Primaries in the USA

A comment by Florian Kirner.

The fight for the next US presidency will not be decided until November 2020. But, as is well known, the USA afford a candidate casting of epic proportions. And so the primary elections already three months before the beginning of the primary elections, in January in Iowa, increasingly dominate the media coverage.

This means: the Democratic primary elections are doing this. With the Republicans, there is not much to report in terms of primary elections. For them, incumbent Donald Trump will once again be running for office.

All the more crowded is the field of candidates among the Democrats. The first television debates therefore even had to be divided into two. Ten candidates filled a show, before the field cleared to some extent and it was possible to accommodate the twelve candidates, who then qualified for the debate, in a single format.

Among them are some old acquaintances.

First there is Joe Biden. He was the vice-president under Barack Obama and immediately took the lead in the polls thanks to his nationwide fame and a huge firework of support from the liberal media.

Biden’s main argument is his supposedly superior “eligibility”. He has the best chance of winning against Trump next autumn, say the Biden people about Biden. However, there are considerable doubts about this. A counterargument would be Joe Biden himself. He is notorious for his rhetorical slip-ups, his debates seem erratic and incoherent.

The political life achievement of Joseph Biden from Delaware is, after all, very coherent. This state is a stronghold of the credit card industry. The credit cards of Chase Manhattan Bank and Discover are issued in Delaware, Barclaycard’s US business is stationed here, and the Bank of America and Citi also maintain major credit card operations here. A good half of the US credit card business runs through Delaware, which only accommodates 0.3% of the US population.

And so it was Delaware’s Joe Biden who fought tenaciously for a law change that made it much more difficult for citizens to protect themselves from bankruptcy. Georg W. Bush then implemented Biden’s plan in 2005 – in time to contribute to the bankruptcy of tens of thousands of Americans in the global financial crisis that set in in 2007, after private debt had grown extremely, not least due to credit cards.

Biden was already successful under Bill Clinton with a “Criminal Justice Reform” that expanded the private prison industry and imprisoned black Americans on a massive scale for ridiculous crimes.

Biden is also a safe … bank in foreign policy terms. Not a war he didn’t support. His approval of the Iraq war in 2003 is particularly heavy, because Biden was chairman of the foreign policy committee in the Senate at the time.

Another senator voted against the Iraq war at the time and is currently also struggling for nomination as Democratic presidential candidate. It is Bernie Sanders, who, by the way, is still not a Democrat member, but independent.

Bernie Sanders had already made furore and Hillary Clinton’s life difficult in the last preliminary round. Now he’s back again and his message has remained the same. He calls for a political revolution against the oligarchy of multi-billionaires, health care for all, abolition of tuition fees and an end to corruption in Washington.

However, the framework conditions have changed. Hillary Clinton’s defeat of Trump and the scandalous circumstances surrounding her candidacy have shaken the credibility of the democratic party establishment. At the same time, the USA is experiencing a significant increase in class struggles. A wave of teacher strikes is going through the country. The Walmart, Amazon and Disney workforces have won significant wage increases – with Bernie Sanders’ support in the Senate playing a crucial role.

All in all, the discourse among the Democratic electorate has moved far to the left. This has to do with the increasing class struggles and Bernie Sander’s spectacular attempt four years ago. But also with a whole series of younger people who have challenged the party establishment in the meantime.

Like Alexandria Occasio-Cortez. She worked nine months ago as a waitress in a run-down New York bar, without health insurance and miserably paid. In 2016, however, she entered the world of activism as a volunteer in the Sanders campaign. She then challenged a Congressman on the Clinton machine to primary elections, won and subsequently won the election. She is now the youngest congressman ever to sit in Congress.

Alexandria Occasio-Cortez is a shooting star in political America, equipped with a huge digital reach. She supports Bernie Sanders in the current primaries and announced it just when 78-year-old Sanders was hospitalized after a heart attack and his campaign was in serious trouble.

But this time Sanders also has fierce competition on his left wing. Elisabeth Warren is another progressive senator in the race. Warren has made a name for herself as an advocate of stricter legal controls on Wall Street. The former Harvard professor has built a powerful campaign team. Like Sanders, she has undertaken not to accept donations from so-called Super PACs. These are special legal constructions to lead the millions of corporations into the election campaign.

Warren was only able to raise 24.6 million dollars in the last quarter on the basis of small donors. Before it lay only Sanders, who came up with an incredible 25.3 million. Joe Biden, who is not really doing the right thing with small donations, was far behind at 15.7 million dollars. Since then he has announced a trend reversal and now wants to bet on super PACs again.

In general, Biden’s lead is crumbling slowly, but steadily, while Warren and Sanders alternate in second place in the polls. It is very noticeable that a more progressive wind is blowing in this primary than in 2016.

Bernie Sanders is driving the field ahead with his radical plans. “Medicare for all” is his slogan, which declares access to reasonable health care a human right. Warren has joined in. Biden tries to uphold the unhelpful health reforms under Obama. As far as tuition fees are concerned, Sanders demands a complete cancellation of debts.

Sanders has also presented a comprehensive plan for ecological restructuring of the US economy, which celebrates a fracking party under Donald Trump. Sanders, the star of the youth anyway, demands the legalization of marijuana offensively and wants to have all police entries deleted in this context. He wants to end the application of the espionage law against whistleblowers.

Sanders has also presented a plan to let the workers participate in the company’s ownership. The language of Bernie Sanders is outrageous for the official policy of the USA. He speaks of the “working class” and “workers power”. He demands a mass movement from below to break the power of the oligarchs. Striking workers are the VIPs of his movement.

Elisabeth Warren is also a fighter. She gives the impression of actually being like Bernie Sanders, only a few years younger and female. However, she also recently met with Hillary Clinton, who was already holding her back in 2016. Many believe that Bernie Sanders could have won the primary if Warren had publicly declared himself for him before the Massachusetts election, which then went close to Clinton.

Warren is now a thoroughly credible representative of an anti-monopolistic policy. Her plans include a fairer tax policy, better consumer protection and a move away from neo-liberal trade policy. But she also says she is a capitalist to the bones and behind the scenes she signifies to the democratic party establishment that it has nothing to fear because she is not planning a hostile takeover of the party.

Sanders, on the other hand, says bluntly that he is a socialist, planing to take over the Democrats and transform them into a party of the working class.

In addition, there is foreign policy. Warren has not yet attracted attention for his critical attitude to the USA’s eternal war course. Even the last three exorbitantly inflated military budgets of the Trump government have received Warren’s approval as a senator. There are no signs that she would pursue a peace policy agenda.

Sanders has rejected the Pentagon budget three times under Trump. He castigates the military-industrial complex in every single speech, criticizes Israel’s occupation policy and the racism of Netanyahu’s government, as well as the USA’s companionship with Saudi Arabia. Sanders is not above every criticism in foreign policy, but he is a credible critic of imperialist war policy for decades.

Only Tulsi Gabbard, who has made criticism of the wars of intervention of the USA the main point of her candidacy, is even more credible on this question. As an officer of the National Guard, Gabbard herself has been to Iraq twice. She is far behind in the race for nomination, but it is the Clinton machine’s hatred of her that has recently given her a new boost.

In 2016 Gabbard, furious at the election manipulation against Sanders, resigned from the Democratic Party executive to join the Sanders campaign. A Hillary Clinton does not forget such a thing. And after Gabbard had been dragged through the mud in the clinton-related press for months, Hillary personally expressed the suspicion that Tulsi Gabbard was an agent of the Russians. This insane accusation prompted Gabbard to counterattack Hillary, calling her the “Queen of Warmongers” – and it turned out that an open confrontation with Clinton’s boss had a beneficial effect on the polls.

While the primary elections currently look like a three-way fight between Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren, there are other candidates who play an important role, at least in terms of content. Besides Gabbard, there would be Andrew Yang. The candidacy of this entrepreneur from Silicon Valley would not be worth mentioning if an unconditional basic income were not the unique selling point of his campaign. For the first time, millions of Americans heard about this idea thanks to Yang. And it seems to be developing a certain popularity.

Marianne Williamson is now without a chance. But the bestselling author, entrepreneur, spiritual teacher and activist had at least initially made it onto the stage of the big debates and, with her remarks about a return of love to politics, introduced completely extraterrestrial perspectives into the drunken discourse of US politics.

This also applied to Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington State. He has already ended his campaign, but he has brilliantly achieved his declared goal of bringing environmental protection and climate policy into the election campaign.

Of course there are other representatives of the classic middle of the road Democratic policy since Bill Clinton in the remaining field besides Joe Biden. And of course there is another representative in this round who tries to stage himself as a new Kennedy and young reformer.

This time the man who occupies this inevitable position is Pete Buttegieg. He is the mayor of the city of South Bend in Indiana. He is a veteran of the Afghanistan war. And since the beginning of his campaign, he has collected incredible amounts of campaign contributions. Most recently, he again raised almost 20 million dollars. Now the secret has been revealed: Mark Zuckerberg, the mogul behind Facebook and Whatsapp, supports Buttegieg’s candidacy. His campaign manager is a former Goldman Sachs employee. The media love and celebrate Mayor Pete. In short: the usual. In the polls, the supposed new Kennedy has not yet got beyond single-digit results.

Some people from Goldman Sachs have also found accommodation in the Trump administration. And that makes a Democratic primary election, in which the topic of social inequality dominates and words like working class and workers’ power are used, quite exciting. Many Trump voters are disappointed that, contrary to his promises, he also did nothing for the poorer Americans. Instead, Trump has carried out a tax reform that massively relieves the richest 1%.

On the other hand, the economy is booming and continues to be flooded with cheap money, but the question is how long. The masses of the population do not benefit much from this boom.

According to current surveys, Trump’s chances of being re-elected are not bad. Although it is lagging behind in terms of nationwide popularity, Trump is currently doing well in the decisive “battleground states” such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. And in the USA, it is not the majority of absolute votes that counts, but the majority of the election delegates sent by the respective federal states.

If the Democrats send a Clinton clone like Pete Buttegieg or an establishment veteran like Joe Biden into the race against Trump, they can probably forget it right away. Professor Elisabeth Warren, too, is likely to have difficulties mobilising the masses of deputies. So far only Bernie Sanders, who with 26,000 participants also organised the largest rally of this primary election to date, has scored points among them.

But the race is still long and if the Democrats have one thing in common, it’s the manipulation of their own primaries. This regularly leads to disaster candidates such as John Kerry or Hillary Clinton 2016, with whom one reliably loses the election. But apparently it’s still better than letting someone at the helm who threatens to break the power of the lobbyists and the dictatorship of the oligarchs.

As I said, it will be another three months before the first primary election takes place in Iowa. But even now it is clear that only one thing can lead to a sensible outcome in this election. And that lies outside this often very silly pre-election circus. It would be a further increase of class struggles in the USA.


Thanks to the author for the right to publish.


Picture hint: Dori Chronicles/ Shutterstock


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