Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Oligarch, A Big Word To Throw Around

Ignore the misleading, emotionally charged, and fairly ridiculous headline from the The Daily Beast. As its reporter notes, on Monday afternoon, MSNBC's Chris Matthews interviewed former Ohio state senator and prominent Bernard Sanders surrogate Nina Turner.  Matthews (skilled at getting people to say stupid things) asked Turner "do you think Mike Bloomberg is an oligarch?" and Turner replied

He is. He skipped Iowa. Iowans should be insulted. Buying his way into this race, period. The DNC changed the rules. They didn’t change it for Senator Harris. They didn’t change it for Senator Booker. They didn’t change it for Secretary Castro.

Yes, Ms. Turner. Harris, Booker, Castro- we get the implication.  The Democratic National Committee's original criteria for admission to the debates was misguided, it now is trying to correct it, and it may have made matters worse. But that's a topic (involving state parties, money, and Barack Obama) for another time.

Merriam-Webster defines "oligarch" as a member or supporter of oligarchy, which it in turn defines as 1) government by the few; or 2) a government in which a small group exercises control, especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.

Until and unless President Trump is re-elected, this will not be, and has not been, an oligarchy. (Even then, it will be less an oligarchy than rule by one person or by one family.) Not even democratic socialist Sanders has claimed that it is.

Nevertheless, Turner stood her ground, though it be sinking beneath her.  After a commercial break, she maintained

it was “ironic” that “somebody would defend the wealthiest people in this country over the working people in this country.”

“That is the same message Bernie Sanders has to the everyday people of this nation, that I welcome the hatred of the elites because I am standing up for you,” she added. “So cry me a river for the wealthiest.”

MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson 

meanwhile, contended that his issue was what the word “oligarch” implied while also claiming that Turner herself worked for someone who’s part of the one percent, wondering if she would call Sanders an oligarch.

Aside from whether "ironic" is the operative term, Johnson did not defend the wealthy over working people. However, she is not stupid and did not take Johnson's bait. She ignored his question,  inasmuch that under her ill-informed definition of "oligarch," her candidate is one, also.

Conservative, liberal, or progressive; Republican or Democrat; black or  ni____"; very wealthy or oligarch (even hispanic or Latino): words matter.  The USA is not an oligarchy but instead a nation of one President and many cabinet officials, 535 national legislators, and tens of thousands of state and elected officials.

If Turner wants irony, here it is: that individuals such as she who exaggerate the importance of influential people- of whom there are hundreds spread throughout the public and private sectors- may hasten the emergence of authoritarian rule. Johnson added

Mike Bloomberg is just a rich guy. Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean that you’re an oligarch that abuses power. The power that Mike Bloomberg got access to was given to him by the voters of New York... It ain’t the kind of language you should be using. I think it’s dismissive, unfair and it's the kind of thing that blows up in your face if you become the nominee and you have to work with Mike Bloomberg three or four months from now. That’s the issue Sanders people never seem to want to remember.

If Bernard Sanders does become the nominee and his people fail to learn this lesson, Donald Trump will be re-elected and American government will be restructured in a manner far more dangerous than Ms. Turner and some other Sanderistas now understand.

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