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by Mitchell Abidor
THE CORN-GROWERS of Iowa have finally spoken. Hillary Clinton, who learned nothing from her humiliation in the primaries of eight years ago, when she mocked Barack Obama’s magnificent promise, talking about how under Obama “the skies will open, the light will come down, [and] celestial choirs will be singing,” repeated her performance this go-round. Her sneering at Bernie Sanders’ flights of fancy about single-payer healthcare and a more just America has left her with egg on her face. Never has a smart person shown herself to be so stupid so consistently. I write this on Groundhog Day, and Clinton is clearly stuck in a political version of the film of that name. Never has an experienced politician allowed herself to be so badly out-politicked.
People were celebrating at her headquarters when I turned off the TV to go to sleep, but celebrating what? That she did better than Jeb Bush, who when this all began was, like her, a shoo-in?
Like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, I’m convinced that Clinton would have a better chance to beat a serious Republican, but against a hideous jerk like Ted Cruz, Bernie would do quite well. Cruz — or any of those wingnuts — can carry the Pellagra Belt, but in the rest of America, where people’s IQs are higher than the number of their teeth, Bernie, it seems, can hold his own.
It’s been pointed out more than once that the experts have spent months dismissing Bernie’s crowds in every possible way. If many old people show up for a rally, well, that’s his audience, educated older whites, so what do you expect? If young people show up, well, that’s his audience so what do you expect? But pig farmers? The whitest fucking people in the country? No one can accuse them of being tainted with big city Jewish leftism?
Rudy Giuliani, when he ran eight years ago, flubbed Iowa and New Hampshire and counted on winning the expatriate New Yorkers in Florida. We know how well that worked out. Clinton has been certain that whatever happens in Iowa and New Hampshire, when she gets to the South and its black voters — who tend to show little interest in primaries in any case — she will beat up on Bernie. But she might now want to think twice about that. Anyone interested enough to vote in a primary, black or white, will now know about Sanders.
But of course, if Bernie makes a good showing in the South, the experts will say that well, what do you expect, it’s black voters, and his appeal is to the oppressed.
The anonymity that Clinton and her henchmen in the Democratic Party were trying to impose upon Sanders by limiting debates and scheduling them when no one would watch is no more. Bernie’s showing is a well-deserved thumb in the eye of the Democratic leadership. Things are looking good for the good guys for once.
As we know from the brief careers of Presidents Huckabee and Santorum, Iowa actually means nothing to the winner and everything to the loser. But we on the left, who have done nothing but lose for... well, forever, should enjoy this moment. A large sector of Iowa, which in the time of the Populists was known for its voice of outrage, has recovered that tradition, if only briefly. Let’s revel in it.
Mitchell Abidor, our contributing writer, is the recipient of a Hemingway Grant from the French Ministry of Culture for his new translation of Emmanuel Bove’s A Raskolnikoff. His other new books are Voices of the Paris Commune and his collection of writings by and about the anarchist “propagandists of the deed,” Death to Bourgeois Society.
Mitchell Abidor, a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. Among his books are a translation of Victor Serge’s Notebooks 1936-1947, May Made Me: An Oral History of My 1968 in France, and I’ll Forget it When I Die, a history of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Liberties, Dissent, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.