Now that over a hundred million people have witnessed Donald Trump's very revealing performance in the debate last night, it is hoped that his numbers will collapse. In anycase, most of what I have written here will still be relevant but it is sincerely hoped that it will be less urgent.
The myth of lesser evil voting
Working people typically are left with very limited choices, and when they are in a position to choose, the options rarely include what could be considered ideal. Imagine the unemployed worker lucky enough to receive several job offers. Both offers have pros and cons. She probably won't use the morally loaded term "evil" to describe either job because she hopes to be doing one of them, but she will make a choice between the jobs offered and pick the one that seems best to her. She is also not likely to waste much time applying for jobs she has absolutely no chance of getting just because she would like that job better. She has real world problems to solve and she knows nobody is going to hire her to be the next company president, so to pay the rent she settles for what a moralist would call "a lesser evil."
Working people make these hard choice all the time and they make them based upon their understanding of the practical effects of their choices now and into the future. Our job seeker already understands, at a more or less sophisticated level, that the capitalist system she is seeking employment from is a system of exploitation. Our moralist might advise her to reject all employment in this evil system, and indeed people with that stand can be found living on the streets of Venice, but they don't represent the rank and file worker or average citizen.
Working people have been forced to fight long and hard to have even a modicum of say over how they are ruled and who those political rulers are. Going back 801 years to the Magna Carta, and often called the "fight for democracy," every advance the common people have made towards self-determination has been challenged, most have been paid for in blood. This paper isn't even going to attempt to summarize that long history from 1215 down to the fight to extend that modicum of choice to black citizens, the right to vote, that was so central to the 1964 presidential election - which we will get to in a moment, to do that would make this already long paper too long. However, this long struggle should be considered, together with the fact that all that working people can ever expect under capitalism is a modicum of control, when castigating them for casting this vote in such a way that it may have a real effect on who next holds state power, and finding other ways to make moral statements.
The problem the Green Party runs into in promoting the "don't vote for the lesser of two evils," is that they are far from building the kind of mass party that would allow them to mount a real challenge to the two main capitalist parties in this election cycle, so by asking people to vote for Jill Stein, they are asking them to vote for someone with absolutely no chance of winning. They call this 'voting your conscience' or 'voting for someone you really support.' Its about feeling good about your vote rather than voting to make a difference because anyone who thinks Jill Stein may be our next president is a fool.
So they are asking people to throw away their one small chance to affect which of the two candidates will hold ultimate power next to cast a "moral" vote, and this year the differences between those two candidates couldn't be more striking. This is a hard sell, especially to black citizens who only truly won this modicum of self-determination within my lifetime.
The contradiction between the practical vote and the so-called moral vote was on full display in a recent Counterpunch piece by Carmen Yarrusso, 13 May 2016. The title, Lesser of Two Evils Vote is Counterproductive and morally corrupt, tells us that those, like about 98% of black voters, who are voting for Clinton to keep Trump out of the White House aren't just wasting their vote, they are doing something that is morally corrupt. This morally superior attitude won't win them many supporters, at least it hasn't so far. This piece begins:
This “pragmatic” lesser of two evils tactic may work for the short term, but it will just embolden establishment politics and undermine future chances for real progressive change.Why is Yarrusso limiting his advice to how progressives should vote in the general election? He admits that strategic or pragmatic voting, no need for quotes, may keep the white nationalist Alt-Right gang out of the White House. Well, shouldn't that be the main goal between now and 8 November? Not according to the author because the masses uniting to defeat Trump in the only way he can be defeated on 8 November will "just embolden establishment politics." Some of us just don't see that, but we do think letting a fascist like Trump win state power will "undermine future chances for real progressive change." Assuming Trump wins, Yarrusso goes on say its important not blame those that refused to fight him:
Even if your vote helps defeat Trump you’re clearly telling Democratic party elites they can confidently betray your concerns as long as they offer you someone marginally better than the Republican alternative. Where will it end? The Democratic Party will just continue to betray progressive causes with impunity. Progressives should say enough is enough and put moral principles above short-term political expediency.
But if Trump wins, it won’t be the fault of Sanders supporters voting their conscience. It will be the fault of party elites trying to force an establishment faux progressive down the throats of true progressives knowing full well their choice will alienate millions of progressive Democrats and independents while bringing Trump supporters out in droves.Yes, we can definitely blame the establishment for Trump, but maybe the establishment wants Trump, has Yarrusso thought about that? Is the question for progressives before the election 'what do we want?' or 'where do we fix blame?'
Sanders supporters have every right to vote for someone based on their moral principles. Sanders supporters shouldn’t be coerced to compromise their moral principles and merely vote against someone.It is conceded that the right to vote includes the right not to vote and also the right to throw away your vote. If you feel the person you have the most agreement with is yourself, you even have the right to write-in your own name. As much as they try to make it a question of "rights," nobody is questioning the right of someone to vote for Sanders or Stein, however, in the case of Stein, they may question the wisdom of doing so. That is not waterboarding or any other form of coercion, but it should be recognized that the call to cast a "moral vote," to "Celebrate choice on Election Day" as Libertarian Robby Soave argues for, is being made by people who are privileged and feel they are not likely to be affected one way or the other by who the next president is. And Yarrusso's bottom line:
If you refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils, maybe you’ll help elect Trump (or maybe your write-in or third party choice will win). But you’ll certainly send a very clear message to Democratic Party elites that you’ll no longer tolerate being ignored...EARTH TO SPACE: News Flash! Your write-in or third party choice has zero chances of wining 8 November 2016. Zero chances, so you will be helping to elect Trump, and whether he makes it or not, your vote will be ignored.
OK, I promised to fast forward from the Magna Carta to 1964 and here we are
The "alternative" candidate of 1964
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held a press conference on 2 November 1964, the day before the election that would put either Democratic Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson or Republican Senator Barry Goldwater in the White House. Before the Donald Trump campaign of 2016, the Goldwater campaign held the status of the most right-wing and racist presidential bid by either of the two major parties in the modern era. Remembering the Republican National Convention in his autobiography, Dr. King wrote:
The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of goodwill viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding at the Cow Palace of the KKK with the radical right. The “best man” at this ceremony was a senator whose voting record, philosophy, and program were anathema to all the hard-won achievements of the past decade.Dr. King never endorsed or campaigned for LBJ, but in 1964 he strongly opposed Goldwater.
Senator Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated. On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represented a philosophy that was morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.
That year the Democratic election strategy made especially heavy use of the fear factor and Goldwater made it easy. He had a way of saying things that could be used against him. Even his famous "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice" and "moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" was "widely interpreted as a threat to impose a fascist dictatorship on the USA" according to Louis Proyect. He also suggested using tactical nukes in North Vietnam and that was enough for the Democrats to paint pictures of nuclear holocaust if he was elected. He voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and that was enough for the Johnson campaign to paint him as a rabid racist. All this they used very effectively to drive the more progressive minded voters away from Goldwater and towards the President that would give us the Vietnam War.
Today the 1964 Goldwater campaign is being used as a cautionary tale by those arguing for a vote for Jill Stein. They argue that the fear campaign being promoted against Trump is just like the campaign against Goldwater then and no more valid. For the purpose of making this argument they tend to downplay a number of major differences between then and now:
- This isn't 1964 and different standards should apply. In 1964 Klan support was still considered acceptable by the RNC leadership and many Democrats whereas today it is anathema in politics generally. This is the proper context to compare Goldwater's rejection of the Klan 1964 and Trump's acceptance of it 52 years later.
- Goldwater represented the extreme right and he used a lot of racist dog-whistles in his campaign but he never came anywhere close to the explicit racism of Donald "they're sending rapists" Trump, and he excluded the white nationalist leadership from his campaign, whereas Trump has put them in the leadership of his.
- The worldwide political climate is very different. 1964 was a period of rising progressive trends. The civil right movement had yet to peak. Black Power and the Panthers were on the horizon. The revolution in Cuba was only 5 years old. Revolutionary struggles where rocking Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Latin America was on fire and the anti-Vietnam War movement building in Europe and the US was on the verge of some of the greatest developments in its history. The Trump campaign, on the other hand, is part of a rising white nationalist and fascist tide that has made important recent advances with the rise of Le Pen in France, the Brexit vote in Britain, the AfD gains in Germany, and the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines.
- Goldwater never stood any real chance of winning. He never enjoyed Trump's poll numbers. The race was never close the way this one is today.
- It is possible that a series of terrorist attacks between now and election day will panic voters to Trump. These don't even have to be false-flag attacks because, by all accounts, Daesh wants Trump to win. His polarization of Muslims suites them fine.
Goldwater's campaign missed numerous opportunities to play the race card. The general election campaign's anti-Humphrey pamphlet, for example, failed to attack "Mr. Civil Rights" on racial issues, instead focusing on foreign policy and his alleged advocacy of socialism in America. During the general election campaign, Goldwater attacked the Supreme Court for rulings involving morality, federalism, separation of powers, and apportionment, not school desegregation. In his speech in St. Petersburg in September, he did attack the Warren Court, but for coddling criminals. In a speech in October in Texas, Goldwater stayed focused on foreign policy and the dangers of communism, except for a brief screed against the court and some mention of law and order.Although Johnson had inherited the office less than a year earlier from Kennedy, he held the advantage of incumbency. That together with this very effective fearmongering campaign insured that Goldwater never really stood a chance, Johnson won in a 61% - 38% popular vote landslide and an even more impressive 486 to 52 electoral vote blowout. The Republicans really didn't stand a chance that year, and in their desperation they played many dirty tricks from their dirty tricks playbook. Dr. King sat in front of the microphones in Atlanta, GA, with a young Andrew Young, then a minister for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, at his side, attempting to undo one of them on this morning before the polls opened.
The Republican National Committee was secretly funding and promoting an unauthorised campaign asking voters to write-in Dr. King's name for president. There were leaflets and radio ads directed at Black audiences in 11 cities. In Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP, Joshua D. Farrington writes:
In one of the more underhanded events of the 1964 election, he circulated 1.4 million simulated telegrams from a fictitious "Committee for Negroes in Government," which urged African Americans to write in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s name for president.reported:
The Republican official who ordered the leaflets from an Atlantic City printing company was identified today by New Jersey Attorney General Arthur J. Sills as Clay Claiborne, assistant to the chairman of the Republican National Committee in charge of Negro affairs.This fraudulent call to write in a third party candidate made its appeal in the name of black unity and protest. The fake telegram, titled "Western Unity" read:
We can vote for Dr. King for President. A write‐in vote for Dr. King shows that Negroes are united. It will prove that Negroes will vote for the greatest Negro in America for President.Of course, the real reason the Republicans were doing this was to deflect black votes from Johnson and so help Goldwater, and it was for this reason that Dr. King called a press conference this morning. I have transcribed what he said in full here because my Internet search indicated this still needed to be done. Now it's done:
Yesterday I received a telephone call from a West Coast radio station asking whether I was aware of an advertising agency buying radio time urging Negroes to write in my name for President. Shortly after that our Washington Bureau informed me that million of handbills were being circulated urging Negroes to write in my name for President.
This is a cruel and vicious attempt to confuse Negro voters and to nullify their votes. So I would like to take this opportunity to urge every Negro voter to vote for one of the candidates on the ballot. I am not a candidate; please do not vote for me. This will waste the entire ballot. The handbills and radio announcements urging you to write in my name are part of an attempt to cancel out your vote. This is an insult to me and Negroes generally. I call on you to repudiate this plot by getting out and voting for one of the candidates on the ballot.
It is a new low in national politics when any candidate for the office of president or supporters of that candidate will attempt to deliberately defy the democratic process and deprive citizens of their precious right to the ballot through tricks and schemes. It is all the more obvious that this is a plot, since the perpetrators have waited until the last hours of the campaign to unleash this, knowing that it would be difficult to correct on such short notice.
Negro citizens have undergone a tremendous amount of suffering to obtain the right to vote. They have had to overcome poll tax, the grandfather clause, ridiculous and discriminatory literacy tests, as well as loss of jobs, credit and even life itself in some places in order to vote. In the past four years we have registered almost a million new voters in the South, and many more in the North, but these new voters may not have acquired the political sophistication which will come with a few years of voting experience. It is therefore all the more damnable that anyone attempt to employ such chicanery to deprive them of a voice in choosing the President on the United States.
It is obvious to anyone who is the least bit knowledgeable of our national politics which party might gain from canceling out the Negro vote. Most Negroes will be voting for President Johnson, so this must be interpreted as an attempt to take some votes away from the Democratic Party.
We have not had time to trace down the actual source of funds for this abominable campaign, but I am will to risk a guess that it was supporters of Senator Goldwater who contrived this venomous act. I would trust that no responsible officials of the Republican Party would approve such a gesture, but this campaign has attracted and encouraged the worst racist elements in this country to flood the party ranks.
This is typical of the kind of attempts that have been made to disenfranchise Negroes for the past 100 years, and a healthy democracy must not continue to tolerate this kind of denial of all for which our nation stands.
WSB-TV newsfilm clip of a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. discussing an alleged Republican plot to encourage African Americans to write-in King's name in the presidential election during a press conference held in Atlanta, Georgia on 2 November 1964. You can view the entire press conference here.At the time Dr. King didn't know who was behind this campaign, but history would show he guessed right. When the leaflet got circulated in New York City, the Unity Council for Harlem Organizations, a coalition of 76 civil rights groups, issued this statement:
This is a vicious attempt to mislead and confuse Negro voters and is intended to neutralize the Negro vote in one of the most crucial elections in history.By the turn of the century, the Republicans didn't need to fabricate a third party candidate out of whole cloth. They had the Green Party and Ralph Nader to get progressives to throw away their votes and help the Republicans capture the White House.
We urge Negroes everywhere to march to the polls tomorrow and freely vote for a candidate who can be elected, rather than throw their vote away on a meaningless protest.
The alternative candidate of 2000
By the 2000 presidential election, the GOP didn't have to create a false 3rd party candidate, they just had to support Ralph Nader who really was running hard for president. The Green Party had zero chance of winning the presidency but could be guaranteed to take votes almost exclusively away from the Democratic candidate. So in a ploy that probably came from the same dirty-tricks playbook as the MLK, Jr write-in campaign, they started spending Republican money to support the Nader campaign. One of the great ironies of the 2000 presidential campaign was that this first announced GOP ad buy for Nader was already greater than the Federal matching funds the Nader campaign received and given limited Green Party funding, its entirely possible that the Republicans spent more promoting Nader than the Nader campaign. The Nader campaign like to claim it received no "soft money" (for example supportive 3rd party ads), Mark Miller, executive director of the Republican Leadership Council, the group buying the ads, said "We'll put an end to that." The Washington Post reported:
Florida and New Hampshire were the two states Nader turned for Bush and that's how Nader made George W. Bush president, according to Eric Zuesse writing in the Huffington Post:
GOP Group To Air Pro-Nader TV Ads
By Laura Meckler
27 October 2000
WASHINGTON –– Hoping to boost Ralph Nader in states where he is threatening to hurt Al Gore, a Republican group is launching TV ads featuring Nader attacking the vice president.
The ads by the Republican Leadership Council will begin airing Monday in Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington, all states that are part of Gore's base and where Nader is polling well. The group plans to spend more than $100,000 at first and hopes to raise more over the weekend.
While the ads boost Nader, they are a clear attempt to help Bush.
Gore's supporters fear that Nader, who is more liberal than either Bush or Gore, will throw the election to the Texas governor if voters who might otherwise vote for Gore vote for Nader instead. In a tight national race, one or two states could make the difference in who is elected president. More...
Nader-voters who spurned Democrat Al Gore to vote for Nader ended up swinging both Florida and New Hampshire to Bush in 2000. Charlie Cook, the editor of the Cook Political Report and political analyst for National Journal, called “Florida and New Hampshire” simply “the two states that Mr. Nader handed to the Bush-Cheney ticket,” when Cook was writing about “The Next Nader Effect,” in The New York Times on 9 March 2004. Cook said, “Mr. Nader, running as the Green Party nominee, cost Al Gore two states, Florida and New Hampshire, either of which would have given the vice president [Gore] a victory in 2000. In Florida, which George W. Bush carried by 537 votes, Mr. Nader received nearly 100,000 votes [nearly 200 times the size of Bush’s Florida ‘win’]. In New Hampshire, which Mr. Bush won by 7,211 votes, Mr. Nader pulled in more than 22,000 [three times the size of Bush’s ‘win’ in that state].” If either of those two states had gone instead to Gore, then Bush would have lost the 2000 election; we would never have had a U.S. President George W. Bush, and so Nader managed to turn not just one but two key toss-up states for candidate Bush, and to become the indispensable person making G.W. Bush the President of the United States.Michael C. Herron of Dartmouth and Jeffrey B. Lewis of UCLA also came to that conclusion in their April 2006 ballot-level study of Green and Reform party voters in the 2000 presidential election. Barry C. Burden came to the same conclusion in his 2001 Harvard University study Did Ralph Nader Elect George W. Bush? An Analysis of Minor Parties in the 2000 Presidential Election.
Nader said he couldn't stop the Republicans from using video of him in their ads, and when Gore's people responded that the real purpose of the ads was to help Bush win, Nader said "Why don't the Democrats take my comments on Bush and do the same?"
Nader said the didn't care whether Bush or Gore won in November. "We're building a progressive political movement. That's the most important thing," Nader said on ABC's Good Morning America. "Whether Gore or Bush gets into the White House doesn't mean that much, because the permanent corporate government in Washington is really determining policy." Nader didn't restrict his campaigning to so-called safe states. He went right to where the contest was the closest between Bush and Gore. The GOP couldn't have planned it better. Eric Alterman reported in The Nation:
Nader has been campaigning aggressively in Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. If Gore loses even a few of those states, then Hello, President Bush.Ralph Nader famously said the choice between Gore and Bush was a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. This is the same stand the Green Party takes in 2016 with regards to the choice between Clinton and Trump. We will never know what a Gore Presidency would have been like. Most likely, 9/11 would have happened anyway, but would Gore have invaded Iraq in response? We can never know. That's the beauty of the "lesser evils" critique. Only one path can be taken and we can never know what would had happen had we taken another job, moved to a different city, or picked the other guy for president. It can never be tested. So they are free to argue that even though the Bush presidency they helped get into office was pretty bad, a Gore presidency would have been the same or worst, and we are free to argue that as bad as the Vietnam War was, it would have been even worst if nukes had been employed.
In 2004, the Republicans again lined up to support Nader even though this time his help wasn't needed nearly as much. Zuesse reported:
On July 9th, the San Francisco Chronicle headlined “GOP Doners Funding Nader: Bush Supporters Give Independent’s Bid a Financial Lift,” and reported that the Nader campaign “has received a recent windfall of contributions from deep-pocketed Republicans with a history of big contributions to the party,” according to “an analysis of federal records.” Perhaps these contributors were Ambassador Egan’s other friends. Mr. Egan’s wife was now listed among the Nader contributors. Another listed was “Nijad Fares, a Houston businessman, who donated $200,000 to the Bush inaugural committee and who donated $2,000 each to the Nader effort and the Bush campaign this year.” Furthermore, Ari Berman reported 7 October 2004 at the Nation, under “Swift Boat Veterans for Nader,” that some major right-wing funders of a Republican smear campaign against Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam service contributed also $13,500 to the Nader campaign, and that “the Republican Party of Michigan gathered ninety percent of Nader’s signatures in their state” (90%!) to place Nader on the ballot so Bush could win that swing state’s 17 electoral votes. Clearly, the word had gone out to Bush’s big contributors: Help Ralphie boy! In fact, on 15 September 2005, John DiStaso of the Manchester Union-Leader, reported that, “A year ago, as the Presidential general election campaign raged in battleground state New Hampshire, consumer advocate Ralph Nader found his way onto the ballot, with the help of veteran Republican strategist David Carney and the Carney-owned Norway Hill Associates consulting firm.”Republicans weren't giving money to the Nader campaign and working to get Nader on state ballots to help Nader get elected. They were doing it to help Bush get elected.
Recently Ralph Nader visited with Jill Stein supporter Amy Goldman on Democracy Now. She asked him what Trump would do if he got elected. He said Trump doesn't know what he is doing, which sounds odd coming from a guy that has run for president four times without ever even getting into the same presidential ball park as Trump. This how he described Trump:
He’s basically wondering how he ever got to the top of the Republican Party and turned it into the Trump dump. He has no impulse control. He has no factual content in his head. He doesn’t really know much about anything other than being a gambling casino czar that goes bankrupt and creams off the crop and leaves the devastation to the workers and the creditors and the small business suppliers.He didn't mention Trump's plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico, to deport millions of undocumented workers, bans Muslims from entering the US, and for a national stop and frisk programs in black communities, but then none of those plans are likely to be a problem for Ralph Nader, which is probably why he reserves the word "bigot" to describe anyone who might accuse him of helping Bush win the presidency in 2000:
And the idea of calling a third party "spoiler," using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people, because everyone has an equal right to run for office.They also have every right to waste that vote. This year Ralph Nader will probably do both by writing in his own name for president.
Its hard to grow a party every 4 years
Like all Green Party presidential campaigns, party building was suppose to be the real justification for the Nader spoiler campaign. Writing in The Nation sixteen years ago, Eric Alterman questioned their practise:
To listen to the Naderites–many of whom I admire–you might believe they were constructing a diverse, representative progressive movement with the possibility of one day replacing the Democrats. How odd it is to note, therefore, that this nascent leftist movement has virtually no support among African-Americans, Latinos or Asian-Americans.The Green Party has done little to change this situation. It still has virtually no support among African-Americans, Latinos or Asian-Americans. Writing for The Nation this year, Kshama Sawant says:
Many progressives will vote for Clinton in spite of their opposition to her politics, simply to prevent Trump from setting foot in the White House. I understand their desire to see him defeated, but even more important is beginning the process—too long delayed—of building an alternative to the pro-capitalist parties monopolizing US politics.This statement provokes two questions: 1) If the Green Party has been around for more than fifteen years, why are they just beginning the process of building the party?, and 2) Most importantly, why do they set the task of building this party in opposition to the task of defeating Donald Trump? In the current climate an alternative to the pro-capitalists parties can best be built by joining the struggle to defeat the fascist takeover that is the Trump campaign.
That moment when you realize @DrJillStein has been at 3% in the polls for FOUR YEARS. pic.twitter.com/zgnSBvSILT— pplswar (@pplswar) September 15, 2016
the planning and organization of Occupy LA but they all showed up after it became an action. Many of these organized Left activist jumped right into the work of OLA and genuinely helped to build the movement, there were others however, that really weren't interested in building the occupy movement. They were only interested in building their group. Many LA Greens made important contributions to Occupy Los Angeles, but as a party they had little involvement other than trying to turn occupy activists towards electoral politics.
Three weeks after the start of Occupy Los Angeles, even a week after the Los Angeles City Council had voted its endorsement, the San Fernando Valley Greens finally issued a statement of support for “Occupy Wall Street,” and urged the LA County Council and the California Greens to do the same. What is amazing about this statement is that it makes no mention of Occupy Los Angeles or the more than a thousand people camped out around city hall when it was issued! The Green Party of California Coordinating Committee had voted to "endorse the Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Actions in California," a week after Occupy LA began but this didn't mention the massive LA action either. Occupy LA could have been a great opportunity to build a grass-roots party but 2011 wasn't an election year, or where there other issues?
The Green Party doesn't participate in presidential elections to elect a president. It knows it is far too weak for that. It participates in presidential elections to build the Green Party. They argue that since the two establishment parties can never give us what we want, the best use of the heightened political awareness of a presidential election year is to build that party and not worry about who the next president will be.
This year Bernie Sanders and his people tried a different approach, and came close to succeeding. They mounted an insurgency from within the Democrat Party. Had they been successful, Bernie Sanders would have been one of the two real choices for president. That is what the Alt-Right Trump people did with the Republican Party, and now a white nationalist that is much more extreme than Barry Goldwater or anyone else that has run for the office in the past century, is one of the two possible choices for president.
Tony Schwartz, the guy who really wrote "The Art of the Deal" with Trump says even his campaign chair doesn't know Trump the way he does, and he warns the the world may not survive a Trump presidency. But to the Green Party there is nothing new to see here. Just another boy crying wolf. Nothing will deter them from their goal which is to get at least 5% of the vote and the millions more in Federal dollars that will bring. As Jill Stein said:
5% of the national presidential vote wins at least $10 million in public funding for the Green ticket in the 2020 presidential general election. The bigger the Green vote, the bigger the public funding. We are now polling in the 4% to 7% range. 5% is a goal within our reach.If the price of that 5% is a Trump presidency, it will cost the rest of us dearly.
Since the basic Green argument is that it is worth letting the presidency be taken by the greater evil because they are building the party for the greater good and can win in the future and really change things, its fair to ask how this has been going after 16 years?
2000 was its best year ever, when the name recognition of Ralph Nader won them 2.74% of the vote and made George Bush president. Its been down hill since then. After five presidential elections, they have yet to win a single electoral vote. Their second best showing was the last time Jill Stein ran in 2012. She got 0.36% of the vote. This year she is expected to do much better as she is polling at around 3%. She may even spoil enough progressive votes to put Trump in the White House.
Green Party support in House and Senate races doesn't show any growth either. Greens got 0.30% of the House vote in 2014, 2012, and 2004. In 2002 they got more. Same story in the Senate. Greens never again topped the 0.90% they got in 2000. It was 0.32% in 2014. If the Greens have been sacrificing strategic voting for party building, they don't have a lot to show for it. That doesn't stop them from coming out with their own presidential candidate every four years to help out the Republicans.
Meet Dr. Jill Stein
Jill Stein would like to frame herself as the good mother and Hillary Clinton as the bad mother but even between these two, the question of "good" and "evil" is far from clearcut. For example, 20 years ago Philadelphia DA Lynn Abraham described the young thugs she was prosecuting as super predators and Hillary Clinton was certainly guilty of repeating her then, but Jill Stein's insensitivity towards African Americans continues to hit us in the face time and time again today, as exampled by this series of tweets:
@AngryBlackLady @DrJillStein and, it goes without saying, didn't mention anything about Mexican Independence Day.— ebihanabi (@ebihanabi) September 16, 2016
While Trump declined an invite from the @NAACP, I'd be happy to address them. Dismantling white supremacy is a key issue in this election.— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 13, 2016
We need to end the racism that is hardwired into our economy and a culture that was founded on the criminal institution of slavery.— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 28, 2016
We only dismantle systemic racism when we confront the ways our nation is built on it. #DemsInPhilly— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 29, 2016
Clintonism caused the rise of Trump. Another Clinton presidency will only make it worse. Lesser evil merely paves the way to greater evil.— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 4, 2016
While we wait...
Jill Stein also see's herself as the peace candidate, in spite of her support for Vladimir Putin and his propaganda arm RT, and while her support for the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad may not be as ardent as that of her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, she has been outspoken about any use of force to rein in his massacre of civilians even as the death toll climbed towards half a million.
Half a million people dead, and 12 million refugees now rocking the world. Most of this since the last time Jill Stein ran for president and the Green Party Platform doesn't even mention Syria. Not a single time! Nada! Zero! Unbelievable! And this is what passes for progressive, even "revolutionary" leadership. This is what they are asking people to vote for as a "vote of conscience" or a "moral" vote while others decide who will actually govern.
Today, as many as 300,000 people are surrounded and cut off in Aleppo, and they are being massacred, and still Jill Stein wants to deny them the protection of a no-fly zone.
Americans can’t afford a presidency under Clinton, either. By “expanding a no-fly zone” in Syria, Stein said, Clinton has provoked a potential nuclear war against Russia.Dispensing first with the factual inaccuracies in this statement: 1) There is no no-fly zone in Syria, 2) Clinton has not expanded it, she hasn't even been SecState recently, and 3) She hasn't provoked a potential nuclear war with Russia. Why are facts in such short supply this election season?
One of the principle reasons Jill Stein and her "anti-imperialist" buddies brand Hillary Clinton a warmonger is because she has supported popular demands from the civilians being bombed for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria. Assad and Putin also agree with Jill Stein's assessment, but then they are doing the bombing. Half a million Syrian lives have been lost in all the years Stein has opposed a no-fly zone over Syria and the bombs are still falling today. Jill Stein doesn't deny that Assad and Putin are murdering children from the sky. Her reasons for not answering the desperate pleads of those under the bombs for cover is that if we try to intervene, the bombers may bomb us as well. If there is any chance you might get hurt, don't try to stop the rape in the park type of morality. And remember she is running a moral campaign. She wants us to cast our votes for the moral reasons, not practical ones. But when it comes to the actions the most powerful country on Earth should take with regards to the worst humanitarian crisis of the present day, she counsels fear of what the chief perpetrators of this crisis might do to us, and calls any suggestion that we do more warmongering. Jill Stein want us to see this as a contest between good and evil and she represents the good.
Jill Stein was interviewed by Against the Current recently, and she immediately jumped to the Goldwater campaign as her way of saying the boy is just crying wolf again:
Against the Current: How do you answer the question that the only thing that counts is beating Trump?As I have already pointed out in great detail both in this paper, and from another angle in Does Donald Trump's secret plan to defeat ISIS involve using nukes? there are many differences between then and now, not the least of which is that Goldwater never stood a chance of beating Johnson. For example, The California Poll released 14 September 1964 had Johnson favored by 62%, Goldwater by 33% and just 5% undecided.The poll report said "Johnson's present lead is unprecedented in recent California history." For comparison, Real Clear Politics puts Clinton at 54% and Trump at 30% in California as of 13 September 2016, and nationwide this race is much closer. Whether considered from the POV of the actual evilness of the Republican candidates, especially on the question of white nationalism, or their realworld chances of getting elected, Dr. Jill Stein and the rest of her party do a real service to Trump by working to disarm the voters of today by asserting that Trump is just another GOP candidate and complaining that someone is just crying wolf again when the wolf is at the door.
Jill Stein: That’s the question we get every election. It’s the question we get most in this election. It’s what the Democrats said in 1964 about Goldwater.
Then she follows up with one of her signature slogans:
Lesser evil is a losing strategy. It paves the way for greater evils.If that sound kool to some activists, that is unfortunate because it is wrong. Lesser evil, to use her moralistic term, is a strategy of electing the best of two possible bad candidates. This means recognizing politics as the art of the possible and voting in such a way as to elect, say Gore instead of Bush, Obama instead of McCain, or Clinton instead of Trump. What paves the way for greater evils are the good intentions of those that would have progressives ignore the differences between the two possible presidential choices, vote for neither of them, and let less progressive voters decide who the next president is.
Defeating Trump with another Clinton won’t count for much for the left.according to her election filings. The higher figure officially makes her a part of the 1% [$8.4 million - Forbes] and even the lower figure is in a very good neighborhood.
Roger White correctly described the Green Party's "three main demographics—educated, urban, nonprofit activists; educated, university town professionals; and well-to-do hippies in the exurbs." It may not matter a lot to them who the next president is, but defeating Trump will count for a lot to the undocumented workers Trump is promising to deport and the refugees he is promising to deny. It will make a difference to the young people forced to fight his wars or live under his stop and frisk regime. But never mind all that, Jill Stein tell us what really counts in this election:
What counts most in this election is building a political alternative that can defeat the corporate militarism and environmental inaction shared by both wings of the two-corporate-party political cartel.That is not a task of this election. That is the task of party building 24/7 every year, not every four years. What counts most in this election is electing the best possible person for the job from a progressive point of view, with the emphasis on possible. So long as the progressive forces are too weak to elect one of their own as president, that will mean voting strategically to see that the lesser of the two possible evils is elected. I am speaking here of the unique system we have in the United States, naturally. Under those conditions, the best way to build the party during an election year is to lead the voters in voting for Green Party candidates wherever they have a real chance of being elected, and voting strategically for the "lesser evil" where they don't.
If the Green Party took that position it would find itself in alignment with the most progressive voters, rather than going against that tide. Most Clinton voters are already voting strategically anyway. They know what the Clinton's are about but that doesn't stop the Green Party from, as Tom T Hall said, "Jammin' our heads full of figures and angles. And tellin' us stuff that we already know." They aren't voting for Clinton. They are voting against Trump, and they are right to do so.
For sure, about 90% of African American voters will vote that way. Donald Trump's white nationalism will probably drive similar numbers among other national minorities and the more progressive white workers. The Green Party can see the correctness of that position and unite with it. That would allow them to win those votes for lesser possible down ballot positions now while continuing to do real exposure about the corrupt nature of the capitalist system and its current neo-liberal administration while leading them to victory against the greater evil even in cases where it means a lesser evil replaces it. Or it can do what it is doing. It can put up its own presidential candidate, ask working people and minorities who know better to throw their vote away, and remain a small, largely irrelevant white left party forever stuck at 4%. Stein continues:
Defeating Trump by electing Hillary Clinton won’t defeat the racist scapegoating of minorities that has been the politics of the right from Goldwater, Nixon, and George Wallace to Donald Trump.Yes, but it will keep the white nationalist leadership out of the White House. I just don't get why the Greens think that is no small matter? Why are they so kind to Donald Trump as to pretend he can't be more evil or racist than Barack Obama? She goes on:
We can’t rely on Hillary Clinton to fight the right. The best way to defeat the right is with a strong, viable left that can win over the white working-class and middle-class base of Trumpism on the basis of a social and economic program that unites downwardly mobile whites and people of color.Who does she think is relying on Clinton to fight the right? Most of the people voting for Clinton really do see themselves as voting for the lesser evil, meaning they already know Hillary Clinton is evil, to use the Green Party's unfortunate terminology, so statements like that are just preaching to the choir. She needs to be exposing Donald Trump's fascist politics to his white working class supporters, and she needs to communicate a better understanding of the problem. In the first place, people of color are still even more "downwardly mobile" than white people even if some of them are new to it, and in the second place "Trumpism?" as if he represents some form of organized thought that shouldn't be referred to simply as white nationalism.
She refers to the "the leaked DNC emails," just like Putin and Trump. Leak by who? All indications are that those emails were hacked, most likely by Russian operatives. Does she have any disagreements with Putin?
After her November Moscow trip, Yevgeniya Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova, two Russian environmental activists wrote an open letter to Jill Stein. This is part of what they said:
As environmentalists and human rights defenders, we often support Green candidates all over the world when they run in local, national or continental elections. However, we are asking ourselves if we can support your candidacy for the Presidency of the United States of America. We have carefully read your program and your website, and we have to admit that we are deeply shocked by the position you expressed during your visit to Moscow and your meeting with Mr. Vladimir Putin.In her response, Jill Stein pointed out that claims that she "refused to criticize Russia" weren't true, "I criticized Russian military policy":
Mr. Putin has deliberately built a system based on corruption, injustice, falsification of elections, and violation of human rights and international law. How is it possible to have a discussion with Mr. Putin and not mention, not even once, the fate of Russian political prisoners or the attacks against Russian journalists, artists, and environmentalists? Is it fair to speak with him about “geopolitics” and not mention new Russian laws against freedom of speech, restrictions on NGOs and activists or the shameful law that forbids “homosexual propaganda”?
I criticized both the governments of the United States and Russia for putting resources into military spending that would be better and more justly spent on critical domestic needs.So she criticized their spending, but did she say anything about the bombs they were dropping or the Syrians they were killing? Remember, she thinks anyone who wants those people protected by a no-fly zone is a warmonger. Plus Putin has nukes and might use them if we interfere. Jill Stein is even making the threat for him.
There are also a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the financing of the Jill Stein campaign. Her campaign is the only one receiving Federal dollars, the other three have declined. Almost a half million dollars in taxpayer money has "has enabled her campaign to pay an award-winning advertising firm, host parties and rent office space in pricey Brooklyn," according to the Washington Post. With her campaign so reliant on that money, it could even be argued that she is being paid by the government to be the spoiler. There are also the urban myth that she is
a member of the only American political party that refuses to accept money from corporationsThis is another falsehood Jill Stein and the Green Party keep repeating. Last time I checked, Google, IBM, AON, UPS, PayPal, Nvidia and Franklin Templeton Investments were still corporations, and they all have given thousands to the Jill Stein campaign. She has even taken money from the military contractor Lockheed Martin, and it most certainly is still a corporation, a very profitable arms merchant.
Is Jill Stein a "greater good" or just another "lesser evil?"
The kindest thing that can be said about Jill Stein's understanding of the international situation and the roles of both the US and Russia today is that she is naive. Otherwise, she is consciously supporting a fascist dictator who is the main source of violence in the world in 2016. Either option leaves her unfit to be president.
The kindest thing that can be said about her understanding of the role that racism is playing in this election and the dangers of a white nationalist White House is that she just doesn't get it. Otherwise, she is willfully helping that come to past. Either option leaves her unfit to be president.
For many reasons it is unfortunate that Jill Stein was chosen to be the standard bearer of the Left in this presidential election because many people outside of little left circles will look at her and conclude she is not ready to be president. That is probably the main reason that she got zero bounce in the polls for the CNN Town Hall with running mate Ajamu Baraka. She has been complaining that the main reason she can't even get to 5% in the polls is that she has been shutout by the mainstream media. She says if only more people knew of her, many more would support her, but that hasn't been shown in the poll results following the few appearances she has had. She can't seem get beyond her die-hard supporters that make up 3%-4% of the voters. Although the Trump Army liked her CNN Town Hall, saying she was "a babe" and "She also raised some major doubts about Clinton in particular." Overall, they thought her appearance helped their candidate. Jill Stein may think the little mainstream coverage she has gotten represents cracks in the establishment, like when they stopped Obama from bombing Assad, but maybe its just part of the pro-Trump bias we've seen in the media over this past year.
Leftists for Trump?
There is a strong pro-Trump element to be found around the Jill Stein candidacy. For example, Carmen Yarrusso argues in the counterpunch piece from which I have already quoted:
A Trump win may actually stimulate progressive changeShe overlooks the fact that Trump's "crazy proposals" have already resulted in an increase in hate crimes and racist attacks. Then she takes credit away from the revolutionaries in Libya and Syria so she can blame Clinton, and as is typical for many arguing that a Trump presidency wouldn't be that dangerous (so vote for Jill), she shows a great amount of faith in the system, and assures us that Congress will rein in his excesses.
Trump may be a (loose-cannon) unpredictable evil. But then, based on her long track record, Clinton is a very predictable evil. In fact, Trump is left of Clinton on such things as legal marijuana, NATO aggression, and trade policy. His crazy proposals (e.g. Mexican wall, banning Muslims) are just bluster with zero chance of becoming reality. If Congress can stop Obama, it can stop Trump. But Clinton has a predictable pro-war track record (Iraq, Libya, Syria
Ohio class submarines, each one capable of delivering 192 nuclear warheads pretty much anywhere, at his command. He can commit the ultimate War Powers Act with a single command. Missiles will fly within minutes and no one can stop him. Because the Masters of War wanted to be sure we could blow up the other guy before our own missiles were nuked, the system was built so that the POTUS could launch on his own authority within minutes. The assumption was only a very stable and generally cautious individual would be elected to fill that post. That assumption now faces a serious test and that is the kind of power some Leftists want to put in Trump's hands just so he can create chaos. Idiots! Never mind all that Paul Street writes in Truthdig:
Trump’s ascendency to the White House could well portend a further chaotic delegitimization of “homeland” authority and a pervasive sense of societal absurdity (I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that my anarchist streetfighter side would relish the installation of a commander in chief as completely absurd as Trump).I think Jonathan Chait nailed it in a piece he did for the New Yorker, 28 July 2016, titled: Jill Stein Explains Her Plan to Stop Trump by Electing Him President. He quotes her answer to a WGBH interview question asking how she would feel if she threw the election to Trump:
What we know from history, and what we know from the current situation, we are seeing a rise in right-wing extremism, not just in the United States, and it’s not just Donald Trump, it’s also throughout countries in Europe. What is driving this? It is policies like NAFTA, like globalization, like the dominance of the banks, like the Wall Street bailouts, like the Wall Street meltdown thanks to deregulation. Who gave us those policies? The Clintons were leading the way on those policies! The answer to neofascism is stopping neoliberalism. Putting another Clinton in the White House will fan the flames of this right-wing extremism. We have known that for a long time ever since Nazi Germany. We are going to stand up to Donald Trump and to stand up to Hillary Clinton!Chait then does on to analyze her answer in some detail and develops this summary:
What’s most fascinating is that Stein does not try to downplay the danger of a Trump presidency. Instead, she likens it to fascism and Nazism (a comparison that I actually think, for all of Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, goes too far). And yet, proceeding from her premise that Clintonism will lead to fascism, she concludes that she must “stand up to” both Donald Trump and the only candidate who can prevent Donald Trump from winning the presidency, in equal measure. “Neoliberalism” — the left-wing term of abuse for liberalism — leads to fascism, so we might as well skip the neoliberalism step and go straight to the fascism.Michael Moore thinks Trump won the debate last night!
Pro-Hillary gloaters doing end-zone dance again when still on 50-yd line. U MUST get it in your head TRUMP IS GONNA WIN and act accordingly!— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) September 27, 2016
The scenario ideally plays out with Sanders contesting the nomination all the way to the convention and then running as a third party candidate, say on the Green Party ticket, siphoning away the base that Clinton needs to win. This will hand the election to Donald Trump, and force the Democratic establishment to realize it’s doomed unless it pivots sharply to the left.For sure! Who knows if there will even be elections in 2020. #NeverHillary Susan Sarandon boiled it down to one sentence for Chris Hedges on MSNBC:
The Clintons will disappear into the toilet where they’ve always deserved to be flushed. We can then look forward to 2020 after four years of Trump and—what? Who knows. He’s truly a wild card.
Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode.That really is the bottom line with these folks. They do very little organizing among the masses. They are doing nothing to prepare them for a fascist takeover, in fact they are doing exactly the opposite by downplaying the danger of Trump and the chances of his winning, but they want him to win because they think that somehow the chaos he will create will bring on the revolution they have been hoping for.
Green Party people like Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon probably think they can handle anything a Trump administration throws at them, and for them, they might be right. Trump's national 'stop and frisk' won't be aimed at them, but it may provoke rebellions they can watch on TV and root for the underdogs and hope that somehow a revolution they can lead will develop out of the chaos. So at last we arrive at the truth. The real reason they warn against voting for the lesser evil is that they want the greater evil to win.
Jill Stein should drop her presidential bid.
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