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Sen. Bernard Sanders, who’s running to Hillary Clinton’s left for the Democratic presidential nomination, has become a target for his outspoken challenge to the status quo. (Associated Press)

A Confederacy of Dunces: The Democratic Establishment’s Assault on Sanders Begins

John Atcheson

"When a true genius appears in your world, you may know him by this sign; that all the dunces are against him in a confederacy." 
—Jonathon Swift

Well, it’s started.  You knew it would.  The Democratic establishment is going into attack mode as their anointed one  – Hillary Clinton – is in danger of losing.

Take a look at some of the assaults that have been launched within the last five days:

  • Sandy Goodman, a former producer at NBC Nightly News, published a piece on the Huffington Post, entitled, Voting for Sanders is Voting Republican. The fact that Bernie does better than Hillary against Republicans is an inconvenient fact Goodman ignores in this ludicrous hit piece;
  • Paul Krugman’s column last Friday suggested that progressives voting for Sanders weren’t being “adults” and had no idea how change occurred – in Krugman’s world, change doesn’t come from the people, apparently. It comes from party apparatchiks working with the plutocracy;
  • Thomas Friedman, another New York Times columnist, essentially called Sanders a communist – something he knows isn’t true, but it’s a great scare tactic;
  • President Obama said Bernie Sanders' ideas haven’t yet been tested and went on to heap praise on Hillary.  It wasn’t an endorsement, but it came mighty close.

All of these are coming from credentialed liberals who have been staunch supporters of the Democratic Party.  And therein lies the problem. The Democratic Party’s interests are no longer aligned with the people’s interests and they haven’t been for a long time.  

And this comes after Debbie Wassermann Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, set up the modern era’s first stealth debate program, designed to guarantee a coronation for Mrs. Clinton and keep real progressives like Sanders and O’Malley under wraps.

But it’s not just the press and the Party.  Civil institutions, environmental groups, and unions that should be with the people – and therefore with Sanders – are lining up to back Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s traditional PAC candidate. 

The bottom line is, the institutions that used to represent the people no longer derive their power from the people, so they are threatened by Sanders, because he does. 

Make no mistake – this is about power

After decades, a right-wing cabal of the uber-wealthy, in conjunction with corporations, has literally seized control of government.

Not only have they rolled back controls on Wall Street, turned elections into a bidding war in which politicians are purchased like livestock, and pared government funds down to the point where it can no longer function; they’ve also set up the rules so that corporations are our largest recipients of welfare and the 1% walks away with all the spoils. Incredibly, they’ve convinced people it’s good for them.

And Democrats have been co-authors of the problem. Even when poll after poll showed that the majority of American people are left of center on an issue-by-issue basis, Democrats inched to the center and then to the right of center … where, until a few months ago, is where you’d find Hillary, by the way.  

Bottom line: until Sanders, the terms of the national debate were dictated by the Plutocracy, and there was no way to pierce the  interlocking web of money, media, and myth the Oligarchs constructed.  Oh, there were voices – but they were largely consigned to the fringes of society, with little or no chance of breaking through to reach the masses of people who’ve been duped, fleeced, and fooled into believing that government is inevitably inept, taxes are a curse, and an uber-free market is our salvation.

Some of the players in media are a part of this process; some are merely so immersed in the system they’ve forgotten that it wasn’t always this way.  But either way …

The Revolution has not been televised—but the counterattack will be.  

Up until now, the mainstream media has all but ignored Sanders, despite the record crowds, the good poll numbers, and the record-breaking contributions from everyday Americans. 

But of course, the better he does with the people, the more he threatens their power base—which is their relationship with corporations and the uber-rich and the PACs they fund.  Now that Sanders has become a real threat to their dominance, brace yourself for the well-financed counter attack that’s coming soon to a media outlet near you.

It will be nasty. It will be swift. It will be merciless.

They will use fear. They will use bigotry. They will use greed. And – oh, yes – they will use money. Lots of money.

The most dangerous of all, though, may be those who are so inured to the system, they can’t see the prospect of real change – of a real, and much needed, revolution.

In Sanders we have a leader who – against all odds – has broken through the rigged system, reached out to us, and given voice to the 99% who’ve been left behind.  

If we choose choose courage over fear. We must choose tolerance over jingoism, hate and bigotry. We must hold a belief in our own industry, resourcefulness and ability over the siren song of magic markets and easy money. If we stand together, then we can put this evil genie back in its bottle and we can take back our country and make government work again – for all of us.

That is the source of our power.  And it is the only power that can take on the establishment confederacy that is now gathering against us.


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

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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