A line I read several weeks ago still haunts my thoughts. It said, “When the people are foolish, it means their leaders have failed them.” Demagogues like Trump and Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson in Britain have been successful because they advocate fake answers to the very real problems which the elites, both liberal and conservative, have ignored. As the 1% has improved its position at the expense of the 99%, the elites have done nothing but facilitate this. They are complicit in this “rape of the middle class” as Trump calls it and do not offer anything to combat it. Trump, Farage and Johnson play on this dissatisfaction among voters to offer lies and cockeyed schemes to correct it. An electorate desperate to get relief fall for their tactic of demonizing immigrants, non-whites and the poor. In Britain the demagogues are walking back the lies they told to sway the vote and revealing their true character. Their schemes will of course not help, but who else among the elite are addressing the people’s concerns? Bernie did, but he was a one trick pony who could attract the young, college educated, and parts of the middle and working classes, but could not rally enough of the people of color to prevail. Elizabeth Warren understands the problem but she has been battling a few of the symptoms not the cause.

My problem with Hillary has little to do with her character. She is probably no more untrustworthy or willing to eat at the trough of the 1% than most politicians and actually better than some. Most of the ill feeling towards her is the result of a decades-long a smear campaign directed against her. My problem with her has to do with the policy positions she takes. Right now she and Elizabeth Warren are calling out the lies, narcissism, foolish plans, and outright racism of Trump and his followers. However they offer few alternative solutions to the problems that have driven Trump’s and Bernie’s campaigns. Hillary supports the unfettered free trade that has led to a global capitalism that has cost the middle class jobs and a future. On foreign policy she is a warmongering hawk, now unfettered by the restraints Obama put upon her. She doesn’t have a clear plan on immigration or reforming capitalism to protect people from its worst excesses. She needs to change her focus.

The seats at the platform committee table that Bernie earned have not been able to sway the party in the direction it needs to go. As long as the liberal elite refuses to address the problems of the 99%, the demagogues will be able to use them to fuel their rise. Incidentally the “splinter parties” of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson do not address these problems either; they have other agendas. Anti-Hillary or anti-Trump votes for so-called “third parties”are just privileged voter masturbation. So is sitting this one out. It makes disaffected voters feel good but does nothing else positive. It is the privileged once again abandoning the people to their fate. I have already made it clear that I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary because Trump must be stopped. The future of the Democratic party, however, lies in the progressive direction that Bernie and Warren represent not the neo-liberal one that Hillary does. As long as the party stays as it is and ignores the problems of the electorate, demagogues will continue to rise and may eventually win as Brexit warns us. Maybe when this one is over we can stop playing defense and organize to play offense.

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