The New York Times Moves to Shore Up Establishment Hegemony

Yesterday’s New York Times editorial “The Democrat’s Best Choices for President,” demonstrates as well as anything could the role the Times plays in managing establishment hegemony. 

“The Democratic primary contest is often portrayed as a tussle between moderates and progressives,” writes the editorial board, while noting that “[n]early any of them would be the most progressive president in decades on issues like health care, the economy and government’s allocations of resources.”

To be sure, Sanders is still the only candidate in the running with some populist credibility (since Tulsi Gabbard has been effectively marginalized). But the Times gets Sanders comically wrong. “Senator Sanders has spent nearly four decades advocating revolutionary change for a nation whose politics often move with glacial slowness.” (It would seem that the glacier of nation’s politics is moving too fast for the Times!)

Actually, the implication is rather sinister. Sanders is not a revolutionary. But it’s more disappointing than this. He used to grasp the reality that the capitalist class was using immigration as a weapon to undermine the standard of living for Americans workers (see “Bernie Sanders Gets it on Open Borders Rhetoric—At Least He Did in 2015”). (Have you seen this business about the “Trumpianism” of Sanders? Is this what sacred him away from telling the truth about one of the most devastating aspects of globalization?)

The editorial board writes, “We are not veering away from the values we espouse, but we are rattled by the weakness of the institutions that we trusted to undergird those values.” The complaint here is not about institutions (which remain strong as long as the Senate can beat back the ambitions of House Democrats). It’s about establishment hegemony, the network of banks and corporations that grew comfortable steering the state in a manner than enriched them while marginalizing the masses, whom they see as racists and reactionary.

By “institutions,” the Times mean the status quo. (This is why too many Democrats miss George W. Bush.) By “stability” the editorial board mean a sleeping-walking public. The rebellion of the English working class has really rattled them. First Trump. Then Johnson. It must feel like the world is coming apart. Go back to sleep, proletarians. Democrats are for you. Labour is for you. Put your trust in “the institutions.” Hence back-to-back sentences like these two: “If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.” “We know you want change, but…”

The NYTimes describes Sander’s prescriptions as “overly rigid, untested and divisive.” The board writes: “Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.”

“Good news, then, that Amy Klobuchar has emerged as a standard-bearer for the Democratic center.” (Oh joy.) “Her vision goes beyond the incremental.” (No, it doesn’t.) “Given the polarization in Washington and beyond, the best chance to enact many progressive plans could be under a Klobuchar administration.” (Remember what “progressive” means: reforms that humanize the systematic exploitation of human labor.) In a revealing touch, the Times tells us that we’re supposed to appreciate that Klobuchar “sponsored and voted on dozens of national defense measures, including military action in Libya and Syria.” That’s the type of moral leadership the Times craves.

“May the best woman win.” That ought to excite those who just want to vote for somebody “who looks like me.”

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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