“I won’t tell you who to vote for and if I ever do, don’t listen to me.” -Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
By any stretch of the imagination, this has been an ugly primary season. I cannot find one redeeming feature of this experience, except for the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. Now, I know. People can dump on him if they want, and I am totally disappointed in his decision. I make no excuse for it. I think he had one chance to help change the face of American politics and he wimped out. At 74, he could have chosen to run as an Independent and/or join the Greens and he would have made a bigger impact. I don’t care who is telling you otherwise.
They are either afraid of change, or too lazy to get their hands dirty (but hey, if someone else wants to take it on, I’ll cheer from the sidelines). They are not committed to serious change. And they are protectors of the status quo. But the one thing I know about Sanders is that he is a man of his word. He said he would support whomever the Democratic nominee is from day one. He never, ever lied. It is I who was hoping beyond hope that he would turn his back on the status quo. I am guessing that his capitulation is in payment for allowing him to run under the Democratic moniker. He did this for practical reasons. However, Bernie Sanders also said something else early on. It goes like this:
“I won’t tell you who to vote for and, if I ever do, don’t listen to me.”
If you haven’t learned about reading between the lines when it comes to American politics, you don’t know much about American politics. Because that’s what it’s all about in this 2016 election cycle, among other things. Like flat-out lies, deceit, Internet trolling, election rigging (blatant, I might add), collusion, and any number of other unsavory practices. Only now, the Democrats can no longer claim the moral high ground as in the past, because this has all gone on within the Democratic Party. In fact, they have gone on a meteoric rise to eclipse the corruption of the RNC. The bullshit that I’ve seen from the Democratic Party is absolutely breathtaking. It makes me wonder why I remained in the party for so long. This is the crux of my insistence that there can be no revolution from within the Democratic Party.
My very first voting election was McGovern-Nixon in 1972, and I absolutely loved George McGovern and loathed Richard Milhous Nixon. So, here’s the thing. Although I didn’t know it then (read: idealistic), the Democrats had a way of weeding out the “outsiders.” George McGovern was an outsider, like Sanders. And not only were the Republicans happy to throw him under the bus, but also his own party. Yes, the Democrats deep-sixed his candidacy — something they would do again and again to those who didn’t make the cut. Jesse Jackson. Dennis Kucinich. Bernie Sanders. See a pattern here? I didn’t then. I most certainly do now.
I’ve been hanging around the party like a misguided groupie for years. The next candidate I got excited about was Bill Clinton. He had presence. He spoke like a populist. And we were coming off eight years of old man Bush. Clinton and Al Gore were going to change the landscape. When did that happen? Did it happen and I somehow pulled a Rip Van Winkle? No, it never happened unless, of course, you’re a member of the ruling elites, the only class of people that the Clintons truly care about. Bill Clinton certainly made a yuuuuge contribution to their landscape.
Bill Clinton deregulated Wall Street and the banks by joining forces with Republican Phil Gramm to repeal Glass-Steagall , setting up the 2008 financial meltdown. He also deregulated the telecommunications industry by signing the Telecommunications Act of 1996, making guys like Rupert Murdoch possible. He gave us NAFTA in 1994, which has resulted in 1 million lost jobs to date, and has contributed to a staggering increase in income inequality. Promising as candidate Clinton to take care of the LGBT community, without whose support he would never have won, Bill Clinton then rewarded us with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). Yeah, he “took care” of us alright.
Clinton passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994 and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. Both of these bills were devastating to people of color and the poor. (I honestly have no idea how the Clintons have any support from minority communities, including my own, but especially from the African-American community.) Clinton’s crime bill is the biggest in American history. This gem provided $10 billion in new prison construction, which would be needed since it would result in the lockup of millions for non-violent offenses, such as drug possession. This bill kicked off the era of mass incarceration, with the vast majority of people caught in the dragnet being people of color.
His welfare reform bill literally ended welfare. What was once a federal program of assistance to the poor was turned over to the states in the form of block grants. Then the pressure was turned on the states to reduce their welfare rolls, since that was now the sole quantitative measurement of the program’s success. This bill ushered in a new way of dealing with poverty. It is the punitive method, where the poor are demonized and all welfare recipients are considered criminals.
That old hillbilly. He duped us. He was smooth, with that classic southern drawl. There is no doubt about the fact that he’s a great orator. He was young and vibrant. (Some say handsome too, but I don’t see it.) Of course, old hillbilly came with that womanizing baggage. People get so wrapped up with Monica, that they forget about Gennifer Flowers, the Arkansas state government worker who revealed her long-term affair with Bill Clinton during the campaign in 1992. But this is America and we don’t give a shit about that stuff. That’s “character” stuff. We only care about “image,” and Bill Clinton was bringing in a new Democratic Party. Little did we know what that meant at the time.
We all thought Clinton was going to provide relief from the previous GOP regime. You know, restore the party to its glory days. That wasn’t the plan at all. In fact, there were Democratic party operatives who thought the Democrats should move in a more centrist, conservative direction. They established the Democratic Leadership Council to spread this message. Bill Clinton became the first DLC-sanctioned president in 1993, and his positions, policies and legislation marched to the vision provided by the Democratic Leadership Council. Call it the art of triangulation politics. No longer was the Democratic Party the champion of the working man. It was now a lapdog for Wall Street.
We don’t really have a voting choice, just the illusion of one.
People continued to buy into the propaganda that the Democrats are better than the Republicans. And that’s because on “social” issues (like gay marriage, abortion, birth control, and all of those “hot button” issues) they are. The party has again evolved, this time under the Third Way think tank, which has further synthesized the positions of the corrupt duopoly. They simply have synthesized the social positions of the Democratic party with the right-wing economic policies of the GOP. Today, the Democratic party is firmly in the grasp of neoliberals, and there is precious little difference between the two established parties.
Because the “new” Democratic party has co-opted many of the Republican establishment political positions, the GOP had to struggle to reinvent itself. Do you know what it did? It went to crazy fucking town. It became extreme on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, birth control and all those “hot button,” divisive issues. It purposely blurred the line separating church and state. So, in essence, what people do not realize is that the neoliberal Democrats have caused the GOP to attempt to legislate morality and wage a war on women, LGBT Americans, and minorities in general. Again, the Democrats find a way to sell out their base in order to further their political grasp.
The Third Way is funded by sources like AT&T, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, as well as a group of hedge funds. It’s board is made up exclusively of investment bankers and other Wall Street types, and it is backed by Wall Street titans, congressional allies, and corporate Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton. It is no secret that the new Democratic party doesn’t want people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in office.Why did Elizabeth Warren endorse Hillary Clinton and not Bernie Sanders for the presidency? Was she threatened with losing her seat? Was she promised something better if she fell into line? One thing’s for sure, she is no longer viewed as the progressive warrior by the voters. Why did Sanders abruptly end his candidacy after vowing a floor fight? Was he threatened with losing his committee chairmanships? Was he threatened with losing his seat? Did the Democrats vow to run someone against him in 2018? One thing’s for sure with Sanders also. Many of his loyal followers feel as though they were abandoned.
As for Barack Obama, he was a progressive as a candidate, but fell right into line behind the Third Way when he took office. Again, a great orator, a real charmer. But it takes more than eloquent speaking and a public persona to be a leader. And Barack Obama is no leader. He is a total tool of the oligarchs. If people really looked objectively at Obama’s policies and what he has done with his eight years, this would be evident to them. During his term, his policies have transferred much wealth to the top 1% of the population. He never reigned in Wall Street and the banks as promised. His DOJ never prosecuted one of the Wall Street titans or bankers who caused the 2008 financial meltdown. Barack Obama made a deal with George W. Bush on the way out, promising to neither investigate nor prosecute anyone in his administration for war crimes. Guantanamo remains open, and torture continues. We know that Chelsea Manning has been tortured in jail. Barack Obama has drone bombed more countries than George W. Bush, has authorized assassinations of American citizens abroad who were determined to be terrorists, and capitulated to Hillary Clinton on overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya — a disaster that has destabilized the entire region and opened it up to ISIS. Speaking of Chelsea Manning, Barack Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all of the other administrations combined since the law was passed in 1917. When Edward Snowden revealed that Obama’s NSA has been spying on American citizens and released documents proving it to Glenn Greenwald, he was also charged under the Espionage Act. These are not the actions of a progressive.
And, according to plan, it appears that Hillary Clinton will be his successor, ensuring seamless transition to a new corporate politician who will perform as expected by the Third Way. The Democrats were bound and determined to have Clinton be the nominee, stooping to cheating, hacking voting machines, switching registrations, closing polling locations at the last minute, and canceling exit polls in order to hide the vast discrepancies being reported during the voting process. Wikileaks releases proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the DNC, the Clinton Cabal and the mainstream media colluded to paint Clinton in a favorable light, and Sanders in an unfavorable light by lies and character assassination. They were even stooping so low as to use his religion against him. That is, frankly, enough for me to leave the party and support Jill Stein, but there are a host of reasons for Sanders supporters to not vote for Clinton.
This is not a party that will foster a political revolution. In fact, the Democratic Party will crush it every time it rears its head. There is no holding our noses and voting for Clinton, and waiting for somebody better in four years. We don’t have the luxury of time, and the oligarchy will be even more firmly entrenched in four years. The only way to eliminate this corruption is to walk away from the corruption. Do not feed it.
Perhaps Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Tulsi Gabbard and Nina Turner think it’s worth “fighting for the soul” of the Democratic Party. I do believe that if Bernie Sanders had been the nominee, fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party might be worth the effort. With Clinton at the helm, there’s no chance in hell. The politicians can afford to fight from within, although none of them realize the difference they could make to the American people if they had the political courage to walk away from the Democratic Party and go in a different direction. After all, that is what they are in office for: To make a difference on behalf of the American people. They are not there merely to build a multi-term career and pad their resumés. That is not the role of a public servant. The American people cannot afford to play the game of revolution from within a counter-revolutionary party. People-driven opposition politics must come from outside the party. I prefer to think that Sanders was sending a message with his statement, “I won’t tell you who to vote for and, if I do, don’t listen to me.”
Jill Stein will not be president in 2016. Neither will Gary Johnson. But the goal for this revolution is now two-fold. We must break the stranglehold that the corrupt duopoly has on the political process and our democracy; and we must build a party of the 99%.
A vision for a party for the 99%
I have been gone from the Democratic Party for two years now. I am sixty-two years old. I was a loyal Democrat all my voting life until then. I come from a long line of Democrats. My mother and father were loyal Democrats. I can assure you, this is not the Democratic Party of my parents. When I left the party, I first went Green. Then, when Bernie Sanders announced his run, I had planned to switch back to the Democratic Party to support him. Luckily, I had a great experience at my City Hall. The woman advised me to just declare Independent. In my state, which is Massachusetts, I can vote in the primary and the general as an Independent and I can vote for whomever I please. I never have to go back Green to cast my vote for Jill Stein this cycle. I can stay right where I am. While I know Jill Stein will not win in 2016, the time is ripe to change this political landscape for the better. More choice means a stronger democracy. Both the Green Party and the Libertarian Party belong in the debates. The American people have the right to hear all of the options available to them.
Revolutions aren’t won at the ballot boxes. They aren’t waged and won during a two-year election cycle. Revolutions take time and require you to get your hands dirty. The French Revolution took ten years, mind you. We cannot afford to wait to see if there’s a “good” Democratic candidate in four years. The longer we wait, the stronger the oligarchy gets, the harder the fight gets, and the more insecure the outcome. The Green Party is here now with a platform that matches nearly perfectly with Sanders positions.
I am also involved with Socialist Alternative, the organization that was instrumental in getting Kshama Sawant elected in Seattle. They had been behind Bernie Sanders, but announced at a recent meeting in Boston that they are throwing their support behind Jill Stein to advance the revolution. Socialist Alternative makes the point that the party of the 99% may not ultimately be the Green Party. A new party might evolve that incorporates the Greens and several other progressive groups. But the Green Party is here now, and political circumstances have given us this golden opportunity. Shame on us if we don’t walk through the door.