Wednesday, July 08, 2015

What should progressives do if/when Bernie Sanders is defeated for the Democratic nomination? (Part two of two)

In Part One I detailed the postulate that no matter how much momentum Bernie Sanders is able to generate, he will eventually be blocked from the presidential nomination by the establishment and corporate Democratic Party machine.  For Sanders supporters, the $64,000 question is: what are you going to do if and/or when that happens?  What are your options besides not voting (an inappropriate and even irrational option, IMO).

I identify these three:

1) Take Bernie Sanders' endorsement and vote for Hillary Clinton.

2) Write in Sanders' name.

3) Vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein.

I'm not going to tell you what to do.  I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do.  You can take that for whatever it is worth to you.

First let me summarize what first appeared as a reply to a comment in Part One.  One of my regular readers here, a blogger and terrific writer in her own right, advanced the theory that Sanders is a stalking horse, aka sheepdog, for progressive voters.  In fact she mentions it as "a guard for a Nader effect", i.e. a repeat of a still-common paranoia and urban legend among shallow-thinking blue partisans that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election.  I -- and many others, like Jim Hightower -- have previously debunked this myth, unmasking the terrible Nader demon as the hideous and horrifying "monster under the bed" for too many rank-and-file Democrats.

Interestingly enough, an unscientific survey of some hard-core Democrats (not published anywhere, just in a private discussion) revealed that Clinton supporters believe that the most important reason they have for voting for Hillary is "the Supreme Court".  If you've traveled anywhere online where political discussions are being had, you see this premise mentioned often, complete with the ages of certain Justices referenced.

This business of predicting which potential SCOTUS judges might be replaced in the next presidential term is folly.  A fool's errand.  If you don't think so, then ask John Sununu about David Souter being a slam dunk.  Or any Republican you know today about Chief Justice John Roberts.

We can go further back, if you like, to Gerald Ford and Justice John Paul Stevens, but I believe that's enough to convey the message.  It's just as silly as blaming Ralph Nader for Samuel Alito.

To be clear: it's not a completely unreasonable premise given that so many Justices wind up reflecting the politics of their appointees, but it's only valid in the general election cycle and not the primary one.  You know, the cycle we're in for the next twelve months.  In the primary season, it is a positively ridiculous idea.  To demonstrate: wouldn't it be fair to say that Bernie Sanders' Supreme nominees would be even better than Clinton's (unless you want more Anthony Kennedys on the Court, that is)?  The immediate response I've gotten from Clintonites is: "But Bernie can't win" (yes, I already know this, I remind them, but that's a separate discussion).

If Yellow Dogs are able to grasp that concept -- not always the case, in my experience -- we delve a little deeper.  It is well known by now that in 2000, there was some large number, variously referenced as between 250,000 and 300,000 registered Democrats in the state of Florida who cast their ballots for George W. Bush.  I feel certain that their reasons for doing so were many and varied, just as I know that "the Supreme Court" premise fell on their deaf ears.  So even if the primordial fear of an ultraconservative  "SCOTUS" works for many liberals who pay attention to politics, there is empirical evidence that the contention fails for many, many others.  About three times as many Democrats in Florida than there were total votes for Nader, and the hard numbers prove it.

So it is apparently a weak and unconvincing argument, one that extends in my projection to the kind of soft Democrat, the one who votes irregularly and usually only in presidential years, and with those voters we know of as 'low-information', the kind who report to pollsters in the waning days of general elections as "undecided".

So if "SCOTUS" is a joke excuse in the primary, and a failing one in the general... how is it valid at all?  It's not motivating turnout, it's not swaying the potential Democratic voters in need of the most encouragement.  It's a dry well, so why do Dems keep going back to it?

The only answer I have for that is habit.  Lazy reasoning, perhaps.

So back to the original question.

1.  Should Sanders supporters move on over to Clinton, even f they have to hold their nose (because of SCOTUS or "they've always voted for Dems" or some similarly sheep-like excuse)?

My suggestion is no, as you probably have guessed.  Here's my olive branch to the Hillary fans: if Clinton's been your gal all along, good on ya.  For whatever reason: that you like her, that it's time for a woman president, that she's experienced, and so on like that.  Those are all well and good enough reasons to vote for anybody.  If she has NOT been your first option, again for whatever reasons are self-important, you should be able to recognize that she's not going to be your best option even if you believe that she's your only remaining option.  This is the old "lesser of two evils" shit sandwich.

Despite who she claims to be, despite the wildly varying, free-range political animal she has been in the past, Hillary Clinton today is who she is.  She may have taken her "listening tours", she may have evolved over the decades from Goldwater Girl to McGovern field worker in South Texas to staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee investigating the Watergate impeachment inquiry, allegedly fired -- this is disputed -- for unethical behavior.  (Read that link, it's worth it.)  Apparently Clinton thought that it was a good idea not to impeach Richard Nixon, because then it would be easier for Sen. Ted Kennedy to defeat him and be elected president in 1976.  And actively performed sabotage on the impeachment proceedings.

Where have we seen this kind of hilarious, seemingly LSD-induced Democratic partisan logic before?  Oh yeah, I just blogged it: Ralph Nader and the Supreme Court.

Beyond her cozy relationship with Wall Street, Hillary Clinton is more than likely to advance American military activity in the Middle East -- and around the world -- as much so as any Republican, including Lindsey Graham.  It's always been her first instinct.

What was striking about Hillary Clinton’s remarks, which to its credit, the Atlantic reproduced in full, was how often she depicted the US policy of aggression as morally desirable as well as necessary to protect Christians in the US from jihadis.

With Clinton you get more wars, more drone assassinations, more bombings in more places -- certainly across western Syria and northern Iraq, where ISIS holds control, absolutely in Yemen and elsewhere in the Saudi peninsula, perhaps even an attack on Iran or in the Ukraine as a proxy war with Russia.  Escalating tensions with South Korea and China are also a given.  Does all this sound like someone worth voting for if you're an actual progressive and not a pretend one, or just a social one?

The nation's weapons manufacturers are the winners in 2016, no matter who goes into the White House, with the exception IMO of Sanders.   (My friend Socratic Gadfly hotly disputes this, and so do others.)

But if more war is what you want, then go for it.

2.  Should Sanders acolytes cast a write-in ballot for him as a protest vote?

That might send a message, but I doubt that the telegram gets received.  This piece is something I agreed with, right to very end, until he recommended writing in Sanders.  (Note that many commenters also disagree with that.)  It's written in a much harsher tone than I can occasionally muster.

...Bernie Sanders voters grotesquely morphing into Hillary Clinton voters takes the political bait-and-switch to a whole new galaxy. Not merely will such a switch exhibit an astonishing failure to learn from the egregious prior examples of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and even “Dubya” Bush. Such a switch will replace a rare honest politician offering real prospects of overhauling U.S. government from functioning as a predatory machine (whose only face for many innocent, terrorized Arabs, is the predator drone) with a deeply corrupt one who’s the virtual indentured servant of plutocratic predators. So much so that the fittest form of address for President Clinton II—in splendid parody of the “Madam President” moniker now fondly polished by her supporters—would be “Madam Predator.”

Now, one scarcely expects average “low-information voters,” daily victims of mainstream media propaganda, to “grok” the hideous aptness of the “Madam Predator” label. But for early Sanders supporters—far more idealistic, politically aware, and policy-demanding than average voters—the damning truthfulness of the label should be self-evident. For Hillary Clinton is provably in bed with military, surveillance, financial, and fossil fuel predators who menace not just the peace, freedom, and well-being of U.S. and global citizens, but (through ramped-up drilling and fracking) the very survival of our species.

So why do so many Sanders supporters—the ones I’m apt to call Bernie’s sheep—act as if the switch from delightedly voting for Bernie to choking back one’s vomit to vote for Hillary will be anything but a harrowing electoral tragedy? A tragedy we should, very arguably, refuse to take part in.

Read it all if you think you can handle it.  Like I wrote at the top, it's brutally direct, but it's also a little misguided at the very end.

Indeed, it depends on a free, responsible citizen’s act of political interpretation: that we take Bernie’s scarcely acknowledged call for a political revolution vastly more seriously than his pledge that, should he lose, he’ll support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Viewed in other terms, it means true Sanders supporters must combine support for Bernie’s campaign with Chris Hedges’ emphasis on the “moral imperative of revolt.”


A political revolution supporting Bernie Sanders—but in terms of Chris Hedges’ “moral imperative of revolt”—must be even more outspoken. Where the corporatist media has criminally abdicated its democratic responsibility of truth-telling, Bernie’s revolution must “be the media.” Therefore it must take relish in bird-dogging Hillary—brandishing such slogans as “Madam Predator” or “Show Us the Anti-Money.”

Revolt Against Plutocracy aspires to be the needed political revolution, leveraging Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign to fulfill Chris Hedges’ “moral imperative of revolt.” We categorically refuse to vote for “Madam Predator” Hillary Clinton, strongly endorsing a pledge to write in Bernie Sanders in November 2016 should he (God forbid) lose the Democratic nomination to her. And in the toxic atmosphere of party and media censorship, we alone (among supporters of electable candidates) intend to sustain the revolutionary tradition of “speaking truth to power”—which Democrats’ tight muzzle on Bernie keeps him from doing.  

Sorry dude; no can do.  Your distinguishing Sanders as an 'electable' candidate as a write-in is just false.  Seven states don't allow write-in presidential candidates at all; even Texas will only count write-in votes if the candidate's name has been properly 'declared', a legal obstacle almost as tough as ballot access.  And see that link for more of the onerous requirements in other states.  But if you prefer, you Sanders die-hards can go that route.  You have a significantly less chance of being successful as....

3.  Voting for the Green Party's presidential nominee, to be determined at the party's national meeting in a couple of weeks in the summer of 2016, and likely to be Dr. Jill Stein.

This is what I'm going to do.

As of February 2015, the GP has qualified for ballot access in twenty states, and is expected to be qualified for 40+ in time for the 2016 election.  Their concurrent 'Plan B' is the same write-in strategy as the one recommended in Patrick Walker's piece excerpted above; they'll just have to execute it in far fewer states.  So while Sanders' name won't appear on any November ballots (assuming Clinton defeats him for the nomination), Stein's name will be seen on roughly 4 out of 5.  That is by easy definition far more 'electable' than Sanders as a write-in.

If you want real, actual progressive populist political revolution -- that is to say, ballot box revolution and not torches and pitchforks -- then Stein and the Greens are your best, most logical choice.  What the Green Party represents is clearly communicated and completely in line with what Bernie Sanders represents.  You cannot find a better mission statement in any Democratic Party platform since at least the 1940s.

Finally, it sends the message the Democrats really need to understand: stop taking your progressive populist base for granted.  Green votes do not belong to the Democratic Party.  We have other options.  You must conform to our issues and beliefs or else we will abandon you.

That's absolutely the most critical message that people of our political persuasion can send, and that can be received.

Update: There are plenty of supporters of Bernie Sanders -- the kind of people who demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of everything I have written -- unwilling to so much as entertain the idea of the option I'm taking.  There's no question that until Sanders is eliminated, these folks won't be thinking or acting rationally, perhaps long after that.  And as Katy in the comments has noted, the Electoral College swing states are the only places where a vote for Stein might jeopardize a Democratic nominee, be that person Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  So in Texas -- and California, and New York and about 37 other states -- a vote for any third party comes with a clean conscience.  Hear that, Republicans?  This is your chance to act smarter than the Democrats.  If you don't like your nominee, you also have an option called "Libertarian Party'.

So that's how I see it.  How do you see it?


Gadfly said...

Way to spell out the smart, correct choice.

And, while Greens aren't perfect, either, I cut them more slack than Dems.

Onward and upward! That's how I see it.

Unknown said...

This is pretty fantastic.

I am encouraged by Sanders - he appears to be doing something different than, say, Kucinich, and it might start a real movement in the Democratic Party even if he doesn't get the nomination. But I'm no longer conditioning my enthusiasm about him.

I was happy to see you point out that write-ins do not count unless one has completed the process of being an official write-in candidate.

And I know I sound like a broken record on this point, but I think it's so important to note that voting Green is guilt-free in Texas. No Democrat has won a statewide race (a race like Governor or Railroad Commissioner, on which everybody in the state votes) since Dan Morales. I think that would have been 1994.

So a vote for Jill Stein is not going to cost the Democrats the election (unless Donald Trump gets the GOP nomination, causing more than 39% of eligible Hispanic voters to bother showing up).

Zacherydtaylor said...

Even though I have to agree it is difficult if not impossible for either Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein to win as long as the establishment continues to rig elections by refusing to provide remotely fair coverage in the media, I'm not completely rulling one of them out yet.

It would require massive grass roots efforts to end this rigging of election but it isn't entirely out of the question if enough people wake up and Bernie is attracting much bigger crowds than expected or any other candidate.

If they use dirty tricks to destroy Bernie, as they will if they can, exposing them in the alternative media could help Stein.

We also need Instant Run-off elections among other things.

Personally if I thought we had a fair system I would start with Jill Stein but if Bernie gets the nomination he is the one person where it might be worth the so-called lesser of two evils just to get the first reasonably sincere candidate in decades.

I went into some of this more in several posts including this.

Also if he doesn't get the nomination writing him in seems like a waste of time if better options are available like Stein.

dbcgreentx said...

Thanks to Katy, I had to go back and check the 1994 election. I was still a frustrated progressive Democrat then, and I still have horrible memories of waking up to a new Republican reality that Wednesday morning. Those memories are worse than what actually happened. It was in 1998 that the R's finally ran the table.

Democratic (or Democrat-ish) candidates won five statewide offices that year: Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, AG Dan Morales, Treasurer Martha Whitehead, Comptroller John Sharp, and Friend o' Bill Land Commissioner Garry Mauro. Whitehead and Mauro won by rather slim majorities.

Democrats still controlled both houses of the Legislature, but narrowly. And of course, Dubya took the Governor's Mansion from Ann Richards, which was a major shock.

Mudge said...

Thank you for stating the obvious, which is not so obvious to everyone.
My own little bit about Sanders: