Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Green Party Will Succeed For The Same Reason Bernie Sanders Did

In August 2015, an article appeared in Five Thirty Eight titled "The Bernie Sanders Surge Appears To Be Over." Despite Sanders having narrowed his polling gap between Hillary Clinton by over 20 points since the start of his campaign, the author reasoned that because the members of the electorate who were most likely to favor Sanders had largely switched to his side already, it would only become harder from there for him to continue gaining ground.

Predictions like these were common among conventional polling analysts. Nate Silver came to a similar conclusion about the Sanders campaign, predicting that it would flounder in all but the most white, liberal states. Both of these political calculations, of course, were wildly off. Bernie's poll numbers continued to increase at about the same rate after August, peaking in mid-April with him being virtually tied nationally (he would most certainly have then pulled ahead had the New York primary, which looks like it was stolen from him, gone in in his favor). Sanders also did better with nonwhite voters than most people think, having won some of the most diverse states in the country. And though he lost with nonwhites overall, he was able to significantly cut into Clinton's initial support among them. Had it not been for the historically unique amount of voter suppression and electoral fraud that occurred during the 2016 democratic primaries, Sanders would have likely won.

But all of that is in the past now, and the former supporters of Bernie Sanders, along with everyone else who shares their goals for social, economic, and environmental justice, are looking for other places to go. Though all people in this vast but currently divided coalition of course intend to continue Sanders' movement through grassroots activism, there's a dispute within it as to whether their agenda's future in electoral politics will take place in a reformed Democratic Party or in a rising populist third party.

I'm going to explain why I think the latter is true.

There are a great deal of indicators involving the more direct factors in political predictions-polling, demographics, historical trends in the outcomes of elections-which lead me to believe that such a seismic event in American politics in the coming years is probable. There's the fact that millennials, the group most likely to embrace third parties, will make up 40% of the electorate in time for the next election. There's the fact that the Democratic Party appears to be headed for dissolution in the coming years, with Democratic membership having been in steady decline since 2008 and there being a movement within the Sanders coalition to abandon the party which will only become more successful as establishment Democrats continue on the path of neoliberalism. And there's the fact that the majority of Americans agree with the Green Party's agenda, as I illustrated in a past article with a list comparing the Green platform to opinion polls.

But even these factors, which I've focused on many times in previous articles, are not sufficient to make my case. When commentators like HA Goodman and Bill Curry predicted early in the race that Bernie Sanders would succeed based on how most Democratic voters as well as Americans in general agree with his agenda, similarly to how I predict a surge for the Greens, polling analysts like Nate Silver still decided to stick with the narrative that such an upset wasn't possible. And from a certain standpoint, such a pessimistic view of Sanders' chances despite the fact that his ideas had the backing of the majority was appropriate; leftist insurgents like him, such as Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, have embarked and failed in similar endeavors despite the views of Americans having aligned with their agenda for many years. So is the case with those who are skeptical of the idea that the current party system can be challenged; it's been tried before, so why should we expect it to succeed this time?

The factor which rendered the political calculating methods of Bernie Sanders' doubters irrelevant is the same one that will disprove the assumptions of those who dismiss the potential of the Green Party: income inequality.

Though Sanders technically lost with voters who had an annual income of less than $50,000, this was due to the fact that the poor tend not to vote, and outside of the electoral horse race, the lower people were on the income scale, the more likely they were to support Sanders' candidacy and his goals of a fairer economy. This can be considered the key to his success, with millennials, who overwhelmingly supported him because of how economically insecure they are, having given him the boost that he needed to become competitive. So was the case with the rest of the relatively small but crucial group of poor people who voted for Sanders; had the electorate not been as economically insecure as it is in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have easily won.

It's not clear when exactly the point was reached where poverty became so prevalent that candidates like Sanders could get as far as he did (2008 might have been the year, with Obama having been able to defeat Hillary Clinton in the primaries mainly because voters were tired of her brand of neoliberal triangulation). But what's certain is that the buildup to today's political environment has been directly tied into the rising wealth gap.

Those who think that inequality isn't a problem, insisting that the ones affected by it can simply overcome their poverty by working harder, are ignoring a basic rule of economics, which is that people's potential for success tends to depend on how much opportunity they have. And the facts of the modern U.S. economy very much illustrate that principle.

The top 0.1% of earners (not to be confused with the 1%) own almost 90% of the wealth in America, while the bottom 90% have 22.8% of it. This disparity, which can largely be explained by the dramatic inconsistency between the amount of labor that most workers have contributed throughout the last several decades and the amount of compensation that they've received, has had very real consequences for the vast majority of the country. The rate of unemployment, which is widely misrepresented as being at around 5%, is in fact around twice that number at 9.7%. Half of Americans can be considered poor, as reflected in how about that same amount of them rely on government aid (many of them are social security recipients, but such a number is still worth noting.) And overall, 81% of Americans are living on an income that's been either stagnant or declining in the past decade.

We've been hearing about rising income inequality and a shrinking middle-class for many years, though. What makes it worth talking about now is that when you look at the long-term history of wealth distribution, you can only conclude that the general population is on the verge of staging a successful revolt against the economic elite.

All the past cases of increasing economic unfairness, from 18th century Franch to 20th century Scandanavia, have resulted in massive, effective efforts on the part of the lower classes to reverse the trend of inequality. And the levels that we're seeing today closely resemble those of other such times in history. In 2013, income inequality reached a size about the same as that of 1928 (the last instance where it reached a peak), and since then it's grown to a scale that may be unprecedented.

Chris Hedges, going by this observation, explains just how close he thinks 21st century America is to an uprising of its own: "It’s with us already, 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."

How this relates to my prediction of the rise of a third party for the people, as you may have guessed by now, has to do with the fact that neither major party serves as a place to channel that overwhelming populist will. Though Republicans have begun to shift their rhetoric to something more economically populist, and their 2016 presidential nominee has a pro-worker stance on trade, they are of course still just about as neoliberal as ever with next to no hope of reform. And though the Democratic Party is technically in a better position to change into something capable of systemic change, since more Democrats than Republicans agree that wealth should be more evenly distributed, I can't see any way its redemption will be possible anytime soon. If Hillary Clinton wins in November, her neoliberalism will alienate a great deal of the Democrats' base in the coming years, leading to a severe loss for Democrats in the 2018 midterm election, making Clinton the main representative of her party and giving her and the rest of the Democratic establishment an opportunity to retain their dominance over the party's agenda. And if Donald Trump wins, his brand of reactionary, far-right politics will continue to take over the Republican Party, alienating the more traditional Republicans and driving many of them to realign with the Democratic Party, which already resembles the older version of the Republican Party in many ways.

In short, the established party system is incompatible with the intensely populist political environment that accompanies periods of extreme wealth inequality. And though electoral politics is by no means the only home for this redistributionist movement, whose success is inevitable from a historical perspective, when it effects our political system it will likely take the form of a third party. This spring HA Goodman, someone whose predictions are evidently worth paying attention to, wrote that if Bernie Sanders did not become the nominee, the resentment that his supporters and others feel towards the Democratic establishment will "reach a boiling point," saying that "The formation of a third political party is a near certainty if Clinton is nominated."

And the growth of such a party, which luckily already exists in the form of the Greens, is already happening. Colorado is one of the first places where a shift away from the current party system can be observed, wherein a notable number of voters have moved to the Green and Liberitarian parties, more state and local candidates than in most other areas have decided to run third party, and Jill Stein and Gary Johnson respectively have 7 and 16 percent of the support. It's events like these, which are happening to a lesser extent all across the nation, that have apparently given some Green and Liberitarian officials hope that they can overturn the American party system post-2016. And while such a feat won't be easy, when the respected economist and former Washington insider Robert Reich agrees that the rise of a populist third party in the next few years is possible, trying to realize such a goal is certainly worth the effort.

However, though the current economic conditions may well lead to a victory for Bernie Sanders' movement in this and other areas, inequality also tends to produce negative societal changes.

It's no coincidence that the rise in income inequality, which has afflicted not just America but the rest of the industrialized world, is being accompanied by an increase in ethnic nationalism. Some of the most horrific political developments in history, such as Russian communism and the Third Reich, were caused by widespread economic insecurity, and the success of neo-fascist movements that we've witnessed in the past several years is proof that civilization has again entered a stage of demagoguery and extremist politics. And the question that we'll be facing in the coming years is whether the situation will get as bad as it did in the instances I mentioned.

It's impossible to determine how far this neo-fascist trend will get in the many countries that it's taking shape in, but as for the U.S, I imagine its future looks like this: after Donald Trump's likely loss, there will be a short period of time where the vast majority of Americans who disapprove of his agenda will be able to breath a sigh of relief, but then a second, far bigger wave of American fascism will appear. In future elections, Trumpism-though that label may feel outdated by then because of how relatively mild Trump himself will seem compared to the demagogues that come after him-will make a comeback.

Whether the new political paradigm that the trend in inequality produces will be one of the far left or the far right is yet to be determined. But what's already certain is that it won't resemble the old norm of centrism. Ideological extremes, for better or for worse, are bound to dominate politics during periods of economic unfairness, and while the 2016 election looks like it will result in the victory of yet another centrist, after this year the established facade of power that Hillary and Friends represent will no longer be able to dam up the growing body of populist outrage. 
And by that time, I expect, the kinds of polling analysts who predicted Bernie Sanders would fail will be very surprised indeed.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Reaganomics For The Left: Are Democrats Becoming The Party Of Tax Cuts For The Rich?

For quite some time, the effects of the Democrats' economic policies have differed little from those of the Republicans. Though the economy tends to do better under Democratic presidents, the fact that income inequality has increased at pretty much the same rate since 1978 whether Democrats or Republicans are running the government shows that both parties are mainly inclined towards helping the rich.

But while Democrats, formerly the party of the people, joined this neoliberal coalition by adopting the Republican Party's positions on trade, Wall Street, and (to an extent) entitlement programs, the main economic issue that the two parties have remained in disagreement on is taxes.

Prior to the 1990's, wherein Bill Clinton's tax policies involved raising rates on the wealthy, there was an era where tax cuts were a bipartisan issue. After the 1980 election, Democratic strategists decided to essentially adopt Ronald Reagan's position on the matter. In his 1984 DNC speech, Walter Mondale assessed this shift by saying that after losing, Democrats "began asking where our mistakes had been," and then talking about how their updated platform didn't include increased taxes. Throughout the Reagan years, Democrats lived up to this, with Reagan being able to pass his upper-income tax cuts while Democrats held the majority in the House throughout his entire presidency (Tip O'neill, the Democratic House Majority Leader during this time, is pictured above).

But despite the Democrats having then taken on a neoliberal slant regarding trade deals, Wall Street regulation, and other issues, the one way in which the Clintons shifted their party to the left had to do with taxes. Though the rich own both parties, since the 90's, they've largely been able to rely on Republicans, not Democrats, to grant them tax breaks.

Except it looks like Democrats are evolving on taxes again, and this time they're headed back in the direction of Reaganomics.

The first sign that the party is making a turnaround on this issue came in 2010, when the idea of letting George W. Bush's tax cuts expire was being negotiated. The 2003 cuts, whose unfairness towards the middle-class contributed to the rise in income inequality (and would not have passed had just three more Democratic senators opposed it), were now being extended by Barack Obama and most of the Democrats in the House and the Senate.

This represented a major ideological shift within the party. Democrats had regained control of the government in the 2006 and 2008 elections partly by promising to let the tax cuts expire, and now they were doing exactly the opposite. The excuses Democrats used for doing so-we can't raise taxes during a recession, raising taxes would hurt small businesses and the middle class-held no water, and the only conclusion one could have objectively come to was that the Democratic Party had moved to the right on economics since the Clinton years.

And though Obama has since proposed (to no avail) a tax increase on the one percent, his record on the issue has been very questionable. The unwillingness of him and other Democrats to pass tax reform during the two years that they dominated politics has left us with a highly unfair tax system that won't be changed for the foreseeable future. It was also a Democratic administration that passed the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement in 2011, which famously led to opportunities for massive money laundering and tax evasion for many global elites (Obama then responded with a mainly symbolic tax reform bill after that fact was made public earlier this year).

What Democrats have done in recent years that most resembles their past of embracing upper-income tax cuts, though, has to do with just that. The tax proposals of Democrats, which have included lowering the estate tax, expanding the exemptions for the alternative minimum tax, and extending Bush's tax cuts to stock dividends and capital gains in addition to the other cuts of his, have, as Mother Jones writer Josh Harkinson assessed in 2012, had similar effects as the ones of Republicans:
The big debate in Washington right now centers around whether or not to "tax the rich." This week, Senate Democrats passed a plan to cut income taxes on the middle class while increasing them on families that make more than $250,000 a year. Next week, House Republicans will push through a bill to extend (the erstwhile "temporary") Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class and the rich. But scratch beneath the surface of these dueling tax plans, and it quickly becomes clear that the GOP isn't the only party in Congress that wants to help the rich get richer. As Ezra Klein notes at Wonkblog, the cumulative effect of Democratic tax proposals will most likely be a $17,000 tax cut for the top 1 percent of earners (compared to a $75,000 tax cut under the GOP plan).
Another way Democrats are working to reduce the tax burden on the wealthy is through lowering corporate taxes. In 2012, Obama proposed cutting the corporate tax rate. Though the bill also included ideas for cracking down on corporations that exploited tax exemptions, his desire to cut taxes on them was helpful for none other than the corporate executives it targeted. The main reasons Republicans shot down the bill, it seems, was because it didn't cut taxes as much as they would have preferred.

And for the foreseeable future, this newfound Democratic enthusiasm for reducing taxes on the economic elite will only get more significant. Though Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership, which might hold similar implications for tax evasion to that of the Panama trade deal, doesn't look like it will pass before the end of his term, his successor will pursue it further. Hillary Clinton, who will be the next president barring something unforeseen, has very much failed the test of whether her actions show she's sincere in her promise to oppose the TPP, and when she flips again on the deal as one of her insiders expects, only a strong showing of public protest will stand in the way of its passage.

There are many additional signs that the second President Clinton's tax policies won't very much resemble those of the first. A plan proposed by Tony James, one of Clinton's Wall Street backers and a possible future financial advisor of hers, aims to raise taxes on the middle-class and funnel it to private equity and hedge fund firms. There's also a great deal of evidence that Clinton intends to grant corporations tax cuts, with Democratic insiders like Peter Orszag and Chuck Schumer openly talking about her succeeding where Obama failed in aiding the corporate monopoly of America's resources. Hillary and Bill Clinton have privately endorsed such a measure as well.

And with Republicans expected to keep the majority in both the House and the Senate-thanks in part, ironically, to the fact that Clinton is the nominee-achieving such neoliberal goals will be easy for her. In spite of the initial partisan disputes, I expect that President Hillary Clinton will be able to work very well with the Republicans in the House and the Senate in terms of fighting the more liberal Democrats in parliament so that they can get the policies where their views overlap on-which are numerous-enacted into law. There's also a possibility that with Republicans having the power to box Clinton in politically, she'll reverse her currently liberal stance on income taxes and sign a tax cut similar to that of Reagan or Bush.

By the end of Clinton's term, with her being the main representative of the Democratic Party, I believe the Democrats will for the most part have turned into an institution which supports the Reaganist view on taxes. Thus, with Democrats also supporting corporatist trade deals, aggressive foreign policy, Wall Street deregulation and bailouts, and money in politics, their transformation into the second party of the billionaire class will be virtually complete, with the only remaining differences between the two parties having to do with social issues and spending on social services. At that point, with the record income inequality that such actions have produced having reached a level that motivates the public to stage a populist revolt, hopefully Americans will largely abandon the Democratic and Republican parties and work towards the rise of an alternative.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Clintonism Will Fail

Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president. Her opponent's outrageous behavior, both recently and in years' past, has landed him in an electoral ditch too big for him to claw his way out of in time for November 8, which means that in spite of Clinton generally being a vulnerable candidate, the fact that she's running against someone like Trump will let her defy the odds.

However, as we all become rightfully appalled by the revelations about Donald Trump's behavior towards women, information is being leaked about Hillary Clinton that's arguably even more troubling.

This piece is aimed towards those who supported Clinton in the primaries and intend to continue supporting her and her party in future elections. Clintonists, I feel the need to tell you that your leaders are giving you a completely false picture of the future that they're going to create.

To begin this argument against Hillary Clinton's agenda, I'll talk about those leaks mentioned previously. Specifically, the Podesta Emails. This series of documents uncovered by WikiLeaks (which, to be clear, is not part of a Russian plot) reveals that the Democratic nominee is not who she makes herself out to be; her private remarks to bank executives show that she's in fact in favor of so-called free trade deals like the TPP, thinks that she thinks Wall Street is able to sufficiently regulate itself, and that she doesn't see environmentalism as much of a priority.

So what, the Hillary Clinton Democrats reading this are probably thinking. She said all (or at least most) of these things years ago, and telling from how she's assured us so many times during the campaign that she understands the problems related to Wall Street, climate change, the TPP, and other issues, and that she intends to address them, we shouldn't take the Podesta Emails seriously.

While some of that defense is legitimate, I'm going to make the case that it's a lot more complicated than that. And this complication could very well be what makes all of her promises moot-which will have dire consequences for the future of the country and the planet.


Clinton's exact remarks on the matter, made in September 2015 in the context of talking about her encounters with environmental activists, where "They come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it. They say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life, you know." She also said about their concerns, "They are after everything and I’m just talking through them. And of course they go support somebody else. That’s fine and I don’t particularly care. But I do think I have to say, look, given everything else we have to do in this country, this is not an issue for me that I’m going to say I support. I want to work on other stuff."

From the way she talked about the issue, you'd think that it was the time of her youth in the 1950's and 60's, when the public was only starting to become generally concerned with climate change. But these (presumably) young people aren't entering life in the same situation Clinton was.

As she made those statements, the hottest summer on record had just concluded, with average temperatures being 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit above what they typically were in the 20th century. 2015 then turned out to be the hottest year ever recorded, just as the last nine years previous surpassed all others before them in average temperature. What was different about 2015 is that it seemed to signal a trend of acceleration in global warming, with it having had a mean temperature of 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average compared to 2014's 1.33 degrees.

As a consequence, Eric Holthaus wrote in August of that year that "Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan." Signs of climate catastrophe, as the article recounts, were becoming dramatic enough that the emotional displays from the protestors that Hillary Clinton described were entirely appropriate. The point of no return on climate, wherein no amount of cutting carbon emissions could prevent  calamity, was fast approaching, with the average global temperature only having to rise 0.4 degrees more from the pre-industrial level before the 2 degree mark which scientists agree is the tipping point would be reached.

And with the climate situation having since seemed to reach such a point, Clinton's attitude can be compared to that of the captain of a sinking ship being annoyed with the alarmed mood of the passengers. Naomi Klein describes the position the next president will be in when they come into office as having "their back up against the climate wall." And as I'll talk about in a second, Klein also believes that Hillary Clinton is unsuited to confront the problem.

Though the list of actions to combat climate change offered in Clinton's website includes some worthwhile goals, it's ultimately the equivalent of trying to patch up the already severely damaged hull of the ship that I mentioned. Too often do her promises on the matter involve general or vague language that provides potential loopholes for not fulfilling the extremely ambitious task of saving the climate, and everything we know so far indicates she'll take full advantage of those exceptions.

Many parts of Clinton's record, from her being responsible for the worldwide expansion of fracking, to her support (in both the past and the future) of the climate progress-imperiling Trans-Pacific Partnership, to her being in favor of oil drilling in public lands as well as offshore, show that she cannot be relied upon to take this threat seriously.

By now, those who believe Hillary Clinton will be a better president than that might be thinking I'm not being fair to her-she did those things in the past, after all, and despite those flaws in her promises that I mentioned, surely we'll be able to live up to her generally proclaimed goal of fighting climate change.

Once again, it's not that simple.

Though Paul Krugman doesn't like to hear this, there is a reliable indicator as to whether a politician is genuine in their promises to stand up to any given special interest group, and it is whether that politician has decided to take money from the same group. The Clinton Campaign's ties to the fossil fuel industry run deep, and they warrant simply no other explanation other than that she in fact has every intention of helping it when she's in office. As is the case with all of the other facets of big business which she accepts money from; contrary to a popular excuse that her defenders give, her campaign can absolutely afford to stop taking these donations. If she decided to give up this corrupt political model, her millions of average supporters would be compelled to make her campaign rely upon small donations as was the case with Bernie Sanders. There's no avoiding it; all you need to do to find out Clinton's positions is follow the money.

And as Naomi Klein explains, this is bad news for those who hope she will be the kind of climate president we need.
While Clinton is great at warring with Republicans, taking on powerful corporations goes against her entire worldview, against everything she’s built, and everything she stands for. The real issue, in other words, isn’t Clinton’s corporate cash, it’s her deeply pro-corporate ideology: one that makes taking money from lobbyists and accepting exorbitant speech fees from banks seem so natural that the candidate is openly struggling to see why any of this has blown up at all.
In short, given all of what I've said so far, it would be extremely (and dangerously) naive to think that Hillary Clinton will come through and sufficiently tackle climate change after she's elected. Just when we need reform to climate policy the most, the next U.S. president is set to be a representative of the powers behind the problem. And as Klein also says, those aware of this are very worried.
Eva Resnick-Day, the 26-year-old Greenpeace activist who elicited the “so sick” [see what Klein is referring to here] response from Clinton last week, has a very lucid and moving perspective on just how fateful this election is, how much hangs in the balance. Responding to Clinton’s claim that young people “don’t do their own research,” Resnick-Day told Democracy Now!:
As a youth movement, we have done our own research, and that is why we are so terrified for the future…Scientists are saying that we have half the amount of time that we thought we did to tackle climate change before we go over the tipping point. And because of that, youth—the people that are going to have to inherit and deal with this problem—are incredibly worried. What happens in the next four or eight years could determine the future of our planet and the human species. And that’s why we’re out there…asking the tough questions to all candidates: to make sure that whoever is in office isn’t going to continue things as they’ve been, but take a real stand to tackle climate change in a meaningful and deep way for the future of our planet.
No, Hillary, it's not necessary to tell those young people that they should get a life. They already have lives. They're just concerned that your policies will make it so that climate change ruins them in the long-term.


It's well-known that Hillary Clinton's foreign policy decisions have favored war over diplomacy in almost every case. But to help any Democrats in the crowd who may have glossed over her record on this issue, it's something that should trouble anyone concerned with keeping peace in a global stage that's ready for another world war. 

I'm not just talking about her Iraq War vote, though that certainly was an incident that reflected very bad judgment on her part. She has supported a 1998 military intervention in Kosovo which destroyed innocent lives and turned the region into a hotbed for Islamist terrorism. She has participated in the violent 2009 overthrow of the Honduran government, which created a new era of tragedy and instability for the country. She has partnered with the Saudi Regime to instigated a 2011 conflict in Yemen. That same year, she helped start a war in Libya with consequences similar to that of Iraq. She has played a role in escalating the War in Syria. And she has voted for a 2007 measure that would have enabled America to go to war with Iran had the charges against it of WMDs not been debunked.

Again, to find out why Clinton has acted this way, you need only look at her connections. She openly embraces legendary war criminal Henry Kissinger, and her eagerness to instigate wars which benefit the oil industry and the military-industrial complex can of course be explained by the campaign donations from big oil that I mentioned earlier, as well as her support from the defense industry and the Saudi Royal Family. It's no wonder that Christopher Hitchens once warned "The last thing we need is a Clinton in charge of foreign policy."

What does this mean for the effect her presidency will have on the geopolitical scene? It may literally be worse than you can imagine.

WikiLeaks has shown that in addition to wanting to increase troop levels in Syria and try to implement the dangerously naive "no fly zone," she has a desire to escalate the violence in the region seemingly for no other reason than that it will somehow help fulfill her unrealistic and costly goal for regime change. As Caitlin Johnstone explains in her piece A Vote For Hillary Clinton Is A Vote For nuclear War, this plan can be considered not only irresponsible, but insane:
Whatever your position on the confusing situation in Syria, this is clearly a profoundly stupid and dangerous thing to do. Even if you’ve somehow managed to convince yourself that Putin and Assad are the only bad guys in the conflict and that America’s only interest in Syria is as the noble protector making sure no innocent civilians get hurt, even if you are that brainwashed and brain dead, it should still be obvious to you that shooting down Russian military planes won’t end well for anyone.
Military attacks against another nation’s military can only elicit military retribution. Acts of military retribution can easily escalate to full-scale war. America currently has 6,970 nuclear warheads that we know of, ready to launch at the drop of a hat. Russia has 7,300 nukes that we know of, with thousands in the chamber ready to fire. The two nations are, by a truly massive margin, the largest nuclear forces on planet Earth.
This extremely sensitive situation can only be made worse with someone like Hillary Clinton in charge. And if worse comes to worst, her foreign policy decisions may have as big an effect on the future of the human race as her climate decisions will.

The economy

Once again, Hillary Clinton's donor list says everything about what kinds of actions she'll take. Her ties to the financial sector are famously significant, with Wall Street being behind her even more than it's behind her Republican opponent. And while the representatives of the industry who have donated to her are relatively few and in some cases support higher taxation or greater regulation of big business, overall much of her campaign is made possible by defenders of the economic status quo.

And again, this should be regarded as a red flag that she's not up to the task of reforming the economic system. Liberals trusted Bill Clinton to fix it despite him running the most big donor-funded Democratic presidential campaign so far, and then he signed NAFTA, killed welfare, deregulated the financial sector, and got America involved in the WTO, which contributed to the fact that income inequality spiraled out of control during his administration. They trusted Barack Obama to do the same despite the vast majority of his campaign money having come from big donors, and then he helped pass Wall Street bailouts, failed to sufficiently regulate Wall Street and revive the economy, and passed the trade deal that led to the Panama Papers scandal, resulting in a faster transfer of wealth towards the top than the one that occurred during Bush's term.

It's laughable to think that Hillary will be an exception. Under the policies of her predecessors on both the Republican and Democratic sides, income inequality in America has risen to levels that may be higher than at any other point in history, and if such an estimation isn't the case now, it likely will be by the end of her first term.

But the gradual, steady draining of wealth on the middle class that such policies will create isn't all we'll have to worry about in the next four years. Thanks to the Wall Street deregulations that Hillary Clinton's husband is responsible for, and the Wall Street bailout that she voted for as Senator in 2008, the economy is set for another recession. In spite of claims from bankers (who would have guessed?) that breaking up the big financial institutions would harm the economy, in reality it's the opposite, with the economic paradigm that such actions ushered in having created a market so financialized and concentrated that the next time the banks go under, the rest of us are going down with them.

There's of course no telling just when this crash will start to occur, or how big it will be when it does. But factors indicate it's going to be bigger than 2008-and that it's getting more likely all the time. The stock market rally that's been occurring since the last crash will, as this chart of the market's historical trends  illustrates, set off the next one as soon as it ends.

When the market reaches the top of the hill, the economy will be in deep trouble. And since this bubble looks likely to pop in time for 2017, President Hillary Clinton will be entering office while having to manage what may be the largest economic downturn in history. When her administration inevitably pushes for new Wall Street bailouts, which would endanger the middle class in addition to her other neoliberal policies by setting the economy up for an even bigger crash several years later, a backlash from the American people is going to occur. And it won't necessarily be a positive one.


Precedent tells us that the elitist, business-as-usual paradigm which Clinton and Clintonism represent is always bound to be overturned by the people. Chris Hedges writes in regards to this inevitable shift that "History has amply demonstrated where this will end up. The continued exploitation by an unchecked elite, and the rising levels of poverty and insecurity, will unleash a legitimate rage among the desperate. They will see through the lies and propaganda of the elites. They will demand retribution. They will turn to those who express the hatred they feel for the powerful and the institutions, now shams, that were designed to give them a voice. They will seek not reform but destruction of a system that has betrayed them."

Intuitively, this sounds hopeful. But Hedges then says that "Failed states—czarist Russia, the Weimar Republic, the former Yugoslavia—vomit up political monstrosities. We will be no different."

By this, he means that the populist movements that eras of income inequality produce often take the form of negative, not positive, social change (the regimes that followed the examples Hedges gives are, respectively, Leninism, the Third Reich, and the nationalist movements that sprung up amid the breakup of Yugoslavia). And indeed, following the neoliberal shift that's been implemented in the economic systems of so many countries throughout the last four decades, the fascist, reactionary model of populism-what Americans recognize as "Trumpism"-has emerged as opposed to the more constructive, sane alternative offered by the left.

From Poland to the UK to France to Germany (yep, you read that last one right), nationalist demagogues are enjoying increasing success due to neoliberalism. And Trump's loss this year is anything but proof that America's own fascist movement is dead.

Liberals like to cite the demographic changes in America's electorate as proof that the right, or at least the far-right, is doomed. Michael Moore has called Trump's campaign "the last stand of the angry white man," likening the angry complaints of Trump supporters to the final cries of the dinosaurs before they died out ("build a wauuull! build a wauuull!" is his imitation of them). The truth is that after 2016, Trumpism will be stronger than ever.

In the months following Hillary Clinton's inauguration, I expect an unprecedented backlash from the right to begin. As occurred in 2009 after Obama became president, we may well witness a rise in right-wing media demagogues-this time bolstered by the nationalist propaganda empire built by Donald Trump-rallying the hordes of angry former Trump fans for the battles ahead.

In the 2018 midterm elections, I predict that we'll also see something resembling the Tea Party's victories in 2010, except in this case it will be more significant. This upset could come in the form of the rise of a new, neo-fascist party, or in many establishment Republicans facing primary challenges from the far right, but either way, Trumpism is bound to make a major comeback that year. And that will only be the start of it. As the 2020 election approaches, we'll likely see the rise of a presidential candidate that's just as bad or worse than Donald Trump.

These are serious possibilities. The person who's warning that Hillary Clinton and America are "headed for a larger reckoning" and saying that the policies of her administration will produce a demagogue "possibly far worse" than Trump isn't some street corner ranter-it's Robert Reich.

And just like how Clinton and the Democratic Party will be the ones who created such political horror shows, they won't be able to protect us from them. The alienation that Hillary causes her progressive base with her politically triangulating tactics makes her a very weak general election candidate, and the only reason she's winning this year is because Trump is such a terrible opponent. In 2020, when she's up against what will probably be a more competent and skilled demagogue, she won't stand a chance. The same will be true in the case of the hundreds of races in the House and the Senate wherein "mini-Trumps" are running against Democratic candidates, most of whom are similarly centrist and politically impotent.

I'll conclude this analysis with another Hillary Clinton quote from the Podesta Emails: "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere."

This vision of an ideal America-which also involves what she describes as a political system dominated by two "moderate" parties, along with, no doubt, what she considers a strong military-may make sense on paper, but on so many levels it's absurd. As long as the country has two corporatist, militaristic parties led by people like her starting unnecessary wars, passing anti-worker trade deals like the TPP, allowing banks and corporations to wreak havoc over the economy, letting the climate deteriorate, and leaving the door open for dangerous figures like Donald Trump to gain control of politics, the future will be bleak.

Four years from now, with Hillary Clinton in charge, this will not be the same country. After so many decades of the status quo, just four more years of it will have driven many facets of modern civilization to the breaking point.

We will not get "incremental change." We will not get "reform from working within the system." Those who believe that Hillary Clinton and Clintonism are the solution in spite of the corruption that they represent are kidding themselves. When Joan Walsh wrote in her endorsement of Clinton that "I genuinely believe she'll make the best president" in spite of having just admitted that she has reservations about Clinton's agenda, she failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation that the next president will be facing.

Hillary and the other representatives of Clintonism are not the future. They're just the veil that the established order has put up in a last, floundering effort to keep the public unaware of what awaits it if society continues on the current path.

However, if enough people can break out of this illusion, there may still be hope to make these next defining four years a victory for humanity rather than a defeat. Though Clinton's victory is not the thing that climate progress needs, it's preferable to one for Trump, who's clearly even worse on environmental issues. At least with her as president, with enough effort from climate activists, we can potentially influence her decision-making on the matter enough that she takes serious steps on it. A strong anti-war movement might be able to prevent her from behaving too recklessly on foreign policy. After the financial crisis hits, a new version of the Occupy Wall Street movement will likely emerge which will give us leverage to pressure the government to stop the bailouts, give up on the TPP, and work to solve the wealth gap. And in order to prevent the next wave of Trumpism from resulting in the implementation of a fascist dictatorship, we can bring about the rise of a genuinely progressive alternative party to the Democrats which has the ability to counter the dark power of the far right.

To realize the future that you want happen, Hillary supporters, you'll first have to give up the belief that the candidate and the party you've chosen to back shares your goals. After the election, I invite you to join me and others in putting aside our past disagreements and taking the job of working towards a sane future into the hands of the people-not Hillary's.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Perils Of Remaining Loyal To The Democratic Party

For many people, the time between the end of the 2016 Democratic primaries on June 7 and when Bernie Sanders all but formally ended his campaign on July 12 by endorsing Hillary Clinton was a moment when they faced decisions which would define their character. The dilemma of Sanders supporters was whether to start supporting Clinton or to try to continue fighting for their candidate's nomination (which, for at least a time, was worth a shot). But despite the fact that the results of the primaries were utterly fraudulent, the media, the Democratic establishment, and Clinton's supporters agreed that she had won the nomination, which presented them with a different kind of character test.

Theirs was a position of illegitimate, but widely accepted, victory. And how they acted towards their candidate's former challenger and his supporters during this moment of advantage would say everything about what kinds of people they were. According to Shane Ryan in his June 29 piece The Psychology of Why Hillary Clinton Supporters are Still So Angry at Bernie Sanders, the majority of them behaved just as immaturely in such a situation as the title implies. After giving some examples of pro-Clinton pundits expressing disdain for Sanders because of his momentary refusal to concede, Shane talks about the mentality among Clinton's supporters:
Now, getting past the mainstream media minds, there’s the widespread anger among her supporters on social media, the lesser blogs, and IRL at Bernie’s actions. They use the same arguments—why can’t the arrogant loser accept that he lost?—and fail to understand how he’s maximizing his leverage while he’s still got it, which won’t be for long. They also fail to understand that the slow negotiations [a reference to Sanders' attempts to influence the Democratic platform] actually make it more likely that his supporters will come around, since he’s creating the perception that Clinton has to “earn” his vote.
The reasons he gives for why they refused to give Sanders any credit or respect even though they no longer perceived him as a threat can be described as follows: in spite of largely holding progressive views on the economy, foreign policy, and other issues that Hillary Clinton is in a lot of ways a Republican on, Clinton's supporters chose her because of identity politics relating to her gender and her superficial "progressive" image. But as Bernie Sanders challenged their comfortable assumptions with his exposing of Clinton's ideological inconsistencies, their only logical (or, actually, illogical) response was to accuse Sanders of being the source of their discomfort instead of facing their own mistakes.

This wasn't just a failure among them to express humility, though, but a sign of something far more troubling.

The Democratic electorate, including those who supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries, is overwhelmingly left-wing, with more Democrats than ever identifying as liberals, more than 80% of them thinking that the wealth distribution is unfair, over 70% of them wanting a single-payer universal health care system, and far more of them than Republicans or independents thinking that withdrawing from Iraq in 2011 was a good idea. Though some try to de-emphasize how progressive the party's base is, the polls-and the fact that Democratic candidates tend to lose elections when they move right-prove that Democrats are generally very far to the left.

But if one pays much attention to what the Democratic Party actually stands for, they find that its actions do not match up with the wishes of its supporters. Its leadership, under the control of wealthy oligarchs, is unwilling to pass the systemic economic reforms needed to reverse income inequality, as demonstrated in how it's increased under Obama's policies. The necessary (and completely realistic) idea of universal health care is rejected by the Democratic establishment in favor of the costly, profit-based system which is the so-called Affordable Care Act. And most notable among these and other key issues that Democratic leaders lean right on is foreign policy, which they've taken a highly militaristic approach on in the past few years.

And increasingly, Democrats are waking up to these ideological inconsistencies. The Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries-which make up half of the party, according to Sanders' polling history-are largely seeking to distance themselves from the organization after it sabotaged their candidate, as reflected in their "Demexit" movement. This is just the latest part of the exodus from the Democratic Party that's taken place among progressives in recent years, illustrated in how Democrats made up 35% of the electorate in 2008 but now make up only 29% of it. This means that since the start of Obama's presidency, his party has diminished by over 17%, a number that's sure to keep going up as the left continues to be alienated by Democrats in the years to come. This could easily lead to the rise of a populist third party post-2016 which overtakes both Democrats and Republicans.

I'm confident that as Bernie Sanders' Democrats abandon the party and join the already vast population of independents, they'll have an excellent opportunity to advance progressive goals. What worries me is what will become of Hillary Clinton's Democrats, who are certain to remain in it.

As was illustrated in that account of Clinton supporter's behavior after the primaries ended, they tend to twist themselves into increasingly complicated logical knots when they'd rather not admit that they're wrong about their candidate and their party representing progressive values. The more corrupt their party becomes, the more otherwise inexcusable actions they condone by continuing to make excuses for it; "everything is morally relative to Clinton supporters," writes HA Goodman. "If Bill and Hillary Clinton receive $153 million from Wall Street since 2001, then it’s viewed as money to battle Republicans. If Clinton voted for Iraq, or was Secretary of State during Obama’s worst mistake of his presidency, then attention shifts to future Supreme Court nominees."

And as the Democratic Party itself remains an institution which represents such values without any hope of reforming it, the progressive views which its loyalists largely hold could shift to the right as well.

If the idea of Democrats doing an ideological 180 doesn't sound believable, consider the history of the Republican Party. Though Republicans seem to have always had some hostility towards what they consider reckless government spending, for a time they were actually the more liberal party. As we all know, their very origins involve the abolitionist movement, which meant that at one point Democrats, not Republicans, were the ones with race war-advocating militia members and secessionists in their ranks. Under Theodore Roosevelt, Republicans became the party of environmental protection-a position that they maintained for a long time afterwards, as was made apparent in Richard Nixon's similarly green policies. They were even more economically populist than the Democrats for some time as well, with Roosevelt breaking much of the power that large corporations held over the economy during the 1900's.

But then, of course, came the Republicans' fall from grace. Because Republicans did little else to help racial progress after ending slavery, Democrats eventually became the party of marginalized groups. Starting in the 1920's, Republican leaders shifted their agenda away from that of Roosevelt and adopted the same pro-big business, "small government" rhetoric that they've used ever since. And after the end of the Cold War, Republican leaders decided to start mobilizing their base with outrage towards environmental regulation rather than communism, effectively reversing the roles of conservatives and liberals as the party that cared about ecology. Then followed the Republican Party's descent into the kind of anti-intellectualism and divisive rhetoric which helped produce Donald Trump.

In short, during the past century or so, Republicans went from the relatively left-wing party to one who's current presidential nominee advocates barring Muslims from entering the country. The main reason the Republican electorate is more conservative, it seems, is because their party leadership's lurch to the right began several generations ago. And though the Democrats have only been on such a path for about one generation, beginning with the centrist shift that took place in the party during the 1980's and 90's, there are signs that the Democratic electorate itself is starting to become more aligned with the beliefs of their representatives.

In May, columnist Lucy Steigerwald assessed the eagerness among Clinton Democrats to excuse her foreign policy record-and thus their eagerness to embrace war in general:
Clinton also has the nomination because war doesn’t bother Democrats. They like to think it does, when they remember it exists, but they will risk no political capital whatsoever on making sure it stops, or making sure a warmongering candidate isn’t nominated or elected.
During the last few decades, any semblance of an antiwar movement has withered under Democratic presidents. Not since “hey/hey/LBJ/how many kids did you kill today?” has a warmonger from the left side of the isle provoked ire. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have much blood on their hands, but not enough to push people into the streets. There are encouraging exceptions, as there are to all rules. Code Pink and other activist groups come out and protest Democrats, and don’t seem to have any plans to stop. However, it seems the anti-Iraq, antiwar movement of the early 21st century was a Dubya blip and nothing more. Part of that may be the public’s feeble attention span for atrocities far away. But it certainly appears that another aspect is that polite Democratic wars are easier to accept than grand Republican ones. Even if they both lead to the deaths of innocent people.
This disturbing trend towards hawkishness among Clinton Democrats can also be illustrated by how, during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, General John Allen's aggressively pro-war speech was met with enthusiasm from most of the Clinton delegates. It's just one incident, but it seems to reflect how much the group is being influenced by the rhetoric of their leaders.

Though foreign policy is the main issue which the Democratic base is being pushed to the right on, trade seems to be not far behind; though Americans are largely hostile towards anti-worker trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, polls indicate that supporters of Clinton (who supports the TPP) are generally in favor of them more than others. Just as troubling is how Democratic leaders, whose embrace of money in politics and Citizens United should be regarded by the party's base as clear evidence that their leaders are on the side of the oligarchs, is largely being written off as acceptable on the grounds of "pragmatism."

This rightward shift among Clinton supporters and supporters of the Democratic establishment in general was assessed by Walter Bragman in his piece Hillary Clinton's Democrats are America's Next Republicans:
They’ve been called the “post-hope” Democrats by Jacobin Magazine, but a more accurate term for many of Hillary Clinton’s supporters would be “New Republicans.” After the primary, and several more election cycles, these voters will likely end up representing America’s conservative party.
Hillary’s Democrats tend to be older and more affluent. Many have decidedly negative views of Bernie Sanders, and the kind of economic populism he is promoting. Not only are they turned off by his class-driven rhetoric — viewing it as too radical, divisive, and disruptive — they are also wary of too much government action. Clinton’s Democrats, consciously or otherwise, hold to some of the main tenets of the Reagan Revolution.
That said, these are not the New Democrats of the 1990’s, though that is where their roots are planted. Socially, they identify as progressives — hypersensitive to privilege and prejudice — but outside those issues, their ideology rests on the belief that nuance dictates moral ambiguity, and is beyond the understanding of common folk. Such sentiment gives deference to authority, and assumes that every side must have a valid argument in the face of impenetrable complexity.
As I said, these people do not represent the future of American politics. Outside of this insulated, diminishing group of largely older, upper-class Democratic loyalists, the political environment is changing, with millennials set to dominate the electorate in time for the next election amid extreme levels of income inequality-the latter factor being historically proven to result in populist uprisings. But despite all of these things, the damage to those already enamored with the Democratic establishment has already been done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Green Party's Lithuania Victory May Foreshadow A Similar Event In The US

Ballots being cast in this month's Lithuanian parliamentary election.
Chances are if you're reading this, you don't often follow Lithuanian politics. But if you do, you've recently seen something interesting take place: on Sunday the 9th, Lithuania's Peasants and Green Party, despite its candidates generally trailing in the polls, won 20 out of the 70 available parliamentary seats during that day's election.

Because several parties were competing with them (a common phenomenon in democracies other than the United States), this means that they've taken the most seats in Lithuania's parliament. And though they're still behind in the polls ahead of the second phase of the elections, which will take place on October 23, this could mean that they'll defy the odds again and take control of the country's government.

This comes as good news for the Lithuanian Greens' American counterparts.

Though I've only begun to look into the country that I'm talking about (oh, now I see it on the's that one between Russia and Poland), I can report that there are striking similarities between the factors behind these election results and the situation in the United States.

Let's flash back to the Great Recession, which, for Lithuania, began in 2009. In response to it, the country's government, headed by the center-right Homeland Union Party, passed austerity measures that drove up poverty by raising taxes while at the same time cutting public services. Though to be fair, such actions were necessary at the time to save Lithuania from a debt crisis, their consequences for the poor and the middle-class were made apparent by how the Homeland Union was voted out of power in the 2012 elections because of growing populist sentiments.

But for many Lithuanian voters in 2016, the policies of the newly elected Social Democratic Party have not been enough as the recession's effects continue to be widely felt. And so two days ago, the Peasants and Green Party's promises of more radical reforms to the economy contrary to Social Democrats' center-left approach won over undecided voters and earned it a possible position as the new ruling party of Lithuania.

This story has a lot of parallels to what's happened in the U.S. since the start of the recession. After the 2008 financial crisis, which President Bush shared much of the blame for, Republicans were voted out in 2006 and 2008 because of this and other failures to protect peace, the environment, and the economy.

However, since then, Democrats have proven to not be much better, with the Obama Administration's efforts to revive the economy being insufficient, its health care bill failing to address the health care crisis, its trade deals hurting American workers and the environment, and its wars wasting enormous amounts of tax money. As a result, income inequality has continued to increase at about the same rate regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is president. Worst of all has been the unwillingness of both Republicans and Democrats to keep the financial sector under control, with their support of the Wall Street bailouts and their failure to break up the big banks having created the factors for another economic crash.

And just like in Lithuania, Americans are increasingly showing a commitment to overthrowing the neoliberal order that both of its most established parties represent. This is reflected in the campaign of Bernie Sanders, which, had it not been derailed by widespread voter suppression and electoral fraud, would have made it so that a self-described democratic socialist is well on his way to becoming the next U.S. president.

Because Sanders' run can be considered a last-ditch effort to reform the Democratic Party into something genuinely populist, the movement that it represented will most likely find a new home in the same place where Lithuania's leftist movement has: an alternative party which isn't tethered to corporate capitalism. Already, the Green Party of the U.S. is experiencing a major surge in support, with its 2016 presidential nominee Jill Stein (and also, perhaps, the dozens of other Greens running for the House and the Senate) on track to receive a lot more of the vote on November 8 than most polls estimate. And given the recent ideological fractures in America's party system, it's entirely possible that in the next several election cycles we'll see the rise of a third party that's capable of reforming America's economic system, which, by default, will likely be the Greens.

Sadly, the response to the worldwide trend in income inequality hasn't always taken such positive forms. Lithuania is unique in how it's one of the few democracies that has yet to see neo-fascist demagogues gain prominence in its government because of the economic hardships that its citizens are experiencing, with the neoliberal policies that so many countries have adopted in the last few decades producing a trend towards reactionary, far-right politics.

Right next to it in Poland, for example, representatives of such movements have gained control of the parliament, with their cracking down of civil liberties accompanying the nationalist culture that their presence has created. In the UK, June's Brexit vote may only be a foreshadowing of the victories that the country's burgeoning hard-right movements have the potential for winning in the next few years. And in the United States, though the current manifestation of this global movement Donald Trump is on his way to losing, four more years of the status-quo centrism that his opponent Hillary Clinton represents could very well result in the rise of something far more sinister in 2020.

These events resemble the vision of the future conjured by author Peter Moore who, after the 2008 financial crisis, wrote an account of what the future of global politics might look like if the current economic paradigm persisted. This paragraph, written in the context of some mentions of nationalist demagoguery being prevalent in the new political environment, indicates where he believes such trends would lead:
The new president might have better heeded his predecessor’s first, prudent steps toward silencing political opposition in time of national emergency. Instead, his glasnost-like policies met with that idea’s same ruinous results. A gesture of openness to the frivolous American media was only met with the usual anarchic outcries for still more information. Overtures of friendship toward leaders of the opposition faction in the Congress, such as Senators McConnell, Bond, and Cornyn, and Representatives Boehner and Hoekstra, were viewed as signs of weakness, and merely solicited further demands for power-sharing. It will seem strange today to many in Asia, or even in the “Failed World” of the West—where nation after nation has of late moved away from the constraints of the multiparty state—that such individuals were not summarily charged with high treason. But such were the logical endpoints of American-style “democracy.”
Of course, such a dark turn of events is anything but inevitable. The lowbrow appeal of Trumpism can be countered with the leftist radicalism offered by Sanders and the Greens, and if Americans build the Green Party into something viable by 2020-a task less daunting than it sounds-we'll easily be able to defeat the neo-fascists. For those in countries not dominated by two irredeemably corporatist parties, the necessary mission will be to make the already established leftist parties strong enough to fight the gathering political demons. But if these efforts fail, at least moving to Lithuania will still be an option.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

How Jill Stein Can Get 5% Of The Vote

No, that is not a picture of one of Bernie Sanders' rallies. It's a Ralph Nader rally that took place in the summer of 2000.

The fact that Nader received a mere 2.74% of the vote gives people a false image of just how big a presence his campaign had at one point. During June of that year, the movement that he had generated among those who were disillusioned by the Democratic Party's descent into Clintonism had him polling at 6%.

But as the election approached, as always happens with third-party campaigns, more voters became focused on helping the major candidate that they preferred most, and his support fell. Though Nader didn't end up swinging the election, the Democratic spin that he had-along with the important goal of stopping Bush in 2004-effectively killed the Greens' hopes for overtaking the Democrats anytime soon.

Several election cycles later, Americans are finally learning the consequences of continuing to support the two-party system. This destructive paradigm has resulted in the two most detested figures in American political history being the nominees of both major parties, and even though 57% of the electorate wants a third choice, in all likelihood they aren't going to see one win this year.

Though factors such as record income inequality and an increasingly independent electorate make it so that a third-party upset in 2020 is dramatically more likely than it was in 2004, the current state of the race indicates that such an event will be somewhat difficult to realize. If Nader had received 5% or more of the vote in 2000, his party would have qualified for federal matching funds and automatic ballot access in the next election cycle, which would have significantly shaken things up. And though the Liberitarian Party's Gary Johnson is set to receive more of the vote share than that, Jill Stein of the Green Party-the only party with the ability to break the grip that banks and corporations have on society-is polling hopelessly far beneath that number.

Or at least, that's what we've been told.

A frequent complaint from insurgent candidates during this election (legitimate or not) has been that the process is rigged against them. This claim has had a lot of basis, particularly in the case of Bernie Sanders, who's campaign would have likely succeeded had it not been for the voter suppression, electoral fraud, and biased coverage from the corporate media that plagued the Democratic primaries. If you suspect that similar things are happening to Jill Stein, your intuition is correct.

First and foremost comes the way Stein has been treated by the mainstream media. As columnist Caitlin Johnstone writes about the attacks Stein has received from corporate news outlets:
Countless pages of editorial have been spent deriding Jill, Ajamu, and their entitled-white-privileged-but-also-basement-dwelling supporters. How exactly does that work, oh million-dollar media hacks? How can someone be overly entitled, but stuck living in their Mom’s basement, at the same time?
So there’s that. Just look up “Jill Stein anti-vax,” the creation of a neoliberal think-tank, and you will come up with pages and pages of superficial editorial and smear. On that one lie alone, there are thousands upon thousands of deceitful and maliciously manipulative words written on it designed to paint her as anti-vax without any actual evidence. That’s a tricky two-step. Takes a lot of creativity to make up such ornate lies.
They sure do spend a lot of time on us. Anyone who didn’t know better would think we were a threat.
The media's response to Stein has been more than simply about a concern that she'll swing the election. The fact that Gary Johnson-who's taking nearly as much of the potential support from Hillary Clinton as Stein is-hasn't endured such a smear campaign further confirms this. The reason for their hostility towards her, as Johnstone continues, seems to be about something deeper.
You certainly would not think that we were a footnote protest vote that will amount to less than a percent of the vote.
Of course, they use that line too. We are merely a percent or two in the polls. But their vitriol betrays them.
Their own polls betray them too. When you drill down in the data of a CNN poll, for example, you will find that they have exorcised all millennials, Gen-Xers, minorities, and anyone not living in a southern state, from their sample set.
That’s a whole lot of people they’re not asking anymore. Basically, if you’re not a fifty-plus white person from the south, you don’t get polled. Now, why is that, I wonder? Hmm. They could not be hiding something…could they?
The name of that piece is "Vote For Jill Because She Can Win." While I wouldn't go quite so far as to say that these things are proof Stein in fact has enough unreported support to do so, I do think it's clear that she has more support than it appears.

That CNN poll isn't the only one which has underestimated Stein's numbers. Many surveys, such as an August Ipsos-Reuters poll and the five polls that the Commission on Presidential Debates used to determine whether Stein and Johnson could debate, have been biased against likely Green voters, having included problems such as underrepresenting independents and young people. Other suspicious factors in how these polls are conducted, as Nathan Francis reports, have to do with how they tend to make unfair assumptions about the people that are participating in them.
One of the biggest factors in Jill Stein overperforming her polling could be in the models these polls use to predict likely voters. Guessing which poll respondents will actually show up on Election Day has always been something of an informed guess for pollsters, and they don’t sound terribly confident this year compared to the past.
“These methods, which have been around for so long, may be losing some of their accuracy because circumstances have changed,” Scott Keeter, a senior survey adviser at Pew Research, told the Atlantic. “Whether there has been a change in our politics in just the last two years that makes all of this less accurate is really impossible to answer at this point.”
And those likely voter models — the ones that are used to show Jill Stein’s low support — are generally weighted to expect fewer young and first-time voters. That happens to make up a large share of the Green Party’s base, so a model that fails to take these voters into account will have Jill Stein underperforming.
In short, the Real Clear Politics polling average, which currently puts Stein at 2%, is not accurate at all. Ignoring these "push polls" and unscientific surveys, she in fact has far more support than that.

Here's some amateur, but reliable enough, polling analysis of mine: 13% of former Bernie Sanders supporters now support Jill Stein. While it's difficult to say exactly how much of the electorate is made up of those in that crowd, seeing as about half of Democrats backed Sanders at one point and he won among independents, it's reasonable to assume that if you were to take all of the Sanders supporters and then calculate how much 13% of them is relative to the rest of the electorate, you will get a number close to or even above 5%.

A more certain demographic to look to to find how much support Stein actually has is young voters. Stein has 16% of the support with voters under 30 (to put that in perspective, if this group made up all of the electorate Stein would qualify for the debates), and since millennials make up 31% of the electorate, we can confidently say that counting young people alone, she has more than 4% of the support.

Stein supporters from those two groups, added to the other supporters that she has, gives her an uncertain, but crucial, amount of support above 5%.

So that's that. We've already succeeded in the first half of our mission to make Jill Stein succeed where Nader's supporters made him fail by getting her 5% or more of the vote. The support she needs to do so is already there, and those who run the corporate media, perhaps suspecting this, are doing everything they can to stop us.

And with thirty days until the election, all that we can do now is spread awareness of this fact so that those Sanders supporters and millennials who want to vote for Stein but feel like doing so would be a waste will vote for who they prefer on November 8. And if they feel like stopping Trump is the most important thing, tell them about how voting third party in most states will have no affect whatsoever on the race's outcome, and how Clinton can afford to lose their vote regardless because she's highly likely to win. Though the wind will be at our backs for a Green Party upset post-2016 even if we don't pull this off, we're going to need every advantage we can get.

Though the odds are stacked against us in this mission, as they were with Bernie Sanders' campaign, do not lose the belief that we can reach 5% until it's November 8 and you see that the election results show we've failed. Until then, it's a game of working and hoping. Because, as John Laurits said about the possibility that third-party voters can stage an upset this year in an article similar to this one, "Sure, it’s 'statistically unlikely' — but so is the fact that life even exists at all and yet here we are."