On Wednesday, The Intercept reported that a roster of private equity vultures, C-suite ghouls, and Ice Cube’s business partner were funding the longshot Democratic primary bid of former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the tune of nearly a million dollars in the first quarter of 2020.
Caruso-Cabrera has no policy positions whatsoever on her website, and for good reason: She was a Tea Partier as recently as a decade ago, when she wrote a book called You Know I’m Right: More Prosperity, Less Government. Lee Fang writes:
In the book, Caruso-Cabrera calls Medicare and Social Security “the country’s biggest pyramid schemes,” and wrote that she would end both programs in favor of a privatized voucher system. Medicare, Caruso-Cabrera wrote, “is another pay-as-you-go Ponzi scheme” that should be replaced with a health savings account that gives “seniors $1,000 or $2,000 a year to start.” Social Security, she notes, should be replaced with a private account system, in which Americans are incentivized to invest in the stock market.
Caruso-Cabrera devotes an entire chapter to the many policy successes of the Reagan administration, and writes that she favors tax cuts and deregulation, including eliminating entire federal agencies such as the Labor Department.
This is almost certainly a waste of money. Ocasio-Cortez raised over $5 million in 2019, an off-year, and barring unforeseen circumstances, she shouldn’t have any problem winning her primary and re-election. If Wall Street really wants to get rid of her, they’d be much better served by lining the pockets of the right New York Democratic legislators, who will likely control redistricting after this year.
It will only be your turn when you win, and you will only win when you beat them.
But as futile as this exercise seems, it illustrates how desperate capital is to crush dissent.
It’s not that capitalists fear an imminent takeover by the left, or have any reason to do so. The 2020 primary was the best opportunity the left has had to take the White House since Henry Wallace got kicked off the 1944 Democratic ticket, and the project failed. The Democratic congressional leadership, with little protest from the biggest figures on the American left (who, admittedly, had limited power to stop it) helped Mitch McConnell ram through a corporate bailout that might turn out worse than TARP. The simmering class and generational anger that fueled the movement behind Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 runs is still there, but it has lost its central electoral figurehead who projects a vision for a better country, and has an uncertain future in the mainstream of American politics, either as part of the Democratic Party or something else altogether.
Capital isn’t satisfied by a simple humiliating defeat, however, and its representatives have a visceral hatred for Ocasio-Cortez — not unlike the hatred they had for the people who occupied Zuccotti Park. They view AOC as a protester, really, albeit one who broke through security and somehow found herself on the House Financial Services committee where Jamie Dimon couldn’t ignore her questions any longer.
And so that’s how Caruso-Cabrera was able to pull together nearly a million dollars in three months from some of the dumbest rich assholes in Manhattan: Merely presenting the illusion of a challenge of one of the rare members of Congress you can define as something even approaching “left-wing” is a wildly successful grift. Imagine what a genuine coordinated effort could do to stamp out the left.
All of this is a useful reminder that nothing for the American left is destiny. It doesn’t matter how badly Wall Street ruins the economy, or how many elections neoliberals lose to fascists. The left will never have power simply because it’s “our turn.” You can sniff around, sure, but once you get the bright idea to grab a couple scraps off the table, the ruling class will be there with a spray bottle and a reminder that you’re a bad dog.
As the Sanders campaign postmortems proliferate, the behind-the-scenes finger-pointing gets published, and the question eventually turns to “Well, what the fuck do we do now,” this fact should be front and center. Capital will never let you just “have” anything. Even if you’re effectively powerless, they will fight to stamp out your voice if it’s too loud and critical. It will only be your turn when you win, and you will only win when you beat them.
Screenshot: ABC/The View