The 2016 election cycle has been quite the eye opener – for me, at least.
People I have respected for years have suddenly done turnabouts that, quite frankly, disappoint me. I was going write mystify rather than disappoint, but upon reflection, I found I wasn’t surprised: just left with a feeling of being very let down.
One of those people is Howard Dean, founder of Democracy For America. When Governor Dean ran for president back in 2004, I phone banked for him. I knocked on doors for him. I supported Gov. Dean for a variety of reasons, one of which was his stance against the Iraq war and another was his position on universal healthcare. Back when the Affordable Care Act was being debated, Dean pronounced that healthcare reform without a public option (translate that to single payer) was “worthless.” Now, he gets a very tidy paycheck from Dentons as a senior advisor in the Public Policy and Regulation practice. Dentons is a lobbying group that assists pharmaceutical corporations in their efforts to reach out to and advise legislators on political strategy. The former governor of Vermont insists that he’s not a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, but despite his protestations, I have this to say: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a freakin’ duck! Dean has assisted in helping pharmaceutical companies to maintain their power over the price of drugs. Prior to Dentons, Dean joined the lobbying division of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, and worked for Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), using his reputation as a liberal to sell the interests of the biotech and pharmaceutical industry to lawmakers.
Another person I admired immensely is Barney Frank. Now the former representative from Massachusetts has taken to issuing personal attacks on Bernie Sanders and telling out and out lies regarding Sanders’ accomplishments while serving in both the House and the Senate. To hear Barney talk about Sanders, one would think the man who has served the state of Vermont and this country in the halls of Congress for the past quarter century has accomplished squat, a talking point often repeated by supporters of Hillary Clinton. Sanders, dubbed the “Amendment King” by Rolling Stone in 2005, sponsored 419 amendments and got 90 of them passed, 21 by roll call votes. Richard Eskow listed Sanders’ accomplishments in a detailed article written for Huffington Post. It should be noted that Sanders had to work across the aisle in a Republican controlled Congress for a great deal of that time, but he managed to get things done. He introduced 324 bills, three of which became law, one of which increased veterans’ disability compensation. In contrast, Politifact notes that “Hillary Clinton passed zero roll call amendments during her tenure as a senator from New York from 2001-09.” She did introduce and get three bills passed during her time in the Senate, none of them of any consequence.
Then there’s John Lewis and his “I never saw him. I never met him” remark regarding Sanders’ participation in the civil rights movement, giving the impression that Sanders was absent from that fight, which is anything but true. Lewis later walked back his statement, saying he never meant it as a criticism of the senator from Vermont, but come on, who are we kidding here?
Paul Krugman, a man I once admired, has taken to writing screeds against Bernie Sanders and trucking out that ridiculous talking point that the big banks didn’t cause the financial meltdown of 2008. Anyone with a functioning brain knows that is a big pile of steaming manure. Those banks packaged garbage loans given to people whose only credentials were that they fogged up a mirror and sold them as Triple A investments. And now, the banks that remain, the ones that gobbled up the carcasses of those that failed, are bigger than ever and pose an immense threat to our economy once again. (An example: Merrill Lynch, an investment firm that was supposed to take care of the clients who trusted them to make good financial decisions is now owned by Bank of America.) To listen to Krugman, neither Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) know what the hell they are talking about. According to Krugman, Too Big To Fail isn’t such a big deal.
Following a Bloomberg News report issued on Wednesday that five of the biggest banks failed a major test regarding whether they could undergo bankruptcy without posing a severe threat to the entire financial system, Elizabeth Warren went on Facebook to speak up. “This announcement is a very big deal,” she wrote. “It’s scary. And it means that, unless these banks promptly address the concerns identified by the regulators, the government must push these banks to get smaller and less complex.”
Warren co-sponsored legislation to revive Glass Steagall with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) last year that went nowhere.
So what do Howard Dean, Barney Frank, John Lewis, and Paul Krugman have in common? They all support Hillary Clinton, who has advocated for an incremental approach to all of the ills that currently affect our society. Howard Dean wants to keep on getting those cushy paychecks from the health care and pharmaceutical industries, Barney Frank has to defend his signature piece of legislation, Dodd-Frank, even though it’s been watered down, John Lewis is dependent on DNC support, and I don’t know what the hell is going on with Paul Krugman. Maybe he’s angling for a position in a Hillary Clinton administration.
It’s a sad state of affairs. But there it is.
I know there are some Bernie Sanders supporters who are angry with Elizabeth Warren for not coming out and endorsing Bernie, but her stances on just about everything mirror his. I do know she urged Hillary to run, so perhaps her reticence in issuing an endorsement has something to do with that. It’s obvious, however, where she stands on issues, particularly financial issues, and she is not in line with the Clinton stance. Therefore, this Sanders supporter is not about to trash talk Elizabeth. She has her reasons for doing what she does, and I applaud her for speaking out loud and clear about the dangers we face if we don’t do something more than talk about maybe breaking up the big banks before it’s too late.
In the end, going up against the Clinton machine is a very scary proposition. There is a lot of money and power there; and if you are in public life, you really don’t want to piss them off should Hillary win. But I can’t help but wish that the welfare of the people of this country took precedence over the paychecks and political careers of the above-mentioned people.
To quote John Lennon: “Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” I’m hoping there are enough of us out there to re-imagine this country and make it a place where we are what our forefathers envisioned: a government of, by and for the People – not a government that caters to the whims of specials interests.
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things.
Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web