Do Marxists Oppose Strategic or Lesser-Evil Voting?

Sanders1917

Howie Hawkins’s bizarre diatribe “Bernie Sanders Is No Eugene Debs” buttressed the Green Party’s principled pro-spoiler stance with the following lines  from Marx:

“Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled. The progress which the proletarian party will make by operating independently in this way is infinitely more important than the disadvantages resulting from the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body.”

The problem for Hawkins is that:

1. The full quote shows how inappropriate it is to mechanically copy what Marx said was right to do in a time of revolution, civil war, and dual power in a situation like today that is utterly un-revolutionary. The parts in bold below are what Hawkins deliberately left out:
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How Fringe and Spoiler Campaigns Hurt Rather than Help Independent and Left Politics

A nasty debate is brewing on the American left over what to do about Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and most of the nastiness is on the anti-Sanders side. Now that Sanders is trending upwards in polls (tripling in Iowa from 5% to 15% and reaching 18% in New Hampshire, two key early primary states) liberals are starting to get hysterical. Articles like “Bernie Sanders Is Already Making It More Likely Republicans Win The White House In 2016” will soon become the norm from this crowd as the primary contest heats up and the Establishment front-runner Hillary Clinton has to defend her Iraq war vote and pro-free trade stance against Sanders’ anti-war, anti-free trade record in six live television debates. Continue reading

How to Solve the Spoiler Problem

By Terry Bouricius

The issue before us is often referred to as the “spoiler problem.” When more than just two candidates are in an election, the majority can split such that a candidate that the majority believe is the worst choice can win with a plurality of less than 50%.

The notion that prompted this meeting is that it might be possible to persuade two particular political parties (the Democratic and Progressive) to cooperate or even merge to avoid this problem.

This is ultimately futile, as I will explain. Continue reading