To understand the dynamics underlying the Clinton-Sanders nomination contest, it’s helpful to remember the old adage that Democrats are supposed to be the party of ordinary working people. As the nomination process plays out, the 2016 race might be remembered as the party’s last gasp at being true to that narrative.
A party beholden to corporate power cannot simultaneously be the party of ordinary working people, and thus we can see the Democrats’ dilemma. Though the party distinguishes itself from the GOP in some ways – Democrats are more liberal on social issues, for example, and more inclined to defend programs like Medicare and Social Security – there can be no question that corporate money has undue influence on both major parties, not just the GOP. When Hillary Clinton was seen as the inevitable 2016 Democratic nominee, there was no reason to believe this status quo would be challenged. But the rise of Bernie Sanders changes everything.
The genius of the corporate coup that has overtaken US democracy is not that it dominates the GOP – the party that has long favored corporate power anyway – but that it has maneuvered even the opposition party into submission as well. The brightest minds on Wall Street are experts at hedging bets, and they play politics just as they play finance. Such dynamics are key to understanding not only the role of the Clinton candidacy in the eyes of corporate America, but the perceived threat posed by the Sanders campaign with its persistent advocacy for people over corporations.
Clinton, who once served on the board of Walmart, the gold standard of predatory corporatism, is so tight with corporate power that she’s now making efforts to downplay her relationships. CNBC reports that she is postponing fundraisers with Wall Street executives, no doubt concerned that voters are awakening to the toxic influence of corporations on politics and government. Already in the awkward position of explaining six-figure checks from Wall Street firms for speaking engagements and large charitable donations from major banks, Clinton realizes that she must try to distance herself from her corporate benefactors.