The lesson Nader and Sanders missed
Let's start with 2016. The consensus was formed -- Hillary Rodham Clinton was going to be the next President, and neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump was going to stand in the way. Donald Trump was the chosen opponent -- the Clinton forces thought he would appear so horrible that the voters would be motivated to select Clinton simply to avoid electing Trump. Bernie Sanders was merely trying to chirp in with the notion of social-democratic guarantees of economic security. He had no real consideration of actually winning -- he thought he was going to change the Clinton campaign so as to make it a winner through the prospect that Clinton might actually offer the people something between the start of the campaign and the perceived inevitable Clinton victory.
Of course Sanders' intentions all went wrong. The Clinton campaign responded to the Sanders campaign with elaborately-constructed sweet nothings and a vast work of election fraud. And then Clinton lost in November.
Today of course the consensus attempts to articulate its opposition to Trump -- without, of course, revealing their real concern. What the consensus doesn't like is that Trump articulates its aims too honestly -- so for instance you have consensus mouthpiece Robert Reich runs a piece in consensus publication Newsweek on "omigod Trump's going to start a nuclear war!"
Of course the closest they get to showing this is:
Me: You think Trump is really thinking nuclear war?
He: Who knows what’s in his head? But I can tell you this. He’s not listening to anyone. Not a soul. He’s got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me. It’s starting to scare all of them. That’s really why Bob spoke up.
The problem is that the consensus is itself dangerous. They're not really concerned about nuclear war, just as they're not concerned about abrupt climate change or its manifestations in California, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico or elsewhere. They were going to put warmonger Clinton in power, after all. They're sure that relief efforts will solve any problems caused. Relief efforts so far, however, have been successful because there has been a vast territory to appropriate in order to provide the relief. What happens when the disasters strike that vast territory as well?
The consensus is dangerous because it's a capitalist consensus. Capitalism is an attempt to doll up plunder to make it look like the average guy gets a chance to participate. Capitalist ideology defies logic; if everyone is doing the plundering, then someone must be plundered. The capitalist ideologues are more sophisticated than that, though. Capitalism promotes itself through wage labor -- so here's the deal -- instead of working for free for the local nobility, you get paid in money! The problem under capitalism, though, is that the government controls the money, and capital controls the government. So you're still being plundered. That was the point of Marx's theory of surplus value -- the capitalist profits off of your labor because you're being paid peanuts, while the real meat goes to the for-profit entity. So we're back to plunder. The trick, then, is to be against plunder.
The opposite of plunder in this case is healing, and the social basis for this is in disaster relief. What's missing is a general healing that doesn't go away when the disaster is generally decreed to be "over" and the plunder-institutions take over again. Such a general healing is what Patel and Moore call "reparation ecology" in their recent book.
So here is the lesson that neither Nader nor Sanders appears to have learned. The consensus is against them; the common people might appreciate their agendas, but everyone is mesmerized by the "lesser of two evils" game which keeps the consensus in power. And if the lesser of two evils game doesn't work, there's always the naked exercise of power. If by running for President both Nader and Sanders taught us those lessons, then perhaps it was all worth it.
But why compromise? Don't just try to humanize the consensus. Don't try to divide the consensus over trivial points; that's how lesser-evil governance works. Expose the consensus in its disastrous modes of operation. Oh, and run for office -- that's what both Nader and Sanders got right. And prep the ground by mentioning "socialism" -- that's what Sanders got right.