He might not have mentioned her by name, but there was no doubt who Chuck Schumer—Clinton loyalist from 2008 and former Senate colleague of Hillary Clinton—had in mind when he warned other Democrats not to challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidency in 2016.
Elizabeth Warren is the only serious challenger to a Clinton coronation because, unlike the other potential contenders—Joe Biden and a host of cookie-cutter technocrat East Coast governors and senators—Warren has repudiated the toxic centrism which is also the bread and butter of the Clinton Cabal. Whether in supporting the Iraq War, ramping up the Afghanistan War, buttressing the War of Terror, carrying water for the financial sector, cosying up to corporate interests, Clinton has shown herself unfit to lead a progressive party.
And yet Schumer has the gall to brag about instituting a policy where “we tried to avoid primaries, because primaries are really a killer...It would be great”, he went on, “if Democrats would unite around [Hillary Clinton] early, [if] we not have a primary on the Democratic side and let the Republicans beat the daylights out of each other”.
I can think of nothing more insulting to progressive voters and nothing more typically arrogant of Clinton and her supporters than this effort to transform a democratic primary into a monarchical coronation. Their efforts to squash debate and keep dissenting opinion out of the party leadership is an affront to democracy, and Schumer should be ashamed of himself.
What use is party discipline if we are talking about a party disciplined to deviate from what should be its core commitment to economic equality and peaceful internationalism? What use is party discipline if it becomes a way to avoid democratic politics? A Hillary Clinton presidency would be an utterly pyrrhic victory for progressives.
But Schumer was onto something when he talked about primaries being “killer”. They can certainly sink the ambitions of a candidate who has something to fear from public exposure and democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton learned in 2008. But they also bring out the killer instinct in candidates like Clinton. A recent New Republic article described the depths to which the Clintons and their Cabal sunk in 2008 in their effort to defeat President Obama.
“As in 2008, Greater Hillaryland, if not the Clinton campaign itself”, the article predicted, “would quietly work to disqualify Warren as a crazed, countercultural liberal. A former Obama campaign aide recalls Clintonites planting stories in foreign newspapers, then watching them enter the domestic bloodstream through outlets like The Drudge Report. This appears to be how Obama’s dubious connection to former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers first gained widespread attention. ‘They were kings of bank-shot press attention’, says the aide. ‘They were pitching stories domestic outlets would not cover...because the information they were peddling was so toxic’”.
The fact that Schumer and others are already trying to shut Warren down suggests that her progressivism and ability to talk about social democracy and economic equality would prove to be more than an irritant to the Clinton juggernaut. It indicates that Warren could be on the verge of a serious political breakthrough that could call into serious question the nasty consensus around the supposed necessity of economic inequality, the alleged virtues of capitalism, and the assumed impossibility of creating a social democratic society in the United States.
Schumer and other Clinton supporters who would subvert our democracy by trying to deny voters a real choice at the polls should step aside and apologise for their shameless efforts to sabotage the democratic process which we can hope remains capable of addressing our country’s pressing needs.