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.
With Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on the Right, the United States is the most polarized it’s been as a nation since the 1850s thru the 1860s and 1870s . One hundred years passed. The almost-Revolution and quasi-civil-war of the 1950s thru the 60s into the 1970s by comparison never ignited. There wasn’t the extreme polarity between two clear sides we have today. The almost-revolution proved too intermittent. The not-quite-civil war bogged down with numerous multiple factions divided against one another. We can leverage today’s polarity to galvanize people for a new party of the Left. I haven’t any intention, however, to maintain the status quo of a corrupt empire.
Do I want to empower Hillary, a deadly, Machiavellian Capitalist? Of course not. Do I want to empower the current crop of Republican proto-fascist racists and just plain stupid dumbclucks who can’t handle bathrooms for all? If you preach Lesser Evilism to me one more time, if I have to listen to another idiotic barrage of voting for the lesser evil, I shall turn off my hearing aids and walk away. Because I am 1,001% DONE with such nonsense. As I said up top, this isn’t about Bernie. It is for integrity and strategy.
One must “consider” one’s self to be “a Democrat” and thus be a member of the Democrat Party to vote in the Washington Caucus. At least the Republicans, who had their state party caucus back in February with a primary coming up this 24th of May declare their requirement clearly and decisively. Their “What You Need to Know” page on their state party website boldly trumpets: “Only Republicans can vote in the GOP Presidential Primary.” The Democrats state, “Anybody can participate, although voting is limited to registered voters who consider themselves Democrats…” On a Surrogate Ballot page one reads, “I certify that (check boxes below):” with the first box to check labeled, “I Consider myself a Democrat…” in a soft, fuzzy, milquetoasty way.
I am not a member of the Democrat Party and haven’t been for many years. There is no way in Hell I would join the Democrats. Even worse are the Republicans. Even more loathsome are both the Democrats and Republicans as the Duopoly of Capitalism, socio-political Elitism, and, yes, imperialism and perpetual warfare. Heck, both Republicans and Democrats “caucus” together in the same so-called Secret Societies and take turns going thru the so-called Revolving Doors of government, the military, science and industry, nonprofits, think tanks, and academia. This isn’t done in the spirit of political bipartisanship either, but to network and maintain the control of their class over institutions created to foster illusions of liberty, opportunity, and representation, and thus keep the working classes distracted and placated.
Apparently a number of folks from the Green Party of Washington State and/or their allies planned to join the Democrat Party “just for that one day, so they can propose good things like Healthcare For All and election reform,” a Green named Janet Jordan recently posted in the News Blog. Ms. Jordan also declared doing so “lacks integrity” for her, but challenged people to “make up” their “own minds.”
I agree with Ms. Jordan regarding the ethics at stake here. It is unethical to cross over and be a member for a day, then quit and scurry off like something big was accomplished. By succumbing to such impulses then justifying them with a shrug of the shoulders and an oath of “whatever,” one is declaring one’s self to be something one has no intention of honoring or even admitting to. For me integrity is the concept of walking your talk and being whole and complete with one’s word. You do what you say you’re gonna do, and if you’re unable to do so, own up to it, apologize as necessary, and revoke what you won’t meet. It’s a practice I must constantly reestablish as it’s all too easy to let integrity fall apart and just go along with whatever everybody else is doing, too.
What I am is a proud member of Socialist Alternative even if I take issue with a few things here and there. Never have I’ve seen such a dedicated group of people achieve so much with so little. Yes, people can join as many organizations at the same time as they like, and doing so isn’t my point. Political parties aren’t something to collect memberships in and display like joiner trophies. It’s unethical and out of integrity to pretend to join the Democrats for a day to push a particular agenda without any intention to follow thru and support the candidate or issues one feels drawn to within the party allowing you to participate.
Strategy. Participating in the caucuses and primaries of the Duopoly is a misdirection of focus, energy, and resources. We must focus in building a new party of the Left for the working classes across all ethnic and religious groups including middle class professionals, the poor, the disenfranchised, part-time low-wage workers with families, veterans, labor, students, artists, small business entrepreneurs, farmers, teachers, healers, immigrants, and many others. We must focus our energies to not only reclaim and deepen democracy in politics and government at all levels from the local to the international but work to expand democracy into the realms of economics, business, work, markets, and finance.
To place all of our hopes and dreams and investment of time, energy, and resources into supporting dynamic candidates with widespread appeal even if they run within political parties controlled by our “enemies” repeats the history of the despair, hopelessness, apathy, cynicism, and resignation so evident of the ugly triumphalism of Lesser Evilism. This isn’t the place to dive deep into long-term strategy, but one can find out much by reading what Socialist Alternative advocates in building a new mass movement from across the 99%.
Many on the Left including myself bemoaned Bernie’s decision to run as a Democrat especially since the nomination process is itself so anti-democratic. I understand why Bernie chose to join the Dems, tho. The man is in his early 70s. He doesn’t have time on his side. Bernie does not have the time or the energy to help build a new mass movement from the ground up. The Greens are too decentralized and are still recovering from Ralph Nader’s egotistic refusal to build a strong national party. Dr. Jill Stein is working hard to do so, but she doesn’t have Bernie’s mass appeal and name recognition.
Bernie sought to leverage the machinery of an established party regime. As a Democrat he had access to templates to build a new political regime with. If the anti-democratic nomination process of the Democrats compels him to revoke his commitment to support Hillary and then run as an Independent at the head of a coalition of third parties and build a mass movement, he now has templates and machinery to bring with him.
Run, Bernie, Run. As an Independent to help build a new mass movement for America and the world. Run, voters, Run…not into the Democrats to vote for Bernie but run to help mobilize people to what’s possible outside the Democrat Party. And outside the Republicans, too, for that matter.
William Dudley Bass
United States of America
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders swept Alaska, Washington, and Hawaii on Saturday the 26th of March in the tri-state Democratic Caucuses. One of the local mainstream newspapers, The Seattle Times, which surprised everyone by its endorsement of Sanders for the Democrats and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the Republicans, reported in its Caucus Results afterwards, “Bernie Sanders routed Hillary Clinton in the Washington state Democratic presidential caucuses.” The Times staff went on to declare, “Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory over Hillary Clinton Saturday in Washington’s Democratic caucuses.”
Caucus & Convention Manual, Washington State Republican Party: Election Year 2016, <http://www.gopeakteam.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-Caucus-and-Convention-Manual.pdf>.
Jordan, Janet. “News Blog: Democratic Party Caucus coming up,” The Green Party of Washington State, 24 March 2016. <http://www.gp-wa.org/cannyjanet/democratic_party_caucus_coming_up>.
“May 24 Presidential Primary – What You Need to Know,” Washington State Republican Party. 22 March 2016. <http://wsrp.org/may24/>.
Moore, Ty and Jessie Lessinger, “What Strategy To Stop Trump,” Socialist Alternative Newspaper. 21 March 2016. <http://www.socialistalternative.org/2016/03/21/strategy-stop-trumps-racism-bigotry/>.
Moore, Ty and Philip Locker, “Sanders Campaign At A Crossroads,” Socialist Alternative Newspaper. 3 March 2016. <http://www.socialistalternative.org/2016/03/03/sanders-campaign-crossroads/>.
Priest, Calvin. “Sanders Needs To Run As An Independent In November,” Socialist Alternative Newspaper. 17 March 2016.<http://www.socialistalternative.org/2016/03/17/sanders-run-independent-november/>.
Press Guide 2016 Caucus and Convention Cycle, Washington State Democrats. <http://www.wa-democrats.org/sites/wadems/files/documents/2016%20Caucus%20and%20Convention%20Press%20Guide%20-%20150915.pdf>.
SeattleTimes Photo Staff. “High Turnout at Washington state Democratic Caucuses,” The Seattle Times. 26 March 2016. <http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/high-turn-out-at-caucus-sites-all-over-the-region/>.
Seattle Times Staff. “Bernie Sanders wins big in Washington caucuses,” The Seattle Times. 26 March 2016. <http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/bernie-sanders-headed-for-big-win-in-washington-caucuses/>.
“Surrogate Affidavit Form for the 2016 Democratic Precinct Caucus,” Washington State Democrats. <http://www.wa-democrats.org/sites/wadems/files/documents/2016%20Precinct%20Caucuses%20-%2099%20-%20Surrogate%20Affidavit%20Form.pdf>.
Copyright © 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.