Herodias Then, Hillary Now

Francesco del Cairo, “Herodias with the head of John the Baptist,” 1625-1630

 

On reading the short story Herodias in Gustave Flaubert’s slim volume Three Tales (1877), I realized that this Biblical story of Salome’s dance being paid for by the beheading of John the Baptist could serve as an analogy to the political tragedy of the 2016 Democratic party’s national convention in the United States. This parallel is achieved if the story is cast in the following way:

Herodias: – – – – – -> Hillary Clinton
Herod Antipas: – – -> Barack Obama (understudy: Bill Clinton)
John the Baptist: – -> Bernie Sanders
Agrippa: – – – – – – -> Donald Trump
Mannaeï: – – – – – – > Al Franken
Caesar: – – – – – – -> Goldman Sachs
Assembly: – – – – – > DNC Super-delegates
Salome:
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Michelle Obama?,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Loretta Lynch?,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Kamala Harris?,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Debbie Wasserman Schultz?,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Donna Brazile?,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Nancy Pelosi?,
– – – – – – – – – – – – – > Liz Warren?

During the reign of Tiberius as the Caesar of the Roman Empire, Herod Antipas was the king of Judea, which is the southern part of Palestine. Antipas had divorced his first wife, who was the daughter of the king of the Arabs, and married Herodias, who herself had been the wife of his brother Herod Agrippa. Herodias was extremely ambitious to be the queen of a great empire and had left Agrippa for Antipas to further that ambition. Agrippa was a rival to Antipas for the throne of Judea, and he had gone to Rome to conspire with Caius (the future Caesar to be known as Caligula) against Antipas. Both Herodias and Antipas wanted Agrippa killed by order of Tiberius Caesar.

Antipas was slavishly allied to Rome because he needed Imperial protection against the threat of invasion from the south by the Arabs angered by his divorce of their princess, as well as to ensure he was favored by Caesar instead of Agrippa. Herodias was fanatically allied to Rome because she saw its power as a means to advancing her aims, and of eliminating her enemies. As an occupied and subjugated people, the Jews of Palestine resented Rome and their subservient political leader Antipas, and their subservient and wealthy religious elites, but made an effort to minimize resistance to the Empire so as not to draw Rome’s ire upon themselves.

All of these incidents and attitudes were loudly and widely condemned by John the Baptist, a reformer popular with the common people, who talked about a Messiah who would create an independent kingdom free of both Romans and the compromised political (Antipas’s administration) and religious (Pharisees and Sadducees) ruling classes of the Jews. John the Baptist also railed against the immorality and weak moral character of Herod Antipas and his scheming, impious queen, Herodias.

Naturally, such talk in public was an irritant to the Roman governor (Vitellius), who was Caesar’s direct representative in Judea, as well as to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, Herod Antipas and especially Herodias, who felt threatened by it and whose vanity was deeply wounded, thus inflaming a malevolent obsession for a fatal revenge against the prophet. John the Baptist had already been imprisoned for his incitement of popular indignation and hope.

Salome was Herodias’s daughter from her previous marriage, and Antipas did not know about Salome because Herodias had had her brought up away from the palace. Salome was the key to Herodias’s scheme for revenge, and had been carefully prepared for her task. During a palace feast to celebrate Antipas’s birthday, with Vitellius and the political and religious elites of the Jews in attendance, Herodias sent Salome out to perform “the dance of the seven veils” to excite Herod Antipas’s lust. Herodias knew her craven and lecherous husband well, and before all the company he soon promised Salome anything she wanted, in payment for helping him maintain the tepid approval of the assembled company, and in anticipation of gaining her favors after her dance. Salome knew her mission, and requested the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod Antipas was bound by his word spoken before so many witnesses from the ruling classes, and so ordered Mannaeï, the executioner in his employ, to do the dirty deed. Concern for the hopes and dreams of his Jewish commoner subjects, and their inevitable disappointment were John the Baptist to be killed, was never a consideration.

Shortly after, Mannaeï returned with the requested platter and gave it to Salome who in turn presented it to the orgasmically satisfied Herodias. The company at the party were variously pleased, amused, curious or indifferent to inspect the bloody grimacing prize. And so was the prophet of the people dispatched for the political convenience of the Empire and the compromised Jewish elite; because of the fear and lust of Herod Antipas; and because of the malevolence, megalomania and vanity of Herodias.

Gustave Flaubert tells the Biblical story much better than I have. The 2016 American reality-show remake as a political intrigue was comparably shameful but much more tawdry.

In the painting, above, Herodias is sticking pins into the tongue that spoke out against her, and being so deliciously aroused in this climax of her revenge. The parallel to the American political events occurred between 12-26 July 2016.

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Post-Democracy America

George Washington at Boston Commons

Phyllis Wheatley

William Lloyd Garrison

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sunset, 50 miles east of San Francisco, CA

The reason our American Corporate Masters gave us a choice between corruption (Hillary Clinton) and bigotry (Donald Trump) in the 2016 national election is that either was acceptable to them, since both are intrinsic aspects of how business is being conducted.

In 2016, the Democratic (Party) National Committee saved corporate privilege from the threat of democratic accountability. American democracy did not die because of voter apathy, it was assassinated by the DNC in a conspiracy of pure betrayal of both the American people and democratic principles, with the coup de grâce being delivered on 26 July 2016. So, instead of America today being the mythical democratic republic portrayed in school textbooks, it is actually a corporatized oligarchy – or a fascist state, take your pick – with a modest social democratic insurgency carried on mainly by idealistic younger people.

That so many Americans cannot yet acknowledge these facts is a sad reflection on the extent of ignorance, bigotry, greed, insularity and self-absorption throughout the population. It is difficult to feel sympathy for the plebeian and bourgeois slaves who resist rebelling against their own exploitation, by slavishly attaching themselves to either the Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (and Barack Obama) pacifying personality projections of the corporatized oligarchy.

Until a widespread and very profound personal and socialist awakening occurs to the American people:

– America will be a racist nation because so many of its people find solace in being self-righteous victims.

– America will be a classist nation because so many of its people find comfort in greed and possessiveness.

– America will be an ageist nation because so many of its people find freedom in: relief from memory, adulation of inexperience, impatience with thinking, and lust for youth.

The threats to American security and physical integrity by external enemies are minor, and are reactions caused by the American oligarchy’s imperialism. The threats to American security and physical integrity by Nature are increasingly self-induced by obtuse denial in the service of laziness and selfishness. The threats to American popular freedom, prosperity, sanity and social cohesion are purely internal and frighteningly contagious, being the corrosive disintegration of individual and collective moral character, which are unfortunately encouraged by the examples of these same failings set by so many of the careerists at the pinnacle of America’s pyramid of power and wealth.

An alert mind seeking to preserve some degree of personal fulfillment in such a society could reason:

– as a weary and isolated cynic: “don’t worry, it’s hopeless, so do what it is in me to do, regardless,” or

– as an idealistic social activist: “this is the nature of war, by protecting others you save yourself.”

Our best hope for a just and peaceful society may lie in the fact that the future unfolds as a chaotic and largely unpredictable process, not as an entirely pre-determined program. Out of the mixed jumble of unexpected great disasters and serendipitous great opportunities that will cascade upon us, we may find the right circumstances to rescue and elevate ourselves as individuals, and unify ourselves as a more worthy society.

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Now also appearing at Dissident Voice:

Post-Democracy America
2 September 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/post-democracy-america/

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My Excellent Independence Day Rant, 2017

John Kennedy’s grave, April 1964

My Excellent Independence Day Rant, 2017

Bigotry lets stupid people feel powerful. They are bigots because they are greedy, and they are greedy because they are fearful. They are fearful because they are hollow, and desperate for their materialism and worship of power to fill the void of their lack of character, to mask their internal weakness with an illusion of external power.

In American politics: bigotry is allowed to shape the arguments, and money is allowed to control the voting. Hillary Clinton had the most well-deserved electoral defeat in American history; Donald Trump, the most undeserved win. It’s not Trump’s fault, the preference for TV over books inoculates ignorance and bigotry against learning and knowledge.

The corporate-owned politicians lie because lying is the sound of theft. They are the agents of those who think: “The purpose of life is to enrich yourself without being impeded by the needs of others.” The news media propaganda industry is rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people, who middle class people are joining. The lie being pushed is that fulfillment is to be had in a system of economic apartheid without economic security and without personal freedom.

Suffer we must, for billionaires’ money lust depends on it. For consolation we can have: clueless comforting happy talk, or searing bitter bigotry, unless we choose better.

In systems of patronage capitalism it is necessary to sell out your integrity and moral character in order to advance a financially rewarded career. You have to go along to get along. It’s like the perpetuating of physical-sexual abuse through the generations: as a child (or young worker starting out) you are abused by your seniors who demand you loyally cover their asses and slavishly submit to their demands – you cannot be impeded by moral principles or self-respect; as a rising star you find even bigger abusive tyrants to follow while recruiting your own ass-kissing minions to expand your power base; and finally as (and if) a successful pharaonic mega-abuser yourself you get to beat up multitudes, remotely, by using your army of slave-drivers and aspiring tyrants. The seed of all this is weak character, the lack of courage and/or strength to maintain personal integrity regardless of the costs in terms of comfort, money, social position, recognition, and acceptance by the herd.

Q: “Why spend $600B a year on a military to protect us if you Trumpsters and Corp-pols are willing to let us die of treatable diseases and ailments?”

A: You miss the point. The purpose of the US military is to protect Big Capital (corporate assets and operations, and plutocrats’ take), not the public. Also, the economic policy of the U.S. (i.e., the corporate-owned government and economy) is militarism: the big insiders’ war machine / finance capital profit cycle. “The people” are just an excess labor mass from which to extract wealth, and on which to dump the toxic wastes and financial costs (“socialized losses”) of exploiting and privatizing the commons. The graveyards of our war dead are garbage dumps for capitalist expansion. The U.S. is neither united nor a nation, it is a colony. “We the people” are expendable commodities steadily being programmed for slavery. The American Dream: commercializing life and death, and cornering the market.

America has a capitalist system whose foreign policy is imperialism, domestic policy is colonialism, economic policy is militarism, and management policy is patronism.

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Dracula Dems and Neo-Nazi Rubes (a rant!)

Dracula Dems:

There are basically four groups of American voters:

1, Corporatist robbers (and associated wannabe flunkies);
2, Trump fans;
3, Hillary cultists; and
4, Bernie “berners.”

The Big Capitalists and corporatists are mainline Republicans and Democrats (1), who by and large voted for Hillary Clinton this last time because she was the current face of the money-grubbing robber elite (they vote for any Repub or Dem who is the current main front for the Big Money).

The Trump fans (2) are by and large poor dumb honest bigots, many down-and-out.

The Hillary cultists (3) are by and large pale-face suburban-type dishonest bigots (and their “poor relations,” the associated darker-skinned, poorer, Stockholm-Syndromed-to-Dems, wishing-and-hoping-in-vain, and reliably suckered “minority” voters).

The awakened multi-generational anti-corporate anti-neoliberal insurrectionists are Bernie people (4).

The election of 2016 was a battle between the American people and the corporations (the Big Money robber elite), and that election was lost by the American people in July 2016, when Hillary Clinton and the DNC influence-peddling mafia (including Obama) sidelined Bernie Sander’s campaign: the authentic will of the vast majority of the American people (to this day!). The Democratic Party has no continuing legitimacy ever (and the Repub Party, a wannabe-fascist national-robbery conspiracy, is only very slightly worse).

The contest in November 2016 was between two would-be figureheads fronting the Big Money management of the USG, and Trump won that contest because Hillary was odious to groups 2 and 4; and group 2 had no other option (as Bernie was out) for registering their just complaints (no jobs, no income, poisoned water, and government didn’t care about them), and Trump appeared sympathetic (e.g., anti-TPP) while Hillary was decidedly hostile to them (pro-TPP, “single-payer healthcare will never happen,” “[blue collar] jobs are never coming back,” “[you’re] irredeemables…deplorables”).

So, the real “civil war” and “economic war” in the US is between group 1 versus groups 2 and 4 (group 3 is/are the associated wannabe flunkies of group 1). It is imperative that Berners and Trump fans realize that they are fundamentally on the same side (except for the Group 2 bigotry). The most important force for revitalizing America, and kicking out the corruption eating it out, would be a strong coalition of groups 2 and 4 to become very active behind Bernie’s initiatives, AND for the dismissing of group 3 — to Mars if possible — the Hillary cultists, who are the single biggest impediment to any useful progress in America (the second biggest impediment is the obdurate bigotry of Trump fans of all colors).

Group 1 can never be dismissed (with anything less than 1793 French methods), but as in the F.D.Roosevelt administration, it can be regulated given enough popular pressure. Group 3 are deplorable parasitic airhead irredeemables. There is no reason to ever listen to, or pay attention to, or respect any irredeemable Hillary cultist. Theirs were the key votes for Trump, whose administration actually began on 25 July 2016. The Democratic Party, under the control of Hillarists and the DNC, is a political Dracula bloodsucking on the American people. It needs to be killed with a stake driven through its DNC heart, so it fades into dust blown away in the wind, and only then can a new and REAL DEMOCRATIC party, under Bernie and Berners be formed, and the 2+4 Coalition can begin putting some straitjackets on Group 1 for the good of the nation, and world.

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Neo-Nazi Rubes:

Given the amount of ignorance, superstition, fear, bigotry and greed in the USA, it is no wonder that Donald Trump is president. He is a reflection, not an aberration.

I stand corrected (on my characterization of Trump fans in Dracula Dems): Trump voters were motivated by bigotry more than by economic hardships. From the article linked below:

“…whether it’s good politics to say so or not, the evidence from the 2016 election is very clear that attitudes about blacks, immigrants, and Muslims were a key component of Trump’s appeal,…

“Racial identity and attitudes have further displaced class (economics) as the central battleground of American politics,…

“Race trumped economics,…

“…evidence suggests that racial resentment is driving economic anxiety, not the other way around,…

“Always remember: You have to identify the disease before you can begin work on a cure. In the case of support for Donald Trump, the results are in: It isn’t the economy. It’s the racism, stupid.”

So, Trump really is the image of White (and anti-immigrant Black) America: racist to the core. See the article at this link:
https://theintercept.com/2017/04/06/top-democrats-are-wrong-trump-supporters-were-more-motivated-by-racism-than-economic-issues/

Trump is Wall Street’s puppet whose strings are being pulled through his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump has kicked his Goebbels — Steve Bannon — into a corner, but Trump hasn’t had Bannon thrown out of Mister T’s clubhouse yet because Bannon is useful as a political mannequin to focus the attention of the Neo-Nazi rubes, and keep them attached to the Trump brand, as the most reliably conned component of Trump’s demographics.

Hear this slaves!: your bigotry is the slave-masters power over you.

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A psychological disorder is:

“Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation.”
— George Alexander Kelly (1905-1967), http://oaks.nvg.org/george-kelly.html.

Kelly’s definition is the oldest likely source of the several quotes that have been blended into the well-known saying attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955): “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

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Russian-Hacked USA, and Other Follies

Tonight (10 January 2017, President Barack H. Obama delivers his televised farewell address. In 10 days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. Below are some of my thoughts at this juncture.

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On “Russians hacked the election making the USA have Donald Trump as president, and not Hillary Clinton”:

Reading the commentary and all the comments here (on Juan Cole’s blog, “Informed Comment,” on 6-9 January 2017), I think your consensus is:

#1, that the public exposure of the Podesta (Clinton, DNC) e-mails did sway the election “to Trump,” specifically away from Clinton; and

#2, that this was a bad thing, a cause for anger, and that the perpetrators of these leaks should suffer retribution from the US Government.

On point #1: there has been no doubt cast on the veracity of the leaked e-mails, therefore if a portion of the public was swayed to vote “away from Clinton” because of these e-mails then they were swayed by truthful information that had previously been hidden from them: “transparency.” I favor transparency, and believe it serves the public interest.

On point #2: If voters being swayed by the exposure of truthful information of public interest is “a bad thing,” then those who believe this prefer voters being fooled and “guided” by powerful insiders (Orwell called them the Inner Party).

Those angry that insider (mainly DNC) plans went awry are angry at the workings of democracy with better informed voters. Why not be angry at the betrayal of fair-play and democratic principles that thwarted the Sanders campaign (the most popular option nationally)? Why not be angry that such a monumental betrayal of public trust was done for the benefit of extremely corrupt and deceitful insiders (H. Clinton and associates)?

The effort to pin blame on “the Russians” for spoiling the insider’s succession gambit is just a poor and cowardly excuse to deflect attention from the Inner Party’s colossal failures:

– to devise an economy that serves the public (the major grievance of Trump voters, also Sanders voters), and

– to maintain (not corrupt) the institutions and mechanisms of democracy (the popular will having an influence through voting, the major grievance of Bernie, 3rd party and anybody-but-Clinton voters).

If killing the messenger (Assange, “the Russians,” mystery hackers, or whoever you most want to hate) is your reaction for being shown the truth, then you are condemned to be the victim of your own follies for a long time.

Trump was elected because the public consensus is that voting now has no influence on public policy — so real people can’t get what they need and want from it — but it still can sometimes be used to throw a Molotov-cocktail-by-ballots into the cozy connivances of the Inner Party.

Who is responsible for letting it get to this point? The Russians?

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My view of the significance of President Obama’s administration (2009-20016) to American history is linked below. I wrote it in 2008.

Obama and the Psychic Auto-Shrink-Wrapping Called Race in America
http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/03/20/obama-and-the-psychic-auto-shrink-wrapping-called-race-in-america/

Here is Cornel West’s summation of the Obama Administration:

Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama
9 January 2017
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency

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It is as likely that American capitalists will preserve the Social Security Trust Fund and Publicly Funded Education, as that the Chinese will end trading in rhino horn, elephant tusk and bear liver. These are the Golden Cities of Cibola and the Fountains of Youth, which the obsessed conquistadores of temporal power can never refrain from lusting after.

Climate Change is the still wet graffiti of collective world greed pressed within the geological strata of the future.

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Climate Change Is Inevitable With Trump Or Hillary

US population distribution by states (2013)

US population distribution by states (2013)

Election 2016 by counties

Election 2016 by counties (D. Trump = red; H. Clinton = blue)

As of April 1, 2010, the date of the 2010 United States Census, the nine most populous U.S. states contain slightly more than half of the total population. The 25 least populous states contain less than one-sixth of the total population. California, the most populous state, contains more people than the 21 least populous states combined. (from Wikipedia)
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Most U.S. People Live “Near” the Big Water

The 9 most populous states (each with > 10M people): CA, TX, FL, NY, IL, PA, OH, GA, NC, have seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf) or lakeshore on the Great Lakes.

The next 4 most populous states (MI, NJ, VA, WA, ranked 10-13) have seashore or lakeshore on the Great Lakes, and populations between 7M and 10M (each).

Ranked 14th is AZ, the first landlocked state (population between 6M and 7M).

Of the 16 states ranked 15-30, 7 have seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf) and 3 have lakeshore (Great Lakes), the remaining 6 are landlocked. All have populations between 3M and 7M.

The last 20 states have populations between 0.5M and 3M. There are 7 states with seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf), none with lakeshore (Great Lakes), and so 13 are landlocked.

Of the 37 states below rank 13:
all 20 landlocked states are included,
14 have seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf)
3 have lakeshore (Great Lakes).
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Whether Trump or Hillary is US president, Climate Change will continue unabated

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won the population centers and the wealth zones; Donald Trump won the countryside (see maps). The peasants and proletarians revolted against the self-satisfied and arrogant cosmopolitans, and backed an avenging berserker they hoped (hope again!) would save them economically, and thus preserve their insular and primitive cultures. This revolt is a reaction to the supreme failure of the Democratic Party to care about the impoverished and ill-educated lives in the despairing countryside. Bernie Sanders would have swept this election. The American people lost the general election to the billionaires and the corporations on 25 July 2016, at the DP convention in Philadelphia. The Trump presidency is the direct result of Hillary Clinton’s ambition and the Democratic Party’s complicity with it.

Under a Trump presidency, billionaires and corporate bosses will openly and in full public view run the country to their personal advantage, paid for by the continuing impoverishment of the citizens and degradation of the natural environment. Many hope that by political legerdemain Hillary Clinton can be installed as the president instead, on January 20, 2017. Then, they would be relieved to know that the billionaires and corporate bosses running the country to their personal advantage, paid for by the continuing impoverishment of the citizens and degradation of the natural environment, would do so discretely out of public view.

In my view, we will never stop (let alone reverse) climate change, because the addiction to fossil fuels is universal and incurable. Basically, all the personal excuses worldwide boil down to something within the range of: “I’ve got to have it to survive,” and “I’ve got to have it to profit.” Climate change is the exhaust product of capitalism (whether of “free market” or “command economy” style), and no one is willing “to miss out” on getting more power NOW to “survive” and “profit.”

Socialistic frugality to economize and thus forestall climate change could only happen under a “dictatorship,” with a top-down enforced regimen of shared economics, as under Fidel Castro in Cuba. This is impossible globally, as well as in almost every country.

I have no doubt that essentially the same policies and trends would have occurred under a Hillary Clinton presidency as under a Trump presidency. There would be big differences of style between the two, but little differences of timing. The desperate peasants who voted for Trump simply hoped to get some economic lift by getting skilled-labor jobs in Trump’s promised America-first unleashed smokestack economy (factories and mines on the prairies and in the hills, but also Wall Street pulling the strings). There was no such hope for the peasantry in Hillary’s likely economy of outsourced smokestack industries, H-1B domestic tech industries (IT and Bio-tech) and an unleashed financial industry (high-tech along the coasts, and investment banking everywhere). It’s kind of like picking between “Ford” and “Chevrolet” economies with billionaires in the drivers’ seats either way. The gas, oil and coal will be hammered, pumped and dug up, and burned to inflate fortunes.

The one advantage of a Trump presidency and economy is that it will hit most of us with an instantaneous jab of pain and burning sensation, like the sting of a bee puncturing public consciousness, and cause an immediate mass reaction seeking to swat the offender.

In contrast, a Hillary Clinton presidency and economy would hit us like the stealthy sting of a tick, which regurgitates a highly infectious anticoagulant during its bite so it can linger draining your blood until you eventually become aware of a persistent pain and a possible enduring disease.

It was never in the public interest to support Hillary Clinton to “avoid” Donald Trump, whether before or after the November 8 election. Post-election efforts going into fantasies promoting Hillary (importuning Electoral College electors to switch their votes in favor of Hillary, while sopping up conspiracy theories aiming hatred at the Russians, and blame away from the real culprits) would be better spent on planning resistance to Trump’s policy initiatives. I suspect that within two years (mid-term elections) that disillusionment with Trump will have already become visible among the ranks of Trump’s populist supporters. Then the members of the Sanders Revolution will have the opportunity to begin combining forces with disillusioned Trump supporters, and ideally also reformed and reeducated Hillary supporters (though these are likely to be the most obdurate, i.e., brainwashed), and a second populist wave might beneficially inundate the electoral spectacle by 2020.

However the politics of the next four to eight years unfolds, two conclusions seem clear:

You cannot have capitalism without gross inequity and climate change.

You cannot have socialism with ignorant, greedy and self-centered people.

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