I was just completing a response to the first version of Michael Albert’s “An Open Letter to the Green Party About 2020 Election Strategy” (Michael Albert, “Dear Howie Hawkins: Green Sense and Nonsense,” January 5, 2020) when “An Open Letter to the Green Party for 2020,” reached me. So I will respond to the group version.
I doubt that we are going to persuade each other at this point. After all, I have been back and forth with many of the people expressing these opinions in previous elections on the “safe states” proposal. The signers want the Green Party presidential ticket to campaign only in safe states where the outcome is a forgone conclusion and support the Democratic presidential ticket in battleground states where the race will be close between the Democratic and Republican candidates.
Instead of depending on the soft-right Democrats to fight the hard-right Republicans, the most effective way to fight the right is to build an independent left movement and party with its own program, actions. and candidates. That is the priority of my presidential campaign.
Michael Albert was one of the early proponents of that approach in the 2004 election cycle (“Election Plan?,” August 2003). I wrote several responses at the time to the safe states strategy advocated by Michael and others, including signers of this Open Letter. After the election, I compiled many of the statements in that controversy in Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate (Haymarket Books, 2006).
Some of us had another exchange in June 2016 on this question (Michael Albert, “We Need a United Left;” Bill Fletcher, “Fletcher Replies on Left Unity,” Howie Hawkins, “Hawkins Replies on Left Unity“).
Their open letter response to my article (“The Green Party Is Not the Democrats’ Problem,” December 25, 2019) conflates what I said in my article with what they claim Jill Stein and the Green Party said in 2016. Jill and other Greens may want to respond for themselves. I will respond here with my views speaking for myself.
So what is different this time around?
The two-capitalist-party system’s stranglehold on US politics has not changed. The safe-states strategy the open letter writers advocate does not challenge that stranglehold but accepts it as a given.
They argue that Trump is what is different this time around. He is a “special danger.” We have heard that many times before with Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes.
The Left Can’t Outsource Fighting the Right to the Democrats
They say Greens “refuse to recognize the special danger of Trump” and that Greens say there is “no difference between Democrats and Republicans.”
I did not say any of that in my article, or in 2016, or ever. In my view, Trump’s racism, corruption, and narcissistic sociopathy make him not just a man with bad policies, but a bad man as well. He was the greater evil compared to Clinton. He’s a greater evil than previous Republican presidents. He is an ever-present danger right now in office.
What is different about Trump from previous Republicans is his vicious public scapegoating, which has given permission for increased covert discrimination by institutional gatekeepers and has triggered open slurs, vandalism, and violence by white nationalists against immigrants, Muslims, Jews, people of color, LGBTQ people, and women.
Recognizing the danger of Trump does not mean that electing any damned Democrat should trump all other considerations. The Democrats might beat Trump, but they won’t beat Trumpism. The Democrats should have crushed Trump in a landslide in 2016 because the hard right Republicans he reflects are a shrinking political minority in the US. But the Democrats have lost many state governments and federal offices to the Republicans.
In office, the Democrats join the Republicans to support the basic policies that the capitalist class cares about: neoliberal economic austerity at home and neoconservative imperialism abroad. Most working people don’t vote because neither capitalist party is credible to them on issues of peace and prosperity.
Instead of depending on the soft-right Democrats to fight the hard-right Republicans, the most effective way to fight the right is to build an independent left movement and party with its own program, actions. and candidates. That is the priority of my presidential campaign.
As I campaign, I discuss the differences between Democrats and Republicans and the extreme danger of Trump. I also draw distinctions among the Democrats. I point out that Sanders is far closer to the Greens on many issues than all the rest of the Democrats. See, for example, my article “Which Green New Deal?”
Recognizing those distinctions does not lead me to support one capitalist party over the other — or to support Sanders, who is recruiting independent socialists and progressives into a capitalist political party. He is misrepresenting socialism as New Deal liberalism. He is again committed to supporting whoever the Democratic nominee is.
One difference among the Democrats is that the corporate wing will not commit to returning the favor of support to Sanders. Barack Obama has made it known that he is opposed to a Sanders nomination. Hillary Clinton recently and very publicly refused to say whether she would support Sanders if he is the nominee. The signers of this letter have bigger problems inside the Democratic Party than they do with the Greens.
Their safe-states strategy wants the Green Party to accept the same powerless relationship of one-way collaboration with the Democratic Party that the corporate Democrats want from the Sanders progressives: “You have to support us, but we’re not going to support you.” Indeed, the Democrats do all they can to keep Greens off the ballot and out of candidate forums and debates. They baselessly smear Greens as candidates groomed by Russians and Republicans, as Clinton recently did to Jill Stein on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast.
Trump’s racism is nothing new. The Republicans have been mobilizing around the white backlash to black civil rights since Goldwater. They mobilize resentment against many targets: all people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, LGBTQ people, and peace and environmental advocates.
The Democrats have taken for granted the support of these targets of scapegoating while delivering very little for them. Between elections, the Democrats don’t fight the Republicans, they collaborate with them on economic and foreign policies.
Independent Left Politics Is More Powerful
The signers note that I say in my article that “Greens want to get Trump out as much as anybody.” Then they ask “how can that be if Greens would vote for a Green candidate, and not for Sanders, Warren, or any Democrat in a contested state knowing that doing so could mean Trump’s victory?”
That can be because there are stronger ways to fight Trump than waiting for the Democrats to beat Trump in the 2020 election. Trump is dangerous now. The Democrats should have impeached him long ago. They had their chance at the end of his first year in office, when Rep. Al Green (D-TX) introduced articles of impeachment for Trump’s racist statements, actions, and policies. Only 58 Democrats supported him. It is no accident that the majority of Representatives who called for Trump’s impeachment were Asian, Black, and Latino until the summer of 2019. The Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, kept saying impeachment would be divisive while Trump was deliberately dividing the nation every day with his racist policies and provocations.
Trump was committing crimes in plain sight from the moment he took office. He also should have been impeached for corrupt self-enriching emoluments, nepotism, campaign finance felonies, inciting violence by white nationalists, atrocities against migrants at the borders, war crimes, gutting federal regulations and agencies, and constant obstructions of justice. Instead, the Democrats have belatedly chosen to go small instead of big by impeaching him just on the Ukraine extortion scheme and cover-up, as if all his other crimes are acceptable. Instead of beating Trump up politically on multiple grounds for a protracted period of time, the Democrats have given Trump a short Senate trial peppered with militaristic messaging in support of the US proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. The Democrats’ short, narrow, and often jingoistic impeachment fails to show the people how Trump’s crimes hurt them as workers, consumers, minorities, and women, undermined peace, and harmed the environment.
That is typical for how the Democrats enable Trumpism itself. Democratic support for bipartisan militarism abroad enabled Trump to successfully appeal to voters who want to end the endless wars, although that was a big lie by Trump. Decades-long Democratic support for pro-corporate economic policies has created the growing economic inequality and insecurity that has provided the backdrop for Trump and the Republicans to expand their base among downwardly-mobile whites with racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic scapegoating. The previous Democratic administration refused to prosecute the corporate criminals who stole 14 million homes or the war criminals who tortured people. The Democrats left them walking free and they walked right into the Trump administration. For some details on that, see my article, “The Rich White Man’s Justice System Protects Trump and His Cronies.”
The Democrats have helped to normalize Trump by joining with him to overwhelmingly vote for three consecutive increases in the Pentagon budget, including more than he even asked for in his first budget. They joined with him to enact the US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (the new NAFTA). They joined with Trump in their silence or cheerleading for the prosecution of Julian Assange and the persecution of Chelsea Manning in another Espionage Act case that threatens the press freedom every news organization because they all depend on leaks to get the news to us about what the government is doing.
The left will be more powerful if it makes its demands independently of either pro-corporate, pro-war party. That is what we did in the anti-Vietnam War movement. We demanded Out Now! to every politician. We didn’t shut down our demonstrations and dilute our slogans to support Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy who were calling for negotiations rather than immediate withdrawal. Some did go “Clean for Gene” or for RFK, but the antiwar movement in the streets said there is nothing to negotiate. We kept demanding Out Now! That set the agenda, not the Negotiations Now position of Johnson and Humphrey as well as McCarthy and Kennedy. We did not say, “wait until November to vote for the lesser evil.” By making its demands independently, the anti-Vietnam War movement remained strong and clear in its demand. We now know that we stopped Nixon’s “secret plan to end the war” using nuclear weapons against North Vietnam. The Vietnam Moratorium and Mobilization demonstrations of millions in October and November 1969 convinced Nixon to back off or face a popular backlash that would destroy his presidency politically.
Perhaps in 1968 we drew the lesson of 1964 when SDS’s slogan of “Part of the way with LBJ” captured the sentiment of most the left. They got what they wanted. LBJ won. He immediately and massively escalated the war in Vietnam, and we lost the war on poverty in the jungles of Vietnam.
Compare 1968 to 2004 when Anybody But Bush took hold in the anti-Iraq War movement. United for Peace and Justice adopted the slogan “Against the Bush Agenda,” which meant vote for pro-war Kerry, the “lesser evil” who said he could fight the war better than Bush. After Kerry’s loss, the antiwar movement was disoriented. It could mount little protest as the Democratic Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, working with her Republican counterpart, made sure that the supplemental war budgets were voted through in the spring so that Iraq war funding would not become a campaign issue in the fall elections. After Obama was elected in 2008, most of the antiwar movement went home even though Obama continued the old wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and got into new ones in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. What changed was Obama’s wars were less visible. He replaced many US ground troops in direct combat roles with local proxies, contracted mercenaries, drone assassinations, jet fighter strikes, and special operations. The progressive left contributed to that demobilization of the antiwar movement by saying the most important thing was to elect a Democratic president instead of independently advancing its anti war demands on both parties.
Safe States Is Not Practical
The signers say that after the summer the Green Party presidential ticket can “easily” abandon its campaign in the battleground states. It is not easy. It is not even possible. By that time, the Green ticket will already be on the ballot. It is too late by then to get off the ballot.
Which states will be the contested states? The open letter says 10. Many analysts are saying closer to 15. Some states will go in and out of contested status with the ups and downs of the polls during the campaign. How do the safe-states strategists determine now which of the states the Greens are supposed to stay off the ballot? Any candidate seeking the Green presidential nomination who refused to petition and campaign in the 20% to 30% states that might be contested would not get the Green nomination at the convention.
The signature and other requirements to get third-party candidates on the ballot are off-the-charts more difficult in the US than almost every other electoral democracy in the world. The Green Party is qualified for the ballot in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Greens are now petitioning to get over a million signatures needed to get safely on to the other 30 states as well. Greens who knock themselves out petitioning to qualify the Green Party for their state ballot are not going to abandon their campaign in the fall, especially when ballot access for the next election cycle depends on the Green presidential vote in that state.
Georgia is now considered a swing state based on the 2018 Abrams/Kemp gubernatorial contest and 2020 presidential polling. Georgia has some of the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country. While Democrats and Republicans do not have to petition on to the ballot, Green candidates must submit tens of thousands of signatures — 1% of voters for statewide offices and 5% of voters for district offices. So Jimmy Cooper, the Green candidate in Georgia’s 8th congressional district, must pay a filing fee of $5,220 and collect 21,000 valid signatures, which in practice means 42,000 signatures to survive the certain signature challenges by county election offices charged by law with validating each signature. Jimmy’s Democratic and Republican opponents will simply pay the filing fee. For 77 years Georgia has had no third-party congressional candidates who petitioned on to the ballot by meeting met the 5% threshold. That ballot-access laws was enacted in 1943 expressly to keep a third party, the Communist Party, off the ballot, which was really about keeping African Americans from voting at that time of all-white Democratic primaries and the Republican lily-white factions being challenged by the African American Double-V for Victory Campaign against fascism abroad and segregation at home. If the 2020 Green presidential ticket gets a vote of 1% of the registered voters, the Georgia Green Party will get a minor party status that enables them to put their statewide candidates on the ballot without petitioning in 2022, just like the major parties do. But that won’t help Green congressional candidates like Jimmy Cooper. The exclusionary 5% petition requirement will remain for Greens in district races until the Greens reach the 20% vote threshold for president or governor that is required for major party status in Georgia. With 1% for president in 2020, Greens will be able to run statewide candidates in 2022 to campaign for fair ballot access in district races. Georgia Greens are not going to sacrifice that opportunity in deference to a Democratic Party that doesn’t want Greens on the ballot.
Pennsylvania is a battleground state by all accounts. The Green ticket will need 2% of the vote to secure a ballot line for the next election cycle. For Greens in Pennsylvania, the state is indeed a battleground. It’s a constant battle with Democrats as well as Republicans. Greens are fighting the Democrats over fracking and the hundreds of miles of new gas pipelines to supply the proposed Appalachia Storage and Trading Hub, a massive petrochemical infrastructure complex that will lock us into decades of fracked gas and oil as feedstocks for the production of synthetic plastics that are not biodegradable. They have long battled with Democrats in Philadelphia who partnered with state Republicans to close dozens of public schools and replace them with charter schools. Pennsylvania Greens don’t want to sacrifice their ability to run candidates against pro-fracking, pro-charter Democrats for another election cycle.
If we went through every state, safe or battleground in the 2020 presidential election, we would find every one of them is a battleground for the Green Party.
For Greens, All States Are Battleground States
The “safe states” are not safe for Greens. Take Michael Albert’s “safe state” of Massachusetts. In 1998, citizens petitioned to put an initiative referendum on the ballot for public campaign financing that won in a landslide, 58.4%-29.6%. The overwhelmingly Democratic legislature refused to fund it. That was the last straw for a former reform Democrat who became a Green named Jill Stein.
Or take my “safe state” of New York. The Democrats just enacted a law designed to kill third parties in New York by increasing the vote needed to maintain ballot status by two and a half times and tripling the petition signatures needed to get back on the ballot. It makes New York now one of the hardest states for third-party candidates to get on the ballot.
On affordable housing issues, Greens are fighting Democrats in every state and city they control. The Democrats are thick as thieves with their banker and real estate developer campaign donors in escalating rents, gentrification, displacement, and homelessness, as Trump himself was with the Democratic machine in New York City before he ran for president.
Greens in every state are fighting Democrats every day on fracking, oil and gas pipelines, single-payer, gentrification and displacement, public school privatization, living wages, police brutality, bloated military budgets and forever wars, and more. Greens want a presidential candidate who campaigns in their states in support of their local candidates and causes. They want to vote for a Green presidential alternative to the two-party system of corporate rule.
For the Greens, all 50 states and the District of Columbia are battlegrounds. The signers’ safe states proposal asks Greens in 20% to 30% of these states to campaign for the same Democratic Party we are battling every day. They want us to tell voters with a straight face to vote Green down ticket, but Democratic at the top of the ticket. Of course, in every one of those down ticket races, the Green candidate is being attacked by Democrats as a spoiler who is splitting “their” vote.
Greens splitting the Democratic vote is what the signers claim the Greens did in 2016 when they say that if Stein had not run in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Clinton would have won.
That is not really true. A CBS News poll asked Stein voters who they would have voted for if the ballot only had the options of Clinton and Trump. 61% would have stayed home. 25% would have voted for Clinton and 14% for Trump. Run those numbers for Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin and you find that Trump still would have won in all three states.
Of course, there are unlikely scenarios where the Green vote could be the margin of difference in the presidential race. The signers are asking the Green Party to campaign for the Democrats when they haven’t even tried to defend their own vote or correct rampant election irregularities when they lost to Republicans in dubious circumstances.
In 2000, Democratic nominee Al Gore called off demonstrations to continue the recount in Florida. After the US Supreme Court stopped the recount and anointed Bush, a consortium of news organizations did a thorough statewide recount and found that Gore won Florida.
In 2004, after Kerry refused to contest voter suppression, voting machine problems, and other irregularities in Ohio, it was the Green presidential candidate David Cobb who spearheaded a recount in Ohio that led to a US House Judiciary Committee report exposing widespread disenfranchisement of Black and Latino voters and to reforms in a few states.
The same thing happened in 2016, when the Stein campaign sought recounts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to expose voting irregularities, which has also led to some reforms.
It is a lot to ask the Green Party to campaign for Democrats who try to exclude the Greens from elections.
The signers claim “Voting Green in the swing states is a feel-good activity (‘vote your hopes, not your fears’) as if fear of climate disaster, for example, shouldn’t be a motivator for political action.”
It is condescending and disrespectful to say that Greens are political dilettantes who cast votes just to feel good. We vote to advance a program of system change. We don’t waste our votes affirming Democrats like Clinton who personified the elite consensus for the neoliberal economics and neoconservative imperialism that has given us unabated global warming, growing economic insecurity, and endless wars. We used our vote for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka to demand a Green New Deal, improved Medicare for All, a job guarantee, student debt relief, ending US military aggression, and fair elections.
The climate crisis is a prime reason why Greens don’t support Democrats. The last Democratic administration’s “all of the above” energy policy was a euphemism for fracking the hell out of the country. Obama still brags about how the US became the world’s largest oil and gas producer under his administration. Clinton as Secretary of State promoted fracking globally. She had her delegates to the Democratic Platform Committee vote against all the climate policies proposed by Bill McKibben on behalf of the Sanders campaign. The one Sanders plank that was adopted was later reversed by the Democratic National Committee in August 2018 when it re-committed the party to taking fossil fuel industry money and went back on the record for the “all of the above” energy policy, the language that Sanders and McKibben got removed from the 2016 Democratic platform. Trump calls climate change a hoax, but the Democrats act as if it is a hoax.
The signers continue, saying “Real solutions require Trump out of office. Real solutions will become far more probable with Sanders or Warren in office. And real solutions will become somewhat more probable even with the likes of Biden in office.”
Yes, let’s be realistic. The Democrats are not going to bring us Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, deep cuts in the war budget, nuclear disarmament initiatives, or a national popular vote for president with ranked-choice voting.
Medicare for All? In four states now — Hawaii, California, Vermont, and last year New York — after Democratic state legislators passed single-payer legislation when they did not control both houses and the governorship. When they did have complete control and single-payer could be enacted, they stopped supporting it. When Obama convened a very public summit to discuss healthcare options in March 2009, the lead sponsor of the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R. 676), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), made a personal request to Obama to attend. Obama said no until relenting at the last minute after much protest. The bill that became the Affordable Care Act was drafted by insurance industry hacks in a Democratic-controlled Senate committee.
Green New Deal? The Democrats have already killed this signature issue of the Green Party over the last decade. They took the brand and diluted the content. The non-binding resolution for a Green New Deal introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) eliminated the crucial ban on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure. It deleted the phase-out of nuclear power and the deep cuts in military spending to help fund the Green New Deal. It extended the deadline for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 20 years, from 2030 to 2050. Even that non-binding, watered-down Green New Deal went nowhere in the House, where the Democratic leadership won’t bring it up for a vote. Senate Leader McConnell (R-KY) did bring it up for a vote to get all the Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate on the record. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called that a “trick” and told the Democrats to vote “present,” which they all obediently did except for the four Democrats who voted “no” with the Republicans.
Military spending cuts? Some of the Democratic candidates call for cuts without being specific. None of them are making cuts a major campaign issue. The vast majority of Congressional Democrats never make it an issue. Big majorities of them vote for the bloated Pentagon budget year after year. Meanwhile, my campaign is calling for a massive 75% cut to military spending, to reinvest that money into our real, ecosocialist Green New Deal
Nuclear disarmament initiatives? The day the Open Letter was released, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight they have every set it. In summarizing my article, the signers did not mention my nuclear disarmament program: pledge No First Use, unilaterally disarm to a Minimum Credible Deterrent, and, on the basis of those tension-reducing measures, initiate negotiations among the nuclear power for mutual disarmament to meet the terms of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The text of the treaty was agreed to by 122 non-nuclear nations two years ago completing negotiations that the US and all nuclear powers boycotted. Trump is now continuing the new nuclear arms race with the multi-trillion dollar nuclear modernization program that was initiated by the Obama administration with no major dissent from congressional Democrats. The life-or-death issue of nuclear disarmament should be a top 2020 campaign issue, but none of the Democrats are doing so. While Sanders, Warren, and Gabbard have signed on to No First Use legislation, none of them have made it a campaign issue. Only Gabbard mentions it on her campaign website.
Fair elections? One would think that after the last two Republicans assumed the presidency after losing the popular vote that the Democrats would move to abolish the Electoral College.
Tipping the election to the greater of two evils will always be a possibility as long as we elect presidents through the Electoral College. The Electoral College is a racial quota system for conservative white people. It was set up that way by the founders to magnify the power of the southern slaveowners, which was fine with the northern capitalists who did business with them. It continues to favor conservative white people by diluting the voting power of black people and other ethnic and political minorities because it gives all of a state’s electoral votes to the plurality winner, which is fine with today’s capitalist class because they don’t want a government that represents the vast majority of people.
It is only the Green Party that is demanding majority rule through a national popular vote for president using ranked-choice voting. Greens also call for proportional representation in Congress so all of the people, not just the capitalists through their representatives in the two major parties, are represented in Congress.
The Democrats have had 20 years since Bush took the presidency after losing the popular vote to make these rigged elections an issue. After Trump was the loser who again took the presidency for the Republicans, all the Democrats could do was blame Russians and Greens. We are not waiting for the Democrats.
If we are realistic, there are no real solutions coming from the Democratic Party. For real solutions, we need to build an independent left movement and party.
The Real Green Party
The open letter makes a couple of other assertions about the Green Party that are simply wrong or certainly debatable.
It asks rhetorically, “Weren’t more potential Green Party members and voters driven off by the party’s dismissal of the dangers of Trump than were inspired by it?”
The votes suggest otherwise. Stein’s vote tripled from 469,627 votes (0.36%) in 2012 to 1,457,218 (1.07%) in 2016. Only 81% of 2012 Obama voters voted for Clinton. 9% voted for Trump, 7% stayed home, and 3% voted for a third party candidate. Far from driving voters away, Stein and the Green Party grew. It was Clinton who drove voters away from her party. As I titled my article “The Green Party Is Not the Democrats’ Problem.”
The open letter also asks rhetorically, “Weren’t the Greens in the late ’80s and early ’90s winning elections to city councils and other local offices across the country, consistent with a grassroots strategy, though for much of the past 20 years, they’ve largely abandoned local and state contests, devoting nearly all their attention to increasingly harmful races for president?”
Not true again. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the number of Green candidates each year grew from handfuls in the late ‘80s to around 100 in even years in the ’90s. After Ralph Nader’s campaign in 2000, the Greens have run hundreds of candidates every year, with a rate of winning office in local races of 30%-40%. 130 Greens currently hold elected office.
The Greens have never put most of their resources into presidential campaigns. The presidential campaigns have been useful to state and local parties to secure ballot lines and recruit people to the party for local and state politics. By far the most Green time and money goes into local politics.
Building the Green Party from below has always been the party’s approach. At our first national organizing meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota in August 1984, we concluded from the experiences of the 1968 Peace and Freedom campaign, the People’s Party campaigns of 1972 and 1976, and the Citizens Party campaign of 1980, that a viable third party could not be built out of a presidential campaign. We spent the next dozen years building local parties before putting Nader on the presidential ballot in 1996.
If the Greens are going to become a major party in American politics, we should be electing thousands of local candidates going into the 2020s to build our political strength from the bottom up. It doesn’t help that cause to have luminaries of the left reinforcing the conventional wisdom of mainstream liberalism that says the Democrats are the only vehicle for progressive reform and that the Greens are just spoilers, objectively Republican, and, lately, Russian assets.
The historical experiences and power structure analyses that yielded the traditional socialist principle of working-class political independence in 1848 are not even discussed by most progressives and self-styled socialists today. They continue to get nowhere inside the Democratic Party on an endless treadmill of lobbying, and sometimes primarying, the corporate Democrats, and then lining up behind the corporate Democrats in the general elections. They put more effort into punching down to their left at the Greens instead of up against the corporate Democrats to their right because the corporate Democrats are, after all, the “lesser evil”.
There’s Always a Lesser Evil
Johnson or Goldwater? Carter or Reagan? Clinton or Bush 1? Gore or Bush 2? Obama or McCain? Clinton or Trump? Sometimes the lesser evil won and sometimes it didn’t.
The existing power structure remained in power under both lesser and greater evils. The power elite continued to rotate in and out of the higher echelons of the big banks and corporations and the federal intelligence, military, and economic departments and agencies. These elites continued to hold business and bureaucratic vetoes against any departure from globalized neoliberal capitalism enforced by U.S. military power. These economic and foreign policies have moved steadily to the right as the old New Deal Democrats morphed into the corporate New Democrats because they paid no political price on their left.
The result of voting for the lesser evils is that it leads to greater evils. The classic case is the 1932 German presidential election. The Social Democrats decided not to run their own candidate. They supported the conservative Paul von Hindenburg as the lesser evil to the Nazi Adolph Hitler. The Social Democrats got what they wanted. Von Hindenburg won the presidency with 53%. Hitler got 37%. The Communist got 10%. Von Hindenburg then appointed Hitler to Chancellor. The lesser evil won and the greater evil came to power.
The alternative would have been to run a joint left candidate supported by both the Social Democrats and the Communists. The Social Democrats had the support of about a third of the electorate and the Communists 10%. Instead, while the socialists supported the lesser evil, the Communists ran a sectarian campaign that vilified the Social Democrats as “social fascists.” One of their stupid slogans was “After Hitler, our turn.”
The analogy to our situation is that it is divisive of the left for the signers of this open letter to tell the Green Party to abandon its left campaign in order to support their lesser evil. I don’t vilify progressive Democrats for running their own candidates inside the Democratic Party. I don’t call them spoilers for splitting the center-left vote and hurting Green candidates.
Progressive Democrats should recognize that Greens are their allies on many policy demands. Greens give them political leverage inside the Democratic Party because Green competition means the corporate Democrats cannot take the progressive vote completely for granted. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was right when she recently said that in any other country, she and Joe Biden would be in different parties. We agree on many reforms. We disagree on electoral approaches. She thinks the left can take over the Democratic Party. I don’t. If the left did, I would join her. In the meantime, I welcome into the Green Party any progressive Democrat who concludes that taking over the Democrats is futile.
My purpose in seeking the Green Party nomination for president is to urge and assist the Green Party to qualify for more state ballots and to use those ballot lines to elect thousands of local candidates as we move into the 2020s to municipal and county and soon state and congressional offices. The strategy is to build an independent movement and party for ecosocialism from the bottom up into a major party in American politics.
We are running out of time to address the life-or-death issues of the climate crisis, the nuclear arms race, and the growing economic inequality that has become a survival issue for working people whose life expectancies are now declining in this country. We don’t have time to march in place with a safe-states strategy to elect a lesser evil Democrat. If the Democrats again give us a dismal choice between a corporate Democrat and Trump, and lose again because they cannot get their natural base out to vote for them, it will be their fault, not the fault of the Greens.
this is very good. would make a good video also
Fantastic, fantastic column. Give this man time on TV and it would blow away the country
We just need him to go door to door like aoc and blow away a state or congress seat. Aoc had no TV coverage. grass roots starts local to gain needed momentum
Howie is running for President.
What of Bernie Sanders . . . his persistent honesty, focus on the real issues facing America and the world as well as Bernie does not cater to the 1% mega-wealthy?
The Democrats who wrote that letter should be ashamed of themselves! Howie really tells the truth here. The corporate controlled Democratic Party will NEVER fight for real democracy and time is running out! Vote Green!
Howie is telling it like it is. The Democratic Party is corporate controlled, offering Presidential candidates to voters every four years that ensure the survival of the status quo. If one of their candidates starts to get out of line, support is withdrawn. The signers of the recent letter critiquing the Greens for running a serious Presidential campaign should instead look to the dysfunction of the Democratic Party, rather than criticizing the Greens. The Green Party has offered voters viable alternatives to the horrendous policies we’ve experienced for decades, spanning both Democratic and Republican Administrations.
I have just published an article critiquing the Open Letter. Not sure where to send to share with Greens. (Sent to Jill Stein’s old email). Dr. Jack Rasmus. Posting it here too:
Share as you like.
You Can Trust ‘Left Liberals’ to be Liberals First (and Left Last): A Reply to Chomsky & Friends’ Open Letter, by Dr. Jack Rasmus, January 28, 2020
This past weekend a group best identified as ‘left liberal’ intellectuals posted an Open Letter’ to the Green Party charging that party with being responsible for Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. They then declared that the Green Party’s 2020 presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, should not run in 2020, lest the Greens become responsible for getting Trump re-elected again. Everything should be done to ensure that a Democrat Party candidate, whomever that might be, should win in 2020. That includes even Joe Biden, they say. Left liberals like themselves should simply ‘hold their noses’ and vote for Biden, if necessary, if he gets the nomination.
For someone like yours truly who has been around and seen the same strategy of ‘lesser evilism’ repeated for a half century now–with devastating consequences even when the lesser evil (aka Democrats) won the presidency–it is not surprising to read and hear the ‘left liberals’ lament once again!
The coterie signatories of the ‘open letter’ include: Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Leslie Cagan, Ron Daniels, Kathy Kelly, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters and Michael Albert.
Their main argument, calling for Hawkins and the Greens to retreat from the 2020 electoral field (and for the record I am not a Green party member or a member of any other party), is that Hillary lost the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, etc. to Trump in 2016 but would have won them–and thus the electoral college vote–if only those who voted for the Greens presidential candidate, Jill Stein, in the swing states had not done so but voted instead for Hillary.
It’s really a logically weak argument that one would think such ‘power intellectuals on the left’ would be hesitant to pen their name to it out of concern they would have insulted themselves to their audience. But they have.
The argument fails not only on the facts but on the amateur assumptions on which it also rests.
First, logically it is juvenile in that it assumes that those who voted for the Greens in 2016 in these swing states would have voted for Hillary, had there not been a Green candidate on the ballot. Its hidden assumption is that all of those Green votes would have voted Hillary had Jill Stein not run. That these assumptions are nonsense is self evident.
Clearly those who voted Green did so because they couldn’t stand Hillary, or knew of her record, or understood that a vote for Hillary would have meant a vote for war as well as more of the same failed economic policies of the Bill Clinton-Obama era that created the real conditions that gave rise to Trump.
The Green vote in the swing states would not have gone to Hillary. Those who voted Green would have instead stayed home and not voted or would have written in some other candidate. Most Greens are Green because they’ve come to understand what the Democrats in the era of Neoliberalism really stand for, both in domestic and foreign policy: escalating income inequality, precarious jobs, stagnant wages, unaffordable healthcare, poverty in retirement, rising rents, continuous wars, incessant tax cuts for the rich and their corporations, indenture to student debt, etc. That’s the legacy of both Republican and Democrat regimes since the 1970s–i.e. the past 50 years now.
Apart from weak logic and absurd (not so hidden) assumptions of the Open Letter, there’s the voting evidence as well as Hillary’s own self-destructive arrogance that explain the Democrats loss of the swing states in 2016 and thus the rise of Trump.
First, the Left Liberal authors of the Open Letter in question fail to explain that in the swing states Libertarian and other independent voters cast three and four times the votes for Trump than the Green party cast for its candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, in 2016. SO was it the Greens’ fault? The Libertarians? Other third parties?
No, none of the above. Hillary herself lost the swing states and handed Trump the presidency when she refused to even bother to campaign in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and barely showed up until the very end when it was already too late. Hillary thought she had the ‘blue collar’ vote in those states wrapped up and arrogantly ignored campaigning there. She ignored them. Took them for granted. And no one votes for someone who arrogantly ignores them and takes them for granted. Even if no Greens voted at all, Hillary would have lost the swing states. But the Open Letter would have us believe it was someone else’s fault, not Hillary’s.
If the Democrat leadership wants to win back swing state votes, it needs someone ‘not Hillary’. But Joe Biden is just another corporate moneybag wing Hillary clone. Not for nothing is he known as ‘bankers friend Joe’ from Delaware (where many big banks have their headquarters and politically own the state). Ditto for the corporate Dems backup candidate, Mike Bloomberg, a lifelong Republican billionaire only recently joined the corporate wing of the Dems.
The fundamental argument of the Left Liberals’ in their Open Letter is not just stop Trump by any means but, their argument behind the argument that there’s a fundamental difference in voting for a Democrat. (Or at least the corollary argument that the Democrat won’t screw us as badly as will the Republican).
But what does the historical evidence show? Have the Corporate Democrats been really any better over the past half century?
American voters, especially today’s Millenials, and now the GenZers, in polls are saying ‘a plague on both houses’ of Democrats and Republicans. They have lost hope of either party making a difference in their lives. They see both as contributing to their deteriorating conditions and near hopeless future, consisting of a lifetime of precarious, part time/temp jobs, with no benefits, working two and sometimes even three jobs to make ends meet, without affordable rents, and no chance of owning a home, living a life of indentured labor paying $1.6 trillion in student loans to the US government (at 6.8% interest, by the way, while bankers pay 1.6%), without affordable health insurance (including the soaring deductibles under Obamacare), unable to afford to even start a family. It’s a bleak prospect, created by both parties over recent decades.
It’s not coincidental that polls show, by well more than 50%, even as high as 70%, that the more than 50 million Millenials and GenZers prefer something called ‘socialism’ (although they’re probably not sure what that means except ‘none of the present’).
If the DLC-Corporate-moneybag wing of the Democrat leadership puts up a Biden or a Bloomberg–(i.e. latter their fallback at the Democrat party convention after no one gets the nomination on the first vote)–even more youth will not vote Democrat. And not just in the swing states. And if the Democrat leaders continue to scuttle the Sanders nomination–which they did in 2016 and show signs now of doing again in 2020–the Dems themselves, not a Green party candidacy, will once again have put Trump in office. It won’t be the Greens.
Of course Republican ‘red state’ control of electoral college votes is being ensured by voter suppression and gerrymandering. That will play a role as well. But here the Democrats’ loss of state legislatures and governorships under Obama, due to his ineffective economic policies in 2010 and after, have enabled that suppression and gerrymandering largely to happen as well. It made possible the Republican capture of two thirds of state legislatures, many of which have been pushing the voter suppression and gerrymandering.
It’s not for nothing that Obama is sometimes referred to by youth as ‘president Jello’–meaning he appears to move left and right but really is stuck in one place.
The Left Liberals’ Open Letter buys the Democrat moneybag wing’s argument that a Joe Biden (or Mike Bloomberg) argument that Corporate Democrat programs and policies are fundamentally better for average voters than would be Trump’s.
They think that the typical working class voter in the swing states, that abandoned Hillary in 2016 (or actually vice-versa), can’t figure out the game. Or that youth voters today can’t either. But they’re wrong.
Voters remember it was Bill Clinton had enabled NAFTA and sent millions of heartland American jobs offshore. It was Clinton that allowed hundreds of thousands of skilled tech workers into the US every year under H1-B/L-1 visas. It was Clinton that gave China preferred trading rights and allowed the shift of US manufacturing supply chains (and millions more good paying jobs) to China. It was Clinton that allowed corporations to ‘check the box’ on their tax forms and thereby not pay taxes on foreign profits. It was Clinton that permitted companies to divert funds from pension plans to pay for their corporations’ share of escalating health care costs. It was Clinton that allowed the deregulation of financial institutions that paved the way for subprime mortgages and the crash of 2008-09. The list is longer still.
And what about the corporate Democrats’ last minute hand picked candidate in 2008, Barack Obama? It was Obama that gave corporations $6 trillion in tax cuts from 2009-16, almost twice that even George W. Bush gave them. It was Obama who agreed to $1.5 trillion in social program spending cuts in 2011-13, thus taking back more than twice his 2009 recovery package of $878 billion. It was Obama who extended Bush’s tax cuts two years, 2010-12, and then made them permanent after 2013, amounting to another $5 trillion tax cuts for business and investors. It was Obama who continued Free Trade deals despite their obvious effects on jobs and wages, and then tried to push through the TPP trade deal. It was Obama who had the Federal Reserve bail out the banks and investors with the tune of at least $4.5 trillion, while he gave a mere $25 billion to bail out just a few of the 14 million who lost their homes. It was Obama who let Hillary start wars in Honduras to save the big landowners there, and then gave Hillary the green light in Libya to start another, creating that failed state there (as her hubby Bill did in Somalia). It was Obama that authorized and set the precedent for assassinations by drones (over 500 times on his watch). It was Obama who supported the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, to continue loaning banks free money, at an interest rate of 0.15% for seven years, long after the banks were bailed out, while charging millions of US students interest of 6.8% on their student loans to the government.
This is the decades long record that the Left Liberals want the US working class, students, and others to vote for again. Their argument is ‘anything but Trump’ will be better. But was it? Will it? Trump might give us war with Iran. But Democrats might with Russia. Both would give us invading Venezuela and continuing to rape South America.
I’m not talking here about Sanders, who the corporate wing will never allow as the Democrat party candidate in 2020. In fact, now that Sanders is rising in the polls and primaries, the corporate wing of the Democrats attack on him has intensified. Not just from Hillary, but from Warren, from the New York Times, and, as we’ll soon see, from all quarters of the Liberal Elite and their media and their grass roots operatives. Observing how Trump captured the Republican party, two years ago the Democrats’ leaders changed the rules of the game on how the party will run its convention this summer. They are prepared to scuttle Sanders by any means necessary.
But our Left Liberal intellectuals say we should vote for their candidate, Joe, if it comes down to that, just to beat Trump. But Trump will eat ‘ole Joe’ alive in a one on one competition, sad to say. They keep saying they want a candidate that can beat Trump. Then push one who cannot. And the Left Liberals want us to vote for Joe and not for a Green or anyone else. That’s the only way to win! It may be the sure way to lose!
Vote for Joe and hold your nose, they say. The Left Liberal intellectuals, who are mostly well ensconced in secure and decent paying academic jobs, won’t be impacted much by Joe’s or Mike’s or Pelosi’s or Shumer’s policies. But the rest who need a change will be.
The Open Letter represents just another form of ‘Liberal’ telling us to vote for another Liberal. Where has that gotten us?
It’s the old ‘shell game’: Republicans make their capitalists filthy rich and ruin the economy in the process. Corporate Democrats come in and make the same even richer while failing to solve the crisis. Their failure allows the Republicans to point to their failed recovery, again to lie to us, and get back in. The process starts all over. It’s been that way for at least 50 years.
And the Left Liberal intellectuals want us to buy into it for another 50?
I’d support Sanders, but he’ll never get the Democrat nomination. Even if he wins the primaries. For this isn’t the Democrat party of FDR any more, as much as Bernie would like it to be. It’s a corporate wing run party since Bill Clinton. And the Left Liberal intellectuals have bought into the corporate wing’s lie yet again, as they always have in a crisis.
One wonders if they’ll vote for Sanders, should he run as an independent after the Democrat leadership denies him the nomination at their convention this summer. But I bet they’d still vote for Joe. (Correct that: Mike).
January 28, 2020
Love it, Howie. You have done your homework and you have submitted your argument, excuse me OUR argument succinctly and powerfully. I will have another contribution for you in Detroit.
Will the Democrats learn from recent history or not? She’s not Trump failed, and could fail again. He’s not Trump is very likely to fail. In 2016 the corporate Democrats, too little, too late, literally assassinated the Sanders campaign. Betrayed, many idealistic drum majors and activists left the party, unwilling to support HRC, whom was regarded as a safe bet to win, even though she was reviled by the left and the right; on the left for her imperialistic corporate loyalties, and on the right because of fomented hate. Obama is making it clear that in 2020 Bernie is not the one. When it becomes clear down the road that Bernie’s 2020 primary campaign was sabotaged by the ownership class, then once again many drum majors and activists and cheerleaders and influencers will not support a Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and many will not support a Warren (because her foreign policy endorses the crime against humanity called destabilizing economic sanctions). The loss of these individuals, the potent influencers, cannot be counted one-by-one. No it must be counted as 1000 to 1 or 100 to 1. These are the canvassers, the social media activists, the civic minded community do-gooders. This is a non-linear effect. It is not a straight line. It is not predictable by the typical analytics. What this means for those of us who are thinking purely in terms of electability, and by us I mean those of us who really care about justice, climate, social, and economic justice, and the preservation of life on our interconnected planet that is fabled as paradise—what this means is that Bernie is the only Democrat with a high chance of winning our vote, even if he is the lesser of the two goods, where Howie Hawkins represents the greater good. The lesser of two evils never works out well. Democrats you are admonished.
As a revolutionary anarchist, I fully agree with Howie’s arguments against supporting the Democrats and the whole “lesser evilism” strategy. But I think that he is mistaken in believing that theU.S. capitalist state can be won for the people through electoral activity, even by a third party. This is their state, and the lessons of socialist electoralism is not reassuring–consider Allende in Chile, Syriza in Greece, Mitterand in France, Lula in Brazil, the ANC in South Africa, Morales in Bolivia,….etc., etc.
Instead the left should put its energy and resources into building independent non-electoral mass movements: union organizing, general strikes, mass demonstrations, civil disobedience, school and workplace occupations, and so on. The gains of the thirties were won through such methods, as were the victories over legal segregation in the 60s and the struggle against the war in Vietnam.
All the strategies you propose are important, but so is the electoral path. At worst, losing elections will demonstrate the futility of attempting electoral change. At best, winning elections will facilitate the radical changes we need.
You have to go beyond just the presidency. Flood representation with Green and SEP candidates also. Howie’s job as president would be using the media to break down fake news and exposing the crimes and unethical practices of the past with facts and history. While also mentioning and bringing forth alternative news sources used to do this for people to be exposed to. Using a presidential site would greatly benefit this action of bringing perception management news that conditions our population today to a halt.
This is a compelling case for the green party agenda and that consistent message of people-peace and planet over profit—-the individual issues in numerous states where democrats are wall street allies no less than republicans can never be emphasized too much. The nomination of Bernie creates a problem–but the chance of that happening against all the wall street-war interests within the dems still seems slim. Howie has been and continues to be a working class advocate-leader of exceptional talent and tenacity.
“Only 81% of 2012 Obama voters voted for Clinton.” The Green Party is not the problem. We are the solution.
So you want to expand the definition of “violence” to mean “things that are actually not violence”? You sound like one of those people who want to expand the definition of “love” to be “between small children and adults” too. Such a sick mind that you cannot communicate your so-called worldview without forcefully denying basic English.
Democrats as a party, spends the vast amount of cash, time and efforts to hide and silence those more progressive Dems whose very existence threatens the party’s deep financial and strategic connections to Wall Street, Big Pharma, coprorate America as well as the military-industrial complex. Even as they put on the song-and-dance of a minimal impeachment effort, they gave full financial support to Trump — they very one they claim should be impeached. Such incredible nonsense. In many ways his presidency is their own creation.
In much the same fashion that they attack their own progressive element, they go after the right of America to explore and support new answers and visions through the ballot. They do whatever they can to prevent Greens and others from appearing on ballots in debates and participating in the democratic process. They essentially battle against democracy itself.
Hawkins is on the mark as he calls out the Democrats for their deep hypocrisy … with efforts and strategies to ignore or silence the working America from find its own solutions … which include the Greens.
In Response to Christopher Kennard’s “What of Bernie Sanders? …” Howie Hawkins wrote what sounds like a Sanders line: “…the most effective way to fight the right is to build an independent left movement and party with its own program, actions. and candidates.” But Sanders’ Our Revolution has not followed through on this US need. Two opposing forces will stay locked in conflict unless and until a third thing arises to generate new growth and lasting change. This is a principle of Chinese medicine, philosophy, and wisdom.
Nick Brana, who worked closely with Sanders in 2016, has been advocating and organizing since then for this same “independent left movement and party.” A group met in Cambridge Massachusetts last summer to organize and recruit comprehensive funding for such a “People’s Party.”
They have not agreed to join forces to expand the power and scope of the longest-standing and most successful third party advocating for the health, safety, and future of the people to live in peace on our only planet: the Green Party. Instead, as Howie details here, many Democratic candidates have appropriated the name and branding of the “Green New Deal,” but not its substance that would at least begin to slow the impacts of disruption, displacement, disease, and disorder multiplying in our current climate emergency.
As Greens, ““We used our vote for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka to demand a Green New Deal, improved Medicare for All, a job guarantee, student debt relief, ending US military aggression, and fair elections. … The climate crisis is a prime reason why Greens don’t support Democrats.”
Sanders continues to give voice to these needs and to advocate for policies to address them. How effective have Sanders’ actions been? How could they succeed under an ossified Democratic Party under the DNC, which admitted in court in 2019 that it is a corporation which can make its own rules and run candidates it chooses, with no obligation to its voters or even its donors.
Further, Howie notes, “The progressive left contributed to that demobilization of the antiwar movement by saying the most important thing was to elect a Democratic president instead of independently advancing its anti war demands on both parties.”
If my memory serves correctly, Bernie Sanders admitted his mistake in 2016 of voting for the first Iraq War. He has often joined Democrats to vote for increasing Pentagon budgets that make no sense, are not audited, nor are they required to be balanced and transparent by the Government Accounting Office, such that over $21 trillion is unaccounted for to date, mostly related to defense, although this source says HUD also has massive amounts of funds missing.* In 2001 before the accounting wing of the Pentagon was destroyed on 9/11, this figure was $10 trillion.
Of deeper concern is the re-escalation of nuclear arms production begun under Obama and running wildly off the rails in the #45 kleptocratic kakistocracy.
Howie observers, “The life-or-death issue of nuclear disarmament should be a top 2020 campaign issue, but none of the Democrats are doing so. While Sanders, Warren, and Gabbard have signed on to No First Use legislation, none of them have made it a campaign issue. Only Gabbard mentions it on her campaign website.”
Finally, “The Democrats [including Sanders] have had 20 years since Bush took the presidency after losing the popular vote to make these rigged elections an issue. After Trump was the loser who again took the presidency for the Republicans, all the Democrats could do was blame Russians and Greens. We are not waiting for the Democrats.
“If we are realistic, there are no real solutions coming from the Democratic Party. For real solutions, we need to [continue to] build an independent left movement and party.”
Howie is absolutely spot on in his response to the Open Letter and analysis of the corporate 2 party system of control of our government over the last 40 years. I will be voting Green for president in 2020.
It is absolutely essential that a strong Green candidate is in the race and that the contest in every state, including battleground states, is real. If the threat isn’t real it will not be taken seriously and any issue discussed by the insurgent party will be dismissed out of hand. Third party runs at the presidency create the political and discussion “space” required to allow candidates, whether they be Democrat or Republican, to engage issues vigorously and not cave automatically to other political mechanisms (especially the most dangerous of those mechanisms – like a corporate run media bent strongly to war profiteering or, far worse, nuclear escalation).
i have a funny story about bill fetcher, jr. for a time he’d writtenat the readers diaries at firedoglake, and he and i had a few (unremembered) kerfuffles. but when i’d bingled for his account at (now) shadowproof, i’d also kicked up something i’d written in aug. of 2012:
‘Drivelers for Obama: Disregard His Record; Fight the Caligulas!’, which opens:
“Really, what’s left for OBomba to run on? ‘Forward!’ his campaign slogan hollers, like Ward Bond yelling ‘Wagons, Ho!’ as the Conestoga faithful snap whips at their horse teams and mule teams* and follow The Rock of a Trailmaster to the Promised Land. Ah, California, the Land of Milk and Honey, where you can just pick the food up from the ground to feed your hungry family. ‘The land is so fertile, all ya have to do is stick some seeds in the ground, and watch ‘em grow!’ There might not be quite enough Law and Order there yet, but it’ll come, by crackee!
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or rage at the August 9 piece ‘progressives’ Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Carl Davidson posted at Alternet.org. Glen Ford wrote about their crapitude yesterday, and he’s calling them out:
“Bill Fletcher and Carl Davidson** are two Left opportunists with a problem. Unlike four years ago, when Fletcher co-founded Progressives for Obama, their guy now has a record – and it is indefensible. Solution: nullify the issues right up front in the title to their reworked rationale for backing the Bill of Rights-destroying, Wall Street-protecting, Africa-bombing, regime-changing corporate Democrat. Their August 9 article, “The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record …
Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him” frames the campaign as a contest between “revenge-seeking” white supremacists and – well…those of us who are not revenge-seeking white supremacists. The facts of the Obama presidency – his actual behavior on war, austerity, and civil liberties – are deemed irrelevant, and the president himself becomes a mere stage prop in the battle against “Caligula,” the Republicans. (my bolds throughout)
After explaining how undemocratic the electoral system is, and describing the victory of the rightwing Southern Strategy of the Republican Party, Davidson and Fletcher proceed to make the tired ‘progressives didn’t make him do it’, meaning uphold heretofore Democratic ideals and policy, FDR programs, though they frame even those as ‘progressive’. They then describe the continually eroding power of the progressive movement, then assert:
“In the absence of a comprehensive electoral strategy, progressive forces fall into one of three cul-de-sacs: (1) ad hoc electoralism, i.e., participating in the election cycle but with no long-term plan other than tailing the Democrats; (2) abandoning electoral politics altogether in favor of modern-day anarcho-syndicalist (my link) ‘pressure politics from below’; or (3) satisfying ourselves with far more limited notions that we can best use the election period in order to ‘expose’ the true nature of the capitalist system in a massive way by attacking all of the mainstream candidates. We think all of these miss the key point.”. [snip]
Pace to any of you who agree, and espouse the ‘we must be practical on election day’; you will vote your consciences or your fear. Some of you may even agree with the authors that third-party politics at the Presidential level are not only quixotic, but may amount to ‘flag-flying propaganda and serve only to recruit tighter circles of ‘militants’ or whatever. Well, fuck me, I’d hate for them to think I’m militant since I’m going crazy because this administration is selling our futures to the highest bidder; is refusing to prosecute massive amounts of financial crime on Wall Street; crapping on workers; bombing funerals in Afghanistan and Pakistan hoping they’ll kill the next No. 2 Al Qaeda/Taliban, or anyone OBomba deems ‘a militant’, and creating ever more enemies who’d like to take us down, and get us the hell out of their lands.
I’d hate to be thought of as a militant for caring that this President has chosen to void his pledge to uphold our nation’s Constitution with impunity, and is more secretive and punitive against whistle blowers than Bush ever was. Or that his FDA is fast-tracking pharmaceuticals that may be killing us in the name of profit, or fast-tracking secret trade deals in which multinationals will hold all the power, and citizens…can eat shit and die, just like we’re supposed to. Never mind fast-tracking the XL pipeline, or disregarding its own EPA on pollutants from coal-fired power plants.’, and so on…
those signatories can kiss my grits! i posted your back and forth at at site called caucus 99%, and the (so far) 9 comments have expressed similar disregard for them. wish mr. wd and i had some money to send you, but we’re on a deep austerity budget ourselves.
my apologies; like the great idjit that i am, i’d mistakenly stuck the youtube from the end of that diary i by mistake; this is the link to the full diary:
I fully support Howie Hawkins telling the “Chomskyites,” including but not limited to Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich and Norman Solomon, to shut up about their “safe states” plea. https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2020/02/howie-hawkins-tells-chomskyites-to-stfu.html
20 years on, and Dems. still fail to understand (or have never learned) about the constant uphill battle to field a GP candidate locally unless there’s been a Presidential run to help secure a state ballot line.
Every Green candidate, regardless of the office they’re seeking, needs to beat that particular drum constantly. It’s so tiring hearing, “Wah wah why don’t you run for local office not President wah wah?” The antiquated ballot access laws we deal with need to be common knowledge, and only we can make this knowledge common, since certainly our “friends” like Sanders never will. :/
(Yeah, I will never vote for this dude, and any Green who exits a race because a Dem. or Berner demands it is a useless waste of our time. Sanders is out there repeating the “spoiler” myth. He’s always cared more about protecting the Dem machine than about anything else. Forget him and forget the other apologists for 2-party hegemony. I don’t have anyone’s back unless I know they also have mine.)
You scrubbed my comment, which was favorable to this article and didn’t violate any terms. Why?
No scrubbing, just slow to approve.
Thanks for the clarification. 🙂
Thank you for participating here!
Why would anyone think there’s no such thing as a “faithful opposition” or that such a thing is meaningless?
I’ve been a Green for 20 years, but was a little dubious about supporting Howie, due to some things I’ve heard him say about Russiagate. This well-documented, well-reasoned response to the latest episode of Greenshaming has made me more inclined to support him.
Thank you for your comment! Please take a look at Howie’s statement on Russia: https://howiehawkins2020.us/the-russiagate-obsession-is-mass-distraction/
Here’s a suggestion for our campaign song this year….
We’re putting that one into consideration! 😀