Gov. Gina Raimondo: Bloomberg’s Democratic Bellwether

Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital. -Georgi Dimitrov, 1935

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Micheal Bloomberg and Gina Raimondo./Image by Steve Ahlquist, UpriseRI

The number of times I have written about Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo for this publication is truly astounding. How in the name of Lenin’s ghost can one possibly justify this many polemics against the chief executive of a state that is smaller than New York City, so minuscule that you can drive across it in both directions without burning through a quarter-tank of gas?

In our latest dispatch, news came down last week that Raimondo had endorsed former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, describing it as “an easy call.” Throughout the year, she has been a major organizer in the ground game to boost moderate Democrats.

Alongside her Bloomberg endorsement, she also said last week “Every day, I worry about Bernie Sanders being the nominee. I don’t think he can beat President Trump. Socialism isn’t the answer. The American people, I think, will reject that in November.” (This is despite the fact that Sanders swept the 2016 RI primary, a major blow to Clinton super-delegate Raimondo’s aspirations.)

Raimondo is the apotheosis of Wall Street finance capital, that nexus of power that owns both political parties in toto. Her agenda since entering public service has been to utilize her neoliberal feminist identity politics as a weapon that provides a smokescreen for privatizing every public resource she possible can, first by investing the state pension fund in hedge funds (the greatest fiscal loss in state history) and then by trying to expand charter schools in order to break the Providence Teachers Union, the largest such labor organization in the state.

That a Wall Street errand girl would jump out of the gate so readily to endorse Bloomberg, a certifiable fascist if there ever was one to be found in 21st century municipal politics, says a great deal.

First, after sending into the ring absolute train wrecks like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the 1% is getting spooked enough by Democratic voters to deploy one of their own, a retrograde hobgoblin whose policies led to the suffering of millions of BIPOC New Yorkers, including things like the suicide of Kalief Browder. Raimondo knows the hand that feeds her and does what she’s told, even when it alienates the core elements of her BIPOC electoral base. (All week, any casual observation of #BlackTwitter and Facebook postings has shown not only are African American voters appalled by a Bloomberg candidacy, many are refusing to ever vote for him under any circumstance.)

But second, and more importantly, this is the true face of the Democratic Party and its leadership. Bloomberg is not an aberration and he is not an accident, instead he is the reality of Democratic Party superstructural politics incarnated. If it is not made abundantly clear already, they would rather lose with a beast like this than win with Sanders. It also bespeaks the tremendous level of racism, homophobia and trans-misogyny (along with your traditional loathing of women), and sexism that is inscribed still into the foundations of the Democrats, regardless of Gina Raimondo’s personal identity. Bloomberg’s candidacy is indicative of how low the Dems will go to maintain their Wall Street alliance, all other concerns be damned to the hell of Trump’s second term.

In a classic essay about the ascendancy of Thatcherism that is equally-applicable to the Bloomberg candidacy and Raimondo-ism, the late Stuart Hall wrote:

In our intellectual way, we think that the world will collapse as the result of a logical contradiction: this is the illusion of the intellectual.

A crisis is not an immediate event but a process: it can last for a long time, and can be very differently resolved: by restoration, by reconstruction or by passive transformism. Sometimes more stable, sometimes more unstable.

Crises of this order erupt, not only in the political domain and the traditional areas of industrial and economic life, not simply in the class struggle, in the old sense; but in a wide series of polemics, debates about fundamental sexual, moral and intellectual questions, in a crisis in the relations of political representation and the parties — on a whole range of issues which do not necessarily, in the first instance, appear to be articulated with politics, in the narrow sense, at all.

We are exactly in that moment.

We cannot…go back to the notion of mistaking electoral politics, or party politics in a narrow sense, or even the occupancy of state power, as constituting the ground of modern politics itself. [Emphasis added]

Especially in societies of our kind, the sites on which power is constituted will be enormously varied. We are living through the proliferation of the sites of power and antagonism in modern society… It puts directly on the political agenda the questions of moral and intellectual leadership, the educative and formative role of the state, the ‘trenches and fortifications’ of civil society, the crucial issue of the consent of the masses and the creation of a new type or level of civilisation, a new culture.

While Sanders voters wax romantic for the Keynesian Happy Days, Bloomberg and Raimondo represent a deeply-entrenched nostalgia within the Democratic superstructure for the halcyon moment of 1990’s consensus and triangulation, that brief window of time when the Clinton-Gingrich presidency seemed to obliterate the economic policy distinctions between the two parties (and nearly vaporized the entire American welfare state along the way). They also articulate the reality of not only neoliberalism as the economic program dominant within the Democratic Party but also a vision of American politics that even the most militant elements of the Sanders base, the Green Party presidential campaigns, and the various formations of the white Left in America share.

Hall explained that repudiating this was necessary for the construction of a countervailing force that would reverse Thatcher’s hegemony:

…The Left, in its organised, labourist form [that centers its action on the mainstream electoral parties, i.e. the Democrats in American contexts], does not seem to have the slightest conception of what putting together a new historical project entails.

It does not understand the necessarily contradictory nature of human subjects, of social identities.

It does not understand politics as a production.

It does not see that it is possible to connect with the ordinary feelings and experience which people have in their everyday lives, and yet to articulate them progressively to a more advanced, modern form of social consciousness. It is not actively looking for and working upon the enormous diversity of social forces in our society.

It doesn’t see that it is in the very nature of modern capitalist civilisation to proliferate the centres of power, and thus to draw more and more areas of life into social antagonism. It does not recognise that the identities which people carry in their heads – their subjectivities, their cultural life, their sexual life, their family life, their ethnic identities, their health – have become massively politicised.

The ascendancy of Tony Blair and later the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn demonstrated the inability of the British to construct what Hall proposed.

And the fact that Buttigieg, Biden, Harris, and now Bloomberg now have a snowball’s chance in hell shows the failure of Bernie Sanders in this regard.

In other words, even if Bloomberg crashes and burns, we are still a long way off from the eradication of his type of politics, a truly frightening prospect considering the immense harm he can and does do to our civil society.

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