The Democrats are supposed to be the ones who support environmental causes, or at least, that’s what their publicity says. We know it’s not true, for a number of reasons. For one thing, their 2016 Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, refused to ban fracking. Earlier, Barack Obama had to be schooled by public opinion to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. More recently, they’ve declined to support and promote a Green New Deal, instead ginning up a few pale ghosts of that plan. We don’t even really know where the presumptive 2020 nominee, Joe Biden, stands in terms of working for environmental and climate change causes, which is damning in itself.
The above are a few of the more well-known examples. At the beginning of this month, far more insidious, egregious treachery took place during the workings of the House Armed Services Committee. The Republicans put forth an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that would effect the ceding of some 835,000 acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada to the U.S. Air Force. Zoya Teirstein of the Grist news organization outed the actions of the greedy, cowardly Dems who voted for the amendment and saw it carried. Interestingly enough, the entire delegation from Nevada, including one Republican, fought the amendment, valuing their refuge over possible profits from military contracts, but that opposition wasn’t sufficient. The much vaunted party of environmental warriors went for the MIC (we’re looking at you, Ro Khanna).
So…what’s the political significance here? It’s been clear for several decades that the bulk of the Democratic party might as well call themselves “Republican lite,” at best. We watched as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) torpedoed the nomination of Bernie Sanders, a true Progressive — and a bona fide champion of environmental causes — in both 2016 and 2020. The DNC made much of its conviction that Bernie was unelectable, but that was the Kool-Aid meant for the gullible, of which there are far too many. No, the real reason Bernie was sabotaged was that he’s not owned by Wall Street or any mega-corporations.
My theory is that the Dems want to appear to be the good guys. They worry about their image. They want to be the party of the people, of Joe Average blue-collar guy. Their collective persona panders to that façade. Therefore, they have to publicly support unions, universal healthcare of some type, and the entire social safety net, along with conservation and remedies for climate change. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they rake in the contributions from Big Oil, Big Pharma, and other sources that are pitted against the interests of most of the party’s base. According to the New York Times, in the last three months, Joe Biden has accumulated almost a quarter of a billion dollars for his campaign from large corporate donors. These are entities that are throwing in $100,000 at a crack, a fantasy for the pockets of citizens on Main Street.
The Republicans conform to the old WYSIWYG acronym: “what you see is what you get.” They’re pretty much unabashedly supporters of the 1%. They make no bones about decrying climate change, insisting that those below the poverty line put themselves there, raiding Social Security, starting illegal wars, erasing the line between church and state, and generally handing money to Wall Street. They engage in tissue-thin subterfuge only to the extent of temporarily gulling as many people as possible so as to seize as much money and power as possible. When their machinations are reported, they make no apologies, but instead, stroll nonchalantly over to the bank or the boardroom. Quite often, they even double down on their vile tactics. In short, they don’t care what the majority of the country thinks of them, as long as they remain in power and their offshore accounts continue to grow. At election time, they blow their dog whistles for the faithful, but they deceive almost no one. Indeed, their base is in alignment with GOP goals, perhaps deluding themselves that one day, they, too, can be wealthy and influential.
All of this to say that we don’t really have a two-party system. Instead, we have one party with a split personality: one self wants to pass as white hats, the other self is proud to be black hats. In the end, both selves have the same ugly values and the same lack of principles. Just ask the Nevada delegation to the Armed Services Committee.