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Contextualizing Hillary Clinton’s New Attack Ad Against Bernie Sanders

US history shows that economic, social and political transformation is possible when people elect accountable leaders.

Part of the Series

Hillary Clinton just released a new ad characterizing an unnamed Bernie Sanders as an idealist pipe-dreamer whose ideas will “never make it in the real world”:

The American people can’t afford to wait for ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world … The grandmother who has to choose between paying for medicine and paying rent can’t wait. The single mom who desperately needs a raise can’t wait. The student with a mountain of debt can’t wait. We can make real progress right now.

Here is the truth: Congress is corrupted by both Republican and Democratic politicians who enjoy profitable, personal relationships with the corporations they pass legislation to help: in investments, campaign donations, lobbying, legislative help (like policy writing), and sometimes even employment.

In return, these politicians give more than $1 billion every year – some of them yours – in tax breaks, subsidies, grants, loans and the allowance of offshore tax havens, to the wealthy corporations often donating to their campaigns and lobbying them in Washington.

In other words, Congress is “rewarding [corporations] for ripping us off,” because Congress is profiting, too.

In such a country (objectively found to be an oligarchy controlled by the powerful few), nothing – nothing – to truly benefit the American people will ever make its way through such a fraudulent Congress – unless the elite’s stranglehold on wealth and power is broken.

For the grandmother, the single mom and the student Clinton mentions in her ad to see economic justice “right now,” the American people must take part in their political system, by the tens of millions, and vote for leaders who truly represent them, instead of the politicians whose pockets are lined with corporate money.

Anything less will only prolong the corruption of the US political system, and with it, the suffering of the American people.

Contrary to what Clinton professes, such an economic, social and political transformation most certainly will “make it in the real world,” because it already has before, in this very country.

In the 1920s, Republican President Calvin Coolidge instituted steep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and cut regulations on large corporations, helping to lead to the crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression.

In response, this country had a progressive sea change.

Enflamed by economic hardship and furious with failing political theories, the American people flushed Republicans out of Congress and the White House, and, in a wildfire of populism and liberalism, blazed a social Democrat by the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a Democratic Congress along with him, into power.

For the next 36 years (from FDR to Nixon), the people of this country kept that liberal inferno burning bright, and Democrats remained the majority party in both Congress and the White House.

An outpouring of citizen support for transformative change is the only thing that will bring transformative change.

During this time, the country set into place a flood of social programs like Social Security, Medicaid, the National Youth Administration, Medicare, the Neighborhood Youth Corps, Head Start, Aid to Families With Dependent Children and the Public Works Administration; responded to the civil rights movement with the Civil Rights Act; protected workers via the Fair Labor Standards Act; restricted and regulated the big banks with the Glass-Steagall Act; bumped the top income tax rate up to over 90 percent – and “the middle class boomed, the economy boomed, and the stock market boomed.”

It was one of the most prosperous eras in US history.

Right now, the country is facing the same problems, the same unrest and the same imminent revolution that it did in 1932: the deregulation of the financial industry; the steep tax cuts for the wealthy; the extreme wealth inequality; the mistreatment of American labor; the hunger and poverty of American children; the racism and prejudice wrought against Native, Black, Brown, and Latina/o Americans; the massive greed of the behemoth financial institutions on Wall Street; the unemployment of millions of young people … the list goes on.

The problems the United States is facing are the same, and so, too, is the solution.

An outpouring of citizen support for transformative change, as the American people proved in 1932, is the only thing that will bring transformative change.

The incremental, working-within-the-establishment, struggling-through-red-tape change that Hillary Clinton is selling is simply not good enough.

But, in an attempt to show otherwise, and to demonstrate that she is the true candidate of concrete results, Clinton is attempting to cast herself as the mature adult who understands how this government operates, and how you’ve got to play the political game, while Bernie Sanders is portrayed as the clueless child whose ideas “sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world.”

The reality is the exact opposite: For the grandmother, single mom and student Clinton references in her ad to be awarded the relief they so desperately need, millions and millions of Americans will have to rise up, pour into the voting booths, elect politicians into Congress not bought by corporations, but beholden to the people, and continue to participate in their political system after election season is over.

In other words, the only way real change will come is if a true political sea change grips this nation, and if the people demand change together.

It will not come by Clinton’s slow, patient hand, but as it did in 1932, when “the public demanded immediate action.”

And it is already happening.

We have seen it happening with grassroots movements like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and Fight for 15. On the electoral front, the overwhelming support Bernie Sanders is receiving in his presidential campaign also demonstrates that much of the public is sick and tired of establishment politics, in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Throughout this entire country – city to city, town to town, towering mountain to grassy plain, emerald forest to windy desert – a resistance in the vein of 1932 is taking hold.

And it is the only thing that will pry open the stranglehold that the wealthy and powerful hold over this country, to bring forth a new era of equality and justice for all.