Why I’m not voting in the Washington State Democratic Caucus for anyone even tho I root for Bernie

Rally for Bernie in the Key Arena, Seattle, WA. Foto by Kristina Katayama. Sunday 20 March 2016.

Rally for Bernie in the Key Arena, Seattle, WA. Foto by Kristina Katayama. Sunday 20 March 2016.

This isn’t about Bernie. It is for integrity and strategy.

Bernie, of course, is Bernard Sanders, the Independent Senator from Vermont who calls himself a “democratic socialist.” He’s charging forward to secure the nomination of the Democrat Party as its Candidate for the American Presidency. The state caucus is today this Saturday the 26th of March 2016.

It’s unethical to play musical chairs with the fate of our nation and go play Democrat just for one day if you have no intention of actually joining the Democrats to stay a Democrat. It’s shortsighted and self-defeating to get so caught up in Bernie’s amazing rise that one short-circuits the long-term building of a new party for the 99%. If we don’t stay focused on the new movement for the working and middle classes we’re going to end up right where we started, broken upon the altars of Lesser Evilism.

Many of my friends among the Left are crossing over into the Democrat Party to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Washington State Caucus. These people are usually independents and/or members of smaller parties outside the Democrat-Republican Duopoly. Most of those smaller parties represented are the Socialist Alternative and the Green Party with a few Libertarians. While a member of both SAlt and the Greens, I have engaged very little with either in the last couple of years due to a prolonged, chronic illness and due to my work and family schedule. Bernin’ for Bernie, however, burns all across social media.

There’re a sizeable number of my comrades among these same small parties that plan to vote for Bernie if and ONLY if he secures the Democrat nomination to run for President, or, failing to do so, launches an independent bid. They are NOT voting for Bernie in the Democrat Caucus. I am NOT voting in the caucus for Bernie either. “What? What! Why not? WTF?!” is often the response.

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Open up the Debates! Letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, July 2015

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Today I received the email below from the Green Party of the United States, and I responded by writing the following letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. I urge you as well to compose a similar letter in your own words, even if you disagree with my political views but stand for open, fair, and inclusive public debates.

In hindsight I wished I’d added a demand for rigorous and honest debate, not rehearsed campaign slogans and sidestepping speeches designed to distract voters and avoid the responsibilities of debate. Dr. Jill Stein is once again the presidential candidate for the Greens, and she is an articulate, knowledgeable, and formidable debater. Turn her and the others lose upon the public stages of America! Again, this is not about supporting Jill Stein or any one particular candidate or political party, but about opening up a closed system that in being so closed makes a mockery of the U.S.A. as a democratic republic.

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Blundering into Armageddon

Are our leaders mad? Are they deliberately setting the stage for a series of interlocking wars and economic collapses? All to look like accidents? Our leaders’ heartless mistakes of opportunity may indeed wipe out millions, even billions. For what? Are they are prepared to absorb extreme costs as the price to pay for extreme victory? Or are our leaders clueless? Are they just fucking stupid? Reacting with military precision directed with sloppy, nationalistic stupidity to converging crises overwhelming common sense, good judgment, and cooperative intelligence? And what the hell are We the People gonna do? Are we going to just read about it in a tweet the next day after half the world blows up? “Good morning! 1/2 earth blown up…the end looks better n movies & cool, i can still tweet!”

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Violence and Nonviolence are Tools

Is Nonviolence a Tactic, Policy, or Principle?

Is Violence Pragmatic and Necessary?

Both can be ineffective. Both can be effective.

It’s not Violence vs. Nonviolence.

It’s Violence and Nonviolence, and

how they’re leveraged for success.

Violence, nonviolence, and civil disobedience are tools in the great struggle against tyranny and oppression. They have been used in the great class war against the Global Financial and Political Elites. They still are. These tools are strategies and tactics based upon values and principles. Violence and nonviolence are no more anything else than the term Global War on Terrorism is rife with misnomers. Terror is a feeling. It’s an immediate physiological response to a reactive emotion. Flight or fight or freeze and still piss your pants. Terrorism is a tactic in crime and war. It’s been pointed out repeatedly one cannot wage a military campaign against tactics. Instead, one does so with strategies and tactics against enemies using terror as a tactic.

Many of us confuse nonviolence with being a rigid “thing.” Growing numbers of people continue to feel inspired by the fierce stands Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., took for nonviolence. Ironically, both were murdered almost 20 years apart during periods of violent civil strife. Their deaths sparked even greater outbreaks of violence.

Even so, many people view nonviolence as an inviolate colonnade of pillars holding up temples of peace as if such abstractions of mind existed out in the physical world. Nonviolence, a tool, has come to be regarded as religious doctrine by many people. Instead of a tactic, however, it’s another invisible but real, to them, flying buttress supporting the invisible architecture of an abstract cathedral. By doing so, these believers in the holiness of this abstract tool risk bringing everything they stand for collapsing down upon them in bloody ruin.

The proponents of nonviolence, upholding Gandhi and King and even Buddha and Jesus, often dismiss or suppress any challenge to nonviolence. Who would dare question nonviolence? I imagine the Global Elites and the security and intelligence apparatus under their control appreciate being the only ones to dispense violence while not receiving any in turn. Nonviolence helps keeps them in power.

Don’t make any abstraction of mind so rigid an ideology it cripples effective action. It doesn’t matter if it’s politics, religion, economics, or tradition. Those nouns, those words stand for concepts with definitions held within the abstract mind. Which means we make it all up in our heads and call it “real.” If enough people agree yes, it’s real indeed, and then we label it “consensual reality.” And so we go, as brilliantly collapsed as ever. All abstractions are tools.

The most effective toolboxes have a modest variety of choices. It is the same during resistance against oppression and struggles for justice, equality, and liberty. We struggle against the class war of the financial elites, against institutionalized racism, corporatism, sexism, corruption, and fascism. We struggle for social, environmental, and economic justice. We struggle for power. Aye, we struggle for the power to determine our own lives together.

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Raise the Minimum Wage

It’s not about the Money

Up Close and Uncompromising! The front of one of the famous Red T-Shirts worn by volunteers for Kshama Sawant's Socialist Alternative Campaign for Seattle City Council, Position 2, the 5th of November 2013. Photo by William Dudley Bass.

Up Close and Uncompromising! The front of one of the famous Red T-Shirts worn by volunteers for Kshama Sawant’s Socialist Alternative Campaign for Seattle City Council, Position 2, the 5th of November 2013. Photo by William Dudley Bass.

Those who argue against raising the minimum wage do not get it. The naysayers spin broken webs of economic facts and figures rooted not in the reality of our natural environment but inside the charts and computer algorithms of a virtual world divorced from physical reality. It’s not about the money. I want to stand up and shout, “It’s not about the money; it’s about people! Real live human beings!”

I really want to jump up and yell, “It’s not about money, you insert language most foul!” Such verbal intensity, however deliciously vulgar, would just rile up the troll militias, so I won’t cuss here. It’s challenging enough to feel compassion and empathy for my fellow human beings, including those who exhibit cruelty and heartless stupidity. No matter. We all suffer. Everyone single one of us experiences suffering. Life is Struggle.

The working classes get life is a struggle. So do artists and small business owners. So do the unemployed, the underemployed, the homeless, the foreclosed, the laid off, the poorly paid, the uneducated, the overeducated, students deep in debt, the hungry, the sick, the pissed off. Reformers understand action is better than indulging in cynicism, apathy, and do-nothingism. Revolutionaries understand reform only goes so far before it dead ends in a mirage. Struggle serves to move the working classes from enduring ever more suffering to survive to rising up to stand in their power and thrive.

During these bleak but exciting times I volunteered for Kshama Sawant’s openly Socialist campaign for Seattle City Council. I joined with other veterans of the Occupy Uprisings from the Green Party of Seattle and the Seattle branches of the Socialist Alternatives to serve to get her elected. Other Socialist Alternatives ran strong campaigns elsewhere, especially Ty Moore in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It proved a tight race. Still counting ballots days after the Election. We rocked the city and made waves across the nation. Ripples were felt around the world. It was an astonishing experience. A small, highly disciplined organization raised well over $110,000 and marshaled over 300 volunteers, many of them part-time volunteers such as myself. What helped us stand out in addition to our red t-shirts was our uncompromising stand for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage.

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