The campaign for a recount in the US elections

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks at a campaign rally in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. September 8, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Young

 

29 November 2016

Three weeks after the US presidential election, the political crisis triggered by the initiative to recount the vote in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania—three states that helped ensure Trump’s victory over Clinton—is escalating. This initiative coincides with the continued growth of Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote, which now stands at more than 2.2 million. This is, by far, a historically unprecedented margin for a candidate who did not also win in the Electoral College.

Jill Stein, the presidential candidate of the Green Party, initiated the recount campaign last week following a media report featuring University of Michigan professor and cyber security expert J. Alex Halderman. In a thoroughly unprincipled use of right-wing arguments to legitimize the recount effort in the eyes of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party—which did not intend to contest the election results—Halderman claims that a team he leads found persuasive evidence that electronic voting machines in these three states may have been hacked by Russia, a statement that he repeated in an affidavit supporting Stein’s petition for a recount in Wisconsin.

On Saturday, the Clinton campaign announced that it would participate in the process begun by Stein. Trump responded on Sunday by not only denouncing the recount but also charging, without any factual substantiation, that he also won the popular vote if the “millions” of illegal votes for Clinton were discounted.

The demand for a recount is a legitimate political response to a situation in which the votes in the states in question were particularly close (a Trump margin of 22,000 in Wisconsin, 10,000 in Michigan and 68,000 in Pennsylvania).

Much more is involved, however, than a technical procedure in these three states. The recount campaign has exposed political fissures within the ruling elite, complicated efforts to carry out a seamless transition to a Trump administration, and intensified the mood of popular discontent and crisis that has been building since Election Day.

The response of the Obama administration to the recount says a great deal about its indifference toward basic democratic principles. In comments to the New York Times reported on Sunday, a senior White House official insisted on the “overall integrity of the electoral infrastructure,” which ensured results that “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

This is obviously untrue. The election of Trump does not represent the “will of the people.” He lost the popular vote by a substantial margin. Moreover, Trump campaigned on the basis of demagogic lies, portraying himself as a defender of the working class.

The Democratic Party is far more worried about provoking opposition among workers and youth than it is about the tactical differences it has with the Republicans and Trump. On basic elements of class policy, the two parties are, as the CIA agent-in-chief Obama put it, “on the same team.”

The Green Party, rather than denouncing the undemocratic character of the election process, is justifying its recount initiative with the claim that Russian hacking may have affected the outcome of the vote. Instead of seeking to raise the democratic consciousness of the voters, the Greens—in a manner typical of capitalist political parties—employ reactionary arguments that are pitched toward the interests of the ruling class. In effect, the Greens are arguing that they are seeking a recount not to prevent Trump from stealing the election, but rather to stop Putin from interfering in American politics.

There is an unstated premise in the Green Party initiative—and Stein has said nothing to contradict this—that the election of Clinton would have spared the United States all the unhappiness that will follow from Trump’s victory. This is an exercise in political deception, which portrays Trump as some sort of dreadful and accidental departure from the familiar grooves of American democracy.

It does not seem to occur to the Greens that the result of the 2016 election is, in objective terms, the expression and outcome of a profound crisis of American society. Even if Trump fell short of Clinton in the popular vote, the fact that he received 62 million votes is a devastating condemnation of everything that the Democratic Party and the Obama administration represent. What level of social distress and dysfunction could lead so many millions of people, including many workers, to give their vote to this reactionary charlatan?

In what way would a Clinton presidency contribute to surmounting the economic, political and social crisis that provided the objective impulse for the rise of Trump? Trump’s election is the product of twenty-five years of unending war and fifteen years of the “war on terror,” accompanied by historic levels of social inequality and the erosion of basic democratic rights. It is also a verdict on eight years of the Obama administration, whose policies Clinton pledged to continue.

The Greens, far from advancing an alternative to the Democratic Party, are positioning themselves as its most consistent defenders. Backed by a host of organizations that operate around the Democratic Party and supported the Greens in the elections, Stein is seeking to elevate the role of the Green Party as a political instrument of the ruling class in containing and smothering social opposition.

Under conditions of a historic crisis of capitalism, the working class must advance its own perspective and not allow itself to be corralled behind one or another faction of the ruling class and its political representatives.

Whatever the outcome of the recount, the election of 2016 has inaugurated a new period of convulsive political upheavals within the United States and beyond its borders. Even in the very unlikely event that the votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania are overturned, who can seriously believe that such an outcome would be accepted by Trump and his most ruthless backers?

There is no easy way out of the crisis of American and world capitalism. The critical question for workers and young people is to break completely with the entire political apparatus of the ruling class and advance an independent response based on a socialist, internationalist and revolutionary program.

Joseph Kishore and David North

WSWS

Stop Hoping For a Hillary Landslide

hillary-clinton-banks-wall-street

In an Oct. 25 essay, former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich warned readers of The Nation about the influence of a “bipartisan foreign-policy elite [that] recommends the next president show less restraint than President Obama… As this year’s presidential election comes to a conclusion, the Washington ideologues are regurgitating the same bipartisan consensus that has kept America at war since 9/11 and made the world a decidedly more dangerous place.”

Ms. Clinton’s own record and the endorsements she has received from Bush-Cheney neocons suggest we’ll see a shift from President Obama’s recent caution back to the war-machine polices of the last decade and even the last century. In 2017, that’ll mean a renewed Cold War with Russia with a possible standoff over Syria, deeper U.S. military involvement in Muslim nations in which civilians will suffer most (including more aid for Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen), and unconditional support for Israel’s violent suppression of Palestinian human rights.

If voters hand Hillary Clinton a landslide victory on Nov. 8, we can count on all of the above. The landslide will be a mandate for more permanent war, more favors for Wall Street, more privatization of the public sphere, more of the racist War on Drugs that feeds mass incarceration, more pipelines and fracking, more half-hearted action against climate change.

A landslide will give Ms. Clinton no motivation to repair the Affordable Care Act’s deep defects. She’ll feel no obligation to maintain her campaign-season opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she promoted vigorously as Secretary of State.

Ms. Clinton will interpret the landslide as a license to discard the modest populist concessions she made to keep Bernie Sanders’ supporters inside the Democratic Party fold. Her selection of Tim Kaine as running mate and the influence of her reps in shaping the 2016 Dem platform tell us she always intended to stifle Bernie’s political revolution after his exit.

Robert Reich and other liberal pundits want us to help elect Ms. Clinton in November and then build a movement that can exert intense pressure on her administration to do the right thing.

Don’t count on it. When politicians can take a movement’s votes for granted, they don’t have to worry about the movement giving them hell. Decades of knee-jerk votes for corporate-cash Democrats have turned the Democratic Party into a graveyard for progressive ideals and agenda.

Mr. Reich insists that our immediate priority must be Donald Trump’s defeat. It’s hard to argue with that.

Mr. Trump isn’t only a dangerous buffoon, he’s almost certainly going to lose.

From the point of view of progressives, however, a Trump defeat shouldn’t be enough. The left will have no clout in the Hillary Clinton Administration unless Dems know they’re threatened with a revolt.

Greens and Libertarians, of course, are seeking the maximum percentage for their presidential tickets. If either or both draw at least five percent of the popular vote on Nov. 8, their respective 2020 presidential nominees will receive millions in federal funding.

If either or both alternative parties can move towards major-party status, we won’t have to face a choice limited to two candidates like Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump ever again.

Why shouldn’t progressives, including Hillary supporters on the left, want an alternative option? They’ve gotten almost nothing in return for decades of devotion to the Democratic Party.

Competition from a genuine progressive party with major-party status would change the political landscape and reverse the country’s slide to the right under the leadership of both Ds and Rs. In 1916, one hundred years ago, five parties were represented in Congress. If three or four parties were seated in Congress in 2016, it would signal that the current major parties are no longer each others sole rivals.

Green Party leaders have said that five percent or more for nominee Jill Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka won’t only build their party, it’ll make Ms. Clinton and the revolving-door operatives who staff the next administration pay close attention to voters who found themselves marginalized (again) after Bernie Sanders’ defeat for the Democratic nomination.

On Inauguration Day 2017, we’ll watch the new president carry troubling baggage into the White House, not only the Wikileaks revelations and security lapses, but also a record as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State that often looks more R than D. Progressives stuck in the two-party mindset will pretend that the only opposition that counts is the one coming from GOP Hillary haters.

For young people, the two-party racket promises a disturbing future regardless of who occupies the White House. They’ll have to deal with a bipartisan legacy of deteriorating quality of life, increasing personal debt, exported jobs, eroded rights and freedoms, the school-to-prison pipeline for black and brown kids, lawless militarism, and social breakdown as the planet heats up.

In the context of the climate crisis, the difference between the GOP and Dems like Ms. Clinton is the difference between driving off a cliff at 90 mph and driving off a cliff at 55 mph.

Progressives and environmentalists alarmed by global warming should be begging Ms. Clinton to adopt a plan like the Green New Deal. (Confidential to Bill McKibben: Why dismiss the Green Party, when merely mentioning Jill Stein scares Democrats more than all the warnings about rising greenhouse-gas and sea levels?)

We can stop fretting over Orange Hitler versus Grandma Nixon. 2016 has handed us an unprecedented opportunity to vote our hopes instead of our fears. We can prove to Democratic politicians (Republicans too) that votes must be earned instead of taken for granted. We can deny the victor a mandate for policies that serve corporate cronies instead of the general welfare of the people and the health of the planet.

Elections in a democracy give voters a chance to select the candidates who best represent their ideals and interests. The right to vote is reduced when voters are intimidated into believing that only two candidates are legitimate. The power of the vote is weakened further when a candidate knows she can take votes for granted. Voters on the left — and all Americans — can only benefit from having more choices on the ballot.

Scott McLarty is media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Counterpunch

Keep Calm and Vote Green: Fascism Is Not Coming

Posted on Sep 23, 2016

By Paul Street

  Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka—the Green Party’s presidential ticket—propose a Green New Deal, a “visionary agenda to tackle the interconnected problems of climate change and the economy.”(Dennis Van Tine / STAR MAX / AP)

Thinking about the upcoming United States presidential election contest between two of the most widely hated people in the nation, I am reminded of the old Aesop’s fable about “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly fools his village neighbors into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock.

The first few times he does this, the villagers come running to drive off the imaginary wolf. Finally, a real wolf actually appears, and the boy again calls for help. But the villagers believe it is another false alarm and stay put. The sheep are eaten by the wolf. In some later versions of the fable, the boy himself is devoured.

READ: Jill Stein’s Green New Deal Deserves to Heard by Widest Audience Possible

The moral of the story is stated at the end of the Greek version: This shows how liars are rewarded—even if they tell the truth, no one believes them. As Aristotle is supposed to have said, when those who tell lies “speak truth, they are not believed.”

Every four years, liberal-left politicos scream wolf about how the Republicans are going to wreak plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and war-mongering hell if they win “this, the most important election in American history.” The politicos conveniently ignore the plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and military-imperial havoc that Democrats inflict at home and abroad in dark, co-dependent alliance with the ever more radically reactionary Republicans. Democrats fail to acknowledge their preferred party’s responsibility for sustaining the Republicans’ continuing power, which feeds on the “dismal” Dems’ neoliberal abandonment of the nation’s working-class majority in service to transnational Wall Street and corporate America. They commonly exaggerate the danger posed by the right-most major party and (especially) the progressivism of the not-so-left-most one.

It’s not that the liberal and progressive politicos lie about the presence of wolves. The wolves are out there. But they include Democratic wolves in fake sheep’s clothing joined with Republicans in what Washington journalist Mark Leibovich calls “the ultimate Green Party.” The nation’s capital, Leibovich notes, has “become a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made. … ‘No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore,’ goes the maxim, ‘only millionaires.’ ”

LISTEN: Robert Scheer Speaks With Jill Stein About the Green Party and 2016 Election

It’s nothing new, which is part of why I have third-party-protest-voted in all but one (2004) of the nine U.S. presidential elections for which I have been eligible. This includes two of the last three, the only ones in which I have voted in a “contested state” (Iowa)—a state where the major-party outcome is in play.

So why might a serious left progressive living in a contested state (someone like this writer) consider following the venerable left political scientist Adolph Reed Jr.’s advice this year to “vote for the lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary Clinton? Part of it could be that lefty’s sense that it is better for “the U.S. Left” (insofar as it exists) and the development of the dedicated, day-to-day, grass-roots social movement we desperately need in place beneath and beyond the election cycle when a corporate Democrat occupies the White House. The presence of a Democrat in the nominal top U.S. job is usefully instructive. It helps demonstrate the richly bipartisan nature of the American plutocracy and empire. Young workers and students especially need to see and experience how the misery and oppression imposed by capitalism and its evil twin imperialism live on when Democrats hold the Oval Office.

At the same time, the presence of a Republican in the White House tends to fuel the sense among progressives and liberals that the main problem in the country is that the “wrong party” holds executive power and that all energy and activism must be directed at fixing that by putting the “right party” back in. Everything progressive gets sucked into a giant “Get Out the Vote” project for the next faux-progressive Democratic savior, brandishing the promises of “hope” and “change” (campaign keywords for the neoliberal imperialist Bill Clinton in 1992 and the neoliberal imperialist Barack Obama in 2008).

Hillary will be much less capable than the more charismatic Obama (under whom there has been more popular organizing and protest than some lefties like to acknowledge) of bamboozling progressives into thinking they’ve got a friend in the White House. Unlike Obama in 2008, she’s got a long corporatist and imperialist track record that connects her to the establishment and is hard to deny.

WATCH: What Makes Jill Stein Qualified to Be President

It is an urban myth that Republican presidents spark and energize progressive and left activism. True, they’ve done outrageous things that can put lots of folks in the streets for a bit. One thinks of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and Bush Jr.’s invasion of Iraq. But the waves of protest recede, followed by repression, and everything tends to get channeled into the holy electoral quest to put Democrats back in executive-branch power. The second George W. Bush term was no activist heyday, thanks in significant measure to the great co-optive and demobilizing impact of Democratic Party electoral politics and the deceptive, not-so “antiwar” Obama phenomenon.

But the main reason it is easy to understand why many intelligent lefties stuck behind contested state lines might follow Reed’s advice is that Trump is no ordinary Republican wolf. By some dire portside reckonings (including Reed’s), “the Donald” is something like a real fascist threat worthy of mention in the same breath as Hitler and Mussolini. He’s a really bad version of the wolf who finally appears to devour the sheep in the ancient fable. Look at the following semi-viral jeremiad recently posted across “social media” by the longtime left journalist Arun Gupta—a spine-chilling reflection on what he fears a Trump presidency would mean:

I know it’s the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, but there is little to celebrate at such a grim moment. That being the likelihood Trump may very well win.
Black Lives Matter will be declared a domestic terrorist outfit. … Trump and Attorney General [Rudy] Giuliani would relish using the National Guard to crush blockades of oil pipelines and trains, and indigenous people defending their lands.

An English-only law would likely be passed, DACA be withdrawn, and sanctuary cities outlawed. White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Klan, and the Alt-Right would all be welcome into his administration, overtly or covertly.

There would be an all-out assault on reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood. Significant gains made at the National Labor Relations Board in the last few years will be overturned.

Huge swaths of the West under federal control will be turned over to logging, ranching, mining, and oil and gas industries.

Tens of millions would go from inadequate healthcare to no healthcare.

… Massive voter suppression becomes the norm. There will be organized vigilante violence, perhaps even mini-pogroms, against Muslim and Mexican communities with the state turning a blind eye.

…As soon as a recession hits, Trump would immediately go hunting for scapegoats to distract his followers. This could include a ban on Muslim immigration, a registration program, and mass round-ups of immigrants, meaning concentration camps to hold them before they were ousted, overseen by his ‘deportation force’ of Brownshirts.

There is a quaint notion on the left that somehow Trump is hot air. This ignores the dynamics he’s set in motion that will make new types of state-sponsored racial violence all but inevitable. … all the recent organizing gains will wither as the left is forced to wage losing defensive struggles against violent white nationalists. …

… there is a bizarre faith on the left that the ruling class will somehow keep him in check, despite the fact he will have control over every branch of government. …No one will be able to stop his dictatorial, white supremacist agenda. Congress won’t stop him. He will have a majority on the Supreme Court, and while sections of the ruling class may be deeply unhappy, they will still be safe and obscenely wealthy and can always escape.

In warning about Trump and instructing lefties not to vote third-party this time, Reed reminds us of the German Community Party’s fateful error: choosing not to ally with the German Social Democrats against the Nazi Party during the early 1930s. The moral of the story is clear: All sane left progressives need to report to duty to protect the flock under the banner of the admittedly horrid (good of Reed to admit that) Hillary.

CONTINUED:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/keep_calm_and_vote_green_fascism_is_not_coming_20160923

Donald’s Trump Visit to Mexico Is Not the Real Irony: NAFTA Is

Posted on Aug 31, 2016

By Sam Husseini

  President Enrique Peña Nieto, left, and Donald Trump in Mexico on Wednesday. (Screen shot viaTwitter)

Many are shocked that Donald Trump announced he is going to Mexico today [Wednesday]. That misses the real ironies here: NAFTA—and how this should be a boon to the Green Party.

First the obvious stuff: Donald Trump is playing to xenophobic sentiments. His “solutions” are in large part twisted or beside the point, for example, U.S. government has largely already built the wall.

One real irony is that Trump is appealing for votes based on trade issues. His criticism of NAFTA rightly resonates with many in the U.S. Lots of workers have lost out because of NAFTA and other so-called “trade deals.” These deals are actually largely investment protection agreements that help the huge corporations and the wealthy in the U.S., Mexico and other countries. That’s people like Trump and people and corporations like those who fund Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, these secretive deals often rook regular folks wherever they live.

But Trump—and many other critics in the U.S.—only talk about how NAFTA has hurt U.S. workers. Largely unacknowledged in the U.S. is how it has devastated Mexican family farms and small industry—which leads to desperate migration from Mexico to the U.S. (along with the drug war).

So, redoing NAFTA would actually help stem desperate migration that is the source of much of Trump’s support.

Hillary Clinton is now claiming to be against the TPP, the successor to NAFTA in many respects. In fact, she has backed both. And she just named pro-TPP Ken Salazar to be her transition team head. Her VP pick, Tim Kaine recently backed the TPP before he pretended to flip-flop as well. Meanwhile, Trump contradicts himself on issues like mad. Who knows what he’ll do if he were actually in office.

But Clinton has largely succeeded in pretending she’s anti TPP. OnTheIssues just reports her stated positions on TPP, which you have to be an idiot to believe—or a hack. Over 40 million people have apparently taken an “issues” poll with iSideWith.com—but when I asked them if they label Clinton as opposed to the TPP the same way Jill Stein of the Green Party is, they refused to answer and deleted our exchange.

In fact, the U.S. public is strongly opposed to more of the same U.S. trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP. But the only reliable candidate on reforming trade issues is ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party, but they are excluded from most discussionby corporate media, which are overwhelmingly for corporate “trade” deals. Our politics is broken on so many levels.

So: The incredible irony of this is that the best choice for the xenophobes is Green (the Libertarian of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld is openly pro-TPP).

Certainly, Greens and other progressives usually talk against NAFTA and the TPP in terms of corporate control over health, labor, environmental, patent, copyright and other critical issue areas. But ending the NAFTA model may well end desperate migration, a leading concern of many on the right.

Let Mexicans prosper in Mexico. If the U.S. were to have reasonable agreements with Mexico, people there will work in farms and factories in Mexico without feeling desperate to come to the U.S. for any work they can possibly get here. They are free human beings, not charity cases.

We have a similar dynamic regarding xenophobia directed against Syria refugees now. Let Syrians be a peace in Syria without outside meddling—the root causes of the war in Syria and much of the Mideast is constant outside intervention, most clearly the U.S. invasion of neighboring Iraq.

Let each—Mexico, Syria and every other country—deal with the U.S. as equals. People should not be in need of coming and begging for refuge or to do work at poverty wages in the shadows in the U.S.

If we change the root causes of policies, things look very different and people who might be motivated, superficially at least, by different arguments end up having much more in common than meets the eye in terms of desperately needed policy changes.

Sam Husseini is the founder of VotePact.org.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/trump_going_to_mexico_is_not_the_real_irony_–_nafta_is_20160831

Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?

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The Nader-baiting continues untrammeled and was even on display with the CNN Green Party Town Hall. I have previously written about this but would like to articulate an addendum that few have yet to discuss.

The basic fact is this, Al Gore threw the fight with George W. Bush over Florida’s bizarre electoral process. It had nothing to do with Nader and everything to do with the transformation of the Presidency by Clinton, our first post-Cold War president. Clinton’s reckless economic policies and utopian visions of neoliberal paradise made Gore behave like the Black Sox.

For confirmation of these points, I would advise readers consult economist Robert Pollin’s very useful book Contours of Descent: US Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity, an analysis of the Clinton economy and the first two years of the Bush tenure. On page 78 is a key paragraph that should be etched in stone above any Green Party threshold:

Amid such talk of unending good times, it came as a jolt to most observers when the Republican Vice Presidential candidate Dick Cheney announced on a television talk show on December 3, 2000 that “we may well be on the front edge of a recession here. There is growing evidence that the economy is slowing down.” After Cheney’s statement, George Bush also began interjecting gloomy economic prognostications into his public statements. This was the time when Bush and Cheney, along with Gore and the Democrats, were still fighting over who actually won the election. It would be another week before the Supreme Court threw the victory to Bush. The timing is important: Bush had some obvious political motives for turning negative on the economy at this point, after having been almost entirely upbeat throughout the election.

Pollin’s book describes how the Clinton-Greenspan economy was nothing more than a series of bubbles that were generated in a ten year period, roughly 1992 to 2002, when the United States lived in a massive utopian delusion about the nature of capitalism as a system of political economy.

Clinton’s “new economy” was based in the neoclassical economic coordinates of a post-capitalist order and therefore the abnegation of class warfare, a fantasy that was reinforced by the end of the Cold War and our installation of a puppet regime in Russia. In simpler terms, the Soviet Union had collapsed, proving that Marxism was false (although Marx’s theories had almost nothing to do with Gorbachev’s shortcomings), and thus Western media began a decade-long mythological narrative of life in the post-Soviet states as fantastic (all while in reality Jeffrey Sachs and fellow members of the neoliberal cadre were turning Eastern Europe into a neo-feudal colony of Wall Street where the life expectancy of Russian men dropped by four years).

But by the end of 2000, the delusion stopped working and the Democrats were facing the prospect of responsibility for an economic downturn. Why bother with such a hassle when it would be much easier to blame it on the neocons and their village idiot puppet President? By throwing the contest in a fashion akin to a bribed prize fighter, right in the heat of battle when the American public was revved up by a media drama that made Days of Our Lives seem uneventful, it would make the Democratic Party come out looking like winners instead of losers, perhaps like the end of ROCKY where the Italian Stallion technically is beaten ends up a champ.

And what was responsible for this downturn? Or in fact who?

Pollin does not reach for this conclusion in his book, but it seems pretty likely to me that, given the role Goldman Sachs played in the Clinton Treasury, we can lay the responsibility at the feet of one policy pivot at a key moment, which in turn was caused by one woman, namely Monica Lewinsky.

Recall the masterful essay by Robin Blackburn, How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security.

Robert Rubin and Larry Summers are the neoliberal economic policy gurus who have defined the New Democrats and their fiscal conservatism for three decades now. Both men are longtime proponents of the privatization of Social Security, and given their Wall Street connections, it is logical to assume that the next bubble meant to follow the dot-com one was going to be inflated by the influx of Social Security’s capital.

But then along came the intern in the blue dress.

Clinton’s pivot to the left and advocacy of “saving” Social Security rather than privatizing it was a defensive posture taken up to consolidate support within the Democratic base as he faced the inquiry of Ken Starr. But prior to the development of the Lewinski scandal, he had begun to make moves towards privatization at a moment when the public perception of the “magic of the market” was hegemonic among the white middle class, a period when 60 Minutes was featuring stories about stay-at-home day traders who, using recently-premiered world wide web and a proliferation of consumer-grade stock broker websites, were fashioning themselves into a veritable cottage industry of people who were so crazy they thought they would become millionaires with mouse clicks! Things were looking so dire that Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot published an entire book, titled Social Security: The Phony Crisis, that began with this passage:

“We have a chance,” said President Clinton, to “fix the roof while the sun is still shining.” He was talking about dealing with Social Security immediately, while the economy is growing and the federal budget is balanced… The roof analogy is illuminating, but we can make it more accurate. Imagine that it’s not going to rain for more than 30 years. And the rain, when it does arrive (and it might not), will be pretty light. And imagine that the average household will have a lot more income for roof repair by the time that the rain approaches. Now add this: most of the people who say that they want to fix the roof actually want to knock holes in it.

But because of Bubba’s pivot, he was unable to provide the soap to inflate the next bubble. As a result, when the dot-com bubble began to collapse, there was nothing to replace it and a recession, caused by Democratic policies, would have been what a Gore presidency would have inherited. Why not quit while you are ahead?

Clinton’s behavior here, combined with how his staff went to absurd lengths to vandalize the White House offices as the Republicans moved in for revenge over the impeachment proceedings, has become the modus operandi of the post-Cold War presidencies, leaving the country in as bad shape (or perhaps worse) then when you found it. We have seen nearly a quarter century of White House tenures, in economic terms, looking like waves on the high seas, peaks and valleys that correspond with entrances and exits. There has been no ethic of leaving things better than when you found it. When Eisenhower took office, the country was in the midst of a Red Scare that destroyed a generation of activists while, in domestic transit terms, the postwar population was effectively still living in the nineteenth century. When he gave the country to John Kennedy, he had spent massive amounts on the construction of an interstate highway system that revolutionized how Americans moved around the country and creation of civic infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, that we still (rather embarrassingly) depend on daily and which is remembered as the golden era of American labor irregardless of the purging of the Communists.

So, with all this in mind, can we start blaming Gore for what he has done to America via his proxy George W. Bush? “Say it ain’t so Al!

Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.

Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?

For real progressives, Jill Stein is now the only choice

In a CNN town hall, Green party candidate Jill Stein showed that Clinton’s brand of liberalism does not represent the tone or spirit of the Sanders campaign.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks during a rally of Bernie Sanders supporters outside the Wells Fargo Center on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
‘Stein and Baraka did not merely tell voters what to vote against, they also gave them something to vote for.’ Photograph: Dominick Reuter/Reuters

This was perhaps the only opportunity the presidential candidate I have endorsed – Jill Stein – and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, to have the ear of a large portion of the mainstream American electorate. There was little room for error.

They spent little time directly criticizing Donald Trump. This was a wise move, since virtually no one among Stein’s potential base of support is considering Trump as a viable option. Instead, she focused on Hillary Clinton.

At a moment where the Clinton campaign is still attempting to secure the support of frustrated Bernie Sanders primary voters, Stein demonstrated that Clinton’s brand of liberalism does not represent the tone or spirit of the Sanders campaign. By highlighting Clinton’s pro-corporate politics and active role in hawkish foreign policy, Stein raised considerable doubt about Clinton’s leftist bona fides.

“I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected,” Stein said. “I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected.”

Throughout the event, both Stein and Baraka rightly refuted the idea that superficial identity politics are enough to constitute a progressive movement. Stein destroyed the notion that a vote for Clinton is a feminist move, as Clinton’s pro-war stances and neoliberal economic policies have compromised the lives and prosperity of women and families around the globe. Baraka drew from Barack Obama’s presidential record to show that electing a black president has not signaled a turn away from anti-black racism at the systemic or interpersonal levels.

Stein also raised doubts about Clinton’s trustworthiness. While these arguments are not new, they carried a different level of veracity when separated from the hypocritical and sexist “crooked Hillary” rhetoric of the Trump campaign. Drawing from Clinton’s own anti-Trump playbook, Stein used Clinton’s email scandal and missteps abroad as a springboard to question Clinton’s judgment.

Of course, such critiques would have been more effective if the possibility of a nuclear armed Trump weren’t lingering in the back of voter’s minds, but they nonetheless focused appropriate scrutiny to the secretary’s actions.

But Stein and Baraka did not merely tell voters what to vote against, they also gave them something to vote for.

Throughout the night, the candidates used their time to articulate the Green party’s vision for the future. Specifically, Stein talked about workable plans to create peace in the Middle East, a plan that includes nuclear disarmament, a call to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a loosening of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization’s economic strangleholds on the globe’s most vulnerable nations.

Baraka offered a workable vision of a nation without state violence, inner cities without police as occupying forces and vulnerable citizens not viewed as enemy combatants. For the first time since Bernie Sanders stepped out of the Democratic race, the American public was given an opportunity to dream out loud for a few hours about freedom, justice and true democracy.

Despite the town hall’s success, the Green party has a long way to go to snag a significant slice of undecided, Independent and Clinton-leaning voters. The challenge of the Stein-Baraka campaign will be to convince voters of a long-term political vision, one that isn’t prisoner to our collective obsession with individual elections or hyperbolic fear of particular candidates.

They will have to persuade voters to believe that the two-party system, when underwritten by endless corporate money, does not offer the “lesser of two evils” but a fundamental threat to democracy itself. Surely, they have a long way to go to achieve these goals. But they’ve made an incredible start.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/18/progressive-voters-jill-stein-green-party-candidate?CMP=fb_us#link_time=1471546668