Fork In The National Road: A New Progressive Supermajority Party Is Forming
Above Photo: From huffingtonpost.com
How will Senator Bernie Sanders react? Which path will you take?
The time is ripe. The Democratic and Republican parties, private political clubs, are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and do not represent the people who elect them, yet have a stranglehold on our electoral system. People are fed up. Hemorrhaging voters, the Dems and Reps are each down to around a fourth of the voters, already minority parties. Progressives — those who support minimum wage, social justice, strong environmental protection, 21st century infrastructure and universal healthcare and oppose corruption, invasive wars and corporate welfare — are meanwhile 66%, two-thirds of voters, the U.S. supermajority.
We as a people therefore stand at a fork in the national road.
The country’s Progressive supermajority could sweep every local, state and federal election if it united.
Should we come together in the old Democratic Party or form a new one? The Democratic Party is in many states hollow below the federal level. Senator Bernie Sanders and a contingent of young Progressives have therefore been trying for a year to fill those levels with clean candidates, with some success but only to be repeatedly kneecapped by the party’s corrupt, deeply entrenched Neoliberal leadership.
Polls show that most Progressives, indeed 60% of U.S. citizens, want a new party. A convergence organized Sanders’ former staff members in coordination with the Progressive Independent Party [PIP] and Socialist Alternative, will be held on September 8-10, 2017, in Washington DC. Progressive groups and individuals from across the country will meet at American University to discuss forming a new supermajority Progressive party — one moreover that will end corporate control of our government by backing only candidates who refuse corporate cash.
The Convergence is setting up streaming video for sister gatherings throughout the country for those who can’t make it to DC.
Unstoppable Progressive change is within reach. Erica Chenoweth, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, writes that “nonviolent resistance has actually been the quickest, least costly, and safest way to struggle.” Her studies of the last 100 years across the world show that while violent resistance usually fails, non-violent resistance usually succeeds. Over the century, throughout the world, Chenoweth writes, the active support of 3.5% of the people in a nation made the change they desired unstoppable. In the U.S., that would be eleven million people nonviolently on their feet and staying there.
The Bernie Factor
In the 2016 primaries, even with Independents barred in most states from voting, thirteen million showed up for Bernie Sanders.
Sanders’ approval ratings, as shown by a recent Harvard/Harris study, remain astounding: across the board: 80% of Democrats, 73% of African Americans, 68% of Hispanics, 62% of Asian Americans, 62% of those 18-34, 58% of women, 55% of men, 52% of whites approve. His overall approval has been around 60% since 2015.
Though the Convergence was organized independently of Sanders’ Our Revolution and Jill Stein’s Green Party, both are invited.
In fact, on Sept. 8, a petition-invitation containing 50,000 signatures will be presented to Sanders in his Senate office.Sanders is not a Democrat; he’s an Independent. Yet for a year he’s been trying to reform the Democratic Party. His focus on that party, 28% of the voters and dropping, is dividing Progressives, who are 66% of the voters and growing.
Many don’t want to leave and found a new party without him. Others are building a new party no matter what. Dr. Cornel West, public intellectual and activist, Democratic Socialists of America, and Nick Braña, founder and director of Draft Bernie for a People’s Party! have issued personal invitations for Sanders to join them for a panel discussion of the need for the new party and the challenges facing it on September 9. Time is short and unity is crucial.
Will Sanders shift course in September and unite the Progressive supermajority?
And what have billionaires got to do with all this?
The Two-party Billionaire Coalition
The Democratic Party once — 50 years ago — was the Progressive umbrella of most U.S. citizens, calling for good pay, social justice, universal health care, comprehensive free education, cutting-edge transport and energy infrastructure, space exploration and strong environmental protection. It was the party of union members, African Americans, Hispanics, feminists, veterans and immigrants. That was then. The party’s majorityremains Progressive, but during the 1990s Clinton presidency, Democratic party leadership turned right and kept going, merging with the Republicans.
Global corporations in the 1980s bought all the print and broadcast outlets in the United States, drastically shutting down information flow, turning news into propaganda. These media preserve the illusion that there are still two parties and that both are “centrist.”
Marionettes on strings of money, politicians in both parties rake in millions in “contributions” while using taxpayer money to dole out trillions in corporate subsidy. Slashing social safety nets in order to give tax breaks to the top 1/10 of the “One Percent, they wage war on small countries not because the nations have attacked us but because weapons and fossil fuel corporations make a fortune from it. Those are rightist positions.
Gore Vidal observed in the late 1990s that, “there is only one party in the United States, the Property Party ,and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.”
On two right wings, a nation flies into the ground. We at minimum need a party on the left, the wing of the people.
Billionaire Mercer and the Uprising
Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, has noted, “Power has tilted away from the two main political parties and toward a tiny group of rich mega-donors.”
In 2010, a Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission began functionally erasing limits on the campaign contributions of corporations and nonprofit groups, and masking the size of individual donations to political-action committees [PACs].
The most powerful megadonor on the Republican side of “the U.S. Property Party” is elusive hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a brilliant nerd who became fabulously wealthy by teaching computers to predict the markets. He does not give political interviews, but his views about the worth…or more exactly, the worthlessness…of anyone not as rich as he is… are known.
Reporter Mayer quoted David Magerman, a senior employee at Renaissance Technologies, Mercer’s fund: “Bob believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make. A cat has value, he’s said, because it provides pleasure to humans. But if someone is on welfare, they have negative value. If [Bob] earns a thousand times more than a schoolteacher, then he’s a thousand times more valuable.”
On the other hand Mercer co-owns Breitbart News Network, and richly funds its Harvard-educated executive chairman Steve Bannon, who recently left the Trump Administration. Bannon and thus presumanly Mercer are nationalists: the goals are a border wall, a trade war with China, a withdrawal from foreign military engagements, and prtection of key industries. Mercer and Bannon detest both the global elite and the corporate mainstream news outlets, seeing them as government apologists. Yet Bannon writing in Breitbart regularly covers for the global CEOs who are destroying world ecology and human economies, with Bannon shifting the blame to Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, the scapegoat of the month.
Capitalism gone berserk, global investors like the Koch brothers and presidents from Clinton to Obama — Trump currently teeters on this issue — are trying to shove through international treaties [NAFTA, FTAA, TPP, TISA] that establish corporate courts at world level, able to judge and punish nations. Such courts already exist, with the power to effectively void any laws that protect people or the environment — if they cost corporations money.
People are increasingly aware, on their feet, fighting back. Of the three treaties above, only the first, NAFTA, has been signed. The world has risen against the other three.
Under corporate rule, with people seen simply as useless surplus labor, the country is caught between despait and determination. Between 1999-2014, suicides increased by 24%. Opioid use was up 200%. Middle aged men and veterans were hit the hardest. A vet is dying by his or her own hand every hour..Sanders’ approval numbers are also clear evidence of that nonviolent but increasingly desperate uprising. He is a democratic socialist, a “New Deal Democrat”, calling for regulation of corporations, enforced taxation of multimillionaires and billionaires, a return to human rather than corporate values.
Polls showed that he could have beaten Trump in a landslide even in the swing states that Hillary Clinton lost. So its worth looking at what drew such a diverse bunch and what’s already been tried….
Who’s The Guy With White Hair?
Disgusted by both corporatist parties, in 2015 young Progressives recruited 75-year-old Senator Bernard Sanders to run for president. Bernie wasn’t a Democrat — or a Republican. With a 71% approval rating in his home state of Vermont, he was the first person in U.S. history to have won for 42 years at local and federal level without the support of either political party, while refusing corporate money. He was an Independent, which is not a party but a nonpartisan stance. That rarest of modern politicians, an honest one, he said exactly what he meant no matter what the opposition, verbally punched hard and wasn’t for sale.
Tall, hunched, pink and easily tanned, with a usually-messy fringe of snow white hair on a bald pate, a defiant jaw, dark eyes sparkling with keen intelligence, humor, compassion or outrage behind big glasses perched on a long nose, shirt sleeves that were usually rolled up on strong arms, big hands that looked convincing in fists, and long legs in perpetual motion, Sanders had a long history of activism..
A civil rights activist in the early sixties when Hillary Clinton was still in high school, and an early feminist praised by Gloria Steinem, he walked picket lines, and hung out with union guys on his birthdays. In Congress he had a bipartisan reputation for outspoken Progressive views and rock hard integrity. A staple on social media, he wrote pithy, knowledgeable often hilarious memes. He and his wife Jane O’Meara loved, protected and enjoyed heck out of each other. She had five kids, grandchildren proliferating. Authentic, politically experienced, a life-long activist. Lookin’ good.
The Democrats and Republicans however had so clogged the nation’s electoral channels that no one could run for president except through one of them. Sanders had always caucused with the Democrats in the Senate, stumped for many of their candidates.
So the lifelong Independent Sanders entered the Democratic race….
Hillary Meanwhile Launched Trump and the White Nationalists
A high energy, connected, determined segment of Boomer women had meanwhile been working for decades to make Hillary Clinton the first woman president of the United States. Hillary had made a feminist speech in Beijing in 1995 which was justifiably legendary. Throughout the 1990s acting as what her husband, U.S. President Bill Clinton, once called his “twofer co-president”, she was then elected a Senator from New York. She made her first attempt at the presidency in 2008. Barack Obama, however, easily swung the “Clinton black vote” away from her and brought in a flood of young Progressives who saw her as a corrupt warmonger.
Losing to Obama, Hillary became his Secretary of State, further alienating young Progressives by pushing for fracking and war. In 2016, she was running for president a second time. A Democrat, she began by meddling in the Republican primaries, with disastrous results.
In the DNC/Clinton emails released by Wikileaks and not denied by any of the people involved, the Clinton campaign described its “Pied Piper Strategy” of nurturing extreme Republican right-wingers, the “pied pipers,” who by inciting the white nationalists and other haters, terrifying saner people, would increase Hillary’s chances of winning. Hillary deliberately raised such Republican extremists as Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump to “leaders of the pack” in the primaries by speaking of them in interviews as though they were the frontrunners, and by instructing cooperative corporate media to “take them seriously.” The most promising “cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right” was Trump.
The Clinton Camp judged that Trump would “attract all the worst Republican crazies” and that Hillary would therefore sound like the voice of reason by comparison. (There is no hint in the emails of concern for the people whom “the crazies” night endanger, beat up or as it turned out, kill.) Bill Clinton played his part. After Hillary declared her candidacy in 2015, Trump called his golf buddy Bill to discuss running. Bill returned the calls ia month after Hillary declared. According to people who heard both sides of the conversation, Bill was very encouraging about Trump’s plans for the country. With extraordinary media control, it was Hillary who engineered much of the constant, free broadcast early-media coverage — a gift worth two billion dollars — that Trump received.
When shortly before the primaries, Clinton pulled the props out from under Trump so that she could beat him in the general election, Trump floundered. Billionaire Mercer and his daughter Rebekah however put money, organizational skill, Bannon and Breitbart at Trump’s disposal. Mayer quotes Nick Patterson, a computational biologist at the Broad Institute and former Mercer colleague as saying, “Trump wouldn’t be President if not for Bob….”
…and Hill and Bill.
Meanwhile There Was Nothing Democratic About The 2016 Democratic Primaries
Before Hillary could run against Trump in the general election, she had to dispense with the Democratic primaries. The Democratic National Committee [DNC] was supposedly in place to provide a level playing field among candidates. Instead it secretly functioned as a part of the Clinton campaign. She could count too on mountains of “favors” owed to her family, the real currency of the political realm. Superdelegates are Democratic Neoliberal politicians that in primaries are given more power than three states of mere voters. Preparing for 2016, Hillary had signed up most of the superdelegates two years early, long before mere voters could vote.
All serious Democratic contenders were then told by the DNC to bug off. It was “Hillary’s turn”. Hillary’s long overdue (in the Clinton camp’s view anyway) victory would look better however if she seemed to have competition. The Clinton camp saw two people in the Democratic race, one of them Sanders, as easy to beat.
A poster child for “speaking fees,” Clinton had a war chest and a corporate and billionaire donor list. After “a life of public service”, she and Bill had over a hundred million in private wealth and a billion dollar foundation which she, Bill and their daughter Chelsea ran. A Senator from tiny Vermont, Sanders by contrast refused to play ball with any corporation or political machine, so no powerful politicians owed him favors. He did not accept money from major donors. How could he afford to fight her? The Clinton campaign was even more dismissive of the “kids” — the people under 50 — backing him….
She drastically underestimated them both.
“Not Me. Us.”
A former long distance runner who was still a nonstop phenomenon of stamina, Sanders, although a sitting U.S. Senator who takes his job seriously, hit the campaign trail in spring 2015 and has been constantly on it ever since. Barnstorming, Sanders was astonished to learn that people under age 50, the Gen-X/Millennials, didn’t know that the Millennials alone outnumbered the Baby Boomers. With Gen-X added, if they got their generations to the polls, he told them, it would be a wipe. True generational change would come.
Sanders didn’t talk about himself, he described what the young generations could do: “Not me. Us.” The youngest, those under 30, the Millennials, raised with bogus corporate media and politician stories of terrible political choices to be made, did not know that their nation was the richest in world history, more than able to afford food, shelter, education and healthcare for all its people, and that, instead, bought-off politicians were squandering its resources on trillions in corporate subsidy. So he told them.
His speeches in rallies often sounded like a genial professor lecturing, as he explained the economy, foreign affairs, taxes, student debt, the broken healthcare system and how U.S. politics works. Crowds applauded and roared. Sanders was just as effective in a town hall meeting, really listening. In a matter of months, he became the most popular politician in the U.S.
Taking Down the “No Mere Citizens Need Apply” Signs On Our Electoral System
Young Sanders supporters and his campaign made key innovations in communications and fundraising that cut an even broader path toward renewed representative democracy.
One main blockage that the Democratic and Republican parties had installed was the high cost of running for office. Most of that cost was TV, radio and newspaper media buys. That in turn dated to the 1996 [Bill] Clinton Telecommunications bill. A 2005 Common Cause report stated, “The Telecom Act failed to serve the public and did not deliver on its promise of more competition, more diversity, lower prices, more jobs and a booming economy,” the group said. “Instead, the public got more media concentration, less diversity, and higher prices.” (Or as Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano put it, “Never have so many been held so incomunicado by so few.” )
With a virtual monopoly, the global corporate media made a mint on elections as the U.S. people were priced out of running for places in their own government.
The two old parties meanwhile also positioned themselves to decide which candidates running for election we actually got to see. In 1989, the Democrats and Republicans formed a corporation and seized control of the presidential debates from the impeccably nonpartisan League of Women Voters, They exclude other parties.
There is nothing gentle about it. In 2012 when nominees Obama [D] and Mitt Romney [R] were due to debate, Jill Stein, physician and Green Party presidential nominee, came to the debate venue with her also middle-aged woman vice-presidential nominee. Without food, water or bathroom breaks, the two women were kept in a warehouse, bound to chairs with plastic twist ties for eight hours.
The internal debates that choose each party’s nominees are as dictatorially run.
By 2016, Hillary Clinton had been a household name for two decades. Bernie Sanders was the one who needed exposure. With Republicans flooding the airwaves with primary debates, the DNC allowed only six Clinton-Sanders debates and scheduled them opposite big draws like major football games.
For eight months moreover there was a blackout on any Sanders news in corporate media, which as Clinton emails later showed, was engineered by her campaign and the DNC. Although for example an amazing 30,000 people showed up in just one Sanders rally in January 2016, he received that month only ten seconds of U.S. broadcast coverage. Democracy Now! reported:
The Tyndall Report analyzed major-network campaign coverage in 2015. In over 1,000 minutes of national broadcast television airtime devoted to all the campaigns, Donald Trump received 327 minutes, or close to one-third of all the campaign coverage. Bernie Sanders received just 20 minutes. Hillary Clinton got 121 minutes of campaign coverage, six times the amount Sanders received. “ABC World News Tonight” aired 81 minutes of reports on Donald Trump, compared with just 20 seconds for Sanders.
Clinton meanwhile pumped her major corporate and individual donors and raised hundreds of millions.
As DNC emails show, the DNC and Hillary also resorted to money laundering. Hillary for example raised far more millions from big donors like George Clooney and his friends than legal contribution limits allowed telling them that the extra tens of millions were for the state Democratic parties. She then gave that money to the DNC, and the DNC sent it to the state parties with instructions to return it, sluicing it back to Clinton.
Endrunning the Blackout, Outraising Clinton, Reaching the People
The strength of the United States though is grassroots democracy, its ability to self-organize and overnight materialize groups to handle any problem. End-running the mainstream blackout of Sanders news, young people and increasing numbers of retired reporters had almost instantly swung up online and carved news conduits through the social media chatter.
Meanwhile, seven million barely-scraping-by Sanders supporters gave an average of $27 apiece, repeating it when they could, and outraised Clinton.
Not only could Progressive candidates put websites online, but Progressives could put and get all their news online. That drastically lowered the cost of running for office. Sanders folk moreover were daily proving that crowdsourced funding could outpace even a candidate fueled by the likes of Goldman Sachs.
Young Progressives, activated first by Obama, now taught by Sanders, staffed phones, went door to door, donated, turned out the vote and mounted media campaigns, learning hands-on the ropes of self-government.
Hillary’s rallies rarely brought 1000 people.
When Cornered, Lie?
The young progressives repeatedly discovered that the corporate media were collusive. It wasn’t only the eight month long black-out of Sanders news, or even the Clinton—ordered Breaking News! if Trump coughed. Time Warner which owns CNN, a network which in turn moderated the presidential debates, was a major Clinton donor, and in at least one debate against Sanders, Clinton got a CNN question ahead of time.
Smear campaigns were a key tactic. They were amplified by media that did not bother to check, or knew better and went with the story anyway. The DNC’s chair, Debbie Wassermann Schultz loudly claimed that Sanders delegates had thrown chairs at a state convention — which in fact they hadn’t. Many people thought they had seen “proof” on the Rachel Maddow Show on MS-NBC. In fact, Maddow had used footage of fans throwing chairs at a wrestling event to “illustrate” Wasserman Schultz’ false story that Sanders people had thrown chairs at a state convention. Maddow softly introduced it as sports footage, but why use it at all? It predictably would leave a false impression and did.
At the suggestion of Tom Perez, who was later rewarded with chairmanship of the DNC, the Sanders movement was portrayed as “all white”. It was in fact diverse, but the media endlessly parroted the “Sanders can’t reach across the color line” story for months.
The DNC at one point cut Sanders off from his own donor list which he had been forced to house on DNC computers, on the false pretense that Sanders followers had hacked the DNC computers. They hadn’t. A double-duty story, this was later blamed on “the Russians”.
Far more young women backed Sanders than backed Clinton. The obnoxious, misogynist “Bernie Bros” were not from the Sanders campaign; they were either a Clinton financed David Brock operation targeting her own voters for the publicity or random miscreants. In January 2016, “The Intercept“ journalist Glenn Greenwald called the Bernie Bro narrative a Clinton “cheap campaign tactic” and a “journalistic disgrace.”
The goal is to inherently delegitimize all critics of Hillary Clinton by accusing them of, or at least associating them with, sexism, thus distracting attention from Clinton’s policy views, funding, and political history and directing it toward the online behavior of anonymous, random, isolated people on the internet claiming to be Sanders supporters….one has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this ‘Bernie Bro’ smear.
Greenwald also pointed to the lack of evidence for the phenomenon. The Democratic Party’s ShareBlue later said that the Bernie Bros hadn’t been Sanders people after all. It was — wait for it — “the Russians.”
Polls meanwhile showed that Independents, nearly half the U.S. voting population, were overwhelmingly pro-Sanders. Yet they were not allowed to vote in the first round of presidential selection unless they joined one of the old political clubs. Independents therefore tried to join the Democratic Party in order to help Sanders over the hump but depending on the state, it tended to be hard or impossible. Some state Democratic parties gave them identifiable ballots and then, opps, forget to count them. That was marginally better than the state parties that decided who won with coin tosses.
The Democratic Party was believably accused of electoral fraud of every description from voter suppression to pre-programming machines to “vote shift”, putting a set percentage of Candidate A’s votes in Candidate B’s tally, always in Hillary’s favor, producing a dubious Clinton “win”. A year later, the rigged Democratic primaries are still in litigation all over the country. The really chilling thing? Not just the Neoliberal Democratic leadership but the Neoliberal rank and file of the Democratic Party see all this as “politics as usual”. They see no reason for reform.
First Opportunity to Found a New Party: Squandered?
Twice in the last year, Sanders or the progressives have been in a position to jump start a new clean Progressive supermajority party.
The first time was in June 2016, immediately after those rigged Democratic primaries. Sanders was already the most popular politician in the country, with both Clinton and Trump’s approval numbers below sea level, He could have run for the presidency as an Independent, which is what he is. His hardworking, fired-up, blooded supporters, organized, mobilized, with huge public support and money in the campaign bank, wanted it. Behind the scenes as reporter Mayer shows, billionaire Mercer knew that a third party could make it, and that people were out to topple the oligarchy – i.e. him among others. Having money is one thing. Using it to destroy representative government in another.
The choice however was entirely up to Sanders.
Seemingly geared up and confidant, Sanders said that he opted instead to fight for the both a Progressive Democratic platform and for the Democratic nomination “on the floor” of the Democratic Convention. The Progressives stuck with him and there was indeed a fierce platform fight, led by Dr. Cornel West.
As Progressives braced for the floor fight for the nomination that Sanders had promised, however, Sanders’ plans or demeanor drastically changed. Campaign chair Jeff Weaver had secretly assured Clinton forces that he’d keep Bernie delegates— and Bernie? How? — from making waves. A greatly altered Sanders called his delegates together at the convention and told them not to question Clinton’s investiture. What had so drastically changed Bernie is a mystery right up there with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot. well-documented facts are non-existent; therefore theories abound.
The Sanders-led flare up of democracy within the Democratic Party however had meanwhile cost Hillary time and money. Her world runs on favors, pay-off and payback; she and the DNC were vindictive to a fault.
Sanders delegates after all were inside the Convention at their own expense, eager to take part in the nation’s democratic process. Yet the DNC/HRC saw to it that they were bulldozed: harassed in the halls, their signs and Bernie keepsakes taken, white noise machines turned on over some state delegations, lights turned out over others. The nastiness spared no detail. Although there were a plethora of well designed Sanders tee-shirts, the DNC Convention gift shop carried only an ugly and arguably anti-Semitic “Sanders tee” of Clinton-campaign design, hung beside tee-shirts with idealized drawings of of Hillary. It undercut other women. Traditionally, the runner up is given a night at the convention, honored. Sanders’ closest surrogate, Nina Turner, a former congresswoman from Illinois, was supposed to introduce his name in nomination on the stage. At the last moment, with Turner ready to speak, Hillary Clinton forbade it. Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman from Hawaii, was suddenly thrust before billions of TV viewers, her big chance, without time to prepare.
Sanders did nothing to protect or reassure his supporters.
Out in 100-degree-plus heat with massive thunderstorms, thousands of Progressives marched, camped and quietly talked for days. Representatives of hundreds of groups were there. Arguably, that’s where the new Progressive party that is now growing started.
When Sanders delegates were even prevented from leaving the building, the outside crowd made a massive feint against the chainlink fences, just long enough for diminutive Jill Stein of the Green Party to slip through and help the delegates negotiate their way out. Using Craigslist, the DNC hired actors with pro-Hillary signs to take the places of the Sanders delegates. In the ultimate mummery, actors pretending to be Sanders delegates assured TV audiences that the Sanders folk were behind Clinton.
Real Sanders Progressives by then might have voted for Attila the Hun sooner than for Hillary Clinton. That was of course precisely the choice that Clienton — by backing Trump to the hilt at the beginning — had manufactured. Clinton supporters began 24/7.guilt-tripping of voters. Vote for Hillary, or Trump will be unleashed on you! It will be your fault if we have a Civil War! What Clinton had engineered was a protection racket worthy of a mob-run neighborhood. When after the convention, Sanders stumped for pro-war, pro-corporate, pro-fracking Clinton, most Progressives did not back him, let alone her.
Sanders like Clinton could barely get 100 people in a room.
That was the nadir.
The Sanders Vacuum
Running as an Independent, what he is, Sanders however could have beaten Trump. A Gravis poll commissioned by Alan Grayson [D,FL] right before the election indicated that had Sanders made an Independent bid against Trump and Clinton in 2916, he could have won with 56% of the vote, a landslide, sweeping Progressives into the Neocon/Neolib Congress, ushering in a new progressive era.
Instead, he bet on the corrupt Neoliberal Democratic Party. They could not hold the line. The white nationalist fury that Trump has ginned up horrifies and endangers the nation.
Obscured by that that is the quieter loathing that many white working class families without college educations feel toward Clintons and Neoliberals in general. Hillary passed it off as women-hating. That was definitely a factor, but as Greenwald wrote, Clinton exaggerated it, using misogyny as an all-purpose excuse for any opposition to her political stands. Others assume, as wrongly, that all white working class males are bigoted, even white nationalists. As James Carville once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
They hate what the Democratic Neoliberals and Republican Neocons have done to their lives. Globalization, robots and outsourcing had destroyed tens of millions of U.S. jobs in the 1980s. For a while, though, there were some well-paid jobs like carpentry and bricklaying that had to be done by human hands, on site. Then in the 1990s the Bill Clinton presidency had shoved the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] through, crushing the Mexican farm economy, deliberately sending tens of millions of workers north desperately seeking work — devastating even U.S. construction wages with insourcing.
Breitbart did not mention this; neither for that matter did The New York Times, but Bill Clinton had signed his Omnibus Crime Bill at Stone Mountain, the epicenter of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.
Clearly the bill’s disproportionate effect on blacks was built into it Yet it had devastated families in every ethnic group, giving the US the largest prison population in the world, depriving many young people of their voting rights in the process. As lives and families fell apart, the Clinton-wing Democratic leaders moreover had in the 1990s abandoned the working class altogether, figuring that in terms of voting, had “nowhere else to go.”
The Republican Party predictably abandoned the working class too. Many workers had turned to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, responding to his message that they were being suckered, turned against everyone but Santa Claus, that the country had to unite against the financial elite that was draining all of it dry. When Bernie was denied the Democratic nomination, even that contingent went Trump. For those people, it was an “anything but Clinton” vote. The counties in swing states that cost her the election were the ones with unusual concentrations of military families. Soldiers and their families above all people want the wars to end….
Pulling the Country Back Together
Clearly, the choice is no longer between Democrats and Republicans; it’s between Progressives, the overwhelming majority of people in the country, and the global corporations and billionaires represented by the old parties.
White working class males without a college education are supposedly Trump’s key group, but they are the group turning away from Trump the fastest. Only a minority of them are white nationalists. Nobody is dealing with their very real economic problems which they share with the rest of the country.
We’ve tried Door One.
Sure, as Sanders urges, the Democratic Party in many states is like a fabulous empty old house built with what once were the best materials, an endless maze of rooms. Sanders and others argue, “Why not repair it?” Technically that could work, and Sanders clearly sees how. A big chunk of Progressives are trying to clean it up, but are met by belligerence if not fraud at every turn.
The issue of billionaire backers moreover is a deal-breaker. When Sanders founded Our Revolution, a group to further a Progressive agenda within the Democratic Party. It almost instantlyWeaver, the campaign director, was pressuring Sanders to fight Trump’s Mercer money and Clinton’s Soros money with a billionaire or two of his own.
When Sanders seemed to waver, 100 of his key campaign staffers peeled away. Led by Nick Braña, former head of Sanders’ superdelegate outreach, they set out to create the conditions for a new Progressive party that rejects corporate money, hoping to pull Bernie over. Meanwhile firebrand Nina Turner took over Our Revolution from Weaver, soon circulating a petition for a far more Progressive Democratic Party platform. When she tried to deliver it, the DNC leadership barricaded itself inside its building, refusing to accept the petition!
The Democratic Party manages to be corrupt and Mickey Mouse at the same time.
Time for the People to bet on the People?
The New Progressive Party Forming
To kickstart a new Progressive party, the trick basically is to link all the active groups —- Progressives are an intense bunch — whether Sierra, La Raza, Physicians for Universal Healthcare, Greens or Black Lives Matter. That’s happening. We are 66% of the US voters, two-thirds, a clear supermajority that is growing as younger voters reach eighteen. We could sweep every federal, state and local election if we organized as a coalition party.
Sanders has “The List” of millions Sanders supporters that could also feed the new party’s activist core. Among the people pushing hardest for the new party’s existence former staffers.
So that is in motion. A petition with 50.000 signatures will be delivered to Senator Sanders in his office on September 8th.
(My aside to the Senator: Come on, Bernie. The young want a spare clean new structure, no rats, no rot, no termites. That’s fair. They’re the ones who will live in it. By sticking with the Democrats, who are 28% of the country, you’re dividing us, the Progressives, who are 66% of the country. Let your legacy include the foundation of a new supermajority party!)_
On September 9, the myriad groups convened by Progressive Independent Party [PIP], Draft Bernie, and Socialist Alternative begin discussions in Washington DC in earnest, livestreamed to sister gatherings so that everyone can plug in. Cornel West, Chase Iron Eyes, Lee Camp, Tim Black, they’ll all be there. Jill Stein of the Greens has been invited but not yet responded. On that day theoretically the speakers will just just discussing it, but with luck coordination starts starts. The Democratic Party is down to a fourth of the U.S. electorate. Meanwhile if you’re in the Democratic Party, you might vote with your feet against corruption. Just leave. If even half its remaining young Progressives leave, it will collapse to 17%, making way for the new party overnight….