Friday, August 19, 2016

The Struggle For American Democracy Has Only Begun

According to PBS, Bernie Sanders is "gaining against Clinton in early polls." Salon's Bill Curry believes "Hillary Clinton is going to lose," primarily because millions of voters longing for a truly progressive candidate will nominate Sanders. POLITICO explained recently that Early-state polls hint at a Bernie Sanders surge, a headline that was unthinkable only several months earlier. Yahoo's Meredith Shiner calls Sanders a "progressive social media star and pragmatic legislator" and states that "Sanders also has a much more substantial legislative history" than any GOP challenger. In Iowa,1,100 people packed a gym to hear Bernie Sanders speak in May.
That was the first paragraph in an article from the columnist HA Goodman called It's Official-Bernie Sanders Has Overtaken Hillary Clinton In The Hearts And Minds Of Democrats. Published on July 25, 2015, it was the first Goodman published after he first started to believe that Sanders would win the nomination.

And up until a certain point, he had good reason to keep believing so; despite a rigged debate schedule and limited media attention, Bernie Sanders' poll numbers continued to go up. By January 31, the day before the voting started, Sanders' Real Clear Politics average had gone from 5.7% at the beginning of his campaign to 37.2%.

But after gaining momentum from his poll-defying near tie in Iowa and his blowout win in New Hampshire, something strange happened: with the help of Hillary Clinton supporter Harry Reid and his collusion with those who ran the polling places in Nevada, the state's contest was quietly stolen from Sanders. And as the primaries went on, things only got stranger. On Super Tuesday, the results in Massachusets were manipulated as well, along with those in Arizona, and, it turned out, Iowa. Though those were the only states so far that had experienced serious election fraud, there were many other factors, such as closed primaries and media manipulation, which, if subtracted, would have likely resulted in him being ahead at that point.

And before long, it looked like he was on his way to pulling ahead regardless. After a nine-state winning streak, which included a victory in Wisconsin that was both unthinkable a few weeks earlier and by an even larger margin than the polls indicated, his national poll numbers had risen to only one point behind Hillary Clinton. After the Wyoming primary on April 9, he only needed to win 56.5% of the remaining delegates to take the lead (and even if he didn't, he would still have a chance to win). And with the turning point approaching in the New York primary, despite the polls there, his chances were looking better and better as early voting showed him far surpassing expectations.

But the exclusion of independents from voting in New York, combined with the massive amounts of voting irregularities that occurred on the day of the election, all worked to steal the primary from Sanders on April 19, along with much of his chances for winning the nomination.

Despite the drop in Sanders' polls that followed, he dutifully continued into the predictably unfair April 26 contests, the blatantly rigged Nevada state convention, the suspiciously run primaries in Oregon and Kentucky, the practically predetermined Puerto Rico contest, and the clearly manipulated California primary.

Not all of the primary contests were rigged, but enough of them were that the results should be seriously called into question, and even if the highly unlikely outcome of this election were true, there's no question that Hillary Clinton won without a level playing field. Even Harry Reid thinks Sanders never had a "fair deal."

But Bernie Sanders' campaign is continuing in a different form, this one outside of the cruel game that the DNC has created for populist insurgent candidates, and this time it actually has a chance to win.

With three months until the election, Jill Stein and other Greens running for office won't get too much farther this year, but they will make crucial progress. Following the voting on November 8, which the Greens will most certainly take an unusually large share of, factors larger than any DNC propaganda campaign will begin to come into play. As I've written about previously, support for a third party alternative has been building up for decades, independents will soon outnumber both major parties combined, the state of the country points towards the coming rise of a populist third party, and there's even a historical precedent for what I'm predicting.

Everything indicates that a major Green Party sweep is inevitable in the coming years. But there's still one looming, uncomfortable question: can we expect the system to allow it after what happened to Bernie Sanders?

As I make a prediction similar to the one HA Goodman made last year, I keep in mind that the one thing he did not take into account was outright electoral fraud in favor of the candidate that the oligarchy backs. Who's to say it won't happen again in a different context?

I'm going to attempt to look into the future, imagining all of the methods of voter suppression that may (or will) be used against the Greens, and how we can defy them. All of these methods can be put into three categories, which I call false-appealing, smearing, and electioneering.


Twenty-four years ago, Bill Clinton said in his Democratic convention speech that "I have news for the forces of greed and the defenders of the status quo: Your time has come and gone." And eight years later, even after he had continued Reaganomics by signing NAFTA, killing welfare, and creating what later turned out to be the most dangerous deregulations in recent history, most on the left were still willing to believe his successor Al Gore when he said at the 2000 convention that "They're for the powerful-and we're for the people."

But by 2008, Democrats were finally losing patience with the corporatization of their party. After nominating Barack Obama in a wave of populism, they heard him say at the DNC that we're "a better country" than the one that allows Wall Street to crash the economy-and then saw him pursue a Wall Street bailout that set the stage for another financial crisis years later.

That was the beginning of the end for the Democratic Party's esteem among progressives. By 2009, the percentage of voters who affiliated as Democrats went from 35% the year before to 34%, and political independents edged them out after only being at 31% in 2008. Since then, we've seen a steady increase in independents going along with a steady decline of Democrats that stands apart from all the other times in recorded party affiliation history where a certain group has been in the majority. This shift in the electoral landscape can no longer be considered a trend, but a consistent pattern that's sure to continue, and it can only mean one thing: people are waking up to the fact that the Democratic Party does not represent the 99%.

But will enough of them wake up to end the Democratic Party?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are locked into a battle of who's campaign can fail the least. While Clinton is at risk of being indicted before the election, a credible source has reason to believe Trump is actually sabotaging his campaign, so whatever the polls say, the race is too close to call. But whoever becomes the next president, I believe the ultimate fate of American politics will be the same.

Though it's unfortunate, what we need to indict the Democratic Party in the court of public opinion as a tool of the oligarchy is a major economic crisis. And we'll get just that, as this Truthout op-ed explains:
Although there is a role for banks to play in the economy -- they facilitate commerce, after all, when just doing "normal banking" -- 30-plus years of Reaganomics have made banks increasingly vulnerable and prone to crisis. Giving banks this kind of powerful role to play in the economy is just asking for trouble. Wall Street is literally a ticking time bomb, and when it explodes it will take the rest of the economy down with it.
This is not hyperbole -- it's fact, and we're seeing more and more evidence every day that the moment when the Wall Street time bomb will explode is rapidly approaching. As Greg Ip points out in the Wall Street Journal, housing prices and stock prices are now hovering around decades-long highs.
The last time they were this high? You guessed it: 2007, right before [the last] crash.
That was written on August 1. This crisis will most likely hit before Obama leaves office, and in that scenario, when he and the rest of the Democratic elite pursue Wall Street bailouts as they did eight years ago, they will create a political nightmare for themselves. According to a poll from three years ago, 96% of Democrats, 95% of independents, and 89% of Republicans at least see financial regulation as somewhat important. And though when asked the less general question of whether they wanted more regulation on companies, that number goes down to 71%, when middle and working class voters suffering the consequences of the lack of business oversight see their leaders pushing for bailouts, a lot of politicians, Democrats especially, will see their careers crippled.

And though Democrats were able to remain popular in 2008 despite having largely supported the bailouts, this time it will be very different. Like I said, whether Hillary Clinton will win remains to be seen, but after this election is over, she and her party will be in trouble. As the 2018 midterms approach, not just the Republicans but the Democrats will be seen by all but their most loyal members as the party of the rich. Before long, given all the factors I mentioned earlier, large numbers of voters will start moving to a populist third party, most likely the Greens.

Gone are the days when someone like Hillary Clinton can easily (or fairly) defeat a genuine progressive like Sanders, and soon so too will the era where corporate Democrats can skate on their party's "Liberal" brand and expect to succeed with the left. And Democrats are generally either in denial about this fact or assume it won't matter. “For every blue-collar Democrat we will lose in western Pennsylvania," says New York Senator Charles Schumer, "We will pick up two or three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia." To Democratic strategists, this plan of appealing to the center may seem like a safe and sensible approach, but when you look at the larger picture, Democrats are basically racing into an electoral ditch.

And so when the Greens start to enter seriously competitive territory, they won't have to worry about losing many supporters to the old Democratic trick of bait-and-switch liberalism. The Democrats will have lost all of their credibility in the minds of voters by then.

And as for those who will still cling to the notion that the Democratic Party represents them-yes, they will be there-you can show them the solid arguments I make against that in these previous articles:

The Case Against The Democratic Party

Yes, It Is Time To Leave The Democratic Party

Make No Mistake, The Democratic Party Is Dangerous

But it won't end there.


Though the political and corporate establishment generally doesn't know about the coming electoral upheaval, lately they've been acting as if they're preparing for a long fight against populist insurgents. This is apparent in how the major media has been treating Jill Stein.

From biased polls that make it look like Stein has less support than she really does, to hit pieces on her, to outright mocking, such as the over-promotion of a poll that says Stein is tied with Harambe (which was conducted in the specific instance of Texas, a highly conservative state), the media is going after the Green Party candidate as much as they did with Sanders. The strange thing about it is that they know Stein has no chance of actually becoming president.

This signals that something deeper is going on.

I believe that Ralph Nader's success in 2000 can largely be explained by a failure on the part of the two major parties to offer candidates that excite and inspire voters, increasing the desire for another option (Ross Perot's 1992 campaign may be another example of this phenomenon). And since moderate and triangulating figures like Al Gore are exactly the kind of candidates the Democratic elite prefers, when Nader started to experience a surge in the summer of 2000, the establishment was taken completely by surprise-but it wasn't unaware of the threat to the two-party system that this signaled.

And so after the fictitious election results were certified, the liberal bourgeois found a convenient way to stigmatize Nader and his successors-the propagation of the idea that Greens are the ones who caused Bush to win. And regardless of whether this claim was based on reality, it's most certainly contributed to the virtual dominance Democrats and Republicans have enjoyed since then.

But even if they're able to repeat that spin this year with Jill Stein playing Nader's role-which they've already done to a point-it won't do much to help their case. As Chris Hedges said this year in an interview, our society is experiencing a radical shift of public sentiment in response to the unprecedented income inequality that's resulted from their past support of neoliberal politics. There's one ingredient lacking in this movement, though, which holds back its enormous potential: an avenue for it to unite around. "It’s with us already," Hedges says about the revolution, "but with this caveat: it is what Gramsci calls interregnum, this period where the ideas that buttress the old ruling elite no longer hold sway, but we haven’t articulated something to take its place."

A populist third party is the perfect means to bring this massive amount of political will under one roof, and no matter what the Democrats do at this point, the Green surge is coming.

But that can only get us so far-the power of media manipulation must never be underestimated, and as long as the mainstream press is controlled by the same forces that back the two-party system, insurgents will be vulnerable.

Still, even this weapon of the establishment, I believe, has grown weak with time.

Howard Dean was the Bernie Sanders of 2004. Or, more accurately, of 2003. In the months before the primaries started, the major media worked very hard to topple the anti-war, anti-big business onetime Democratic frontrunner, and they succeeded spectacularly. But when they tried again this year with Sanders, though things were made a lot harder for him, he still would have won without election rigging. This proves that in the modern political environment, where revolutionary sentiments are so strong and social media is popular, such propaganda is a lot easier for insurgents to overcome.

However, there are still several widely accepted myths about the Green Party that its opponents will take every opportunity to promote, and while whatever attacks on Green candidates that the media orchestrates are for the people of the near future to defend from, we can anticipate a few of them. Here are some of the strongest arguments for the Green Party that we'll need to use to beat the Democrats, ones which I'll elaborate on in future articles:
  • The Greens absolutely can win. Post-2016, the combined membership of the two "major" parties will, in all likelihood, drop well below 50%. Though the Democrats will do everything to downplay the significance of this, it will greatly strengthen the case for third parties. We aren't going to start with anywhere near as much support as Democrats, of course, but if we put enough emphasis on that glaring fact, before long they'll be the ones who are "fringe."
  • The Greens represent the views of mainstream Americans. No matter how much Democrats attempt to marginalize Greens, in terms of actual ideological appeal, we by far have the advantage. 61% of Americans favor higher taxes on the wealthy, 76% think that most free trade deals have been bad for the country, 58% want a federally funded healthcare system, 78% want Citizens United overturned, 57% think that GMO foods are generally unsafe, and in a poll that proves the Greens won't be hurt in the minds of voters by their environmental brand, 67% would pay higher taxes to reduce carbon emissions. I suggest you show any progressives who choose to align themselves with the Democratic Party the Green platform, or have them take the quiz that shows people which political party most aligns with their beliefs. 
  • The Greens aren't dividing the left, the Democrats are. This is the logical conclusion of my first argument; when the Democratic Party diminishes enough, it will be easy to accurately convince liberal voters that since most of them don't even support the Democrats, voting for them only creates more division among the opponents of the Republicans. Which brings me to the last one.
  • The Greens are in a much better position than the Democrats to stop the Republicans. Like the fact that Bernie Sanders would have been a better candidate against Trump than Hillary Clinton because of his trustworthiness and consistently progressive views, after the Democrats push for wildly unpopular Wall Street bailouts, they will be severely weakened, making Greens the politically superior option.
And if the defenders of the current party model start calling you a hippie, a communist, or a purist after you lay out your arguments, you'll know they've run out of real responses.

But even after that, the oligarchy will have one more card to play...


"Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth," said the labor organizer Lucy Parsons. I can't find the date between Parson's birth in 1853 and her death in 1942 when she expressed that sentiment, but if she did so before the year 1900, she later found herself standing corrected.

The late 19th century was a dark period in American history. Even though the enterprise of slavery had been broken up, it had left the class that used to benefit from it with so much wealth that it seemed like no other force was powerful enough to challenge them. In 1886, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were a "legal person," giving them the authority to make money by any means necessary whether that conflicted with state laws or not. In 1890, New Jersey became the first state to allow corporations to hold stock in other corporations, creating the economically unsustainable system of financial exchange that we now know as the stock market. That same year, John D. Rockefeller's standard oil controlled 88% of the refined oil market in the United States, just one example of the massive monopolization of business that had occurred. You can get a sense of just how bad things had become by thinking of the horrifying stories from that era of child labor, slave wages, extremely long work hours, and abominable living conditions.

And yet at the turn of the century, the people somehow managed to fight back and win. After the newly elected president William McKinley was assassinated on September 6, 1901, it turned out that his choice for a running mate had saved the country. The extent that Washington had been corrupted by corporate interests seemed too great to overcome, but because nearly all of the public was on the side of Theodore Roosevelt's populist agenda, the members of Congress went along with the president out of political self-preservation. In the next seven years, Roosevelt broke up most of the major monopolies, and though he still endorsed lower taxes, he paved the way for his cousin FDR to become elected later and turn America into a social democracy.

But how does this apply to populist insurgents now, when corporations have become so powerful that they can actually prevent modern versions of the Roosevelts from being elected within the two major parties? Again, we need to ask ourselves why the Greens won't go the way of Bernie Sanders.

According to Ralph Nader, apart from the media propaganda that I mentioned before, there are indeed many built-in obstacles to running a successful third party campaign. In 1988, the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private organization headed exclusively by Democrats and Republicans, took over all aspects of how the debates are organized. After the 1992 election, they changed the polling requirement for getting into the debates to 15%, a number that, as they knew, was nearly impossible for any third party candidate to reach. And though the environment will soon become a lot more friendly to third parties, making it entirely possible for the Greens to overcome that mark, I ask you to sign this petition to make the debate rules fair again.

But that's not even the worst of it. In 2004, Nader's independent campaign was severely hurt by the efforts of Democrats to drain money from it by falsely accusing him of widespread voter fraud. The playing field is also tilted against third parties in that many states require them to petition for ballot access, a process that Nader describes as "easy for the major parties to disrupt" by using the dirty tricks that I mentioned.

But once again, I believe that we can surmount all of these obstacles with our newfound political advantages. Because of a dramatic increase in donations, Green campaigns will easily survive when opponents try to force them to use up their resources, and with the wide popularity that they'll gain, they will no longer have much trouble getting petition signatures. Thus, they're guaranteed to gain major ground, and before long they'll surpass Democrats in the national polls.

And finally, that brings us to the one area where insurgents can really be shut out: election rigging. One can only imagine the methods Democrats will try to use to prevent Greens from winning, though the sabotage of Bernie Sanders certainly gave us a clue. There's one big difference, though, between the primaries and the general elections: in the general, it's extremely difficult to rig the process in favor of the losing candidate. George W. Bush's coup in 2000 only worked because the race was so close, and had Gore been leading in the polls as widely as I expect the Greens will be, the election fraud would have had to be much more widespread and obvious, and the American people would simply not have allowed it. Furthermore, the primaries are ideal for rigging, because they take place over a period of months in many different states, while a national election that takes place in a matter of hours is very hard for someone to try to steal and then get away with it.

All of this is not to say that our path to victory will be easy. We'll have to fight for it every step of the way. But if we succeed, which I think is likely, the country and the world will be forever changed.

And if you still doubt that that's possible based on a sense that the Greens are simply too far to the left to win, not only are you discounting the opinion polls I mentioned earlier, but you need to hear the story of how HA Goodman came to believe Bernie Sanders would become president.

In June of 2015, as Goodman recounts in an article, he was having lunch with a childhood friend when they started talking about politics. The friend, who was wearing a "Bernie" tee shirt, asked Goodman why he wasn't planning on voting for a candidate who represented everything he believed in, and Goodman's answer was that Sanders could not win because he was a socialist.

But some weeks later, after doing all of the research, Goodman realized that Bernie Sanders was not a Marx-style, ideologically extreme "socialist," but merely had an agenda similar to the Roosevelts. That was the start of his noble mission to help Sanders win, which lasted all the way up until the DNC role call vote on July 26, 2016.

The one thing Goodman was really wrong about, though, was assuming at the time that we would never get another Bernie Sanders in our lifetimes; he realized the flaw in that reasoning when he decided to start supporting Jill Stein, who, whether you also feel is worth voting for or not, is an amazing person and as much (or even more) of an advocate for change as Sanders. And Stein and her successors, whatever the outcome of this election, will be the ones who finish what Bernie started.

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