Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jill Stein Wins First Debate

I've heard that a thousand years is but a blink of an eye in the mind of The Lord. But for most Americans, 160 years is far too long a time since their country's electoral system last saw meaningful reform.

And once again, it looks like they'll have to wait before they see it again. The Green Party's Jill Stein and her fellow third party candidate Gary Johnson are unable to qualify for access in the presidential debates, leaving the partisan duopoly alive and well for this election cycle. When the first debate takes place tomorrow, all that most Americans will see is a performance between an even more unlikable version than usual of the two figureheads of the corporate state that the dominant parties produce every four years, wherein each of them are hypocritically playing off of the other's flaws in what James Kunstler describes as "a Punch and Judy show."

What won't be mentioned during this affair is that most of the audience sees it for what it is-a puppet show-and soon they'll be asking to watch something different.

To give comfort to those among the record number of people that will be watching these sad spectacles who aren't satisfied with the choices presented to them, I've put together an analysis of why the debates were not arranged fairly, why the parties that run them hold little power over the future of electoral politics, and why, whether Jill Stein attends them or not, she will be the winner of this and the other debates.

The first one on the list may be the most important to establish.

Third party candidates should have been able to attend the debates

Aside from the fact that giving all of the major candidates a fair opportunity to contribute their views is simply good for democracy, Stein and Johnson should have been allowed to attend because contrary to what CNN will tell you, they've earned their right to do so.

As of the 2000 election cycle, the Commission on Presidential Debates-a private organization run entirely by Republicans and Democrats which, since 1987, has controlled how the debates are run-has ruled that a candidate must poll at around 15% or more to get on the debate stage. It sounds like a reasonable enough requirement, but a deeper look into the dynamics of presidential politics reveals it to be unfair towards outsiders. An Ipsos Public Affairs Report has found that for a candidate to gain that much support-especially when they aren't running on the ticket of one of the two major parties-they would need to spend around $250,000,000. Ross Perot, who's independent 1992 campaign spent the equivalent of less than half of that, was able to get into the debates while polling at 9%.

What's most troubling about how the CPD has run this process, though, is not that it's used an unreasonable rule, but that it's actually worked around that rule to further tip the playing field.

An investigation by the writer John Laurits has found that the CPD's vetting process for the candidates, in addition to involving that 15% rule, has clearly seen a large degree of bias. So begins Laurits in his explanation of why there's something deeply suspicious about how the CPD has run the debates this year:
The problem is that the CPD gets to handpick the 5 polls that are used to determine whether 15% of voters support them or not. Now, a reasonable person might assume that they’d pick transparent, unbiased organizations to conduct high-quality polls, especially since they’re a non-profit raking in millions from undisclosed donors to do this exact thing. Instead, they chose the #!@%ing corporate-media. Yes, the 5 polls are conducted by the same jerks who gave Donald Trump about $2 Billion dollars in free media attention — ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, & NBC-Wall Street Journal, all of which contain at least one of Hillary Clinton’s major campaign-donors. Which doesn’t sound corrupt at all.
These five polls, Laurits discovered after looking into them, have all been conducted in a way that seriously calls their reliability into question, from the Fox News poll having underrepresented independents to the CNN-ORC poll's having done the same with independents. The other three polls that the CPD used, though lacking transparency, seem to include similar problems.

The result, of course, is a successful effort on the CPD's part to downplay how much support Stein and Johnson really have. I am not saying that they both secretly have above 15% of the support, as that would (unfortunately) be wishful thinking, but they do have more than most people think. Thanks to the five polls mentioned, the Real Clear Politics average puts Jill Stein at 2.8% and Gary Johnson at 8.5%, but a more reliable McClatchy/Marist poll puts Stein at 4% and Johnson at 10%. That's enough to qualify them for the debates under more reasonable circumstances, as well to put them within striking distance of the 5% of the popular vote they'll need to win this year so that their parties can qualify for federal campaign funds in 2020.

And though Johnson, the Liberitarian, is admittedly more likely to accomplish the latter than Stein, she's already winning the race in a different sense.

The Green Party's agenda is backed by the majority of Americans

As these efforts to shut out Stein and Johnson were being coordinated behind closed doors, I assume that the CPD's main reason for excluding the latter candidate mainly had to do with him being a threat the traditional party model. Because ideologically, Johnson and his party are perhaps even more corporatist than both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (though I do admire Johnson for being more honest than Clinton, since unlike her he openly admits supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Citizens United).

As you can see, that fact hasn't stopped him from winning against the vastly more progressive Stein, even with young people. But don't take this as a sign that Johnson's agenda itself has more support; his advantage can mainly be explained by the media's blackout and smear campaign against Stein, along with the fact that Johnson's campaign has been able to outspend Stein's by taking money from big donors.

In reality, support for the Green's self-described eco-socialist agenda is very strong, especially with millennials. To prove it, I've created a list that compares the major issues included in the Green Party's platform to the situation of American public opinion.
  • A living wage. 78% of Americans support raising the minimum wage, though only 48% favor an increase to $15.
  • A universal right to social security. 85% of Americans think that social security is important to ensure that retirees can be financially secure, and 81% don't mind paying social security taxes if they know that it will help those who need the program.
  • A universal right to education. 62% of Americans want college to be tuition free, and 48% would be willing to pay higher taxes to make it so.
  • A universal right to health care. 58% of Americans would prefer a single-payer, universal health care system over Obamacare, including 41% of Republicans.
  • Switch to renewable energy. 73% of Americans favor wind and solar power over oil and coal, with 67% willing to pay higher taxes in order to help the transition.
  • Environmental justice. 56% of Americans think that the environment should be prioritized more than the economy, and 59% think stricter environmental regulations are worth the cost. 
  • Sustainable agriculture. 92% of Americans think that sustainable farming practices are at least somewhat important, though only 52% avoid buying genetically modified foods and 52% prefer organic food.
  • Democratize business. 83% of Americans think that the top one percent have influenced the economy to their advantage, 70% think that free trade deals like the TPP should not be allowed because they hurt American workers, and 70% think it's very important to regulate business.
  • Democratize banking. 58% of Americans are in favor of breaking up the large financial institutions, with 61% having opposed the Wall Street bailouts in 2008 (both of which, if I may editorialize, they are absolutely right about).
  • Progressive taxation. 61% of Americans think the wealthy pay too little in taxes, and 52% think the government should redistribute the wealth by taxing the rich.
  • End corporate welfare. Though little polling data exists on this issue, a survey from 2011 found that only 29% of voters support corporate welfare.
  • End America's perpetual wars. 78% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the War in Afghanistan, 59% think that the War in Iraq was a mistake, and 76% are against sending conventional ground troops to fight ISIS.
And predictably, on virtually every other issue, from ending the War on Drugs to affordable housing access to the elimination of nuclear arms, Americans side with the Greens. The problem, of course, is that the American party system doesn't allow for the views of the majority to be represented.

But not for much longer.

The future belongs to the Green Party

Given all the facts mentioned so far, we can say that Jill Stein and her party have won the moral debate, and that they're the rightful winners of this election. And since third parties have been left out of the political process for a long time, and the views of most Americans have aligned with the Greens for roughly just as long, we've been able to say the same during all the election cycles in recent memory. But none of that has been able to change the fact that the Green Party continues to mostly lose the electoral battle.

However, as you may be able to guess from this site's title, I believe that the wind will be at the Green's backs in future elections. As I made the case for in a past article, through a number of factors (most of which have to do with Clinton and Trump), by the time the next national survey of party affiliation is taken next year political independents will outnumber Democrats and Republicans combined. This possibility is further strengthened by a July poll that found 55% of Americans want a third party. That's significant because at the beginning of the year, 55% identified as either Democrats or Republicans.

Add that to the fact that such a trend is certain to continue, that the American progressive movement is continuing to gain strength, how the problematic health care system that the two parties have produced will drive more people to look for a better option as their insurance costs rise in the coming years, and how the historic wealth gap is bound to lead to a populist uprising, it's very much reasonable to expect the rise of far-left third party in 2018, 2020, and beyond. In order to help make this happen, I recommend you vote for Jill Stein this November (as long as you're in a non-swing state, at least), and support the down-ticket Greens who are also running this year.

If this sounds like wishful thinking, don't just take my word for it. Take the word of Robert Reich, the respected economist and former Washington insider who predicts that the Greens (or at least a different party with the Green's agenda) will "prevail in 2020." Or Jerry Kremer, the journalist who wrote an op-ed that stated "It is possible that if both parties can’t find a more meaningful message by 2020, an independent candidate will emerge who will take away voters from both parties and win the White House." Or Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, who wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal all the way back in 2011 that predicted the "Death of the Duopoly" in terms of American two-party politics.

I could list dozens of other examples wherein mainstream, credible political observers have looked at the same factors that I mentioned and predicted the collapse of the traditional party model. An internet search for "death of the two-party system" yields numerous articles that back up what I've been saying. Though we all of course tend to interpret things through our own ideological lenses (some of these writers have claimed that the newly prominent third party will be centrist or even conservative rather than leftist), everyone who has taken a good look at the state of American politics have come to the conclusion that the current party system is not sustainable.

I know, this is all stirring stuff. But as we've seen during every other time the masses have tried to take over the political system during times of control by the elites, it would be naive to assume such an upheaval is guaranteed to materialize. Something radical might need to happen before the electorate becomes jolted out of its usual apathy and fights for a Green victory.

The good news is, the exact kind of event that could have such an effect is coming our way.

Well, to be more honest, it won't feel like very good news when you first hear it. I am speaking of a catastrophic financial crisis, fueled by a dept-based global economy that's made dangerously unstable by stock market bubbles, excessive monetary power for the world's central banks, and a banking industry that's rendered unregulatable by a failure on the government's part to break it up, which will wreak havoc over the unsustainable economic model that the two Wall Street-funded, neoliberal parties have produced. And when this crash hits, the supporters of status quo politicians will be faced with their moment of reckoning.

It's impossible to say when exactly this collapse will occur. It could easily happen sometime this year with one of the market disruptions that are expected in the next few months-the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in December, the fast-approaching rise in oil prices-but given how the stock market is in such a similar position to how it was right before the last economic crash, along with the other factors I mentioned, we can say that this crisis is imminent.

To tie this all together, I'll offer you another quote from that jaded political commentator James Kunstler: "In history, elites commonly fail spectacularly. Ask yourself: how could these two ancient institutions, the Democratic and Republican parties, cough up such human hairballs [Clinton and Trump]? And having done so, do they deserve to continue to exist? And if they go up in a vapor, along with the public’s incomes and savings, what happens next?"

It all depends on what you want to happen. But in the meantime, rest assured, Jill Stein is the true winner of this debate.

No comments:

Post a Comment