Fact #1: Our government, mass media, and major political parties only serve the plutocrats. We working class Americans are screwed.
Fact #2: Americans have finally begun waking up. Especially last year when millions woke up.
Fact #3: Efforts have been underway to do something about it, to, essentially, have a second American Revolution.
While the wheeling and dealing in Washington and other power nodes continues as always – and while much public hysteria is being fanned about Russian meddling, politicians spying on other politicians, Trump resistance, and so forth – I thought it was time to take a little stock of how we the people are faring in our burgeoning efforts to clean house.
I. Flooding the System with Good People
After a long silence, last February there finally came news from Our Revolution, the organization Bernie Sanders announced at the end of his campaign for presidential nomination. It was supposed to carry the energy of his campaign forward towards electing true people’s representatives into as many offices as possible. Later we heard of a falling-out within the new organization over fundraising issues. Now there are finally some new tales coming forth. In a Wall Street Journal article, titled “Bernie Sanders Loyalists Are Taking Over the Democratic Party One County Office at a Time,” we were informed that some seats have indeed been taken over by, hopefully, non-corporatist delegates and other officials in California, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Washington state.
Specifically, in California, Bernie supporters packed the obscure party meetings that chose delegates to the state Democratic convention and managed to grab more than half the slots available. In Washington state’s “Democratic”-state-central-committee, they ousted the party chairman and installed one of their own in his place. The article further claims, “Sanders acolytes have seized control of state parties in Hawaii and Nebraska and won posts throughout the party structure from coast to coast.”
While this is not quite a landslide, at least there have been decisive victories. Maybe we can be cautiously optimistic. In Iowa and Michigan, Our Revolution didn’t get very far, though, and engaged in compromises with establishment politicians, which could signal a loss of momentum and the take-no-prisoners determination that any of our efforts to clean corruption out of politics requires.
To keep the flame of optimism burning, I’ll add that Our Revolution recently announced that they have already gotten 62 progressive champions elected to public office (no specifics given as to what offices, where, at what levels).
As you know, none of this made a difference at the level of the DNC which, once again, denied the wishes of working class Americans and picked a corporatist and big friend of the banksters, Tom Perez, as their new chairman.
So, this news is of a mixed nature. I am glad to finally hear of some activity by Our Revolution and of it having had some success, while most everybody’s attention was elsewhere. Maybe flying under the radar has helped it. At this point, the corporate establishment of the “Democratic” Party may be waking up and raising the drawbridges. In this case, perhaps additional pressure from the Justice Democrats, which arose with the same intent as Our Revolution (but pledges to stick to small donations), may then be of help.
I have, in the past, urged for this kind of party takeover, from the bottom up, and will continue to do so, although I think it needs to be a lot bigger than has been reported so far. We need a real surge! I also worry that it may not work in the long run, even with a big surge, due to too many built-in barriers against an insurrection from the base within the “Democratic” Party (including superdelegates). It is still worth the effort, though, since any pressure we can bring to bear against the establishment will weaken it, at least, for a moment. If enough pressure comes from enough directions, it could perhaps breach their walls.
There are, in fact, quite a number of efforts and directions from which pressure is being brought to bear or might be in the future. BrandNewCongress was also created with a goal like Our Revolution and the Justice Democrats in mind, and they have recently joined forces with the Justice Democrats. Kudos! Strength from unity. That’s the way to go!
II. Direct Action, such as Anti-Corruption Measures
Represent.us works to implement anti-political-corruption laws in towns and states across the country through ballot initiatives. Recently, it also began a drive for electoral reform to eliminate “wasted votes” and a petition for President Trump to drain the swamp per executive order.
Wolf PAC works to build towards a Free and Fair Elections Amendment to our Constitution. The Berniecrats Network provided a valuable list of candidates worth voting for during last year’s election. Maybe it will continue to do so. Support Progressives! consolidates similar lists from a variety of “progressive” organizations, including the Berniecrats Network. Be warned, though: there is no restriction as to who can call themselves “progressive!” So many neoliberals have, in the past, cloaked themselves in progressive lip service and identity-“progressivism” so that some people have begun to see the word “progressive” as a warning signal. Maybe we could help ourselves by creating some standards and an independent watch dog organization applying some minimum standards to politicians worth our support.
Another thing we need to have, is more reliable media. We should come up with ways to fund non-corporate, non-shill reporters and writers like myself, since most of our outlets can’t or won’t pay us for our work, thus greatly limiting what we can do to keep everybody informed, while all around us the steady drumbeat of the corporate mass media and establishment politicians roars. Just a thought…
III. Third or New Parties
Last, but not least, there is voting for third parties, when worthy candidates in the big parties are not available, or, simply, to put pressure on the major parties — or even replace them. Some third parties can be old ones, like the Green Party which has a highly progressive platform without being so tiny that hardly anyone has ever heard of it. Unfortunately, The Green Party may be too typecast in our psyche to let us give it a new role as bad old party buster. I hear some old socialist parties have unprecedented membership growth these days, thanks to Bernie Sanders calling himself a democratic socialist in his campaign, or, possibly, because many young people are redefining their relationship to capitalism, which, in the last decades, has reared its ugly head so openly. Still, a brand new party that starts with a clean slate may be best, one strategically created to take advantage of our current situation: the current mass exodus from the “Democratic” Party and the simultaneous existence of a widely-popular politician who could lead all these disillusioned former Dems, as well as many independents and even some awakened “conservatives” formerly under GOP hypnosis, into that new party.
Formation of such a party is currently in the works as a Sanders-inspired breakaway from the “Democratic” party. It is designed to give a new home and – for the first time in over three decades – a voice to the millions of betrayed former “Democratic” Party members who have been storming out of the “Democratic” Party since last year’s election debacle. Last year, first the “Democratic” primaries were rigged against the American people and their most popular candidate and then a totally absurd general election was marked by both major parties trying to convince voters that their deplorable candidates were less deplorable than those of the other major party. Indeed, both major parties are, in essence, a single party, the Establishment Party — the “right” arm dressing itself as “conservative” and “small government” and the “left” arm as socially and culturally “progressive” (a.k.a. “liberal”). Neither are what they claim, serving our plutocrats instead. The turned-corporatist-by-neoliberals “Democrats” occasionally throw the non-rich majority of the people, who are struggling badly in today’s lopsided society, a tiny bone so as to pretend that they are still the working man’s party, as they once were a generation or two ago. Mostly, though, they just chant sultry lip service, not meaning a word of it.
The effort to form this new party to truly represent us calls itself Draft Bernie – for a People’s Party. Shortly after it went public, I wrote an in-depth article about it, where you can get into a lot of analysis and pros and cons. Its own Facebook page is also a good source. Recently, I wrote a more emotional piece with a personal slant which goes into the main reason why I like the idea and why you might like it, too.
At this point, you may be joining those who rail against the splintering of our efforts and even vilify me for presenting or even endorsing a bunch of those efforts when, in your opinion, only one effort is worth pursuing (the one you believe in) and all the other efforts are merely weakening THE ONE. In this case, I would like to point out that the splintering occurred long ago and was quite unavoidable, back when Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton while, on the other side of the traditional fence dividing us, Donald Trump herded disaffected Republican voters into his camp. It’s a reality, a fait accompli not worth blaming each other over. It won’t go away, at least not until one of the many party-reform or new-party efforts I mentioned races ahead of the others and proves itself as the one we can all unite behind. That’s simply how it works. Some efforts, like Sam Ronan’s Our Voice, hope to reintegrate all our separate efforts, which may give us our strength in numbers even before any one effort takes the lead. I think that, until we have a clearer picture of unity, we should give all the varied efforts our best, as long as they appear to have a chance.
The unavoidable splintering – over which we mustn’t get into a kind of family feud – can, in fact, be an advantage: it makes us a more difficult target. Furthermore, in the military, splintering is often the path to victory. We talk about combined arms, pincer movements, and encirclement when overwhelming a foe from many sides. The splintering also provides flexibility and fallback solutions when some efforts go wrong.
So, when we employ various strategies (or battalions) as we currently do, the different battalions mustn’t start to view each other as enemies or competition and start fighting each other, as some people sadly do. We must keep our shared ultimate goals in our sights and be ready to switch strategies as necessary. To know what our shared goals are, we must talk about them, ideally hammering out a joint political platform which works for most people. I proposed such a multilateral process quite a while back and can also point to a Facebook group, which was created specifically for this task.
Before I conclude this article, I want to urge everyone that we stay vigilant about co-opting. Those who are currently busy populating the local and state levels of the “Democratic” Party, for example, should keep a close watch on their higher-ups. If those politicians keep ignoring their demands and just utilize them for the leg work of bringing in votes, they’d better be prepared to go independent or switch to a third party, be it old (like the Greens) or new like the party which may soon emerge out of Draft Bernie.
To make my point, please do recall that Tom Perez was selected by the DNC, despite the progressive pressure within the DP, and that the Tea Party didn’t manage to reform the GOP. I continue to think that having fallback solutions and multiple attack fronts is the best way to go right now, especially since the current splintering is unavoidable. We become impotent from the current splintering only if we forget that we are all working for the same ultimate goals and treat one another as competitors just because we are in different contingents. I think, people who want both a functioning democracy and a just economy must be flexible to apply themselves as needed on a constantly shifting battlefield.