Cornel West: Unlike Bernie Sanders, I’m Not Convinced the Democratic Party Can Be Reformed

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DECEMBER 01, 2016

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GUESTS
Cornel West

Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He’s written numerous books, most recently “The Radical King: Martin Luther King, Jr.” His other books include “Black Prophetic Fire.”

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory over Hillary Clinton, some progressives are now pushing a shake up of the Democratic Party’s leadership in efforts to reform the party. But Dr. Cornel West says he doubts the Democratic Party can be reformed. During the Democratic primary, West endorsed Bernie Sanders. Sanders later picked him to serve on the Democratic platform committee. After Hillary Clinton won the nomination, West made headlines when he endorsed Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. For more we speak with West about the Democratic Party and what organizing looks like in the wake of the election.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: So, a lot of questions, and I encourage people to watch the full hour at democracynow.org. You were a big supporter of Bernie Sanders. You served on the Democratic Platform Committee on behalf of Bernie Sanders. Do you think he’s right to re— work on reforming the Democrats rather than focus on building a new party? He is leading a movement called our revolution. He has said we have to work with Donald in different ways. He says to the people who supported him. Elizabeth Warren, in the last day, has said she is not so clear she’s going to be working with Donald Trump. I mean, very interesting when Barack Obama came in, Mitch McConnell made it clear they won’t work with Obama at all. But, what are your thoughts on all of this, the inside/outside strategy?

CORNEL WEST: Well, I think there’s going to be a lot of different responses. I have a deep love and respect for brother Bernie Sanders. I always will. I don’t always agree with him. I’m not convinced that the Democratic Party can be reformed. I think it still has a kind of allegiance to a neoliberal orientation. It still has allegiance to Wall Street, the very victory of Nancy Pelosi is a sign that neoliberalism is still hegemonic in the party. I hope that Keith Ellison is able to present a challenge to it. But, my hunch is —

AMY GOODMAN: — as head of — if he makes it is head of the Democratic National Committee.

CORNEL WEST: If he’s head of the DNC. But my hunch is the Democratic Party has simply run out of gas. I mean, this is a party that couldn’t even publicly oppose TPPwhen we debated that in the Platform Committee. And that’s just one small example. Couldn’t stop — couldn’t vote to stop Fracking, and so on. So, it’s still so tied to big money.

AMY GOODMAN: Even though Hillary Clinton had changed her position, because of the pressure of Bernie Sanders on TPP?

CORNEL WEST: Exactly, and tight there in the debates, they got the word from the White House, we didn’t want to embarrass the president. Embarrass the president? What about the poor and working people who are dealing with the suffering? Is that less important than embarrassing the president? And they were very clear about that. And I pushed and pushed and pushed. Here’s somebody — they can’t even talk about the Israeli occupation honestly. The president uses a language in 2009, they can’t use it in the platform. Why? Because they tied to the lobby, they tied to APEC. So that, when you have those kinds of restraints on you, these albatrosses around your neck, how are you going to be a party for the people? How you going to be a party for working people, poor people. How you going to be a party for those brothers and sisters in Yemen who are dealing with U.S.-supported troops and bombs killing them, mediated with Saudi Arabian government? How you going to deal with the Palestinians, deal with the Israeli occupation? How you going to deal with Africans, the expansion of afrikom, and so forth? There has to be some integrity and moral consistency. And unfortunately, the Democratic Party just strikes me as not being able to meet that challenge. But, I’ll work with brother Bernie Sanders and others both out of love and because I know in his heart he’s got a certain deep commitment to working people. But now, even as an independent socialist, he’s behaving as a New Deal liberal.

AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean?

CORNEL WEST: That means that he is a — well, a Democratic Socialist is a radical who’s critical of the system. A New Deal liberal works within the system and doesn’t want to bring massive critique for structural change. And I can understand it because he’s inside. But those of us who are outside and free, we’re going to tell the truth. We’re going to be honest. We will have certain kind of moral and spiritual integrity. And no matter how marginal that makes us, we’re not, in any way, going to become well-adjusted to this injustice out here.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and come back to what’s happened in North Carolina, and then you’re headed to North Dakota. So, we’ll talk about that. Dr. Cornel West, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He endorsed Bernie Sanders, and was served on the Democratic Platform Committee. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

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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

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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

Note to America: Don’t Be So Sure You’ve Put Trump Behind You

Take it from a Brit, right-wing populism will thrive until you deal with it genuinely.

I’ve been living in Britain for the last year and have returned to the United States to cover the election from a small town in Indiana—with the experience of Brexit on my mind.

On June 24, a significant proportion of the British electorate woke up and thought they were living in a different country. Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union. It felt like the politics of fear, isolation, and xenophobia had delivered an utterly devastating and enduring blow to the body politic. There are many lessons from that night, and indeed we in Britain are only just beginning to learn them. But as it relates to the American elections, I want to dwell on just three.

First, don’t let the polls guide your strategic decisions about voting. If you want Hillary Clinton to win, vote for her. If you favor Jill Stein, vote for her. Don’t cast your vote thinking you’re compensating for a result that has not been declared but that you think you’ve factored in. You don’t know.

The Brexit result caught the currency traders, pollsters, betting agencies, and commentators off guard. One of the leading voices of the Leave campaign, Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party, conceded defeat at 10 pm the night of the election; less than six hours later he claimed victory.

As I write, polls suggest a runaway victory for Clinton. They could be right. But politics is in a very volatile state—they could also be wrong. And the only way you’ll know for sure will be when it’s too late to do anything about it.

Second, the fact that the messenger is deranged doesn’t mean the message itself contains no significant truths. Before the Brexit referendum, liberals broadly dismissed Leave voters as ignorant, angry, and bigoted. Some of them were undoubtedly all three. But that’s not primarily what was driving many of them. It took the Brexit result for the nation to pay attention to communities devastated by neoliberal globalization. Had Remain won, those who were forgotten would have remained forgotten.

True, politicians have drawn mostly the wrong conclusions: condemning the free movement of people rather than the free movement of capital. Nonetheless, regions long ignored, accents rarely heard, and issues seldom raised are traveling from the margins to the mainstream of British politics.

Similarly, if Hillary Clinton wins, that should not blind us to some of the themes that have made Trump’s candidacy viable. In Muncie, Indiana, where I have spent most of this election season, huge manufacturing plants have closed since the passage of NAFTA, leaving one-third of the town in poverty. And while Trump’s base is not particularly poor, a significant portion of the nation is desperate. It’s not difficult to see why. The price of everything apart from labor has shot up in the past 40 years, while inequality has grown and social mobility has slumped. Trump’s original Brexit strategy of targeting Rust Belt towns in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin may not have worked electorally, but what he identified remains a politically salient fault line that doesn’t just go away if Clinton wins. If these problems are not tended to, a less erratic and more focused right-wing populist than Trump could easily exploit them.

Which brings us to the third lesson. Trump is deluded about many things, but he’s right to insist that the media and political classes are out of touch with the population. They exist in a fetid ideological comfort zone where radical change is considered apostasy at precisely the moment when radical change is both necessary and popular.

Leading up to the Brexit vote, leaders of the Remain campaign preferred to caricature those in the opposing camp rather than engage them. They de­rided not only the leaders of the Leave campaign but its followers. You cannot convince people they are doing well when they are not. Yet throughout the Brexit campaign, Remain advocates lectured voters on all the advantages they derived from the European Union and how much worse things would be if they left. From Tony Blair to David Cameron, people who had stiffed working people in a range of ways now insisted they alone could save them from themselves. People just weren’t buying it.

Similarly, people in Muncie and elsewhere are aware that some of the worst things to come out of Washington—­including NAFTA, financial deregulation, and the Iraq War—were bipartisan efforts in which the mainstream media acted as cheerleaders. That is why, I assume, Delaware County, where Muncie resides, voted for both Trump and Bernie Sanders in the primaries. When Democrats wheel out high-ranking Republicans who now disown Trump, they don’t realize they are making Trump’s point for him: The establishment that has done nothing for you hates me—I must be doing something right.

Brexit and the US elections are not synonymous. But there is plenty of overlap in the nationalist nostalgia, xenophobia, political dislocation, and class grievance that they draw upon.

Time and again in Muncie, Trump supporters, some of whom voted for Obama, say they really just want to “shake things up.” They are not alone. “The Democratic establishment is very, very happy with incremental change,” says Dave Ring, who backed Bernie and runs an organic farm and food store in Muncie called the Downtown Farm Stand. “And the rest of the public is out here like, ‘We don’t have time for incremental change. We don’t have time for that. Why would we want to wait?’”

This sense of urgency will not go away if Hillary wins, any more than a Remain vote would have signaled that all was well with British society. We didn’t wake up in a different country on June 24; it was simply a country we had ceased to recognize. A defeat for Trump, regardless of its magnitude, should not be misunderstood as an endorsement of the status quo. Just because you haven’t descended into the abyss, as Britain did, doesn’t mean you’re not standing dangerously close to its edge.

https://www.thenation.com/article/note-to-america-dont-be-so-sure-youve-put-trump-behind-you/

Is the US election rigged?

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18 October 2016

The US media and political establishment have been consumed over the past two days with denunciations of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s allegations that the presidential election is “rigged” in favor of his rival, Hillary Clinton.

There is an increasingly racist and fascistic character to Trump’s charges, which combine attacks on the media for pushing allegations of sexual abuse with sweeping claims of vote-rigging, particularly in minority neighborhoods. Trump is urging his supporters to turn out en masse to “monitor” the polls, creating the possibility of violence on Election Day.

As always, Trump’s statements are a mixture of half-truths and lies. While there is no doubt that the media establishment has lined up behind Clinton, Trump is using the “rigged election” claim to lay the basis for declaring the election to have been stolen. He is preparing to use the “stolen election” as the rallying cry for the development of an extra-parliamentary, far-right movement after November 8.

This does not, however, lend the slightest credibility to the self-righteous and hypocritical response of the Democratic Party and the political establishment in general. Their indignation over any suggestion that something could be amiss with the pristinely democratic American electoral system is absurd.

Trump’s charges resonate well beyond the relative minority of his supporters who respond to racist agitation because his claims correspond to the bitter experience of broad masses of people with what passes for American democracy. This is, after all, a country that had a stolen election. The US Supreme Court shut down a vote recount in Florida and awarded the 2000 election to George W. Bush, who had lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore.

This was followed by the 2004 election, when George W. Bush was reelected based on disputed voting in Ohio and widespread charges of voter suppression.

The question, however, goes far beyond vote-rigging. Even by the standards of other major capitalist countries, the electoral system in the United States is among the least democratic. The two-party system is institutionalized, enforcing a political monopoly of two right-wing parties entirely beholden to the financial aristocracy—this in a vast and diverse country of 320 million people!

State ballot access and election laws impose prohibitive requirements, including the collection of tens of thousands of signatures, making it virtually impossible for “third party” and independent candidates to mount an effective campaign.

This political duopoly is reinforced by the unrestricted role of corporate money in US elections, corrupting the entire process to a degree, and with a brazenness, unmatched by any other major industrialized country. It is estimated that campaign spending by presidential and congressional candidates this year will hit a new record of more than $7.3 billion. For all practical purposes, to win high office in America one must either have billionaire backers or be a multi-millionaire oneself.

The corporate-owned media does its anti-democratic part, depriving coverage to alternative parties. In this election, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party, who are respectively polling 7 percent and 3 percent nationally, are excluded from the televised presidential debates, not to mention Jerry White, the candidate of the Socialist Equality Party.

The result is a political system that is increasingly unviable because it is unable to address any of the concerns of the vast majority of the population. The fact that barely half of the electorate bothers to vote is a devastating commentary on the US electoral system.

The bitter experience of the Obama administration, brought to power on a wave of popular hatred for Bush and revulsion over his wars and attacks on working class living standards, has further convinced tens of millions of people that neither their needs and concerns, nor their votes, have any impact on the policies pursued by the government. The candidate of “hope” and “change,” mistakenly believed to be an agent of progressive change because of his ethnicity, continued and deepened the policies of war and corporate plunder of his predecessor.

In the current election, the internal rot resulting from decades of economic decay and political reaction, presided over by both parties, has erupted onto the surface, placing a question mark over the survival of the two-party system. One measure of the system’s bankruptcy is the fact that an election cycle in which millions of people cast votes for a candidate who claimed, falsely, to be a socialist and opponent of Wall Street, Bernie Sanders, now presents the people with the “choice” between a billionaire quasi-fascist and a corrupt stooge of Wall Street and the military/intelligence establishment.

The transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs, released by WikiLeaks, show the real relationship that exists between the politicians and Wall Street. They are the paid servants of the financial oligarchs who run the country.

The fundamental and gigantic fraud that dominates the election is the total disconnect between the populist claims of both candidates and the reality of the programs they intend to implement. The real agenda, regardless of which one wins in November, is war, austerity and repression.

Is the election rigged? Of course it is—to produce an outcome acceptable to the ruling class. The entire political system is rigged and fundamentally undemocratic because capitalism is a system of class exploitation in which real political power is concentrated in the hands of a corporate-financial oligarchy.

Barry Grey

WSWS

WATCH: Jill Stein comes on Salon Talks

“Stand up and fight for the greater good”

Watch the full exclusive interview with the Green Party candidate VIDEO

Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein appeared on Salon Talks earlier this week to share her thoughts about the first presidential debate, the election as a whole and a range of issues from the Dakota Access pipeline and climate change to how she would pardon Edward Snowden and welcome him into her cabinet.

In one of Salon’s most popular Facebook Live interviews to date, Stein urged millennials to take a stand as she said, “Forget the lesser evil, stand up and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it because they do. We do have the power to turn this around the minute we stand up.”

Watch the full interview below, at the link.

http://www.salon.com/2016/10/02/watch-jill-stein-comes-on-salon-talks-stand-up-and-fight-for-the-greater-good/?source=newsletter

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