Socialism, even democratic socialism, is quite different from progressivism

Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. So does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating incumbent Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley in a major upset victory.

The odd thing is: are they really democratic socialists? Do they even know what democratic socialism is?

There is evidence that they aren’t and don’t.

Noam Chomsky and Cornel West say that Sanders is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist.   They call him a New Dealer. See Bernie Sanders is NEITHER a Socialist nor a Democratic Socialist and What does Sanders mean by ‘democratic socialism’?.

(Chomsky points out that Dwight Eisenhower — who said that anyone who questioned the New Deal doesn’t belong in the political system — would be called a raging leftist in the current extreme political climate.)

Professor Frances Fox Piven, the honorary chairperson of the official Democratic Socialists of America coalition, says Sanders “does not quite meet the definition of the term,” calling him a New Deal Democrat. Source: What does Sanders mean by ‘democratic socialism’?.

Marian Tupy, of the libertarian Cato Institute, writes in The Atlantic: “Bernie Sanders is not a socialist, but a social democrat.”
Bernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist: Scandinavia is, by one measure, a freer market than the United States. Tupy writes:

Considering the negative connotations of “socialism” in America, it is a bit of a puzzle why Sanders insists on using that word. It would be much less contentious and more correct if he gave his worldview its proper name: not “democratic socialism,” which implies socialism brought about through a vote, but social democracy.

I wholeheartedly agree.

A New Yorker article on Ocasio-Cortez suggests that she calls herself a democratic socialist not because of any deep ideological commitment. Her self-appellation has “less to do with theory or ideology than with the simple fact that she kept seeing members at rallies for every cause she cares about, from the Hurricane Maria rescue effort to Black Lives Matter. She defines her politics as a struggle for ‘social, economic, and racial dignity.'”

That doesn’t sound like socialism to me.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, distorted with embossing via gimp

According to Wikipedia:

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production[1] with an emphasis on self-management and/or democratic management of economic institutions within market socialism or decentralized and participatory planned economy.[2] Democratic socialists hold that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the democratic values of liberty, equality and solidarity; and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics as a means to establish socialism.[3]

So, democratic socialism is still a form of socialism. Adherents want social ownership of the means of production.  Such ideology is out of the mainstream in America, and adherents are susceptible to criticism and ridicule.

This NPR article paints a mostly radical (i.e., accurate) picture of democratic socialism: What You Need To Know About The Democratic Socialists Of America.

This webpage What is Democratic Socialism Q & A by the (Young) Democratic Socialists of America has clear explanations of what they believe.

Most progressives are social democrats: they are not completely opposed to private wealth and corporations. They just want private wealth to be adequately taxed, regulated, and counter-balanced by a robust social safety net, for the sake of the common good.   Think FDR, Robert Kennedy, and Dennis Kucinich, not Eugene Debs.   Think the mixed Nordic model, not democratic socialism.

Social democracy is apparently the goal of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, and, I’m sure it’s the goal of most of the millions of followers of Sanders.

Words matter.

Some supporters of democratic socialism describe it in a way that makes it seem compatible with private ownership and capitalism. For example, I saw this meme image on facebook:

Description of Democratic Socialism that makes it look compatible with capitalism

From what have gathered, the description in the image above is inaccurate. The image describes social democracy.  Democratic socialism is opposed to private ownership.

I have no problem with people who are really socialists calling themselves socialists. I do have a problem with sloppy language that can harm the Left.

For heaven’s sake, and for the sake of the progressive movement, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez should call themselves what they are: social democrats!

 

Who and what to blame for Trump, in one image

Who and what to blame for Trump

For a detailed, excellent analysis, see Everything mattered: lessons from 2016’s bizarre presidential election. The election was close, so many groups and people share blame for the outcome.

This Politico article and this facebook video from the Young Turks describe how the Hillary campaign ignored the swing states til it was too late.

By the end of the election, Trump was repeating Bernie Sanders’s talking points about inequality and outsourcing. Obviously he convinced a lot of people that he and the Repugs would help the middle class. Obama barely tried, but even if he had, the Repugs would have obstructed his efforts.

After being criticized on facebook, I am now wondering whether my inclusion of “Clinton Foundation” is a mistake and a succumbing to GOP propaganda.  The Clinton Foundation received a 4 out of 4 rating from Charity Navigator and an A from Charity Watch.    Is the widespread perception that the Clinton Foundation is corrupt justified?  Show the evidence.

Similarly, on the question of whether Putin really did help Trump, it’s unclear whether the CIA. can be believed.

We Told You So!

We Berniecrats warned people, during the primary, that Hillary was vulnerable, that Bernie would more easily beat Trump.

Indeed, Bernie warned the Democrats on August 28, 2015:

Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout.

With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will not be successful.

The people of our country understand that — given the collapse of the American middle class and the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing — we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.

We need a political movement which is prepared to take on the billionaire class and create a government which represents all Americans, and not just corporate America and wealthy campaign donors.

In other words, we need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of it.

Is this an opportunity to replace corporate Dems? Or is this a victory of conservative, corporate ideology? Though Hillary and the corporate Dems lost, it’s hard to see this as a victory for progressive values, given the Republican gains.

Possibly the loss is best blamed on hatred of Hillary, fueled by the powerful right wing media, and on populist revolt against the establishment, especially among rural white folk, many poor and poorly educated.

One problem with revitalizing the Democratic Party is that most Congressional progressives, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, sold out to Hillary and went down with her sinking ship.

I often think that Elizabeth Warren should have run. She’ll be 71 in 2020, possibly too old. She is almost as progressive as Sanders; but, unlike him, she doesn’t call herself a socialist. She wasn’t hated, the way Hillary was hated. Yet Warren may have destroyed her credibility by refusing to back Sanders and by hitching her star to Hillary’s.

Looking for a silver lining …. will Trump follow through on his pacifist rhetoric? While he’s spoken against the Iraq War and other foreign entanglements, he’s also pledged bring back water-boarding and beef up the military. Presumably, Trump will avoid war with Putin. Maybe this is a silver lining. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Rob Kall (editor of OpEdNews and my friend) blames the DNC, the HillaryBots, CNN, MSNBC, and even Elizabeth Warren for supporting a corrupt, hated candidate.

Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek, has this excellent commentary:

In the end, Hillary Clinton became the face of a corrupt, arrogant and out-of-touch Establishment, while Donald Trump emerged as an almost perfectly imperfect vessel for a populist fury that had bubbled beneath the surface of America.

There is clearly much to fear from a Trump presidency, especially coupled with continued Republican control of Congress. Trump and many Republicans have denied the reality of climate change; they favor more tax cuts for the rich; they want to deregulate Wall Street and other powerful industries — all policies that helped create the current mess that the United States and much of the world are now in.

Further, Trump’s personality is problematic to say the least. He lacks the knowledge and the temperament that one would like to see in a President — or even in a much less powerful public official. He appealed to racism, misogyny, white supremacy, bigotry toward immigrants and prejudice toward Muslims. He favors torture and wants a giant wall built across America’s southern border.

But American voters chose him in part because they felt they needed a blunt instrument to smash the Establishment that has ruled and mis-ruled America for at least the past several decades. It is an Establishment that not only has grabbed for itself almost all the new wealth that the country has produced but has casually sent the U.S. military into wars of choice, as if the lives of working-class soldiers are of little value.

On foreign policy, the Establishment had turned decision-making over to the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, a collection of haughty elitists who often subordinated American interests to those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for political or financial advantage.

With blinders firmly in place, the Democrats yoked themselves to Clinton’s gilded carriage and tried to pull it all the way to the White House. But they ignored the fact that many Americans came to see Clinton as the personification of all that is wrong about the insular and corrupt world of Official Washington. And that has given us President-elect Trump.

Canadian Border Patrol guarding against illegal American immigrants

Trump will be elected?

Huffington Post published an article by Michael Rosenblun: Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected. See also Trump shatters GOP records with small donors.

The American people will be losers no matter who wins the POTUS election . The problem, and therefore the solution, lies in the perceived understanding and emotions of those same American people. Transforming them is not an easy task. My advice, work for and support legislative and congressional candidates who have progressive values. Locally, we have Joe Pakootas: http://www.pakootasforcongress.com/

If there is hope for Clinton, it is to create a reverse coattail effect. Pushing harder on POTUS and statewide races will not help district candidates much.

At the national and state level, the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign aren’t even in the right ballpark. They are in denial or ignorance about the actual state of the American economy and have adopted so many aspects of the GOP’s voodoo economics they have sheathed their best weapon. For example, it is hard to provide hope of achieving anything on climate change, and thus make it an effective issue, if you limit yourself to neoliberal responses.

Not that the Greens or Libertarians are doing any better. Stein is running against the Dem Party, which will make some folks feel good but is not a path to winning or growing the Greens to major status. Johnson is being fundamentally dishonest in saying he agrees substantially with Bernie. Neither is a solution.

George Lakoff has a longer piece that offers good advice. Yet, as he says himself, “More than half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times. Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the NY Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists.”   https://georgelakoff.com/2016/07/23/understanding-trump-2/

We could have just nominated Bernie. Lakoff doesn’t mention him, but he was pretty much following Lakoff’s script for progressive victory, while Clinton’s campaign is hardwired in the other direction.

• Go positive with YOUR vision (“we have to be realistic” is not a vision, saying “Trump’s vision is evil” simply spreads and reinforces it),
• Focus on VALUES (neither neo-liberalism nor liberal interventionism is a progressive value set),
• Stay out of shouting matches and name calling (above all, avoid calling the voters names, “basket of deplorables” indeed).
• Prioritize human freedom issues over identity issues (Her identity as a woman is played as a major asset by her campaign).

Hot August Political Thoughts

Currently, we arguably live in an Oligarchy – A form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Examples: The Russian Federation, the United States of America.
-Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

A 2014 Study by Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, analyzed nearly 1,800 policies enacted by the US government between 1981 and 2002, and compared them to the expressed preferences of the American public as opposed to wealthy Americans and large special interest groups. It found that wealthy individuals and organizations representing business interests have substantial political influence, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little to none. Gilens and Page apply the concept of “civil oligarchy” as used by Jeffrey Winters with respect to the US. Winters has posited a comparative theory of “oligarchy” in which the wealthiest citizens – even in a “civil oligarchy” like the United States – dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection. -Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Political power must be wrestled from the American Oligarchy and it will use every bit of its immense power, including control of corporate media, to maintain its domination. The Oligarchy will not leave meekly and gently in the night. Anyone who thinks this will be easy, or quickly done, is seriously misguided, naïve, or delusional. This a war, not a battle, albeit a just cause for those taking the Oligarchy on.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There are 244 million Americans of voting age. Some 81 percent of us, about 198 million, are women, millennials, or persons of color. Of the remaining 46 million of us who are white males over the age of 35, a decent number are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. Absent a military coup, the eventual demise of the Oligarchy is spelled out in these demographics, if the American People open their eyes and exercise their power in a concerted, sustained, effective manner.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Every political candidate should earn the votes of Progressives through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of voter values and views, demonstrated good judgement, and by running a campaign in a manner that demonstrates respect for voters, an ability to listen, and a recognition that maintaining the status quo in terms of those with extraordinary wealth and/or corporate influence over all levels of government has all but destroyed our Democracy and turned it into an Oligarchy is unacceptable.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There is absolutely no moral, social, or political equivalency between voting for Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton. Nada. Zilch. None.

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Far from it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the Oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her Husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons.

Clinton is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican who will extend the control of the Oligarchy over economic policies for four years and will have to be constantly thwarted by an engaged electorate to prevent us from entering into further needless wars. Progressives will have to push, cajole, embarrass, and hem in Clinton – a hard but manageable task – to minimize negative impacts on the working class and our shrinking middle class. It will be a difficult four years with many suffering but the nation and the planet will survive.

Trump is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. It is clear his decision-making in matters of virtually any policy topic is irrational, ego driven, and inconsistent. If he ran our economy like he ran his businesses, he would start a trade war, a Second Great Depression, and quite possibly a third World War. His instability, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia would be a cataclysmically divisive force likely not seen in our nation since our Civil War 150 years ago and potentially result in America becoming a pariah nation. His Climate Change Denial will push us to the edge of environmental extinction.

The best we can hope for if Donald Trump is elected is a quick impeachment and removal. Unfortunately, if Trump were removed from office, he’d be replaced by one of the most rightwing politicians in America – Mike Pence (Planned Parenthood rating of 0%, NARAL Pro-Choice America 0%, National Farmers Union 11%, Sierra Club 0%, American Library Association 0%, National Association of Manufacturers 100%, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 0%, Human Right Campaign 0%, Americans for Democratic Action 0%, ACLU 0%, NAACP 5%, American Conservative Union Lifetime Score 99%, Alliance for Retired Americans Lifetime Score 3%, League of Conservation Voter Lifetime Score 4%, American Wilderness Coalition 0%, American Association of University Women 0%, AFL-CIO Lifetime Score 5%, AFSCME Lifetime Score 2%, Source: VoteSmart.org).

At the worse, we could see an attempted or successful Military Coup or the Start of World War Three. There is no way Donald Trump should have access to nuclear launch codes. Seriously.

Hillary Clinton is a temporary barrier to Progressives defeating the American Oligarchy. Donald Trump is an immediate existential threat to the survival of our nation and planet. They are not equivalent. It is not a close call. Trump must never be elected President.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

We would have been even worse off if it were not for Bernie Sanders and what I would call “The Great Awakening.” A little known, Independent Socialist Senator from the state ranking 49th in population started a national movement that engaged America’s largest Generation (Millennials), generated 13 million votes, made income inequality a widely recognized issue, propelled public awareness of the existential threat of Climate Change, and shook the Oligarchy and Political establishment to its core. Bernie and the Progressive Movement have at least temporarily pushed Clinton towards the left on important economic, social, trade, and environmental issues. Bernie achieved far more success than he or most of those of who are his supporters could have thought truly possible at the onset of his campaign. To his great credit and to the equally great discredit of virtually every other nationally prominent progressive politician in the country, he did what they were too cowardly to do: took on the Clinton Political Machine, Democratic Party power structure, Corporate Media, and the American Oligarchy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Amazingly, Bernie almost won – earing 46 percent of pledged delegates. Arguably, in a straight-up and fair nominating process, Sanders would have won.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Of course, the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominating process was not straight-up and fair. The 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominating Process was the most overtly manipulative, unethical, corrupt process in modern American Political History. The integrity of the nominating process of two-thirds of Democratic State Parties was shattered by fundraising arrangements with the Clinton Campaign. The Democratic National Committee was essentially a completely controlled and biased appendage of the Clinton Campaign.

Corporate Media essentially parroted Clinton Campaign speaking points from start to finish. Future historians will write that 2016 was the year Corporate Media completely forsook responsible journalism and engaged in wholesale and totally slanted propaganda to maximize profits and help determine a Presidential Race’s outcome. Murrow, Cronkite, Chancellor, Huntley, Brinkley, and Jennings are, no doubt, spinning in their respective graves.

Millions were prevented from exercising their franchise in a purposeful, underhanded, systematic manner. Ongoing investigations and law suits may very well prove actual vote rigging and miscounts in any number of states. Multiple academic researchers have reviewed primary election data and concluded that the results could only been achieved thru widespread vote fraud. Cal-Berkley and Stanford Studies placed the odds that Hillary Clinton won without widespread fraud at only 1 chance in 77 Billion (http://alexanderhiggins.com/stanford-berkley-study-1-77-bi…/).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

So, what are our options in 2016? We have four candidates who will possess the theoretical possibility of being elected President of the United States this November in that they will each be on enough States’ ballots to win 270 Electoral College Votes and the Presidency.
The “Democratic Party Nominee”, Hillary Clinton, is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, who is the clear choice of the Oligarchy.

The “Republican Party Nominee”, Donald Trump, as previously stated, is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. If elected, he has the serious potential to involve us in a constitutional crisis, internal strife not seen since the Civil War, a Major Economic Depression, or even a Third World War or a Military Coup to prevent such a war. A recent poll found one fifth of Republican voters want Trump to drop out.
The Libertarian Party Nominee, Gary Johnson, is a former Republican Governor of New Mexico and was also the 2012 Libertarian Presidential Nominee. Johnson received about one million votes for President in 2012. Johnson’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 8.3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16)).

The Green Party Nominee, Jill Stein, is a Medical Doctor and was also the 2012 Green Party Presidential Nominee. Stein received about 470,00 votes for President in 2012. Stein’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

What are Libertarians? They frequently describe themselves as “Socially Liberal and Fiscally Conservative. I think that is half right – they are Fiscally Conservative but they are not consistently liberals on Social Issues. Critics label Libertarians as “Republicans who smoke pot.” Author Christopher Hitchens acerbically described Libertarians this way: “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement in the U.S. that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” Libertarians are secularized Republicans without the Far Right “Christian” moralistic bullshit, in my humble opinion. David Koch, yes, one of those Koch Brothers, net worth $44.2 Billion, was the 1980 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. Koch is hardly a progressive on any issue.

The 2016 Libertarian Platform calls “for the repeal of the income tax” and the abolishment of “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” Their platform also indicates “an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union…” and supports “restoring and reviving a free market health care system…” and “phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” Libertarians “oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production…” and “favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.” Libertarians maintain “Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.” Rather Darwinian and survival of the fittest, these Libertarians, but they’ll let folks smoke pot.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!
The Green Party really isn’t a National Political Party at all yet – it’s more of a shell of a Presidential Candidate nominating process with fragmentary cells of supporters lightly scattered about the country and wrapped around a progressive and enlightened political platform reminiscent of a 21st Century version of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Think of what the Democratic Party Platform would look like to a progressive without any corporate warping and distortion and you’d probably have something that would look very much like the Green Party Platform. The Green Party is basically a philosophical pure version of the Democratic Party in terms of ideology, if the Democratic Party didn’t have any meaningful infrastructure and was free of all the corporate bullshit, bad influences, tremendous policy warping resulting from said bullshit and influences.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The “Ten Key Values” of the Green Party Are Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus and Sustainability. The Green Party Platform includes “A Call to Action”, a Preamble, the “Ten Key Values” and detailed sections on “Democracy”, “Social Justice”, “Ecological Sustainability”, and “Economic Justice and Sustainability.” Most members of the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and certainly “Berniecrats” would be very comfortable with the 2016 Green Party Platform.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The times, they are a changing, and the Green Party may quickly start to transition from a noble concept to a functional political party with an influx of Sanders Supporters abandoning the Democratic Party. Some observers frequently opine that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton. Others say Berniecrats are flocking to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Who is right? Well, maybe, in a way, both.

The nuance that most observers seem to miss is that tens of thousands of Sanders activists, the folks who did the grassroots organizing for Bernie, are indeed moving to support Stein and the Green Party. The movement of hardcore activists from the Sanders Campaign to the Green Party isn’t uniform or evenly distributed, but it is significant.

This isn’t to say that Berniecrats are leaving the Democratic Party in masse – they aren’t. Here in Washington State, the majority of incoming Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) could accurately be labelled Berniecrats. In my home county, home to the State Capital of Olympia, two thirds of incoming PCO’s are Berniecrats.

Nationally, Senator Sanders and his supporters are creating multiple organizations, including “Our Revolution”, a National Network of Sanders Activists who likely will heavily influence and frequently run Democratic Party Organizations for years to come. Bernie may have been denied the nomination in 2016 but the Movement he catalyzed and changing demographics are converging in a manner that likely will mean Progressives will regain control of much of the Democratic Party in the near future.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

But the Democrats likely won’t be the only Progressive Political Party of consequence in America in the near future. The rise of the Green Party, powered by the influx of former Sanders supporters, is imminent.

Will the “Berning of the Greens” be enough to turn the Green Party into a full-fledged, functional Third Party in less than three months? No. Could the Green Party be a full-fledged, functional Third Party in 2020? Yes, but only if they do some serious organizing and get their collective shit together about building slates of candidates for local, state, and federal offices across the country.

The Green Party’s biggest weakness is that it has been almost exclusively focused the Presidential Elections, only recruiting and running candidates for lower tier races in a very limited number of jurisdictions in a small number of states. This has got change if the Greens want to be taken seriously. People want their pot holes fixed, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and dependable public services. The old saying that “All Politics are local.” Is mostly true and the Green Party and its membership needs to show it can get voters’ garbage picked up and run cities and states before it will be trusted by most folks with leading the Free World and controlling the Nuclear Launch Codes, regardless of how wonderfully progressive they are. For an American Political Party to be viewed as credible in a nation with 321 million citizens and a $19 Trillion economy, it must not only think globally, it must act locally and be able to govern effectively in all the myriad and mundane ways citizens expect. I’m being real here.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I see a certain irony, and a whole lot of Karma, in that if Bernie had won the Democratic Nomination, it would have revitalized and democratized the Democratic Party, likely locked in Millennials, the largest generation in history, into strongly voting Democratic for decades, diminished the significance of the Green Party, and hastened the demise of the Republican Party as a relevant factor in Presidential Contests. Control and domination, not fair play and party building, were more important to the Corporate Wing of the Democratic Party. Consequently, the Democratic Party has alienated, in some cases permanently, large numbers of Millennial activists and other Bernie Supporters and the Green Party has an opportunity to achieve a level of national political relevance that has so far eluded it.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering if this is where Joe says which candidate for President everyone should vote for. God knows damn near every person on Facebook with an opinion on the subject has been telling everyone else who they should support. I’m not going to do that. The reality is if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to make up your own mind and 99 percent of voters are going to go thru whatever decision processes they use and do just that. My circle of friends and family is large enough that some will vote for each of the four main Presidential candidates and I’m not going to like or love any of them any more or any less based on who they vote for. If the Creator, Evolution, or the quantum chance of our being in this portion of the Multiverse made free will possible for our species, the rest of us ought to do the same for each other.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I will share who I’m voting for and my reasoning: readers may agree, disagree, or ignore as they wish.

To place my decision in context, in 38 years of voting, I’ve only knowingly voted for a Republican for any public office once in my entire life and I’ve regretted that vote for almost four decades and tried to make amends for that vote. I have voted in nine Presidential Elections in my life and nine times, I voted for the Democratic Candidate. In the language of politics, I am referred to as a “Strong Democrat” and a “Perfect Voter” (vote every election).

Unless there appears to be chance that Donald Trump might actually carry Washington State and it’s 12 Electoral College Votes, something highly unlikely, given all available political information, Washington’s voting history, and current polling data, I am planning on voting for Democratic candidates for all other elective offices and for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump would be an existential threat to the nation and planet. To avoid that risk, I would force myself to vote for the Oligarchy’s candidate and a functionally Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, Hillary Clinton, if Trump were leading or within striking distance of Clinton in Washington when it was time to cast my ballot.
Absent the possibility of a Trump win in Washington State, I will vote for the candidate who, imperfect as she may be, presents both the opportunity to vote for my progressive values and beliefs and the opportunity to send a message to the Oligarchy. I will vote for Jill Stein.

Let me be blunt, the Oligarchy will win this round in the battle for our future and Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States. No objective review of the available evidence and polling data would suggest otherwise. Even the Republican oriented Rasmussen Reports is projecting Hillary Clinton at 348 Electoral College Votes, well above the 270 needed to win the Presidency.

For Jill Stein to have had a chance to win in 2016, she would have had to have most or all of Sanders Supporters pivot their support to her and that clearly didn’t happen. If she had surged above 10 percent in the polls after the Democratic Convention, and progressed to rise to force her inclusion in the Presidential Debates, stellar debate performances on her part would have changed the political equation and she would have had a chance to be truly competitive. That didn’t happen and Stein won’t win in 2016.

However, short of a dramatic change in the polls that indicate Trump could take Washington State, I won’t validate the blatant, systematic manipulation and corruption of the Presidential nomination process by the Democratic Power Structure, Corporations, and Corporate Media with a vote for Hillary Clinton. Absent the existential threat of a Trump victory, I won’t go there.

I will cast a vote for Stein to support the germinating seed that is the Green Party in 2016 and I will work within the local Democratic Party, where Berniecrats have a clear majority, to progressively shape local and state Democratic politics, candidates, and campaigns. Call this an Inside/Outside Strategy.

The Second American Revolution continues. We Progressives need to play the long game to defeat the Oligarchy and generate a rebirth of true Democracy. Success will not occur in one election cycle – neither did getting to the point we are at as a nation. With persistence, hard work, and sustained effort, we will get to a point where we defeat the Oligarchy and have two National Progressive Political Parties, a revitalized Democratic Party and a vibrant, fulling formed Green Party. This is Our Revolution. Stand Up, Speak out, Fight On.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Impartiality?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton apparently ignored this:

The Charter of the Democratic Party says the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates.

The Charter of the Democratic Party says the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates.

The Divided Left revisited

The Divided Left in America is a major problem, and it’s come to fore in the discussions on social media about whether Bernie should run as an independent and about whether Bernie supporters should work within the Democratic Party.

Progressive Democrats are desperately trying to reform the Democratic Party but lack numbers. As a result the corporate Dems win. Greens,Socialists and others further to the left flee the Democratic Party and support candidates like Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson. Nationally, these third party candidates win maybe a few percent of the votes and fail to organize effective political organizations. For example, they don’t typically have statewide candidates.

In short, angry Dems flee the Democratic Party, allowing the corporatists and hawks to win. In contrast, angry conservatives take over the GOP and push it further to the right.

In local races, candidates like Kshama Sawant can win a city like Seattle. But statewide (e.g., in the suburbs) they are perceived as too radical by most people. (Bernie Sanders is more of a social democrat than a democratic socialist; he harmed his chances by calling himself a socialist. Noam Chomsky and others agree with this view.)

I understand that working within the Democratic Party is difficult, dirty, unpleasant work. Whoever said the Revolution would be pleasant?

Still, I’m not condemning those people who flee the Democratic Party. I understand why they do it. The leadership is corrupted. This is clear nationally. Statewide, Inslee voted to give $8.7 billion to Boeing, and he allowed the charter schools bill to become law. In my LD (41st) there are many good Dems but the LD allows our legislators to betray us: Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn both voted for Steve Litzow’s (R, 41 LD) charter schools bill, despite the fact that the state Supreme Court ruled charter schools are unconstitutional; despite the fact that McCleary isn’t yet funded; and despite the fact the the state party platform says “We oppose charter schools.” Many (most?) of the 41st LD Dem PCOs are pissed, but the LD leadership treats me like a dangerous outsider. They also disliked my criticisms of Hillary’s hawkishness.

The PDA pursues an inside-outside strategy that allows people to work but within and outside of the Democratic Party. That’s perhaps necessary but it’s not ideal.

Anyway, any ideas for uniting the left? For years I have been promoting the idea of a shared media platform where people post articles and discuss things. Progressives and socialists are supposed to believe in cooperation for the common good. Fact is: people don’t work together too well.