I won’t be shamed into voting for Clinton

Liberal supporters of the Democrats save their nastiest attacks not for Republicans but for anyone who criticizes them from the left. Khury Petersen-Smith says he’s tired of it.

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail


They tolerated–barely–the progressive campaign of Bernie Sanders so long as he never came too close to threatening Hillary Clinton’s hold on the Democratic presidential nomination. As dismaying as his on-the-mark criticisms of Clinton’s Wall Street-connected candidacy might have been, he was at least bringing some enthusiasm to an uninspiring election and a stale Democratic Party.

But now, the managers of the Democratic Party machine and their allies in the mainstream media are speaking with one voice: The party’s over.

Those who were excited about Sanders’ candidacy–and the notion that the U.S. political system could offer something besides austerity, war and oppression–should be thankful for the memories of a hopeful winter and spring. But now, goes the argument, they need to accept Hillary Clinton as the candidate to support this fall.

We should all take note that it isn’t the right wing campaigning against universal health care, free college tuition and student loan debt relief, and other planks of Sanders’ social democratic platform as “unrealistic.” They’re too busy scrambling to manage their own crisis in the form of Donald Trump and his impact on the endlessly pathetic and dysfunctional Republican Party.

It is, instead, the Democrats who are doing their best to dash the hopes and lower the expectations of people who dared to think that U.S. politics might have something to offer to working class people, women, people of color or LGBT people.

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HOW WILL they do it? How will the Democratic Party corral a generation that has become aware of and sickened by racist mass incarceration, Wall Street’s dictatorship over the U.S. economy and politics, and permanent war–and get them to support a candidate who has devoted her political career to championing those very things?

One tactic has been to get political figures seen–rightly or wrongly–as the most party’s most “progressive” faces out front in backing Clinton: Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama and, yes, Bernie Sanders himself.

But that’s not all.

Party leaders and their liberal supporters are cynically using outrage at racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, and economic inequality–generated and crystallized by resistance movements, from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter–to shame progressives and leftists into supporting Clinton.

Liberal commentators have in particular targeted Sanders supporters who, disgusted by the various undemocratic maneuvers used against their candidate and by Clinton’s own dismal record, say they can’t stomach voting for a candidate who epitomizes everything Sanders’ “political revolution” was supposed to be against.

But their insults extend to anyone who challenges Clinton and the Democrats from the left and want something better.

In March, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow took to the Times op-ed pages to denounce as “bonkers” people on the left who question whether Clinton deserves their vote in November.

Blow began by recounting an exchange between Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon and MSNBC host Chris Hayes. In the midst of other remarks, Sarandon said that she wasn’t sure what she would do in November if Clinton were the Democratic nominee, but that some argue a Trump presidency would be so over the top that it would force a needed revolution.

Blow hit the roof. “The comments smacked of petulance and privilege,” he wrote scornfully. “No member of an American minority group–whether ethnic, racial, queer-identified, immigrant, refugee or poor–would (or should) assume the luxury of uttering such a imbecilic phrase, filled with lust for doom.”

It was another example of a proven fact about liberalism–Democrats and their media cheerleaders save their deepest contempt not for right wingers, but for those who challenge them from the left.

The idea that the left should hope for a Trump presidency to provoke resistance is wrong. But Sarandon’s aside about that prospect wasn’t the central thrust of her interview anyway. She spoke for the most part about her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, militarized police, sexism and discrimination, and the ruin of the working and middle classes by corporate greed–all of which give her strong reasons to oppose Clinton.

Blow conveniently ignored the political points, while baiting Sarandon–and, by extension, other Clinton critics–along the lines of race, sexuality and nationality.

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BLOW ISN’T the only one. On the blog Bustle.com, Mari Brighe wrote: “The point is that if you’re happy to let a GOP candidate win the presidency because Sanders isn’t the Democratic candidate, you’re not nearly as progressive as you think you are, and you probably should examine your own social privilege.”

Instead of acknowledging the countless actions that Barack Obama’s Democratic Party has taken to alienate previously enthusiastic supporters–the record number of deportations and bombing no less than seven countries in the past seven years, to name a couple–Brighe shifts the blame to those who refuse to ignore these injustices.

It turns out that we’re the real enemies of the oppressed in this country–because we won’t “look past your signs, your ideals, your clever slogans and your movement, and realize that you’re standing on our necks,” Brighe concluded.

Michael Arceneaux, writing for the Guardian, wheels out another old line to claim that the people most committed to the principles of solidarity with the oppressed, here and abroad, are the problem, not the solution. “Cling to your self-righteousness all you want,” Arceneaux writes, “but be very clear that only some people can afford this kind of sacrifice.”

So taking action to make Black Lives Matter, building solidarity with Palestine, resisting Wall Street, defending women’s right to choose abortion–all fights that Hillary Clinton has, during her career, helped to make necessary–are sideshows compared to our concern for our own egos. Arceneaux lectures us to “do something besides pretending that your lack of vote does anything but suit your own moral superiority at the expense of others.”

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WHAT THESE writers are doing is taking disgust at Clinton’s conservatism and twisting it. They present principled opposition to oppression and inequality as privileged self-indulgence.

But in the face of so many outrages–from legal decisions that blame rape survivors for the actions of their assailants or that further empower already out-of-control police, to the unending destruction of the environment–principled opposition to injustice is something that we need more of, not less.

But the scolders in the service of Hillary Clinton are prepared to demean the awareness raised, for example, by the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings by trying to harness it for a candidate whose support for the criminalization of African American youth is clear.

These writers are also disregarding what seems to be a greater willingness among progressives and leftists–Black activists in particular–to defy the logic that we have to accept the “lesser evil” to fight the greater evil.

Are they calling Samaria Rice–the mother of Tamir Rice, murdered by the Cleveland police, who has seen nothing but betrayal from politicians–“privileged” for her refusal to endorse a presidential candidate? Similarly, Michelle Alexander, author of the The New Jim Crow, is hardly speaking from a position of blinding self-involvement when she identifies the Clintons as central architects of mass incarceration and calls for a political alternative.

Those who try to shame us into voting for Clinton avoid the substance of criticism so as to avoid acknowledging her long record of political crimes. Adding to those already mentioned, consider Clinton’s call for the detention and deportation of child migrantsfrom Central America in 2014.

Or her personal role in defending and promoting the 2009 coup in Honduras. The coup continues to have catastrophic repercussions in Honduras, including the recent assassination of human rights activist Berta Caceras. Yet Clinton takes pride in her role in in her memoir Tough Choices.

These opinion articles and blog statements that attempt to shame us into supporting a politician we oppose share other features in common. They accept the all-or-nothing, narrow logic of the U.S. elections–the idea that if you aren’t actively supporting a Democrat’s bid for office, then you’re assisting a Republican’s victory.

It isn’t the fault of ordinary people outraged by injustice that the U.S. electoral system is so undemocratic that it offers such a limited “choice.” Perhaps the shamers should examine the hidden-in-plain-sight secret of U.S. “democracy”: Most people don’t vote. An honest look at that reality would reveal widespread alienation from politicians and from a government that is disinterested in representing the will or interests of regular people.

Instead, the blame is heaped on us. This points to the conservatism of writers like Charles Blow. Behind the shaming of Clinton’s critics on the left is an embrace of the status quo.

Thus, in the same column cited above, Blow writes that “there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Not only that, but…there were also 84 federal judiciary vacancies with 49 pending nominees. The question of who makes those appointments matters immensely.”

Yet when you consider the injustice handed down in the Stanford rape case and the countless acquittals and non-indictments of cops who murdered Black people, the undemocratic and oppressive role that courts play in this country should be questioned.

Instead, Blow points to the justice system as a reason to participate in Election 2016. The idea that we should vote for Clinton in the belief that she might be more likely to appoint justices sympathetic to oppressed groups and social movements is a celebration of an arena where we’re powerless.

It’s one of many examples where Democrats implore us to vote for our enemy and hope for the best. Don’t blame us for refusing to do so.



New York Times on Clinton and Libya: Portrait of a war criminal


By Bill Van Auken
1 March 2016

A two-part series entitled “The Libya Gamble” published in the Sunday and Monday editions of the New York Times is a damning indictment of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The piece, written by Times national security correspondent Scott Shane and investigative reporter Jo Becker, details the leading role played by Clinton in fomenting a war of aggression that killed tens if not hundreds of thousands. The fact that it is not intended as an exposure of these imperialist atrocities makes it all the more incriminating.

The Times has endorsed Clinton’s presidential campaign, describing her as “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history” and as a president who “would use American military power effectively.” The paper has helped promote the political propaganda touting her as a feminist icon and a candidate deserving the support of African-Americans.

No one would suspect that Ms. Clinton’s criminal record makes her the political equivalent of a black widow spider.

Even the Libya piece suggests that her pivotal role in instigating the US-NATO war of 2011 casts a favorable light “on what kind of president she might be.” It describes her as a “diligent student and unrelenting inquisitor, absorbing fat briefing books, inviting dissenting views from subordinates, studying foreign counterparts to learn how to win them over. She was a pragmatist, willing to improvise…”

Taken for granted in this account is that all of this diligence, pragmatism and improvisation was in furtherance of a criminal war of aggression that laid waste to an entire society.

Today, as the article notes, Clinton deflects questions about the war with bromides about the Libyans having participated in two elections—which have produced what are now three competing governments, none of which can claim to rule any significant part of the country enmeshed in a bloody civil war. It is “too soon to tell” how things will evolve in Libya, she adds, five years after the war and under conditions in which Washington is once again deploying special operations troops on the ground and bombing the country from the air.

The article acknowledges that Clinton had fought within the Obama administration against “dropping support for Hosni Mubarak” under conditions in which the masses of Egypt had risen up in a revolutionary struggle against the US-backed dictator.

Yet somehow in Libya, the article argues, “Clinton had a new opportunity to support the historic change that had just swept out the leaders of its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia. And Libya seemed a tantalizingly easy case—with just six million people, no sectarian divide and plenty of oil.”

Here the phrases “tantalizingly easy” and “plenty of oil” were the operative ones in Clinton’s real calculations. A regime change operation was mounted against the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi not to further the revolutionary upheavals that were dubbed the “Arab spring,” but rather to contain them by imposing a US-controlled puppet state in the country separating Egypt and Tunisia, and asserting unfettered Western control over Africa’s largest oil reserves in the bargain.

The article establishes that Clinton “pressed for a secret program that supplied arms to rebel militias,” composed largely of Islamist groups, some with direct ties to Al Qaeda.

Within the administration, the Times reports, she pressed for direct US military intervention on the grounds that the British and French governments would go ahead without the US and Washington would be “left behind” and “be less capable of shaping” the scramble for control of Libya and its oil wealth.

The pretext, that Libyan government forces were on the verge of a “genocidal massacre” of “protesters” in the eastern city of Benghazi, was subsequently refuted by international human rights groups, and the total number killed in armed clashes before the US and NATO began their bombing of Libya amounted to barely 350.

At the outset of this bombing campaign, the article recounts, numerous attempts were made by Libyan officials, UN functionaries, other African governments and the African Union to negotiate a ceasefire and a political settlement, all of which were rejected by Washington. Charles Kubic, a retired rear admiral who received a proposal from a top Libyan military officer for a 72-hour ceasefire, was told by the US military command to immediately cut off the discussion based on orders that had come from “outside the Pentagon.”

“The question that stays with me is, why didn’t you spend 72 hours giving peace a chance?” he told the Times. The obvious answer was that those who had promoted the Libyan intervention, with Clinton in the lead, were determined to have their war for regime change fought to a bloody conclusion.

That came in October 2011 with the vicious lynch-mob murder of Gaddafi by the US-backed Islamist “rebels.” After watching a video on an aide’s BlackBerry of the Libyan leader being beaten and sodomized with a bayonet before he was killed, Clinton exclaimed “Wow!”

She then infamously turned to her television interviewer, exclaimed “We came, we saw, he died!” and cackled in delight.

Murdered alongside Gaddafi was his son Mutassim, who just two years earlier had been warmly welcomed to the State Department with smiles and handshakes by the same Hillary Clinton.

As the article makes clear, these bloody crimes were viewed by Clinton and her supporters as grist for her 2016 presidential campaign. Her top aide at the State Department issued a memo stating that the record demonstrated Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.”

“The memo’s language put her at the center of everything,” the article states: “‘HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,’ it read.”

In the aftermath of the catastrophe in Libya, the article credits Clinton with “pushing for an aggressive American program to arm and train Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.”

It fails, however, to spell out the concrete connection between these two imperialist interventions. Arms seized from Libyan government stockpiles were funneled, along with Libyan Islamist fighters, into Syria, under the supervision of the CIA, which established a secret station in Benghazi along with another in southern Turkey.

After rivalries and recriminations between the agency and the Islamists erupted in the September 11, 2012 attack on the US facilities in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador and three security personnel, Clinton came under Republican fire, not for waging an illegal war, assassinating a foreign leader or arming Al Qaeda, but for an alleged “cover-up” of the Benghazi incident.

Similarly, a continuing investigation has been mounted over Clinton’s use of a non-secure private email server which handled material deemed secret, but little attention has been paid to the content of these emails, which again implicate Clinton in the bloody crimes carried out in Libya, Syria and beyond.

Summed up in Clinton’s role in the Libyan events is the arrogance and recklessness of a US foreign policy that is inseparable from militarism and aggression. In Clinton’s shameless attempt to exploit events that killed tens of thousands and turned millions into refugees to further her grubby political ambitions, one finds a consummate expression of the degraded character of the American ruling elite and its political system as a whole, and of the Democratic Party in particular.

In a just world, or at least one in which the principles upon which the Nuremberg war crimes trials of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich continued to be observed, Hillary Clinton would not be running for US president but, at best, be spending the rest of her life in a prison cell.



A Confederacy of Dunces: The Democratic Establishment’s Assault on Sanders Begins

Published on


Sen. Bernard Sanders, who’s running to Hillary Clinton’s left for the Democratic presidential nomination, has become a target for his outspoken challenge to the status quo. (Associated Press)

“When a true genius appears in your world, you may know him by this sign; that all the dunces are against him in a confederacy.” 
—Jonathon Swift

Well, it’s started.  You knew it would.  The Democratic establishment is going into attack mode as their anointed one  – Hillary Clinton – is in danger of losing.

Take a look at some of the assaults that have been launched within the last five days:

  • Sandy Goodman, a former producer at NBC Nightly News published a piece on the Huffington Post, entitled, Voting for Sanders is Voting Republican. The fact that Bernie does better than Hillary against Republicans is an inconvenient fact Goodman ignores in this ludicrous hit piece;
  • Paul Krugman’s column last Friday suggested that progressives voting for Sanders weren’t being “adults,” and had no idea how change occurred – in Krugman’s world, change doesn’t come from the people, apparently. It comes from party apparatchiks working with the plutocracy;
  • Thomas Friedman, another New York Times columnist, essentially called Sanders a communist – something he knows isn’t true, but it’s a great scare tactic;
  • President Obama said Bernie Sanders’ ideas haven’t been tested yet and went on to heap praise on Hillary.  It wasn’t an endorsement, but it came mighty close.

All of these are coming from credentialed liberals who have been staunch supporters of the Democratic Party.  And therein lies the problem. The Democratic Party’s interests are no longer aligned with the people’s interests and they haven’t been for a long time.

And this comes after Debbie Wassermann Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, set up the modern era’s first stealth debate program, designed to guarantee a coronation for Ms. Clinton and keep real progressives like Sanders and O’Malley under wraps.

But it’s not just the press and the Party.  Civil institutions, environmental groups, and unions that should be with the people – and therefore with Sanders – are lining up to back Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s traditional PAC candidate.

The bottom line is, the institutions that used to represent the people no longer derive their power from the people, so they are threatened by Sanders, because he does.

Make no mistake, this is about power.  

After decades, a right wing cabal of the uber-wealthy, in conjunction with corporations, has literally seized control of government.

Not only have they rolled back controls on Wall Street, turned elections into a bidding war in which politicians are purchased like livestock, and pared government funds down to the point where it can no longer function; they’ve also set up the rules so that corporations are our largest recipients of welfare and the 1% walks away with all the spoils. Incredibly, they’ve convinced people it’s good for them.

And Democrats have been co-authors of the problem. Even when poll after poll showed that the majority of American people are left of center on an issue-by-issue basis, Democrats inched to the center and then to the right of center … where, until a few months ago, is where you’d find Hillary, by the way.

Bottom line, until Sanders, the terms of the national debate were dictated by the Plutocracy, and there was no way to pierce the carefully constructed interlocking web of money, media, and myth the Oligarchs constructed.  Oh, there were voices – but they were largely consigned to the fringes of society, with little or no chance of breaking through to reach the masses of people who’ve been duped, fleeced and fooled into believing that government is inevitably inept, taxes are a curse, and an uber-free market our salvation.

Some of the players in media are a part of this process; some are merely so immersed in the system they’ve forgotten that it wasn’t always this way.  But either way …

The Revolution has not been televised—but the counterattack will be.  

Up until now, the mainstream media has all but ignored Sanders, despite the record crowds, the good poll numbers, and the record-breaking contributions from everyday Americans.

But of course, the better he does with the people, the more he threatens their power base — which is their relationship with corporations and the uber-rich and the PACS they fund.  So now that he has become a real threat to their dominance, brace yourself for the well-financed counter attack that’s coming soon, to a media outlet near you.

It will be nasty.  It will be swift. It will be merciless. They will use fear; they will use bigotry, they will use greed – and oh, yes, they will use money.  Lots of money.

The most dangerous of all, though, may be those who are so inured to the system, they can’t see the prospect of real change – of a real, and much needed – revolution.

In Sanders we have a leader who – against all odds — has broken through the rigged system, reached out to us, and given voice to the 99% who’ve been left behind.

If we choose courage over fear; tolerance over jingoism, hate and bigotry; a belief in our own industry, resourcefulness and ability over the siren song of magic markets and easy money; if we stand together, we can put this evil genie back in its bottle, and we can take back our country and make government work again, and make it work for us.

That is the source of our power.  And it is the only power that can take on the confederacy that is gathering now, to hold on to what they’ve taken.

John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.


Clinton and Sanders back US aggression in the Middle East


12 October 2015

On the eve of Tuesday’s first televised debate among the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, the two poll leaders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have gone out of their way to express support for the Obama administration’s military interventions in the Middle East.

They are solidarizing themselves with US imperialist aggression in the region under conditions where American policy in Iraq and Syria has produced an unmitigated debacle, with the growing threat of a wider war involving major powers, including Russia, whose nuclear arsenal is second only to Washington’s.

Moreover, the main pretext for the Obama administration’s escalation in Iraq and Syria, the so-called war on terror, has been completely exploded by the open alliance of Washington with the al-Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, which the US government itself declares a terrorist organization, against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Clinton has called for a more aggressive military posture in Syria, including the imposition of a no-fly zone, potentially bringing US military forces into direct conflict with Russian warplanes now flying missions in support of the Assad regime.

This is consistent with the policies that Clinton advocated as secretary of state, when she pushed for direct US intervention to overthrow the Assad government in 2011-2012, only to be overruled by Obama, who opted for a more cautious and indirect policy using the CIA and US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Clinton is a long-time representative and defender of US imperialism, going back to the administration of her husband, which bombed Serbia and Iraq, waged war in Somalia and sent the Marines into Haiti. As a US senator, Clinton voted for the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and for the war in Iraq in 2002.

Sanders, for his part, embraced the White House Mideast policy wholeheartedly in an interview taped Friday for broadcast on NBC’s Sunday program “Meet the Press.” He told interviewer Chuck Todd, “I think what the president has tried to do is thread a very, very difficult needle. And that is, keep American troops from engaging in combat and getting killed there. And I think that is the right thing to do. So I think we continue to try to do everything that we can, focusing primarily, by the way, as bad as Assad is, focusing on trying to defeat ISIS.”

While opposing the use of American ground forces, at least for the present, Sanders was enthusiastically in favor of soldiers from other countries “engaging in combat and getting killed” in the wars in Syria and Iraq. “I believe very strongly that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, you know what?” he said. “They’re going to have to get their hands dirty as well. They don’t like ISIS? Let them start putting troops on the ground.”

This exchange followed:

Todd: Gulf War one, we got them to pay for—do you think we should be doing that?

Sanders: I think it’s more than pay.

Todd: You want to see them put blood and treasure?

Sanders: Yeah. That’s exactly right.

After expressing the desire that Arab soldiers fight and die in Syria (doing the “dirty work” for US imperialism), Sanders went on to declare his support for another Obama policy: assassination by drone-fired missiles.

Asked whether he favored using drones and Special Forces for counterterrorism, Sanders responded, “Well, all of that and more.”

He continued, “Look, we all know, you know, that there are people as of this moment plotting against the United States. We have got to be vigorous in protecting our country, no question about it.”

In another portion of the interview, Sanders reiterated his false claim to the label “socialist.” It is impossible to combine socialism and support for imperialism and its wars, let alone pledge, as Sanders has repeatedly, to defend “America’s vital strategic interests.” Those are the interests of corporate America, the interests of the millionaires and billionaires whom Sanders demagogically claims to oppose, but whose global dominance he vows to safeguard as commander-in-chief.

The unanimity of the Democratic presidential field when it comes to the central issue of war—under conditions of mounting global conflicts between the US and Russia over Ukraine and now Syria, and between the US and China over the South China Sea—only underscores the fraud of the corporate-controlled two-party system in the United States.

Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party pledge to defend the global interests of Wall Street and maintain the dominant world role of the US military-intelligence apparatus. No candidate in either party speaks for the vast majority of working people in America, who are opposed to war and militarism.

Here a critical role is played by the pseudo-left groups such as the International Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative and the various Stalinist and ex-Stalinist organizations, all of which orbit around the Democrats. They are seeking to use the Sanders campaign to pump up illusions in this discredited right-wing party of imperialism. In pursuit of this goal, they cover up for Sanders’ support for Obama’s wars in Iraq and Syria.

When it was a Republican in the White House acting as the frontman for the military-intelligence apparatus, these groups were happy to spout anti-war rhetoric and posture as opponents of US imperialism. Now that it is a Democrat signing the orders for drone missile assassinations, bombings and the dispatch of military forces, the pseudo-left groups have fallen into line: in Libya, in Iraq and now in Syria. The only complaint of the pseudo-left groups is that, like Hillary Clinton, they feel Obama has been insufficiently aggressive in intervening in Syria against the Assad regime.

These organizations, representing more privileged layers of the middle class, long ago abandoned any opposition to imperialism. They are now pro-imperialist and pro-war, and bear primary political responsibility for the absence of an organized anti-war movement despite mass popular anti-war sentiment.

Patrick Martin



Bernie Sanders to seek Democratic presidential nomination


By Patrick Martin
1 May 2015

US Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont confirmed Thursday that he was seeking the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. The announcement, made in an email statement sent out to supporters, followed by a brief press conference on the lawn of the US Capitol, marks a new stage in one of the longest-running political frauds in American history.

Since 1990, when he won the first of eight terms as Vermont’s sole member of the House of Representatives, and continuing with his election in 2006 to the US Senate, and reelection in 2012, Sanders has formally declared himself to be an independent. On occasion he goes further, calling himself a democratic socialist, suggesting that he represents some sort of opposition to Wall Street’s domination of American political and economic life.

Throughout this period, Sanders has caucused with the Democrats in the House and then the Senate, receiving the same treatment as any other Democrat in terms of committee assignments and promotions. This year his seniority allowed him to achieve the position of ranking minority member on the Budget Committee, making him responsible for preparing the budget offered by the Senate Democrats as an alternative to that drafted by the Republican majority.

Although he first won his House seat over Democratic opposition, Sanders has long since buried the hatchet. Leading Democratic senators like Wall Street favorite Charles Schumer of New York backed his election to the Senate in 2006, and President Obama traveled to Vermont in 2012 to campaign for his reelection.

In formally seeking the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, Sanders is only admitting publicly what has always been a reality. His “independence” is as much of a sham as his “socialism.”

According to the rules set down by the Democratic National Committee, any candidate for the presidential nomination must be a “member in good standing.” The DNC issued a statement welcoming the Vermont senator into the race, indicating that the Obama White House, the Clinton campaign organization and the Democratic Party establishment as a whole will make no obstacles to his candidacy. Sanders will be included in the Democratic candidate debates and no special effort will be made to keep him off the ballot.

Press reports described Sanders as the standard-bearer for the liberal wing of the Democrats against the overwhelming favorite for the nomination, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. There was discussion of a “Warren-Sanders” wing of the Democratic Party, a reference to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has denied interest in a presidential race at this point, but could easily change course in the event Clinton proves vulnerable.

The Sanders candidacy follows in the footsteps of similar efforts to give a left cover to the increasingly right-wing policies of the Democratic Party. Al Sharpton and Congressman Dennis Kucinich played that role in the 2004 campaign, with Kucinich coming back for a re-run in 2008.

In media interviews Wednesday and Thursday and at his press conference, Sanders struck a pose as a critic of Wall Street and the domination of American politics by multi-millionaires and billionaires. He identified as his three main issues the growth of economic inequality, the political influence of big money, and the increasing danger from climate change.

Significantly, his only reference to foreign policy was a chauvinist denunciation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with a dozen countries, including Japan, directed against China. Sanders said nothing about the growing danger of war, whether in the Middle East, Asia or Eastern Europe, and he never mentioned the Obama administration—a remarkable feat, since he was announcing his candidacy to succeed Obama in the White House.

Sanders declared that the American people faced “a more serious crisis than at any time since the Great Depression,” and referred to the fact that the 99 percent of all new income growth goes to the top 1 percent, and that the top 1 percent own as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. He called this staggering inequality “not just immoral but unsustainable.”

But he said nothing about what policies could reverse the growth of inequality and create “an economy that works for working people,” or how such policies could be enacted, given the intransigent defense of the financial elite by both Republican and Democratic politicians.

Perhaps unintentionally revealing was his explanation of why he chose to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. He could not run as a third-party candidate because he was not independently wealthy. “I am not a billionaire,” he told MSNBC. “To run outside of the two-party system would require enormous sums of money.” In other words, not being an independent billionaire, he had to join one of the two parties controlled by the billionaires.

Sanders has engaged longtime Democratic Party strategist Tad Devine, a veteran of presidential campaigns by Democrats Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry, as his principal campaign operative. Devine told Politico.com, “The one thing he’s determined not to do is to be another Ralph Nader. And the only way to avoid doing that is to avoid being a third-party candidate from the left in the general election.” This was to reassure the Democratic establishment, which vilified Nader for “stealing votes” from Gore in 2000, when the Democrats refused to fight the theft of the presidential election.

Even if Sanders does eventually choose to make a third-party run, as his supporters in groups like the Green Party and the International Socialist Organization are urging, he would still be a capitalist politician offering a capitalist program. This is demonstrated by his political record since entering Congress in 1990.

In 16 years in the House of Representatives, he voted with the Democrats 98 percent of the time, including support for President Bill Clinton’s war against Serbia in 1999. He voted for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the legal basis for both the US invasion of Afghanistan and all subsequent actions in the so-called “war on terror,” including the campaign of drone missile assassination mounted by the Obama administration.

Sanders regularly votes for military appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he is a fervent supporter of the state of Israel. More recently, he backed Obama’s use of sanctions against Russia in the crisis provoked by the US-backed fascist-led coup in Ukraine.

While conventionally liberal on domestic social policies and the environment, Sanders has embraced a strident chauvinism on trade and immigration, taking his cue from the AFL-CIO unions. In 2009, Sanders sponsored an anti-immigrant amendment to Obama’s economic stimulus bill, which the American Immigration Lawyers Association denounced as a “disturbing step backwards,” which “creates a climate of jingoistic divisiveness.”

In his most important policy role, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs during last year’s scandal over conditions at VA hospitals, Sanders worked with Republican John McCain to craft bipartisan legislation that opened the door for greatly increased privatization of VA care.

The press response to Sanders’ entry into the presidential race, while dismissing his chances of winning the nomination or the presidency, was largely respectful, even positive. Bloomberg View—the editorial arm of Bloomberg News, owned by the billionaire former mayor of New York—headlined its commentary, “Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign may be useful for Democrats.”

“Sanders can force Clinton to make and articulate choices on precisely the type of issues that she will be most eager to evade, including a host of knotty questions related to inequality,” Bloomberg argued. In other words, Clinton can better define herself by having a “left” straw man in the race.

Other press commentaries noted that Sanders has been reluctant to criticize either Clinton or Obama, a sign that he is himself conscious of the task he has been assigned, to give the Democrats a “left” face without challenging the Wall Street consensus or damaging the presumptive nominee. Even when directly questioned about the tens of millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation from companies with issues before the Clinton State Department, Sanders declined to engage.