Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

'The reason for Sanders’ already surprising success in this race,' writes Gallagher, 'is that he has understood this better than the other candidates and profoundly and effectively raises the question of whether an economic oligarchy should be allowed ever increasing control over an ever smaller world.' (Photo: Common Dreams / CC BY 3.0)

'The reason for Sanders’ already surprising success in this race,' writes Gallagher, 'is that he has understood this better than the other candidates and profoundly and effectively raises the question of whether an economic oligarchy should be allowed ever-increasing control over an ever-smaller world.' (Photo: Common Dreams / CC BY 3.0)

What's Barney Frank Got Against Primaries?

Tom Gallagher

Could you imagine a liberal Democrat in 2015 arguing that you shouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the presidential primaries because, although she has been a trailblazer in her day, her “very unwillingness to be confined by existing voter attitudes, as part of a long-term strategy to change them, is both a very valuable contribution to the democratic dialogue and an obvious bar to winning support from the majority of these very voters in the near term”?  No, of course you can’t.  And that’s a good thing!  That is, however, precisely what former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank writes is the reason you shouldn’t vote for Bernie Sanders.  And that’s not a good thing.  Now, I ain’t saying whether Frank is right or whether he’s wrong about how many people will ultimately support Sanders.  But that’s actually what we have primaries to sort out.

Frank writes a good article, as you might expect.  And this one in Politico is worth reading just for his take on the current Republican presidential array.  But the point, as usual for him, is not primarily to entertain.  Support Sanders, he warns, and you’re doing the Republicans’ work, because “they believe boosting Sanders’ candidacy is their only way to prevent Clinton emerging as the nominee with broad support early in the process, strengthening her position in November.” 

The straw man that Frank creates to make the pro-Sanders argument thinks “that Clinton will somehow benefit from having to spend most of her time and campaign funds between now and next summer proving her ideological purity in an intraparty fight, like Mitt Romney in 2012.”  Again, I can’t say how a prolonged campaign of Clinton “proving her ideological purity” would go, but I do know, as does Frank, that Sanders is currently tapping a deep reservoir of discontent about the economic direction of this country.  A lot of people are making it clear that they want a new flavor in this debate, and they deserve it.

Frank’s cautious instincts are understandable enough.  Political campaigns can get messy.  Two candidates compete, bad feelings can ensue.  Certainly, we have to concede that politics do not come without risk and things don’t always work out like we hope they will.  Yet some campaigns are savvier than others.  Sanders, for one, has been clear from the start that, in regard to Clinton, it is his intent to debate and not demean.  And as for taking the debate right to the Republicans as soon as possible, it is Sanders who has made the innovative proposal of mixed Democratic-Republican debates, so that he, and presumably Clinton as well, could do just that.

An unquestionable sense of urgency underlies Frank’s hope that we can just “accept the legitimacy of Clinton’s liberal-progressive credentials.”  Think of where a Republican president might go, he warns us, “on health care, immigration, financial regulation, reducing income inequality, completing the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, protecting women’s autonomy in choices about reproduction.”

And yet, as our global questions become ever clearer, every political generation probably feels the urgency of what is at stake in our presidential debate more keenly than the one before. The reason for Sanders’s already surprising success in this race is that he has understood this better than the other candidates and profoundly and effectively raises the question of whether an economic oligarchy should be allowed ever-increasing control over an ever-smaller world.

Really, rather than questioning the wisdom of Sanders raising this challenge, might we not better ask if his conclusions are yet drastic enough?  With a Democratic administration that has bombed seven foreign nations and continued the longest-running war in the nation’s history, in Afghanistan, faced with a Republican opposition that considers this not bellicose enough, shouldn’t we wonder whether the Sanders campaign, and the nation, might not also benefit from a profound challenge to the destructive and delusional foreign policy consensus that currently befogs Washington?

When people are looking for real answers, anyone trying to provide them should be encouraged, not discouraged. People are showing up at those Sanders rallies because they want more debate, not less.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Tom Gallagher

Tom Gallagher

Tom Gallagher is a former Massachusetts State Representative and the author of 'The Primary Route: How the 99% Take On the Military Industrial Complex.' He lives in San Francisco.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Like It Never Happened': Federal Judge Tosses Trump Attack on Clean Water Rule

Denying a Biden administration request to temporarily retain the rule, the judge reestablished "the careful balance of state and federal power to protect clean water that Congress intended when it wrote the Clean Water Act."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo