Across the Divide

  • 03/17/2016
  • Reporters Desk

The 2016 Presidential Race: A Choice of Democratic Socialism vs. Corporate Capitalism

By James Preston Allen, Publisher

The 2016 race for president seems to be spinning out in ever more curious and historical proportions without there being clear winners on either the Democratic or Republican sides.

Clearly the Trumpers’ revolt on the conservative side is causing real teeth-gnashing amongst the Republican Party leadership. But even with his collection of primary “wins”, he still hasn’t garnered more than half the delegates he needs to win at the convention.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton, the odds-on-presumptive candidate, is in the same position of not having broken the halfway mark to the goal of 2,383 delegates. What this means is that the downstream primaries of California and New York, where the bulk of voters reside, may still hold sway in both parties late in the season. That means that both the insurgent campaigns of Bernie Sanders and that of Ted Cruz could win enough votes to force a brokered convention in the two parties.

Upsetting as this disruption is for the party elites and the Washington establishment, it does make for an entertaining political process that does have historical precedent and is embedded in the DNA of American political culture.

Think about the very birth of the Republican Party and the demise of its conservative predecessor the Whig Party—founded in 1833 and dissolved in 1854. Political parties rise and fall based upon the politics of the day, but the democratic process continues. The only question is whether the Republican Party can survive Donald Trump’s candidacy?

The fear of his nomination has to do with whether the republic could endure his presidency. This, I believe, would be America “making a great mistake.” Trump’s use of widespread fear mongering and race baiting would so drastically divide this nation, that his elevation to the Oval Office would make the current dysfunction in Congress appear slight by comparison. And, he wouldn’t even have the full backing of the Republican Party that nominated him. The July convention in Ohio should really be something to witness.

What is really curious is how the Sanders campaign is serving as the counterpoint to Trump’s. It is a political uprising of the like we haven’t seen since presidential races of Sens. Eugene McCarthy in 1968 or George McGovern in 1972.

The Sanders revolt is addressing the very core issues of inequality to which Trump supporters are reacting. The difference is that Sanders’ supporters are more educated and that Sanders’ attacks are specifically directed at the Wall Street banks, the big pharmaceutical corporations and the resulting decline of the American middle class.

Sanders does this without demonizing Mexican immigrants and everybody else Trump has accused of making this nation less than great.

Sadly, this is not the first time this country has faced off with its own nativist form of fascism. The American author Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) wrote It Can’t Happen Here in 1935, a novel about the election of a fascist to the American presidency. This was a controversial book at the time of its printing and was a cautionary tale in light of what was rising up in Germany and Italy at the time. It was a thinly veiled critique of American politics of the Depression era. Its hould be used today by history and English professors to explain Trump’s rise as a populist.

Sanders’ win in Michigan comes as no surprise. His fortunes in Wisconsin on April 5 could go the same way considering the strong Robert LaFollette progressive tradition there.

However, if the California primary still holds sway come June 7, one might want to revisit the campaign of the other Sinclair—Upton Sinclair, whose End Poverty In California campaign set the historical precedent in 1934. Like Sanders, Sinclair was also a socialist turned Democrat and he ran on a platform that is almost uncanny in similarity to this one.

The battle lines have been drawn. The best contest would be one that gives the American people the choice of Democratic Socialism or national Corporate Capitalism.

I fear that Clinton, with all of her baggage, will pull off the Democratic nomination and take the middle path, leaving loyal Republicans with the choice of voting for their party and a candidate who would do more harm than good or voting for the one person (Clinton) they’d rather indict in lieu of not voting at all.

In the end the battle between Sanders and Trump would most clearly define the issues and the sides of the current political debate. That would be one debate worth watching.

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