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Support populist unity

For those who missed his state of the union address, our commander in chief, wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross, applauded our military, advocated prayer in schools and supported the privatization of all things on earth.

His hypocrisy in honoring a 100-year-old veteran who had fought against the very ideology Trump represents was stunning. Nancy Pelosi, like the displeased English teacher we all hated, literally ripped up Trump’s fascist manifesto, making for mediocre theater that vied with Gov. Whitmer’s subdued, beauty-contestant-like retort for uninspired Democratic Party response. They haven’t gotten the memo: The house is on fire.

Establishment Democrats (liberal corporatists) have become immured in a deregulated, post-Reagan, transactional world in which everything has a price. In her recent column, Froma Harrop, reliable mouthpiece for the establishment, defended billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s blatant attempt to purchase a spot on the debate stage.

According to Harrop, now is not the time for Democrats to address the role of big money in politics. For establishment Democrats, it’s never the time. While they pay lip service to “the commons,” the needs and wants of their elite collective have primacy.

Not unlike Trump’s cabinet of swamp critters, the Democratic establishment embraces the big banks, Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the health insurance industry, the fossil fuel industry, exploitative, laissez-faire capitalism, monopolies and the meritocracy that sustains them. The latter advocates that an individual’s success, often presented in financial terms, is solely based on merit. Ignored in that simple equation is an honest person’s refusal to partake in a corrupt system and that “merit” is all too often based on inherited wealth and class privilege.

Abetting Michael Bloomberg, whose campaign is largely self-funded, the Democratic National Committee announced recently that the criteria for participating in debates no longer includes a requirement for number of individual donors. As Jeff Weaver, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ senior adviser, said, “To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong. That’s the definition of a rigged system.”

Establishment Democrats and their complicit corporate media campaign to convince their low-information followers that party “unity” means supporting the neoliberal agenda; they automatically dismiss the possibility of a populist unity — a unity that Trump successfully exploits. Maintaining the status quo, despite having lost the last election, is still promoted by Democratic elites as a winning strategy but is instead the definition of insanity. The milksop message is, “Don’t ask for too much, you’ll alienate swing-vote independents and Republicans.” The estimated 9 million former Obama voters in the Rust Belt and Midwest who voted for Trump in 2016 might disagree.

Trump’s “honest dishonesty” must be refreshing to his supporters fed up with the underhanded manipulations of Democratic Party elites. Establishment Democrats continue to betray Democratic principles in their repeated attempts to subvert the candidacies of Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

DNC Chair Tom Perez has been working behind the scenes to scuttle the Sanders campaign. (Perez, former Obama labor secretary and vehement Hillary supporter, was drafted by the Obama White House to defeat popular progressive Keith Ellison for the chairmanship of the DNC.)

Backlash from Sanders’ supporters after the super delegate fix in the 2016 convention forced the Democratic Party to eliminate superdelegate votes in 2020, but only on the first ballot. The 700-plus superdelegates, nearly all establishment Dems, will be able to ignore states’ pledged delegates on a second ballot. To make sure that happens, Perez has nominated dozens of right-leaning lobbyists, corporate consultants, think tank board members and former officials from the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and both Clintons to serve on the DNC nominating committee this July — as one observer noted, “foisting a collection of neoliberal and imperialist hacks onto the convention committee to hold back a popular rebellion against the policies of endless war and corporate free trade they have personally presided over.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are openly opposing progressive primary candidates and have adopted rules to blacklist vendors and consultants for candidates who dare to challenge incumbents in the “Democratic” primaries.

We must call out corruption within the Democratic Party wherever and whenever we see it and keep pushing for social, economic and environmental justice for all as we challenge the 30-year, neoliberal drift of the party away from working-class families. Otherwise, some peoples’ votes will continue to be “more equal than others.”

Andy Seles lives in Ashland.