Noam Chomsky On Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Russia, And Donald Trump

“There’s good reason to suppose that Sanders would have won the nomination had it not been for shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton party managers.”–Noam Chomsky

The New York Times has an interview with Noam Chomsky which is primarily about Donald Trump. I found his discussion of the Democratic Party and Bernie Sanders to be among the more interesting portions. Following is an excerpt:

Take the success of the Bernie Sanders campaign, the most remarkable feature of the 2016 election. It is, after all, not all that surprising that a billionaire showman with extensive media backing (including the liberal media, entranced by his antics and the advertising revenue it afforded) should win the nomination of the ultra-reactionary Republican Party.

The Sanders campaign, however, broke dramatically with over a century of U.S. political history. Extensive political science research, notably the work of Thomas Ferguson, has shown convincingly that elections are pretty much bought. For example, campaign spending alone is a remarkably good predictor of electoral success, and support of corporate power and private wealth is a virtual prerequisite even for participation in the political arena.

The Sanders campaign showed that a candidate with mildly progressive (basically New Deal) programs could win the nomination, maybe the election, even without the backing of the major funders or any media support. There’s good reason to suppose that Sanders would have won the nomination had it not been for shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton party managers. He is now the most popular political figure in the country by a large margin.

Activism spawned by the campaign is beginning to make inroads into electoral politics. Under Barack Obama, the Democratic Party pretty much collapsed at the crucial local and state levels, but it can be rebuilt and turned into a progressive force. That would mean reviving the New Deal legacy and moving well beyond, instead of abandoning, the working class and turning into Clintonite New Democrats, which more or less resemble what used to be called moderate Republicans, a category that has largely disappeared with the shift of both parties to the right during the neoliberal period.

Elsewhere in the interview, Chomsky said that, “The most important issues to address are the truly existential threats we face: climate change and nuclear war.” At the end he criticized those who see alleged Russian  hacking as being “the political crime of the century.”  Chomsky said:

The effects of the crime are undetectable, unlike the massive effects of interference by corporate power and private wealth, not considered a crime but the normal workings of democracy. That’s even putting aside the record of U.S. “interference” in foreign elections, Russia included; the word “interference” in quotes because it is so laughably inadequate, as anyone with the slightest familiarity with recent history must be aware…

Is Russian hacking really more significant than what we have discussed — for example, the Republican campaign to destroy the conditions for organized social existence, in defiance of the entire world? Or to enhance the already dire threat of terminal nuclear war? Or even such real but lesser crimes such as the Republican initiative to deprive tens of millions of health care and to drive helpless people out of nursing homes in order to enrich their actual constituency of corporate power and wealth even further? Or to dismantle the limited regulatory system set up to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis that their favorites are likely to bring about once again? And on, and on.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    Mike Hatcher says:

    Very sound logic. However, counterfactuals are so difficult to deal with. It is really hard to measure the impact if the Democrat Party Leadership had played fair. About the only counterfactual that I believe everyone agrees on is that had the Seahawks handed off the ball to Marshawn Lynch in Super Bowl 49 on the their last offensive play, they would have scored a touchdown. Whether they would have held on to their lead after that is much more speculative. It is just a crazy world where someone like me, who would have voted for Ted Cruz over Bernie, would have also voted for Bernie over Trump had I had that choice. And for the record, Not that anyone here cares 🙂 I voted for Johnson in the general election. If I recall Ron, you have stated you voted Jill Stein, correct?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    There was a lot of evidence that Sanders could have done better than Clinton with a lot of independents. The fact that you would have voted for him demonstrates a point that I’ve been making that the linear left/right spectrum is highly flawed and it is erroneous to say that Sanders would have done worse because he is further left.

    I voted for Stein. Considering the matters the president has the most direct influence over, views on foreign policy and civil liberties carry more weight. Clinton’s opposition to government transparency and her history of influence peddling also weighed her down quite a bit. Considering these issues, I probably would have voted for Johnson as a protest vote if there was not a Green Party candidate despite disagreements with Johnson on quite a few other issue.

  3. 3
    KP says:

    It is just a crazy world where someone like me, who would have voted for Ted Cruz over Bernie, would have also voted for Bernie over Trump had I had that choice. "

     

    One of the best lines in some time.

     

    As well, SB 49.

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