‘Left’ Objections to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential Campaign

Bernie Sanders won’t announce until April 30 whether he’ll run for president or not but he’s already been roundly condemned by people who are closest to him ideologically. In so doing, they reveal their own political failings. These condemnations fall into one of three categories:

  1. Sanders isn’t a socialist.
  2. Sanders shouldn’t run against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary.
  3. Sanders supports [insert your favorite unforgivable sin here].

Good luck convincing any of the excited Texans below that 1, 2, or 3 are good enough reasons not to vote and campaign for Sanders this election cycle.

But let us deal with each of these charges in turn and see what they reveal about those who make them.

Not a Socialist!

The ‘not socialist‘ charge is usually based on the fact that Sanders continually talks up Scandinavian social democracy/welfare states, as if socialists by definition cannot favor fighting for social-democratic or welfare-state capitalism as an intermediate step (or series of steps) before full communism.

Few who level this charge stop to consider why Sanders has spent so of his political career advocating measures that fall well short of the dictatorship of the proletariat. For socialists elected to positions within the capitalist state, the Scandinavian model provides a signpost, a directional guidance, for where to fight and push the policies of that state in situations where dynamiting the whole edifice of bourgeois democracy in a proletarian revolution is not on the cards in the near/medium-term future. Talking up the dictatorship of the proletariat certainly hasn’t fixed the teeth of working people too poor to afford to see a dentist or successfully spearheaded Congressional opposition to Newt Gingrich’s so-called ‘Contract with America,’ a now-forgotten hard-right package of New Deal-destroying legislation.

If you think Sanders is a fake socialist because he fights in the short and medium-term for social-democratic reforms, please join one of the dozen real socialist groups below dedicated to prattling on harmlessly about the dictatorship of the proletariat even as America’s remaining labor unions are ground into dust and the country becomes the world’s pre-eminent high-tech, low-wage economy. But before you do sign up, ask yourself: have these groups actually done anything for the proletariat, for winning the mass following among the working class necessary to actually establish the dictatorship they talk up?

trots

Accusing others of being ‘sellouts’ or ‘not socialist’ may be a good way to avoid honestly addressing your own bankruptcy but it doesn’t do a damn thing to advance any struggle anywhere.

Not a Democrat!

The second objection, like the first, is allegedly rooted in first principles common to all socialists. But Sanders running in the Democratic presidential primary against Hillary Rodham Clinton is not going to make him a Democrat any more than Ralph Nader running as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2000 made him a Green or Roseanne Barr running as the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) candidate in 2012 made her a PFPer.

Being a party’s candidate in the American political system does not necessarily make you the party’s property lock, stock, and barrel; if it did, New York’s Working Families Party would be a force to be reckoned with and not a pathetic plaything manipulated by powerful Democrats like Bill De Blasio and Andrew Cuomo.

Sanders has run independently of the Democratic Party for his entire political career, even when it would have been a lot easier to get on the ballot as a Democrat and win a given election as a Democrat. Someone who takes the harder, principled road is not an opportunist — quite the opposite.

So why is Sanders even thinking about running in the Democratic primary if he is in principle against the Democratic Party? Because of the kind of campaign he wants to run. He is not running an ‘educational’ presidential campaign and refuses to serve as a spoiler a la Nader in 2000. Sanders is running to win. Anything less is a waste of time, strategically and politically. Unlike many socialists and Greens, Sanders is not in the business of asking people to waste their vote on a hopeless or useless cause. Since he is running to win, he is not looking to get on the ballot in all 50 states as an independent (probably impossible to do even with his name recognition and popularity in left-liberal circles) and uninterested in running even as a safe state Green Party candidate (this blog’s strategic preference).

To win a U.S. presidential election in present-day conditions where third parties are not a meaningful force and cannot win even a single Electoral College vote, Sanders needs to be the candidate of one of the two major parties who alone enjoy ballot access in all 50 states and have the near-automatic allegiance of over 100 million voters between them. Since a socialist winning the Republican primary is out of the question, that leaves the Democratic primary as the only road to the White House.

It is these particular, tactical considerations — combined with Sanders’ decision to run to win rather than to ‘educate’ — that compel him to jettison his life-long independence from the Democratic Party in this election cycle.

But just because Sanders is abandoning his principled stance of independence from the Democratic Party (for arguably sound tactical reasons) doesn’t mean that we should follow him.

Right?

Right.

The case for following Sanders into enemy territory cannot be based on blind Sanders-chasing but on an independent assessment of what Sanders is doing, the objective political impact it will have, and what our objectives as radicals and socialists are.

The case against following Sanders into the Democratic presidential primary is simple and straightforward — it violates socialist principles. But in case you haven’t noticed, adherence to socialist principles alone hasn’t gotten socialism as a movement very far in the United States.

This isn’t an argument against being principled but an acknowledgement that the trick is in applying socialist principles to the actually-existing (highly unfavorable) conditions in this country whose two-party political system is without a viable radical, socialist, communist, or even a milquetoast labor party. Our challenge is to derive overall strategies and day-to-day tactics from first principles such that we advance closer and closer to our socialist final goal step by step, transforming highly unfavorable conditions into very favorable conditions along the way.

Applying socialist principles in a creative way to highly unfavorable, present-day conditions is exactly what Bernie Sanders did when he gave up running for office as the candidate of the tiny far left Liberty Union Party sect and defeated six-term Democratic incumbent Gordon Paquette in a four-way race in Burlington, Vermont to become the city’s mayor as an independent way back in 1981.

mayor

Since then, Burlington socialists successfully fought to create a three-party system in the city council and were continually re-elected as mayors of Burlington almost without interruption until 2012. Building on these successes, they went on to construct America’s only successful leftist third party at the state level, the Vermont Progressive Party (VPP). So while the broader American socialist left shrank and collapsed, becoming a hollowed-out moribund graveyard bereft of new ideas, new forces, or political vitality, Vermont socialists built a little party that could put single-payer health care on the state’s agenda and help block the charter school movement’s destruction of public education and teachers’ unions.

Sneer all you want but Vermont’s working people are better off today than their counterparts in the other 49 states thanks to Sanders and the VPP’s attempt to create an island of social democratism in a rising sea of Reaganism.

Sanders’ fight to win first the Democratic presidential primary and then the presidency in the 2016 election is incredibly important for two reasons:

  1. Sanders is touching on the fundamental contradiction the Democratic Party is built on between its voting base and its funding base. The Democratic Party is useful for Wall Street only insofar as the party commands popular support from Main Street –from women, Blacks, the LGBTQ community, unions, Hispanics. Rousing these social sectors and turning them against Wall Street and Corporate America in an inner-party struggle thereby disrupting the Democratic coalition may be the only way to begin breaking the party as a viable institution of bourgeois rule and political domination since the spoiler strategy has failed to even dent support among these groups for Democratic presidential candidates.
  2. Sanders’ campaign offers American radicals the once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence and politically engage tens of thousands of left/liberal voters who would never dream of attending to a socialist meeting in a million years. And unless and until socialists develop a mass following in this country that numbers in the hundreds of thousands and eventually millions, we’re not advancing a single centimeter towards socialism.

This is how what Sanders is doing fits into our objectives and why shouting at him and his supporters from the sidelines of the struggle they are waging is decidedly not in our interests.

In 2008, the Iowa caucuses alone on the Democratic side drew 239,000 voters to the polls. In 2016, these voters (who rejected Clinton by a margin of 66% the last time around) will have to choose between between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, between someone who voted against the Iraq war and someone who voted for the Iraq war, between socialism (or social democracy) and fake liberal capitalism, between the politics of unrelenting struggle and the vapid politics of triangulation. Socialists ought to be in the thick of these voters’ conversations and debates. The only way to do that and to begin exerting influence over the masses — and through them, the political direction of the country — is by endorsing his campaign, switching our voter registrations to ‘Democrat,’ and volunteering to be part of the Red Army he needs to go to war with the Clinton, Inc. juggernaut. The core of Sanders’ army (particularly its cadre of campaign directors, media people, volunteer coordinators) should be made up of revolutionaries, of people who know the ins and outs of Marx and Debs, of Chavismo and SYRIZA, who can provide clear and convincing answers to millions of people who are fed up with working harder and harder for less and less while being robbed of their voices politically by the capitalist two-party racket.

The unfortunate reality is that we socialists need Sanders more than he needs us. He and his campaign will reach and influence far more people than all our tiny left organizations put together multiplied by a factor of 10, 100, or 1,000 if our share of the 2012 Iowa vote is any indicator.2012

People who object to working within the framework of the Democratic Party for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election need to explain how doing so would make the above situation any worse than it already is. People who object to working within the framework of the Democratic Party for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election need to explain how doing so would damage third parties like the Greens that can’t win 1% of the popular vote or raise even $1 million, even in favorable circumstances when there is no ‘left’ Democrat in the race.

We’ll know by mid-2016 if Sanders is defeated by Clinton for the nomination and when that happens there is nothing to stop comrades from switching their support to the Green Party or the myriad of socialist presidential candidates and de-registering as Democrats. The cause of socialism in America will not be set back one iota by working within the Democratic Party for Sanders provided we are clear that this is an exceptional circumstance and a tactical necessity rather than standard operating procedure.

Sanders’ Democratic voters and campaign activists will undoubtedly learn from their own bitter experience that the Democratic Party is anything but democratic, that the deck was stacked against Sanders from the start. However, they will be far less likely to draw socialist conclusions about the two-party system or become socialists themselves if the only socialists they meet (besides Sanders) are enemies of their campaign who front like they are master political strategists despite being unable to organize anything other than a circular firing squad aimed at fellow leftists.

What we don’t know is what Sanders will ask his supporters to do if/when he’s defeated. He could endorse Clinton on a lesser-evil basis or he could just as easily refuse to endorse Clinton at the end of the process just as Ron Paul refused to endorse John McCain after losing to him in the 2008 Republican primary. Either way, Sanders voters and campaigners are are not going to listen to what we have about who to vote for in November 2016 if we are hostile to them and their effort no matter how theoretically ‘correct’ our hostility is.

The bottom line here is that radicals who object to working within the Democratic Party for Sanders against Clinton seem to think the party is like Ebola — once you touch it, your life is over — which shows that they don’t have a clue about how to apply their principle of opposing the Democratic Party to the task of breaking it up into its constituent elements and destroying it.

Sanders Supports (fill in the blank) — UGH!

Sanders’ positions on a number of issues range from reactionary to needs improvement. For example, when he spoke at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network he spoke about:

“…income inequality, unemployment, the minimum wage, pay equity, single-payer health care, and trade deals. He proposed pilloring tax havens outside the U.S. to help create millions of new jobs by rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” 

Not a word of support of #BlackLivesMatter or the struggle to stop killer cops. That silence helped 1% champion Rahm Emmanuel crush Chuy Garcia in the Chicago mayoral race and it’s unlikely to play well in South Carolina primary where Black voters helped Obama beat Hillary 55% to 27%. If Sanders will have to outgrow his comfort zone and embrace the seething rage of the Black community over unchecked police brutality if he really wants to beat Clinton.

But those who write-off or oppose Sanders on the basis of this or that issue or stance substitute their own ideological preferences (or worse yet, emotional reactions [ugh!]) for class-based political analysis. One of the best means of determining the class character and significance of a campaign or candidate is to follow the money. Below is a list of the top donors to Clinton and Sanders and this list couldn’t make the capital-versus-labor nature of their conflict any clearer.

spend

When Upton Sinclair ran for governor on the Democratic Party ticket in 1934, the Socialist Party and Communist Party — much as ‘left’ opponents of Sanders today — withheld their support from his campaign, accusing Sinclair of ‘supporting capitalism,’ ‘spreading reformist illusions,’ and the like. However, California big business, real estate interests, and Hollywood moguls knew better than these so-called leftists that Sinclair didn’t support them or their capitalist interests. They mobilized millions of dollars to create the first attack ads in American history to prevent the country’s first socialist governor from coming to power:

We can expect the same (if not worse) from Hillary Clinton and her corporate backers who plan to raise $2.5 billion in their quest to win buy the White House and it would both be a dereliction of duty and self-sabotage if socialists didn’t aid Sanders and his working-class supporters in their battle to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

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42 responses to “‘Left’ Objections to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential Campaign

  1. I’ll support Sanders for president regardless of party label. I do wish his position re: Israel/Palestine was better than it is (it’s still better than anyone else in Congress save perhaps Rep. Keith Ellison) and I do get tired of his liberal/populist talk of “the shrinking middle class” when he should be talking about class in structural, Marxist terms (one doesn’t have to actually call oneself a Marxist to do this).

    And he should be talking about nationalizing the big financial institutions and turning them into a public utility, not breaking them up. Breaking them up won’t help matters — finance capital wasn’t exactly benevolent prior to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, was it?

    BTW, if Sanders did win the presidency it wouldn’t mean much unless there was at least a quasi-social-democratic majority in the Congress as there was in the 30s and 60s. There won’t be.

    (Upton Sinclair’s campaign helped to destroy the Socialist Party in California, BTW. Not a good thing even if the SP had already become marginal. His “socialism” was pretty confused, too — he supported World War I and loved FDR, who certainly didn’t love him back. So holding him up as some sort of model isn’t a good idea.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lately I’ve been hearing him attack “the billionaire class” rather than talking about the made up middle class. I’m also not sure about nationalizing the big financial institutions — do we really want the government running Goldman Sachs and engaging in derivatives trading and such? Finance capital was never benevolent, but there’s something to be said for a legal order that prevented 2008-style catastrophes and bailouts for the better part of 80 years, no?

      I also don’t agree that a Sanders presidency wouldn’t mean much without a quasi social-democratic majority. He didn’t have one when he became mayor of Burlington’s city council and that didn’t stop him from fighting for progressive change. An ongoing, intractable conflict between a socialist executive in the White House and a pro-capitalist Congress would actually do a lot to electrify the electorate, cause people to start doing sit-ins in their local congressman’s office, and possibly generate higher turn-out in the following mid-term elections as people take revenge on incumbents for sabotaging the president. That’s how things ended up working in Sanders’ favor in Burlington where the voters got rid of his opponents who basically sabotaged and gricklocked city government for over a year. I also would say it’s a huge mistake to underestimate the power of the presidency, both legally and morally. Sanders has pretty good relations with quite a few Democrats (Obama even campaigned for him in 2006), so it’s not like he’d have no influence or allies in Congress if he actually won.

      How do you figure Sinclair destroyed the SP in California? I hold him up as a model because socialists today could learn a lot from him, particularly the with regards to the fine art of muckracking, of communicating with and outraging the public. We’ve strayed so far from our own roots that it’s often local bourgeois newspapers and news channels that run investigative exposés on slumlords, neglect of public housing projects, and the like rather than socialist publications. When we start getting better at that, I’ll feel better about and more justified in putting Sinclair’s positions under my Marxist microscope.

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  2. I think Art Lipow discusses how Sinclair’s campaign helped destroy the CA Socialist Party in his book “Political Parties and Democracy.” Lipow was a “Shachtmanite” in the 1950s who eventually became a DSA member.

    As to nationalizing the banks, the point is to turn them into a public utility and abolish the possibility of derivatives. See Leo Panitch:

    http://itsoureconomy.us/2013/01/breaking-up-the-big-banks-is-not-a-solution-make-them-public-utilities/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since I haven’t read Lipow, it’s impossible to know what his argument is re: Sinclair. The Socialist Party to a large extent destroyed itself, starting with the national leadership’s panicked expulsion of the foreign language federation and pro-Bolsheviks in 1919, its refusal to get involved with and provide much-needed hands-on leadership to the Upton Sinclair-launched EPIC campaign, and its sectarian hostility both to the American Labor Party in New York City and the New Deal as a whole. It didn’t help that the Trotskyists led by James P. Cannon infiltrated the SP and then split it in 1934 or thereabouts either.

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  3. Pingback: The Case for Bernie: Part 1 | Revolutionary Democratic Socialism

  4. Pingback: Socialist Worker and Hillary Clinton Agree: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Doomed | Revolutionary Democratic Socialism

  5. Pingback: When Principle Collides with Reality and Common Sense: Socialist Alternative’s Enthusiastic Non-Endorsement of Bernie Sanders | Revolutionary Democratic Socialism

  6. So you’re the same guy on Twitter? This is getting interesting, and might I add wow, I never thought i’d read more Democrat bullshit from someone whose blog is called “Revolutionary Democratic Socialism”, is that name supposed to be ironic?

    “He is not running an ‘educational’ presidential campaign and refuses to serve as a spoiler a la Nader in 2000. Sanders is running to win. Anything less is a waste of time, strategically and politically. Unlike many socialists and Greens, Sanders is not in the business of asking people to waste their vote on a hopeless or useless cause.”

    I want you to look up the Palm Beach County Florida butterfly ballot and read up on the tens of thousands of uncounted votes in the entire state of Florida, all in the 2000 presidential election. That, and the fact that the Democrats did not seem to care to push their case for any conflicts of interests or injustices in court all the way, and the court not caring when they halted the recount and not trying to do the job correctly, is what made Gore lose. In any case, to suggest that Al Gore would have actually been notably different than Bush is a huge joke, he is just another bought out fearmonger who would have ruined this country and the rest of the world all the same. I cannot believe that people ever blamed Nader for all of the things he couldn’t control and had no interest in doing. He is a hero and should be respected, not shat on. Anything less is just plain ignorance and a clear indication that the person in question has bought into and is stuck in the two-party oligarchy delusion.

    If you honestly see the Greens and socialists for voting for Nader in 2000 or voting for any Green or socialist candidate at any time in any election as a “waste” on a “hopeless or useless cause”, then i’m not sure if you really want a democracy, but if you may, prove me wrong. It is also questionable why this blog made a “Greens for Bernie Sanders” post on reddit after saying this load of bullshit.

    Onto Bernie Sanders, are you talking about the war hawk who unquestionably supports Israel including their most recent massacre in Gaza using weapons that were US taxpayer funded?

    He hasn’t been terribly strong on the climate, and as of recent times he hasn’t been pushing for a national single-payer health plan as a senator.

    He never separated himself from the corrupt ideals of the Democratic Party despite being “independent”, his disrespect to Nader is appalling http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20140306/NEWS03/303060026/Ralph-Nader-criticizes-Senator-Bernie-Sanders-of-Vermont-We-thought-we-knew-ye-
    and as I said in less words on Twitter, he is just another one-trick opportunistic good rhetoric spewing hack like Elizabeth Warren, and as of recent times, is a Democrat just like her too.

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    • If you honestly see the Greens and socialists for voting for Nader in 2000 or voting for any Green or socialist candidate at any time in any election as a “waste” on a “hopeless or useless cause”, then i’m not sure if you really want a democracy, but if you may, prove me wrong. It is also questionable why this blog made a “Greens for Bernie Sanders” post on reddit after saying this load of bullshit.

      You have quite the potty mouth and your politics aren’t much better. Nader’s 2000 run destroyed the Green Party as a political force in this country. Spoiling and running fringe candidates is a self-destructive strategy if you’re trying to build a third party and it’s why the Greens have not only failed but are incapable of succeeding.

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      • Oh my, I said one word that is considered a swear word or curse, that must mean I curse all the time and i’m a terrible person.
        Please, if that’s how you respond to a word supporting a view that you irrationally disagree with, then i’m not sure why you run an account on more than one social media site, and your politics are terrible.

        I still don’t understand the third party bashing here, especially after everything I explained that is completely true about the 2000 elections and how Nader was not a spoiler, and it is moronic to think that a “spoiler” is not just a pretend concept the Democrats made up to spread fear and stay in power, and the blame should be on Gore, the Supreme Court, or the Democrats not fighting the Court’s decision. You need to be internet savvy running these blogs, that’s how you can help your argument, and if you’re ever trying to do this, discredit someone else’s.

        To say that Nader’s 2000 run destroyed the Green Party as a political force in this country is ignorant of so many things as well, because in 2012, Jill Stein received triple the amount of votes Cheri Honkola, the Green candidate, received in 2008, and even her 2012 campaign had federal matching funds.
        These positive signs for the Green Party are not even only from the 2012 presidential race, but even in states like New York.

        Howie Hawkins, the 2010 and 2014 Green Party of New York candidate for Governor, received 184,419, over three times the amount of votes in 2014 than in 2010 which was good for 4.8% of all the votes tallied up. Howie said it himself, he would have a much greater chance at winning if he was on more than one televised debate since they only had one that year for any of the candidates, because that’s how actor/Navy Seal/wrestler Jesse Ventura from the Reform Party became the Governor of Minnesota. Jill Stein and the other third party candidates discussed that being excluded from the televised debates really limited them, so getting the Greens on the televised debates like Ross Perot in 1992 is a must.

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        • “To say that Nader’s 2000 run destroyed the Green Party as a political force in this country is ignorant of so many things as well, because in 2012, Jill Stein received triple the amount of votes Cheri Honkola, the Green candidate, received in 2008, and even her 2012 campaign had federal matching funds.”

          Tripling the Green Party vote from 0.1% to 0.3% is nothing to brag about, comrade. The 2000 election proved definitively that spoiling elections by running candidates that can’t and won’t get at least double-digit support is the absolute worse thing a third party can do if it wants to succeed in either displacing one of the two dominant parties in a two-party system or turning a two-party system into a three-party system. There is no third-party bashing here, just failure-bashing. If you don’t like it, tough.

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  7. It’s called a start.
    Ralph Nader had a lot of celebrities support him in 2000, they even had a sold-out rally at Madison Square Garden, the world’s most popular arena, and no matter how disgusting it is even today, that is an awesome feat. Not even Queen sold out MSG this past summer.
    Everyone except Tom Morello, Bill Murray, Susan Sarandon, and maybe a few others I don’t know of have left him like Eddie Vedder and Michael Moore, but since then I think Moore has lightened up a little bit since 2008 and supports the Democrats somewhat less, but I still don’t fully understand what he’s trying to do, though back in 2000, he said:
    “Last week in the debate, I think the moderator Jim Lehrer summed it up for me, Lehrer said, ‘Welcome Governor Bush and welcome Vice President Bush … uh … I mean, Gore.’ They agreed 32 times! Where’s the debate? All that was missing — other than Ralph Nader — was, at the end, for Gore to go over there and plant one of those Tipper tongue-kisses on George Bush.”
    I love Pearl Jam, but I don’t agree with Eddie Vedder politically, he is a sellout, which is a word that should be used only in very specific circumstances.
    All of that being said, especially with all of the celebrity support, how was the Green Party supposed to know that he wasn’t going to get a double-digit percentage? Are you going to bash Kerry or Romney for “failing”? This is terrible logic. The Greens are wrong for trying to win or at least get a message that is important and ignored spread? We should all support a corrupt and undemocratic system?
    As I said before about Jesse Ventura, the only way for the Greens to win is getting on the debates, and the fighting to get them on should start now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, it’s not a “start” — it’s a huge regression backwards to go from 2.5% of the vote in the 2000 presidential election to 0.1% and 0.3% thereafter. Nader’s 2000 campaign single-handedly destroyed the Greens at the presidential level for the foreseeable future. If that’s your idea of success, I’d really hate to see what failure is.

      “All of that being said, especially with all of the celebrity support, how was the Green Party supposed to know that he wasn’t going to get a double-digit percentage? Are you going to bash Kerry or Romney for “failing”? This is terrible logic. The Greens are wrong for trying to win or at least get a message that is important and ignored spread? We should all support a corrupt and undemocratic system?”

      Any semi-professional pollster could have figured out that Jill Stein wasn’t going to break 1% in 2012 and it’s very likely she won’t break 1% in 2016 either. It makes zero sense for the Green Party (and the socialist parties also) to contest the presidential elections when they can’t raise even $1 million or come even remotely close to the 5% necessary to win federal matching funds for the next presidential cycle. Instead, they ought to be building up their strength and support at the grassroots level first, maybe for a decade or even two, before vying for federal office. Howie Hawkins keeps losing his races for city council in Syracuse, NY by very slim margins — the Greens should go all out and ditch presidential and any other non-winnable fight (like the NY governor’s race) and pour their resources into a victory for Hawkins.

      That bottom-up strategy is what the Vermont Progressive Party has done very successfully since the 1980s and it’s why they’re the only left third party that has any influence in statewide politics. Burlington and Vermont now both have three-party systems thanks to their efforts and the hard work of Bernie Sanders who blazed the path they followed. Until the Greens start prioritizing winning grassroots support, they’re going nowhere fast, unfortunately.

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  8. It is a start because the numbers are getting better, and Jill is popular with people who know her, which is part of the reason why the Greens will stick with her if she chooses to run.

    I was talking about the double-digits thing you brought up about the 2000 election, which is your only argument despite that it is entirely flawed, how were the Greens supposed to know that Nader wasn’t going to get double digits? They didn’t go out and plan on Bush winning from people voting for Nader (which makes no sense anyway), and Nader’s votes did not decide the election, not that people should have been expecting Gore to be any better, as I quoted before, Gore and Bush only agreed on so many things.
    Would the US really have experienced something different in Gore? The military-industrial complex would still have existed, the corrupt corporations would still have existed, AIPAC would still have existed. So how is anyone supposed to know what support they will get if they don’t put themselves out there?

    Any race is winnable especially if you get on TV, which is what Jesse Ventura had to do in his first and only run for governor, and he only spent about $300,000 on his campaign.

    The Greens are getting more recognition even without as much celebrity support. They didn’t need 5% in 2008 to get matching funds in 2012, you just need over $5,000 from at least 20 states to get the funds, they can do it again and get much more out of the next presidential race if they are on the televised debates, use the internet well, and/or have TV ads.
    If Sanders doesn’t win the primaries, he is done next July and he said he will support Hillary Clinton or whoever the nominee is in that case, and ignoring people on the left trying to help him succeed with the good things he says for decades like Ralph Nader since Sanders ended his mayoral term in Burlington, Vermont in 1989, which was obviously way before the 2000 election, is selfish.

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    • “how were the Greens supposed to know that Nader wasn’t going to get double digits?”

      Before the election, Nader was polling at about 10% or so and pollsters cautioned that his election day returns would be lower.

      “The Greens are getting more recognition even without as much celebrity support. They didn’t need 5% in 2008 to get matching funds in 2012, you just need over $5,000 from at least 20 states to get the funds, they can do it again and get much more out of the next presidential race if they are on the televised debates, use the internet well, and/or have TV ads.”

      5% is the threshold for something like over $100 million in federal matching funds. That’s what I was referring to.

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  9. 10 million for campaign, 10 million for party, but it isn’t everything. I mean they just need to be seen more, and maybe then no one needs to worry about Bernie Sanders really selling out, because that’s what candidates who join the Democrats or Republicans do. Obama himself had many “special beliefs” before and even while running for president, like he used to support Palestine, shutting down Guantanamo Bay, universal healthcare, and many others that you’re probably aware of. In Nader’s case people were probably pressured to vote otherwise like every other election, which is ridiculous because Gore had no policy similar to Nader, it’s not like progressives or even many conservatives had another choice. That happens between Democrats and Republicans as well for different reasons.

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  10. I had something else to say because I somehow forgot how ridiculous the whole situation was. Why blame Nader when 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush in Florida? Why blame Nader when there were ten other candidates that got more votes than the 537 margin in Florida? Even Michael Moore didn’t blame Nader at the time, though what he did in 2004 was still inexcusably dumb.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/06/1260721/-The-Nader-Myth
    http://www.cagreens.org/alameda/city/0803myth/myth.html

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    • “Why blame Nader when 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush in Florida?”

      How does 308,000 Democrats voting for Bush absolve Nader from playing the role of spoiler in what was a two-way race?

      “Why blame Nader when there were ten other candidates that got more votes than the 537 margin in Florida?”

      So then Nader + 10 other candidates played the role of spoiler. Spreading the blame via multiple spoilers doesn’t make Nader blameless.

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  11. Nader had nothing to do with Gore or Bush’s results. Why can’t Gore be responsible for himself? Why didn’t he push for a recount? I think you underestimate the fact that most of the voters of third party candidates back then would have stayed home had Nader or their other third party candidate not been on the ballot, since they realized that both Gore and Bush did and still do not even remotely believe in what they believe in. They both have spread lies to pretend they care about something only for money and their egos. Democratic voters have registered as Democratic voters and not Republican voters because they believe in what the Democratic Party claims to believe in. Why would hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters vote for the Republican George Bush? Only if the Democratic candidate, in this case Gore did not convince them, he failed them. That is clearly what happened, nothing else. That is why an overwhelming amount of Republicans were elected in 2014, not because most people like Republicans so much, but because they were sick of the Democrats.

    For 2016, Sanders’ supporters need to realize that he’s been voting with the Democrats over 95% of the time, including military action all over the place. Besides supporting Obama’s wars everywhere and supporting the Gaza massacre in 2014 that Israel started, he voted for the NATO bombing of Kosovo and Bush’s Afghanistan resolution, making him hardly any different than the Democrats and Republicans despite his normally independent on paper status, which not many people are aware of.

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-sanders-troubling-history-supporting-us-military-violence-abroad

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/30/the-myth-of-bernie-sanders/

    http://socialistworker.org/2015/05/05/problem-bernie-sanders

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    • I agree with you about Nader and Gore but Sanders is still more “dovish” than virtually all Congressional Democrats. And not as awful on Israel/Palestine as some say. I’d provide links to the relevant websites but can’t right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sanders signed those resolutions. He supported a massacre and blamed it on the wrong party when the information of what really happened was already out there. Those things are inexcusable and terrible.

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        • Though I can’t find his statement online anymore, below is Sanders’ full statement on Israel and Gaza from his Senate site,
          probably written last year:

          “Sen. Sanders is deeply troubled by the outbreak of violence in Gaza. It is extraordinarily depressing that year after year, decade after decade, the wars and killing continue without any apparent progress toward the creation of a permanent peace. While the summer of 2014 was a particularly contentious time in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Sen. Sanders’ hope is that the United States will, in the future, help play a leading role in creating a permanent two-state solution. To achieve that outcome the U.S. must work with the international community to support a settlement that respects the legitimate claims and grievances of both sides, lifts the blockade of Gaza, resolves the borders of the West Bank, and allows both the Israeli and Palestinian people to live in peace.

          The bottom line is that Israel must have the right to exist in peace and security, just as the Palestinians must have the right to a homeland in which they and they alone control their political system and their economy.

          Sanders believes the Israeli attacks that killed hundreds of innocent people – including many women and children – in bombings of civilian neighborhoods and UN controlled schools, hospitals, and refugee camps were disproportionate, and the widespread killing of civilians is completely unacceptable. Israel’s actions took an enormous human toll, and appeared to strengthen support for Hamas and may well be sowing the seeds for even more hatred, war and destruction in future years.

          The U.S. can and must play a more constructive role in promoting diplomatic efforts to achieve a lasting peace in Gaza. Sen. Sanders believes the ceasefire agreement that was reached is an important step in the right direction. He believes strict adherence, by all sides, to the tenets of international humanitarian law is necessary in order to avoid the escalation of this conflict.”

          So while it’s true that Sanders isn’t calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel (he should), or calling for a boycott of products produced in the occupied territories (he should), or a cultural boycott of Israel by artists outside Israel (he should), his overall position isn’t as awful as many far-leftists think it is (of course, most won’t be happy unless Sanders supports a “one-state solution” — which I think is utopian in any case).

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          • It’s not that he doesn’t support a one-state solution, which he should since that is only fair when you look at the actual history and even listen to current and former IDF soldiers complaining about their superiors, a two-state solution has already been forcibly created decades ago and look at what that did. The only people who would support a two-state solution are people who are unfamiliar with the history of the region, which is an impossible situation for Bernie Sanders.
            It’s the other stupid bullshit he says about the situation, and then tries to brush off as trying to be fair and he really feels bad for everyone.
            Based on what he has said and signed off on, I cannot see how he actually feels bad.

            What about that whole F-35 fiasco of his? He is a hypocrite.

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          • Some excellent points here but there’s a major analytical shortcoming: the author writes as if ending U.S. aid would cause class antagonisms within Israeli society to emerge full force. This is wishful thinking at best. Israel managed to survive for its first 25 years without being a U.S. client and, if you study Israel’s economy and GDP, you’ll see that they can afford the military machine they’ve built up without outside subsidy. Colonial-settler states don’t necessarily depend on outside support once the initial, fragile stage of colonization is completed; certainly America lost no territory to the Native Americans after it struck out on its own apart from England, the mother country. If the British had ended their support for the Zionist colonization scheme in say, 1925, then yes, Israel would have been aborted before its birth but we are way, way past that now. The Palestinians that Israel is up against today are in an arguably much worse position economically, socially, and politically than at any time in the 20th century, 1948 and 1967 included, so we should treat catastrophist claims surrounding the end of U.S. aid to Israel with great skepticism.

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          • Barry’s main point is this, with which I think you agree:

            “While one-state advocates sincerely envision a non-coercive and peaceful multi-national framework, they cannot specify a present path by which both Palestinians and Israelis could agree to this outcome through free will and choice. Under the best of conditions unity must be preceded by an enormous amount of mutual cooperation and confidence building. And of these, there is simply precious little history in Palestine. There is no other path than that of a genuine two state experience from which such measures can be forged. A forced fusion of nations at Israel’s expense, unlikely in any event, would only throw the Israeli working class deeper into an alliance with reaction and perpetuate the conflict on a different, albeit non-Zionist, footing.”

            Liked by 1 person

          • Indeed. I would go farther and say that none of the Marxist one-state advocates actually outline the contradictions and dynamics within Israeli society, economy, and political superstructure that would make a one-state solution even a remote possibility. In other words, none of the Marxists have applied the method of historical materialism to the Israel/Palestine conflict; instead, they start with their political conclusion and work backwards by proving how bad/shitty two states supposedly would be and then declare anyone who disagrees (and the majority of Palestinian organizations are for two states, not one) an unprincipled Zionist apologist etc etc.

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          • jschulman I hope you get a notification that i’m posting this since the original is the only available reply for this post, I can’t find a way to tag your name or anything like that. The setup is weird on this site.

            I am not sure what you mean by me being wrong about the two states, it’s a vague response.

            RDS I don’t know how you know that the one-state advocates are all Marxists. Many people who aren’t Marxist support it as well, because it is right. Again, the two-states or territories were a thing before, and then they just did not work.

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        • “The only people who would support a two-state solution are people who are unfamiliar with the history of the region, which is an impossible situation for Bernie Sanders.”

          The Palestinian socialist-led Arab Joint List — which is the third largest bloc in the Israeli parliament, an alliance of all the Palestinian Arab groups — supports a two-state solution. I guess Palestinian Arabs in Israel are “unfamiliar with the history of the region” then since they support a two-state solution then, yes? Talk about having a white savior complex…

          Like

          • The Joint List is a bunch of Arabs who are not all socialist. They are just a bunch of Arabs who may not have agreed to join together politically, had the Israeli government treated them better. There were obviously concessions that had to be made for either themselves or the ruling ideologies to agree on, and it ended up that they just want to go back to the pre-1967 lines, which still separated the territories. I’m sure in a perfect world that the Joint List would rather have a one-state solution as it was meant to be, since Israel came out of nowhere with foreign people evicting the natives. Much like the European settlers with the United States.
            http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/east-jerusalem-state-solution-dead-150414073637454.html

            Don’t say I have complexes that I clearly do not have. First the spoiler joke, now this. I have nothing against you personally, but at the very least it is starting to move in the direction of having something against you personally. The reasons why are just pointless and didn’t need to happen, some things have just gone around in circles like the spoiler idea when it is clearly inaccurate on many accounts, never mind that none of the other candidates that “spoiled” the election in Florida have nothing in common with Al Gore and the Democrats, probably for good reason, as the case with the Greens.

            I don’t understand why you don’t read these things and understand that maybe you have been inaccurate about some other big claims you have made, or things you have suggested such as having Jill Stein back Bernie Sanders, which is ridiculous. It’s not partisanship, because it is not like Bernie ran as an actual socialist with one of the socialist parties, in which case the Green Party would be more willing to support, though they still might not unless they talk because of his past with supporting unnecessary military action. Brian Jones was not a Green but they let him in, and the Greens also support Sawant in Seattle, who is part of the Socialist Alternative. Not that any of this is really important to this conversation, but it has come up as a “problem” with the Green Party a lot, and there is no reason to think of the Greens as crazy for not supporting Bernie Sanders.

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          • *Western savior complex. Any luck finding a group of any significance in the Palestinian national movement that supports a one-state solution?

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  12. Good discussion.

    We ‘know’ that we won’t vote for another corporatist neoliberal Dem. As of yet, we haven’t entirely ruled out voting for Senator Sanders, either.

    But after Sanders public vow (to George) to support ‘any’ Dem Party Presidential candidate if he loses the primary–dunno. We thought that it was downright appalling that he did so. He would have had far more credibility with us, if he had been willing to run as an Independent

    How can you lead a revolution, and be willing to support FSC at the same time? It is difficult for me to reconcile his thinking (with his actions) on this issue.

    (BTW, FSC is the acronym for Former Secretary Clinton. Had some folks go nuts the other day–not sure what they thought it stood for, LOL!)

    Anyhoo, thanks for the post. At least it’s good to run across bloggers who aren’t totally in the tank for a former DLCer/Third Way candidate.

    I’ll definitely be following him on the campaign trail, and am very happy to see the huge crowds that he garners. I would love nothing better than to see Sanders take the nomination away from any and all of the corporatist Dems!

    ;^D

    Postcript: I like your theme. My first WP Blog has a similar theme–it’s charcoal gray. I love the way that videos, photos, etc., ‘pop’ on that background. It definitely looks a lot better than my blog with a white background–may have to change themes, eventually.

    I hope that you will consider voting for Dr. Stein, if Senator Sanders does not win the Primary. FSC would be worse than PBO, most likely. And, almost for sure, I expect that a formal “Grand Bargain” would be struck .

    Oh, BTW, we have relatives in Tennessee–Gore was simply intensely disliked by many Tennesseans (Dems). Now, his Father and Mother were both revered. But since Al grew up ‘mostly’ in D.C. living in The Fairfax Hotel–not in Carthage–many Tennesseans resented him, and considered him somewhat of a carpetbagger (rightly or wrongly). I’m not a native Tennessean, so I was not bothered by his bio.

    Have a good one!

    Like

    • Thanks for your comments re: aesthetics and politics.

      Sanders’ endorsement of ‘FSC’ is clearly a lesser-evil/strategic decision on his part, a tactical necessity in his view given how extremist the GOP nominee will be. Sometimes revolutions involve compromise — opponents of slavery in the American revolution had to maintain a bloc with slaveowners to defeat the British, the Bolsheviks agreed to giving Germany huge swathes of territory at Brest-Litovsk. What concerns me more than Sanders’ endorsing FSC is what does he plan on doing with the large network of grassroots supporters and groups that form along the way to the Democratic convention? How do we keep them going and fighting for independent/third party politics at the state and local level after this presidential cycle is over?

      Liked by 1 person

      • For what you said before, I know even Hamas supports one, but that’s after so many years of Israel just not budging. At the very least if Israel can respect the pre-1967 borders and ceasefires made for a time, it’s a start, but I don’t think it will last.

        As for Bernie, I’m glad that many people at least believe in his domestic policy enough to think that he’s the guy, since he is the most well known “outsider” in this race. The fact that Jill can’t get that attention as easily is a problem, but maybe this time around the more “progressive” Democrat will influence people to vote for the lesser known or lesser funded candidate with even more claimed progressive values like Jill Stein if Bernie gets the nomination or not, maybe people will realize that even if he is the Democrats’ candidate by the end of the primaries, like Obama, he is still a Democrat.

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        • To add to what I said, I think they will eventually need to create to a single state in order to function efficiently, and by Hamas wanting one, I meant a two-state solution.

          Like

    • Nader said a while ago that Bernie will need to answer the question regarding if he will support the Democratic nominee if it is not him, and in order to be allowed in the debates, he will need to answer yes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sanders announced that he would support whoever the Democratic nominee is if it isn’t him in his first appearance on This Week back in early May and it has nothing to do with appearing in the debates. The DNC’s only rule for participation in their debates is that candidates don’t participate in any other debates the DNC hasn’t organized or sanctioned. Once those six debates are over, Bernie is free to do as he pleases and I’m certain he’ll be debating the entire GOP field in Jan/Feb/March of 2016 to keep up the momentum he develops out of winning Iowa and New Hampshire.

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        • The DNC has kept some Democratic candidates out of the primary debates in the past, and it’s not like they went to any outside debates either.

          Like

  13. “Why Presidential Elections and the Bernie Sanders Campaign Are Not Necessarily Detrimental to Movement Building” Sanders has various limits, but he will be vigorously attacked by the sectarian leadership class that themselves want to be managers.

    Like

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