top gladiators there’s the need to scrimmage in search for the best representative talent. At this early stage, so that there are no internal misunderstandings in the Democratic Party, it might prove worthwhile, and honest, if candidates do not misrepresent themselves.
We realize Bernie Sanders may feel adopted by the party and grateful to participate in the primaries’ battleground, lending his leadership and views to a progressive minority within the party. We also realize that Bernie’s integrity and “political generosity” might stop him from comprehensive criticism of his opponent; notwithstanding the universal political view that the Clinton-team, Hillary and political-savvy Bill, are Republican-lite in most instances, and only touch center of the political spectrum on some critical, but relatively few, progressive-must days.
Those two anti-progressive criticisms that Bernie keeps throwing at Hillary time after time—her 2002 vote in the Senate on the Iraq invasion and lack of scruples in receiving money from Wall Street and the wealthy-elite—fall way short of the criticism she truly commands and puts her at odds with her claim of progressivism. Bernie’s political decorum may stop him from undressing her progressivism claim but it won’t stop us. No true progressive could have gone along with the 1994 crime bill; or the 1999 GLB act deregulating financial services; or gone along with the 2001 PATRIOT Act eroding our constitutional freedoms. But establishment-moderate Hillary Clinton did!
Unfortunately for Bernie, in his quest for the Democratic nomination, he must contend with a misled and undeserved reverence that Labor, Blacks and Browns have for Bill Clinton; now passed on to Hillary. It will take much more enlightenment and leadership from the likes of Justin Bamberg and Ben Jealous to reverse that.
Dare we exit the stage just as Jimmy Durante did . . . topically saying, “Goodnight, Mrs. Hillary Clinton . . . we know how you measure up politically, and a progressive you are not”?
Copyright © 2016 Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.