Gregory Krieg is the one who doesn’t get it.
On Sunday, April 8, CNN’s Gregory Krieg posted under CNN’s banner an analysis headlined “Sanders and Harris Crossed the Base. What Will it Cost Them?” In the piece Krieg, who is either grossly ignorant about the principals in his article (including, especially, Jackson mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba) and Our Revolution, or he is seeking to break up the “base” he refers to by trying to discredit Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, by — especially in the case of Sanders — statements made by the two in separate appearances last week, Sanders in Jackson, Mississippi and Harris in Sacramento, “…created headlines that could stalk them for the next two years.” Krieg went on to say that “[to] call their comments gaffes or blunders misses the point.” Krieg went on, in greatly alarmed tones, to note that Sen. Sanders had called the Democratic Party’s “business model” a “failure,” and then saying “ “People sometimes don’t see that, because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama who won the presidency in 2008 and 2012. He [Obama] was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But behind that reality, over the last 10 years, Democrats have lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures all across this country.”
So far, nothing false, nothing counter to Our Revolution’s philosophy, no blaming of Obama for having perhaps bent peoples’ perception of the Democratic party, but simply placing Obama’s extraordinary and unique status as a US president in the middle of that observation, where it most certainly belongs.
Krieg then went on to write of Sanders that “… his mention of Obama — at that time, in that place — caused anger and frustration in some already skeptical quarters of the Democratic base, particularly among those who argue Sanders’ insistence on framing inequality as a chiefly economic matter, with racial concerns existing downstream from that core divide, effectively downplays the fight for racial justice.”
Krieg does not specify whom or in what “already skeptical quarters of the Democratic base” he refers to — and he needn’t, because it goes without saying, and it is not the same “base” as those who hew to Our Revolution, but rather the Clintonian neoliberal old school DNC base which still steams with resentment that Sanders et al would ever have rocked the 2016 campaign boat to start with and continue to hold him at least partially responsible for the fact that Donald Trump now occupyies the White House.
The Sanders “blunder” was also played up in The Times of Israel rather prominently. The Times of Israel was founded by arch-conservative David Horovitz and hedge fund manager Seth Klarman. Just for the record.
Krieg’s alarm that Sanders said this thing “at that time, in that place” was based on the fact that Sanders, in Jackson for an observance of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, was sitting directly opposite Mayor Lumbumba, who ran on a platform of radical change for the capitol of Mississippi, specifically to make Jackson “the most radical city on the planet.” Oh Lord. Krieg saw Sanders’ remarks (including Obama in his estimation of what’s wrong with the Democratic “business model”) as an example of those disgruntled Democrats seeing this as Sanders not getting it, not relating well to black folks (because they have done so much better at it, I guess) and specifically placing economic justice ahead of racial justice, as though either one can be had without the other.
I call myopia if not outright bullshit on this observation of Krieg’s, who is clearly speaking for the old centrist Democratic base that truly just doesn’t get it, and for apparently not knowing much about Mayor Lumumba, whose vision for Jackson is rooted in the founding of cooperatives to correct the course of the city and make it a model for the nation. As the mayor’s sister, Rukia Lumumba, has articulated this vision, “The people retain power, which the government responds to. The residents control the city — not my brother sitting on the hill.”
This is awfully close kin to the vision Bernie Sanders has for the nation, and there could hardly have been a more appropriate meeting of minds than the occasion in Jackson last Wednesday. As for Lumumba’s feelings about the Obama effect, he was quoted thusly in The Nation: “When people ask me, ‘How do you feel about Donald Trump being president?,’ I tell them, ‘On the Wednesday after the election, I woke up in Mississippi.’ No matter whether Donald Trump is the president or Barack Obama was the president, we’ve always been at the bottom.” Lumumba believes the way we do business must change, politically and economically. His vision for Jackson is much like the one framed by Erich Fromm in his book “The Sane Society,” and the name Fromm gave to the engine for that “Sane Society” was communitarian socialism. It is, in effect, very much like Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialism.
Meanwhile, in her home town of Sacramento the day following Sanders’ “gaffe” or “blunder” (Krieg carefully placed both those words in a sentence in which he stated that to call what Sanders had said either was “to miss the point”), Sen. Harris was approached at the town hall event by an attendee who asked her the same old question that’s been plaguing her for quite a while now, in almost broken-record style, about her willingness to accept funds from corporations if they should offer. Her answer, which has been consistent since it was first made into an issue, was the same: “Well it depends.” The questioner declared that to be “the wrong answer.” Harris responded that it may not have been the answer the person wanted to hear, but “that doesn’t make it wrong.”
She’s right, of course. It does depend and it should depend. It is a personal choice, and much as this writer personally would like to see money disappear from politics, until it is made illegal, it’s going to have to depend. Joe Biden hasn’t promised to refuse corporate money either, should he run. It’s not ideal but it’s also not a crime. Krieg tried to make it seem like one, though, writing that “[t]he conservative America Rising PAC quickly blasted out video and a transcript of the exchange and Harris’ subsequent remarks…” and pointing out it had started to show up in the Tweets of “already skeptical progressives.” I must point out it was also “blasted out” by CNN via Gregory Krieg, who is a Democrat, apparently of the “baby steps” school of progressivism.
I might also note that Sen. Harris is a black woman. I wonder if Gregory Krieg, who is not (so far as I am aware) running for any office, better equipped to address the concerns of black people than, say, Bernie Sanders. Or Kamala Harris.