“Debbie Wasserman Schultz is minor compared to what we’re really up against,” DeMoro explained.
The real enemy, she clarifies, is international finance and the neoliberal order their influence controls. That greater and more powerful foe, which has done such a superb job of managing electoral ambitions and diminishing what’s politically possible over the last four decades, is alive and well, says DeMoro. And because of that, much of the coalescing movement into which Sanders helped breathe life is already looking beyond what transpires in Philadelphia.
In June, National Nurses United helped organize a three-day ‘People’s Summit’ in Chicago where an array of social justice, labor, environmental, and grassroots political organizations came together to discuss how to keep the energy and focus on key issues—including climate change, corporate power, economic inequality, Medicare for all, free higher education, and criminal justice reform—throughout and then beyond this year’s election cycle.
“So what we’re doing now,” she explained, “is looking forward to the year 2020 and with the vision of 20/20. On the electoral front in the years to come we have to build the right structures, create the right infrastructures, and find candidates of the people. And we’ve already got really wonderful people with us—highly intelligent and passionate people.”
She highlighted how the young people attracted to Sanders’ movement are ready to build something much bigger and longer lasting. “The millennials are probably the most phenomenal generation that I’ve seen in my time in terms of intelligence,” said DeMoro. “They read, they communicate, and they act collectively. It’s pretty amazing.”
And when it comes to the looming presence of the Republican Party’s nominee Donald Trump, for DeMoro it goes without saying what “an enormous threat” he poses to the nation and the world. But, she adds, “Bernie was our best hope in terms of beating Trump. And so now we’re in this double-bind, because we’ve been betrayed—because in the world of the DNC, Sanders was never allowed to be a viable candidate—and now the only thing that’s left is fear of Trump.”
“Now we’re in this double-bind, because we’ve been betrayed—because in the world of the DNC, Sanders was never allowed to be a viable candidate—and now the only thing that’s left is fear of Trump.”
“But that’s the moment we’re in and it’s sad—it’s very sad,” lamented DeMoro. “It could have been a joyous time in history in the Democratic Party but instead they really diminished the credibility of the Democratic Party phenomenally.”
For her part, DeMoro argues the Wall Street bankers and the corporate interests spending so lavishly this week, along with the DNC itself, should be the ones to pony up and reimburse those Sanders delegates who scrimped and saved to attend this week’s convention. “They really should,” she said. “Those delegates—just like so many voters—thought they were participating in an election this year, only to find it was just rigged. And many of them spent up to $7,000—they saved, they went into debt, they fund-raised—to get to Philadelphia because they thought that it would matter. But basically the deals are already done. And though Bernie did they best he could, the Democrats don’t really believe in what they used to believe in.”
And the fights over the party platform prove that. “We had to fight them on everything,” DeMoro said of the Clinton- and DNC-appointed delegates on the committee. “They means-tested the higher-education reform, they rejected single-payer, they wouldn’t oppose the TPP, they wouldn’t oppose fracking, and they wouldn’t expand Social Security.”
The reluctance of the Democratic Party to embrace those more transformative and egalitarian policy positions, she explained, is perhaps the fundamental issue underlying the distress of Sanders supporters who pinned their support on his call to push beyond what the current system says is permissible.
“It’s very sad. It could have been a joyous time in history in the Democratic Party but instead they really diminished the credibility of the Democratic Party phenomenally.”
During the primaries, for example, Clinton tried to convince voters the single-payer healthcare system advocated by Sanders—one she pronounced will “never ever come to pass”—would actually make people worse off and said things like: “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism? Would that end sexism?”
Explained DeMoro: “What the Democrats like to do is deflect with social issues. They care about all social issues and that way they don’t have to address economic issues or disobey their financial backers on Wall Street.”
But, she concluded, the Sanders campaigned has exposed the fault lines in a way that is very helpful to those clamoring for a deeper transformation. As a person who has spent her life organizing for labor rights and operating within social movements, what she recognized on the faces of her fellow nurses as many of them marched during a demonstration on Sunday in Philadelphia was just how beautiful, and not terrifying, this current moment has become.
“I realized how much Bernie has transformed America—that there is a revolution here. There’s a revolution of consciousness and there’s a different paradigm now in America. We have changed this country. And that they can’t steal from us.”
As she looked on, she said, “I realized how much Bernie has transformed America—that there is a revolution here. There’s a revolution of consciousness and there’s a different paradigm now in America. We have changed this country. And that they can’t steal from us.”
And when it comes to Clinton—or any other lawmaker for that matter unwilling at this point to submit to the full set of demands which fueled Sanders rise—DeMoro conjured an old saying she often uses when the nurses are in a particularly stubborn fight.
“Heroes aren’t made,” she tells them. “They’re cornered.”
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