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Calling All Class Traitors

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar endorse Bernie Sanders for president

The working class of everyday people living paycheck-to-paycheck will determine the outcome of this election. The Sanders campaign is organizing an army of one million-plus volunteers to call, text, canvas and inspire millions of new voters over the next many months. When we bring those millions into this movement, we will not only win the primary but dispense of Trump in the general. We will also be poised to fight and win the larger post-election struggle for transformative policy.

While the ground game will win the war, we do need cover from above. The ruling class and its enfranchised Professional Managerial Class courtiers (PMC) continue to pull out every stop to defeat us: from bad-faithindividualist identity attacks, to fictive anti-SandersMSM slander, to landline and older skewing polls that conveniently underestimate the campaign’s strength, as they’re used to downplay its groundswell fundraising and volunteer momentum.

We need PMC traitors to help counter, clarify and amplify this discourse, contribute needed dollars and recruit more PMC turncoats. There are subtleties here. Forty years of neoliberalism has created divisions between have-nots and haves within the PMC itself. While many have slipped through the increasing cracks of underemployment and student debt, many continue to aspire to or benefit from those decreasing opportunities still afforded to the educated cultural elite.

To this second portion of the PMC, who consciously or unconsciously wish to maintain the performative progressive DEM neoliberalism of the last forty years, I will only offer this brief counter. You do not have a candidate who can defeat Trump. Biden’s obviously diminished mental faculties and third quarter fundraising funk speak for themselves. He’s unlikely to win the nomination and can’t beat Trump if he does.

More importantly, Warren, the chosen PMC hero of the moment, is equally fatally flawed. The embarrassing video of Warren lying about her Native American grift will prove lethal versus a deeply bankrolled bully incumbent, who will hammer it home over & over again. Her handling of the story not only reveals the craven hypocrisy in woke liberal deplorable claims, it shows a contempt for struggling working people that amplifies their natural resentment toward one of their own, who appears to have lied and cheated her way to becoming a multi-millionaire. This will not be wished away.

Then there’s the fact of Warren’s performance incompetence. Though she’s been given a free MSM pass during the primary, when challenged, Liz tends to become a dissembling mess. Finally, Warren’s campaign has absolutely failed to attract a working-class coalition that can win. With tone-deaf advertisements that speak to the middle but bizarrely neglect the working class, she’s built a coalition of college educated White folk that simply won’t get it done. Should Warren win the nomination, she will lose decisively and embarrassingly to Trump. Act accordingly.

As for that first portion of the PMC, who remain inclined or even dedicated to winning transformative material change in solidarity with our working-class sisters and brothers, we need to be honest with each other. Warren will never deliver. From her early anti-regulation REPUB days, to her mid-life Third Way DEM transition, to her impotent regulatory gestures via the CFPB & COP, she is and has always been a basic neoliberal.

Warren’s ongoing lies about the fact that she does not support M4A in any meaningful material sense make her an enemy of the movement. Her means-tested “plans for that” are not only insufficient to counter forty years of neoliberal social contract decimation, they cannot catalyze the solidarity necessary to win those feeble reforms in the first place. I have substantiated all of the above in depth here.

Four years of Sanders bully pulpit clarifying discourse, as he catalyzes millions to apply pressure to power, will be materially better than the incremental nonsense any other DEM might get.

Warren’s puerile theory of change is of particular interest:

“I think this is one of the reasons to run on plans because if I get elected on those plans, it gives me the capacity to turn around and say to my colleagues, ‘Hey that’s what I ran on, that’s what the majority of the American people voted for, that’s what they got out and fought for. So, as the Democratic Party, that’s what we got to do.’”— Elizabeth Warren

Read that again. Warren’s “plan” is to show her colleagues her plans. To be fair, she also wants to begin by passing a “corruption package” so she can tell congresspeople, “Hey, this is your job, and you’re not going to have an opportunity to lobby afterward so don’t be looking over the horizon at your next job and adjusting your behavior accordingly.” Of course, she has no plan for passing that plan. Her entire strategy, if you can call it that, is a pathetically naïve appeal to power’s better nature. In the context of the COP & CFPB, as well as Warren’s credulous words, the common wisdom that she is in fact the candidate, who knows best how to work the levers of power, becomes a delusional, dangerous joke.

In stark contrast, we’ve seen Sanders already demonstrate his movement-leveraging tack in the primary. He clarifies the stakes, puts enemies inside and outside of governance on blast, and organizes his volunteers to support worker protests. The zombie pundit and academic set likes to pretend that we live in an eternal present, unshakeable stasis of non-representation, which Sanders couldn’t possibly break. They studiously forget the history of change in this country and beyond, with every pragmatic concern circumscribed by convenient surrenders to power and the ongoing decimation of the social contract. They are, to quote the poet:

Educated fools from uneducated schools — Curtis Mayfield

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Four years of Sanders bully pulpit clarifying discourse, as he catalyzes millions to apply pressure to power, will be materially better than the incremental nonsense any other DEM might get. Liberal-to-left cognoscenti waxing about procedural obstacles to fundamental change miss the damn point. The only way we win fundamental change is if we force power to cede it by making representatives fear for their careers, and institutions fear for their legitimacy. Nobody’s underestimating the necessity or scale of the fight. Sanders and our still-inchoate movement is already striking that fear. Warren absolutely is not and never will.

This should be simple enough for our sisters and brothers in the PMC to grok. Still, when most people we socialize/work with, who will help/hurt our career, our social standing, our kid’s path to college/career, also support Warren… It’s much easier to get on board or at least give her props, rather than commit to the obvious truth that it’s Sanders or disaster.

This unflinching assessment puts us at odds with our enfranchised PMC peers, who see Sanders as a personal affront. On some level, they know he is the only candidate for everyday people, and they fear what their opposition to him says about their values. They need Warren to be an equal “fighter for everyday people” in order to maintain their self-image in the face of opposition to Sanders. Thus recent comical attempts to put Warren’s shattered progressive shell back together again. Without Warren, their humanist veneer crumbles to reveal the banal truth of class self-interest.

Concern trolling procedural excuses aside, they retreat from substantive defense and default to individualist attack. Anyone who dares to confront enfranchised PMC orthodoxy re Sanders vs Warren becomes an unrealistic idealist, a bro, a sexist, a racist, a cult member, a Russian bot, a REPUB opp. I have been accused in person, online and behind my back of every one of these comic book characterizations, with REPUB opp being a personal fave.

While I’m hard headed enough not to give a hoot, these attacks do have real-life social and career consequences for many of us. It does take some measure of bougie courage to betray our enfranchised PMC peers and stand unequivocally with everyday people and Sanders. That imperative only becomes less daunting, when we begin to understand that even the fortunate among us will eventually confront the ravages of neoliberalism… That we are all workers in the end:

“Any renewal of oppositional spirit among the Professional-Managerial Class, or what remains of it, needs to start from an awareness that what has happened to the professional middle class has long since happened to the blue-collar working class. The debt-ridden unemployed and underemployed college graduates, the revenue-starved teachers, the overworked and underpaid service professionals, even the occasional whistle-blowing scientist or engineer — all face the same kind of situation that confronted skilled craft-workers in the early 20th century and all American industrial workers in the late 20th century.” — Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich

Even if we manage to delude ourselves into believing that we as individuals can survive the assault of market globalization, automation and atomization… There’s that tricky matter of the planet and the decade we have to get our biosphere act together. For us in the PMC, there’s no way out, but through. It’s betrayal of our perceived class interests or catastrophe.

We have a once-in-a generation chance to win guaranteed healthcare, free college and trade education, jobs with living wages, student and medical debt forgiveness, and drug war decriminalization, transforming the lives of the most vulnerable by forging solidarity with ALL kinds of people. Or… We can surrender to neoliberal power, which will giddily purge deplorables, performing shibboleths of identity and allyship, as it decimates millions of lives of all identities and renders the biosphere uninhabitable.

We are all neoliberal subjects. We all sin. We all can be redeemed. In the spirit of the season, this is a call for my PMC sisters and brothers to atone, to work with us and Sanders to restore and expand basic human rights, so we can ALL begin to live together on this finite planet.

Time to wake up and win.

GiveVolunteerCall. Clarify the damn discourse.

There is much to do. The hour is late.

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Gratitude once more to Aimee Terese of What’s Left podcast for contributing conceptual and research work.

Jeremy Toback