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berniesque middle path

Addendum: Professor Noam Chomsky's endorsement e-mail:

From: Noam Chomsky <...>
Date: Sat, Mar 30, 2019 at 12:51 AM
Subject: Re: For Prof. Chomsky: My "Berniesque" op-ed on Healthy Distance Coexistence
To: Moji Agha <moji.agha@gmail.com>

Moji,

I am glad to know you’re doing this [work to support Bernie's 2020 Presidential Campaign]. It seems to me that this uneasy "coexistence" is the best option right now [among all of the less-than-satisfactory realistically available choices].

Noam

As human history has always witnessed, actual transformations come out of necessity, often dire, not out of choice, of desire, or of preference. Thus, the often tense (if not antagonistic) philosophical, socio-economic, cultural-historical, and of course political relationship (or rivalry) between "liberal democracy" and "social democracy" has been a very familiar story to any caring observer, in most (if not all) modern nation states.

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In the primary presidential contests of 2016, the sabotaging by the "establishment" Democratic Party in the U.S. (centrist liberal democracy), of Bernie Sanders' presidential prospects (social democracy) is a clear recent example of this fraught political competition--which should be collaborative rather than confrontational, for the reasons stated herein.

Thus, being a sober social democratic Bernie supporter, in the summer of 2017 I wrote a 3-part analytical essay (see here, below my mini-bio) suggesting a "healthy distance coexistence basic strategy" for the then nascent attempt at forming an American "People's Party," a still ongoing worthy (but very uphill) struggle that is now called: The Movement for a People's Party" .

Needless to say, I am still an Iranian-American supporter of the again presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (the "Mossadegh of America"), who is again a strong contender to (hopefully) become President in 2020. And I am writing this article (which, in a sense, is a Spring of 2019 follow-up to the above-linked Summer of 2017 essay) suggesting the same "basic strategy...of healthy distance coexistence" (an astute, but not morally compromised, "Berniesque" kind of a middle path), now being presented in a different context; namely, concerning his eventual decision regarding a vice-presidential running mate in the 2020 general elections--and per below, I agree with other caring observers that Bernie should make this pick (and make it public) soon.

And as a disclaimer, this essay is a summary of my personal thoughts and reflections regarding the matters expressed herein, only representing where I stand at this crisis moment in the history of our country, and of our deeply distressed Grandmother Earth.

Berniesque Middle Path

A Real Three-Party System?

Borrowing from the earlier essay, let me say that in my opinion a much better American political system (compared to the dysfunctional mess we currently have) would be a real three-party system, as such:

  • A viable and effective social democratic party, representing the progressive left; and whenever such a strong third party becomes reality, it would bring about an enormous transformation to the current situation--along with some familiar challenges;
  • More or less the present Democratic Party, representing liberal (presently neo-liberal) democracy, in the center of the political spectrum; and,
  • More or less the present Republican Party, representing predatory economic and militaristic right--all the way to even more racist/fascist far-right.

The reality is that in 2016 Bernie’s awakening social democratic campaign/movement could not match the combined assault by the formidable political forces that opposed it ruthlessly, from both the basically fascist right (Donald Trump/Republican Party) and the neoliberal right-leaning corporate-dominant “liberal democratic” center (Hillary Clinton/Democratic Party).

And considered from a larger context, the path to the proper development of any truly competitive American third party, especially a “social democratic” one, has been vociferously blocked (effectively marginalizing the Green Party, for example), in significant part by the “consensually manufactured” social engineering that has been conducted by the formidable politico-economic forces within the “party of money” duopoly, successfully using (again in part) cold-war fear-mongering, i.e., the good old (and still on-going) “red scare” — now also manifesting as purposefully fomented war-mongering Islamophobia.

Given the above, the proven historical fact is that the wise behavior (in my opinion) so far, of Bernie and his 2020 presidential campaign has been mindful of the harsh current political realities that dictate a certain pragmatism, but one that does not sacrifice idealism or morality.

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A Healthy Distance Coexistence "Berniesque" Middle Path

The herein outlined "healthy distance coexistence" middle path is a "Berniesque" reflection of this pragmatic, yet still moral idealism, that aims to be responsive to the needs of both the American political “center” as well as the “left.” And especially in the current bi-polar atmosphere, I believe it is wise of "Uncle Bernie" to avoid a structural challenge to the Democratic Party. Why?

Because, in fact, there is a real need for a “centrist” political party in the current “patriotic America,” given the inevitable reality that we social democrats may detest but cannot ignore or deny: Namely, the horrific fact that huge "amoral" corporations, banks, "military industrial complex," etc. are here, are extremely powerful, and certainly are determined to continue exerting their mostly destructive predatory influence, whether we like it or not.

Thus, the truly democratic (i.e., respectful of diversity, structural and communal) wisely pragmatic nature of Bernie and his progressive people-dominated social democratic 2020 presidential campaign, necessitates that we "Bernie-crats" recognize and be respectful of the foundational democratic right of that part of the American polity that chooses the “center” (i.e., corporate-dominated “liberal” — mostly neo-liberal — “democracy”) even if we have to hold our collective nose to stand the "moral" stench.

In other words, this (below-exampled) somewhat difficult "coexistence" of our social democratic idealism with liberal democratic sober (but still moral) pragmatism would in fact help Bernie's 2020 campaign keep a “healthy distance” (i.e., not blurring our basic distinctions) from the centrist neo-liberal so-called “democracy” of the existing Democratic Party.

Hence, this “live and let live” mindfulness (i.e., authentic civility-minded culture of actual mindful practice) would have the advantage of preserving the possibility of building “cross-issue” collaborations, making our sober social democratic approach more harmonious with the (at times unpleasant) necessities of the nuanced and pragmatic (but not compromised) "Berniesque" reality in which we live politically.

And as "Uncle Bernie" has often reminded us, while the current era (with the dark “Tumpian” air we have to presently breathe) has had many many cruel awakening moments, such awakenings can (if “we the people” struggle valiantly) potentially transform our era's tarnished copper of cruelty, of carnage, of calamity, into the shining gold of glory; the glory of justice, of peace, of the existential necessity of cherishing our deeply wounded Grandmother Earth.

Imagine who would have likely become President in 2016, if the Wall Street and neocon elements in the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign (and in the Democratic Party) would not have exerted such a devastatingly nefarious “right-leaning” influence--in that bitter contest.

An additional advantage of this "healthy distance coexistence" strategy is the following: Some of the “right-leaning” (including the neo-conservative) corporate constituencies that in the past three to four decades have persistently pushed the Democratic Party away from its traditional center–and increasingly toward the right–when faced with this nuanced "middle path" strategy would have no choice but to leave the "center" alone, and they would migrate to the Republican Party on the ���pure” (increasingly fascist) right. And I believe this would be quite a favorable political evolution, in favor of stabilizing Bernie's long-term social democratic vision.

And here is a painful reminder as to why such is the case: Just imagine who would have likely become President in 2016, if the Wall Street and neocon elements in the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign (and in the Democratic Party) would not have exerted such a devastatingly nefarious “right-leaning” influence--in that bitter contest.

Besides the above, additional advantages of this "Berniesque" strategy of “healthy distance coexistence” would be the following:

  • For Bernie's 2020 campaign not to be seen or treated (hopefully) as a threatening rival or foe to the centrist “Democratic” Party;
  • Thus, the preservation and enhancement of the capacity of President Bernie Sanders to build reliable collaborative issue (and cross issue) intersectional coalitions with the agreeable segments of the Democratic Party polity (for example on health care as a human right, climate change, and resisting systemic militarism) with the effect of isolating, collaboratively, the dangerous forces to the right of us all;
  • And again, why the sustained building (and preservation) of such a social and liberal democratic "Berniesque" collaboration is critically important? Because the “monster” on the (basically fascist) right is mighty powerful and filthy rich, besides being immoral/amoral.

A Concrete (Upcoming) Real World Example: Bernie's Vice-Presidential Choice

And finally, here (as a brief example) is how this "healthy distance coexistence” Berniesque middle path strategy could play out (in a win-win manner) in our often unpleasant real world, in which our favorite choice for President in 2020, the true American social democrat Bernie Sanders lives and functions; and I believe the below-summarized collaborative tactic would likely be appealing to him, in part because this kind of pragmatism is a regular feature of mature social democratic parties in Europe--and elsewhere.

For the sake of brevity, rather than repeating the customary do's and not do's of picking a vice-presidential running mate, I will focus on who I believe would make the best VP for Bernie in 2020--and again I will repeat (without going into why) my humble belief that he should make this pick (and make it very, and proudly, public) soon.

In this early Spring of 2019, from among the potentially available QUALIFIED present choices, I believe Senator Kamala Harris would be the best "healthy distance coexistence" VP pick for Bernie. Here is why:

  • She is a middle-aged (not young or old) woman (not man) of color (not white);
  • Due to her experience, she is qualified to become President, if necessary;
  • And finally, given that she is somewhat progressive, she satisfies our crucial above-outlined "healthy distance" requirement; while simultaneously, as an "establishment" Democrat, Vice-President (to be) Kamala Harris would fulfill the "coexistence" with the "center" (unpleasant, but morally pragmatic) need of this middle path Berniesque strategy.

Last words: GO UNCLE BERNIE!

Moji Agha