Wall Street Freak Out 2020 - Where do we go from here? by Jeff Roby

Jeff and Rose Roby are Florida activists who also publish the Saint Petersburg Independents. Jeff asks and analyzes where we go from here.

Sometimes you just gotta find out what’s happening by reading your enemies.  Like Politico, for instance.  A straight-out Wall Street/Beltway “rag.”  One of the many dilemmas the so-called Ruling Class faces is that, while lying to the American people is the first and last thing they do before going to bed each night, they know there are dangers in how much they can afford to lie to themselves.  So the 01/28/2019 Politico, “Wall Street freaks out about 2020,” gives us a window on the pressures that the progressive forces in the U.S.  are exerting on the current political scene.

“Top Wall Street executives would love to be rid of President Donald Trump.  But they are getting panicked about the prospect of an ultraliberal Democratic nominee bent on raising taxes and slapping regulations on their firms.  The result is a kind of nervous paralysis of executives pining for a centrist nominee like Michael Bloomberg while realizing such an outcome is unlikely from a party veering sharply to the left.”

So in the twisted world our tycoons live in, even a modest reformer like Elizabeth Warren, and the tepid regulations she would merely advocate (not even pass) if she occupied the White House, are too much.  It’s not simply that the captains of finance are obscenely greedy — though they obscenely are.  But rather that their empire is teetering on an ever-narrowing precipice.

To be sure, they wield world-destroying powers with increasing abandon, but that they are now flailing so wildly is not a sign of strength.  Traditionally, capitalists themselves have held that democratic capitalism, under the rule of law, with a degree of a welfare state to keep the masses fat and happy (which the masses never were), and stabilized by an orderly empire is the best of all possible worlds.  Keeps things stable.  It’s just that that world order has reached its peak, and the “good old centre cannot hold.”  Their insanity is manifest.  Donald Trump is at one moment a menace to their stability, and at the same time, the right tool for the right job.  When you are losing, maybe your best play is to double down and roll the dice.

The times they are a-changing.

The Green Party has long lamented that its positions reflect majority opinion, but it has been unable to make its voice heard.  It is shut out by the mainstream media (MSM) yet still lacks the organizational muscle to effectively bypass the MSM independently.

Now look at the current array of presidential hopefuls looking to try their luck in the upcoming Democratic Party primaries.  Differences among them may sell newspapers, but let’s focus on what they have in common.  Here are a couple big ones:

  • Everyone who reads is becoming familiar with some version of the Green New Deal, the centerpiece of Green Party nominee’s Jill Stein campaigns in 2012 and 2016.  The media’s catchword is loony, and it goes downhill from there.  But they can’t keep from talking about it.
  • Medicare for All.  The Green New Deal as put forward by Jill Stein includes an Economic Bill of Rights (which gets little coverage on its own) that includes:  “The right to quality health care which will be achieved through a single-payer Medicare-for-All program.”  This has gotten onto the wish list for many of the current would-be contenders (with Pelosi doing her damnedest to sabotage it).

How should Greens react to this?  There is a certain temptation to curse the darkness and gripe that the Democrats Green New Deal falls way short of what is needed.  As Green Party of Florida Co-Chair LeBeau Kpadenou has written:

“Sanders failed to counter the ‘how do you pay for it?’ argument by tackling the bloated billions squandered on the Pentagon.  … Where the Stein campaign pushed explicitly for the Green New Deal, a federal program that would guarantee jobs to all Americans by converting our national infrastructure to 100% renewable energy (and make the Pentagon pay!), Sanders’ ‘Rebuild America Act’ only tinkered around the edges.”

There are similar arguments raised against Medicare for All.  In every case, the issue is power.  The worst people have it and we don’t.  But now is not the time to focus on the shortcomings of its current proponents.

And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin …

Programmatics are highly over-rated, especially at this point in our development.  Yes, the differences between their Green New Deal and ours are significant.  But the fact is that neither version is on the verge of passing into law.  A few years ago, we bemoaned that nobody had heard of the Green New Deal.  Now it has entered the mainstream political dialogue.  One of the greatest strengths of the duopoly’s power is its capacity to determine the terms of debate.  Now they are debating OUR issue, however badly.  Well, what have we been waiting for?

With  the times a-changin’, and people a-movin’, we have to start capturing and shaping the emerging social motion.  Movement is the word.  The media almost by definition only gives us a series of static snapshots of the world.  That methodology obscures the extent that there is accelerating motion.  The left has gone through some tough years, has developed a thick crust of cynicism.  Obama was a disaster for the left, culminating in the thousands who found themselves heroically marching in defense of Goddamn Jeff Sessions because he had been fired by Donald Trump.  How low can you go?  Evidence of new motion?  We’re seeing it in the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the cluster of more liberal members of Congress.  We’re seeing it in how the terms of dialogue are shifting, as mentioned above.

Yeah, we can pooh-pooh Cortez all we want.  But Wall Street (2020 freakout) isn’t so tranquil.

“[T]hey are getting panicked about the prospect of an ultraliberal Democratic nominee bent on raising taxes and slapping regulations on their firms … a kind of nervous paralysis of executives … pining for a centrist nominee … from a party veering sharply to the left.”

It would help to understand society in terms of superstructure and base.  Political parties, elected officials and our traditional institutions are superstructure.  They rest atop society.


And people are in motion, while interacting with the superstructure.  As I have written:

“A dry gulch in the desert can turn from arid rock and sand into a flash flood in minutes, it being the natural path the raging waters flow into before they overflow their banks.  So in times of social movement, the Democratic Party is the “natural” path that social movements first take.  The task of the Green Party is not the futile one of trying to hold back the waters, but rather the task of redirecting them as they overrun the banks that Corporate Power has set up to contain them.”

So of course they steal our Green New Deal.  Of course their proposals are a mere shadow of what humanity needs.  But we cannot afford to act like hapless spectators cursing the darkness.

And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone …

Regime change — U.S.-style.

Things are moving around Foreign Policy, with Syria and Venezuela the current flashpoints.  Glenn Greenwald writes in the January 11 Intercept how the Democrats have now become the party of war:

“[N]ew polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal.  … Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26% support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59% oppose it.  Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdrawal by 76% to 14%.”

Warmongering by Republicans under George Bush was bad.  Opposing it got the Democrats back into power in 2008.  Then anything done by Obama became the good.  Now, anything done by Trump is most worstest of all.  RussiaGate has poisoned the body politic.  The Democrats cheer openly for war-mongering.  On Afghanistan, Greenwald continues:

“Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81% to 11%; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37% in favor and 47% opposed.”

Today more “chickens are coming home to roost” in Venezuela.

In a January 25, 2019 Ipsos poll, only “one-fifth [of the American people] support the U.S.  using military force to remove [Venezuelan President] Maduro from power and support Guaidó (20%).”  Yet Nancy Pelosi joins the anti-Maduro frenzy and writes, “America stands by the people of Venezuela as they rise up against authoritarian rule and demand respect for human rights and democracy.”  The Latin American Herald Tribune reports, “US Senate Introduces New Sanctions on Venezuela.  U.S.  Senators Cardin, Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Venezuelan People.”

Ostensible liberals such as Bernie Sanders claim to oppose actual direct U.S. military intervention, but are condemning the Maduro government in language that openly supports Trump’s rationale for regime change.

Independents are standing strong.  The Green Party’s Jill Stein writes:

“What do the people of Venezuela want?  78% oppose international intervention to remove Maduro; 81% oppose US economic sanctions; 86% oppose international military intervention; 84% support Mexico and Uruguay’s call for peace talks.  Please share if you stand with the people of Venezuela!”

The Green Party International Committee states that the GPUS:

“… stands in opposition to the regime-change politics of the United States directed at the people of Venezuela and expresses condemnation of the recent blows to the Venezuelan economy in the form of the United States’ handing over banking access and funds to the opposition led by Juan Guaidó and UK’s blocking of access to gold belonging to Venezuela.  … The Green Party of the US.  opposes the war making history of this country in the Americas, Middle East and all around the world.”

There are some progressive voices in Congress speaking out as well.  Three members of Congress, California Rep. Ro Khanna, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are holding the line.  Notably, the Democratic Socialists of America, which counts U.S.  Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as members, call the decision to recognize Guaidó a “U.S.-backed coup.”

Tulsi Gabbard is now running for president of the United States.  Independents have to look at her through two different pairs of glasses.  First there is Tulsi Gabbard the politician.  She is a Democrat.  To be any kind of contender, she has to raise money.  No getting around it.  She needs campaign staff.  She will be hiring Democratic Party professionals.  Those “professionals” are in the business of cutting corners to maximize votes.  Deals get made.  If you are running in the Democratic primaries, deals HAVE to get made.  They are not in the business of building independent grassroots organization.

The Independent movement, including the Green Party, does not have sufficient depth of trained professionals to compete on their terms.  “Growing our own” is going to take time.  We have to determine our own terms.  We have to re-define winning.

That second pair of glasses has to be focused on the volunteers and supporters put in motion by the presidential hoopla.  We have hard and bitter experience with Democratic campaigns.  Some of us have done our damnedest to build something independent within the Democratic Party and have been rammed headfirst into brick walls.

In Chess, pawns are not even considered “pieces.” They are “just” pawns.

Where will those progressive volunteers go when they hit this year’s brick wall?  In 2016, they were expendable pawns.  “Our Revolution” was never that.  Just another Dem fundraising operation.  Most of them joined Bernie and lined up behind Hillary.  Whether willingly or not, they ended up enlisted in the Beltway’s “New Cold War.”  We can’t let that happen this time around.  We have to have an independent campaign in place.

Come gather ’round people wherever you roam …

The Samoan-American Gabbard’s gained her earlier claim to progressive fame when in February 2016 she resigned as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to openly endorse Bernie Sanders for president.  She gave the nominating speech that put his name forward at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  She has been moving left.

On February 2nd, 2019, Gabbard announced her candidacy for president, running as a Democrat in the Democratic primaries.  .  It is worth quoting her at length.  Addressing the American people from Hawai’I, she noted her military background, and lays it on thick about her strong principles of service:

“I’m a Major in the Army National Guard, where I’ve served for the last 15 years.  I enlisted nearly 15 years ago in the Army National Guard, and deployed twice to the Middle East.  … We serve as one — Indivisible and unbreakable, united by  this bond of  love for  each other and love for our country.  It is this principle of putting service above self, that is at the heart of every soldier, every service member.  And it is in this spirit that today I announce my candidacy.”

But she breaks ranks with the powers that be who are bringing ruin to the peoples of the world:

“Hatred and divisiveness have cast a dark shadow across our country.  We are being torn apart by powerful, self-serving politicians and greedy corporations, inciting hatred, fear, and conflict between us because of the color of our skin, the way we worship, or our political party.  This corruption of spirit driven by greed and selfishness is eroding the very fabric of our society …  and democracy itself.”

Then Tulsi goes on a roll:

“We must stand up, and fight for the soul of our country.  Stand up against bought and paid-for politicians, kowtowing to special interests, selling their votes to the highest bidder.

“We must stand up against big pharma and insurance companies who extort those who are sick, who put their profits above the health of our people.  We must fight to ensure that every American gets the quality healthcare they need, through Medicare for All.

Stand up against big Wall Street banks who gamble with our money and our future.

Stand up against overreaching intel agencies and big tech companies who take away our civil liberties and freedoms in the name of national security and corporate greed.

Stand up against those who pollute our land, our water, and our oceans.

We must stand up against corporate private prisons profiting off the backs of those caught up in a broken criminal justice system.  A system that puts people in prison for smoking marijuana while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, responsible for opioid-related deaths of thousands, to walk away scot-free and coffers full.  This so-called criminal justice system which favors the rich and powerful and punishes the poor CANNOT stand.

Stand up against those who perpetuate bigotry, hatred and violence against our brothers and sisters.

Stand against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage and new places for people to die.  Wasting trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives, undermining our economy and security, and destroying our middle class.  Trump campaigned against regime change wars when he ran for President, but now bows to the wishes of the neocons around him, clamoring for the regime change wars he claimed to oppose, this time in Venezuela and Iran.

We must stand united and stand strong against those in both parties who never tire of war —  neolibs and neocons dragging us from one regime change war to the next, exacerbating the New Cold War, and pushing us to the brink of a nuclear war.  We deserve better.  Our country deserves better.

She talks of peace:

“But as powerful politicians beat the drums of war and ratchet up tensions between the United States and nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China, the front lines have come to our doorstep, as we sit on the precipice of nuclear war. …

“Throughout the 20th century, during a Cold War with the Soviet Union, we were told we had no choice but to live with the fear that at any moment, we could be annihilated by nuclear war. …

“But our leaders failed us.  In fact, today, we face greater risk of nuclear catastrophe than ever before in history.

“This situation is unacceptable.

“As your commander-in-chief, I will work to end the New Cold War, and lead us away from the abyss of a nuclear war that could destroy our world in mere minutes.  I will end the regime change wars that have taken far too many lives, cost trillions of dollars, and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“Thank you—mahalo and aloha!”

Of particular note is that she twice referenced standing up against the “politicians from both parties.”  Nor does she at any point mention the Democratic Party, though that is whose primary she is running in.

And let me repeat:

“I will work to end the New Cold War!”

That sets her apart from the rest of the pack.  The Green New Deal and Medicare for All are popular with the American people, if not the Democratic establishment.  But resisting the New Cold War — like her much-maligned meeting with Assad seeking peace in Syria — takes a special kind of courage.

Tulsi is already coming under attack as a “tool of Vladimir Putin.”  So the February 6, 2019 Black Agenda Report writes:

“The NBC report, published Saturday, said that analysis shows ‘the main English-language news sites employed by Russia in its 2016 election meddling shows Rep.  Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii …  has become a favorite of the sites Moscow used when it interfered in 2016.  Since Gabbard announced her intention to run on January 11, there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government.’  The pro-Russia outlets listed include RT, Sputnik News, and Russia Insider.

“The report also said that experts who track Kremlin-linked websites and social-media accounts found evidence of ‘what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard.”

Gabbard has also distinguished herself from the erstwhile liberals in Congress, especially those like Bernie Sanders who style themselves as progressives — because they oppose direct military intervention — yet denounce Venezuela’s Maduro and his supporters (“dictator,” “starving his people,” etc.) with the same tearful rhetoric as John Bolton, whose hand is making like Doctor Strangelove towards the trigger.

For further clarity, the January 29, 2019 Washington Free Beacon reports asking Gabbard’s campaign if she was “expressing opposition to the United States’ recognition of Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president, or if she was warning against further sanctions or some form of military intervention in Venezuela by the United States.”

Her response was unequivocal:  “All of the above.”

He that gets hurt will be he who has stalled.

Ralph Nader.

Cries of “Spoiler!” are going to ring out louder than ever this presidential season, not only against explicit independents, but against anyone who would disturb the “peace of the graveyard.”  In that vein, deranged Hillary fans are still hurling “spoiler” charges against Sanders for her 2016 debacle.  Even a relative moderate like Elizabeth Warren — outrageously calling for minimal regulation of Wall Street to afford protection for American consumers — is getting lumped in with the Spoiler crowd.  Sherrod Brown?  Spoiler!  Bernie?  Spoiler!  Spoiler!  Spoiler!

If one digs even the least bit deeper, what the charge comes down to in its myriad forms is that Spoiler charges are hurled against anyone who would disrupt the unity of the Democratic Party, a party that is already divided.  But there is a funny thing about those Spoiler charges.  They are hurled almost exclusively against those who would challenge the Democratic Party’s “malefactors of great power,” and never against those malefactors themselves.  The ones who have actually gotten into this mess.

Cracks are spidering their way all through the party already.  So Ilhan Omar is hammered by the party leadership for mentioning that the Zionist lobby wields inordinate power over American foreign policy.  Omar humbly apologizes.  Then she adds, “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”  A Democrat lumping AIPAC with the NRA?  I call that doubling down.

Medicare for All.  Green New Deal.  They are not being hammered into oblivion.  They are acknowledged to be wildly popular.

And Tulsi Gabbard?  Not only is she a Spoiler.  She is tagged as an agent of Vladimir Putin.  Can “Agent of Satan” charges be next?

Though Gabbard is running in the Democratic primaries, her campaign has many of the characteristics of an independent campaign.  And especially her forthright statement, “As your commander-in-chief, I will work to end the New Cold War, and lead us away from the abyss of a nuclear war!”  And among the malefactors we must “stand up against” are the “powerful politicians from both parties.”

A call for Fighters.

It appears that Gabbard is going to play out the Democratic primary game to its end.  I salute her courage for taking her message as far as she already has.  But it is not realistic to expect her, in doing so, to not work within the existing Democratic Party structure of donors, endorsers and consultants.  So the more interesting question is, “Where are her followers going to go?” after that game is over.  Will they be able to speak in their own voice?  Will the pawns feel their power and seize the board?

Operating as a structured group, pawns can take down rooks, knights, bishops, even Kings and Queens.

I’m asking.  Gabbard herself is a proven fighter.  Her people are likewise, and that is what the Green Party needs.

There is this quasi-religious notion that circulates in independent circles, that if we just played it safe (as though an independent could play it safe), that would unlock the path to power.  Thus we must somehow twist and turn to try to shed the Spoiler label, and the American people will flock to our banner.  The problem with that, for starters, is that we are Spoilers by our very existence.

We can try to hide in the corner and say that we don’t cost the Democrats elections.  But we plan to grow, and grow big.  History demands it.  And when we become more successful, more powerful, there will come a time when we do cost the Democrats some elections.  In fact, lots of elections.

By running away from the Spoiler charge, we plant a dagger aimed at our own heart.  By running away from the Spoiler charge, we in fact create an incentive for NOT growing, whether conscious or not.  Whether we wish this or not, we will be in a fight against the most vicious attacks we have faced to date.  They have already begun.  To face that, we need fighters.

The good news is that being a party of fighters will attract those ready to fight.  That’s what it will take to Spoil the game of the two parties who are leading us to austerity, climate apocalypse, and war.

— jeff roby
January 18, 2019

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