Truthout - October 26, 2019

"In a country rife with systemic and severe shortfalls of democracy, leading Democrats and corporate media were all too pleased to concentrate their rhetorical fire on a faraway adversary. Why blame Wall Street when you can blame the Kremlin?FAIRdocumented that in 2017, the first full year ofMSNBC***’s ongoing “Russiagate” obsession, the power of American oligarchs when you can*** avoid mentioning they exist, while denouncing Russian oligarchs?"

When Donald Trump won the presidency, crucial questions begged to be addressed: How could it happen? Was Hillary Clinton seen by voters as too close to Wall Street, too aligned with wealthy elites? Was Bernie Sanders correct that loyalty to the billionaire class would undermine the Democratic ticket’s appeal to working-class voters?

Those were hardly the kinds of questions that Democratic Party leaders and corporate media wanted to put in the national spotlight. Instead, they quickly shifted the focus — to Russia.

Within 24 hours of Clinton’s concession speech, campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta “assembled her communications team” at the national headquarters in Brooklyn “to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up,” journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes report in their inside-story book Shattered. “For a couple of hours … they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

There were real Russian efforts to intervene in the election. But their scope and effects became widely exaggerated. In U.S. media and politics, a laser focus on Russia quickly substituted for examining basic reasons for Clinton’s loss.

The traumatic reality of Trump’s victory called for a serious and well-grounded exploration of the key factors that led to the catastrophe. Such an exploration might have critically assessed the Democratic abandonment of many working-class voters that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had brashly heralded in July 2016: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia. And you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

The elitism of centrist Democratic orthodoxy — having no use for such progressive proposals as Medicare for All and tuition-free public college — failed to ignite enthusiasm or inspire turnout from the working class. But instead of scrutinizing that political approach, what came to the fore was a fixation on relentlessly blaming Vladimir Putin. It was a fixation that let the party’s leadership off the hook.

The Democratic National Committee went into 2017 with a grand total of one full-time staffer to address the nation’s rampant suppression of voting rights. In the spring, the DNC trumpeted expansion of that staffing to four employees. There was a clear need for legal resources to challenge pernicious voter ID laws and other barriers that had blocked so many people of color from casting their ballots in 2016. Yet in April 2018, when the DNC filed a civil lawsuit, it was against the Russian government (as well as the Trump campaign and associates, WikiLeaks and its founding editor Julian Assange). ...
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