A Bitter Disappointment


Jill Stein, Green Party nominee for President of the U.S.

Recently, on a website devoted to animal rights, appeared this evaluation of the recent election:

Jill Stein’s positions were nearly identical to those of Bernie Sanders, yet progressives who supported Bernie overwhelmingly rejected the Greens.

It is difficult to envisage a more compelling scenario for the Greens than existed in this election cycle. Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the Democratic nomination by a war mongering Wall Street shill, the Republicans nominated an anti-environment xenophobe, and the only voice of reason was Jill Stein.

Quite true.  The 2016 Election was indeed a pivotal moment, and augured well for an increase in the national vote for the Green Party.

Yet Stein only received a quarter of the percent of the vote that Ralph Nader garnered in 2000.

For the progressive movement, the Greens are a non-starter.

If we as progressives are to succeed, we must wage our battles within the Democratic party.

Coming from an animal-rights group, this is an unhappy sentiment, I must say.  It is surely unnecessary to have to document the fact that Greens are far more in favor of animal rights than the Democratic Party at present.  It’s in our DNA, as the saying goes: we favor more humility toward the environment, we are much more likely to be vegetarian, we are committed to an extension of awareness of the claims of the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Asserting, then, that “the only voice of reason” is “a non-starter” is a temptation that comes from defeat.  Roland Vincent, the author of this piece (about whom I know nothing) has compared the Ralph Nader campaign, one with a nationally known figure, whose subsequent career has shown an incompatibility with grass-roots organizing, with the Stein campaign, run by a doctor known previously as a city council-person in a small Massachusetts city.

The Stein campaign got the highest vote for a Green Party candidate since Nader, and tripled the vote for the Green Party nominee four years ago (who was, not incidentally, also Jill Stein).  Stein got more votes in 2016 than Ralph Nader himself got in his 1996 run for President. And her 1.07 % in 2016 is not one-quarter of Mr Nader’s 2.74% in 2000, but four-tenths.  So, on cherry-picked results, ignoring the stronger, more widely and more deeply based party organization, Mr Vincent asserts the necessity of progressives abandoning the Green Party.

Let me explain why the Democratic Party is no longer a live option for progressives.  Start from the historical fact that the environmental movement stretches back some 100 years into the past of the United States, and long predated the Green Party movement.  Recall that the last reasonably progressive President, Jimmy Carter (a Democrat), went against an environmental foe in the 1980 election and was soundly defeated.

Ever since then the Democratic Party has aligned itself with corporate interests.  By doing so it has won several elections, but has lost many of its previous positions of power at the state level, such as governorships or control of legislatures.  During this period of time the Green Party not only has come into being, but has steadily widened (as a genuine political effort must) its policy base, taking on platform commitments, not only for sustainable economic activity but also for nonviolent conflict resolution abroad and for caution with respect to high-tech chemical and biological — not to mention nuclear — novelties being imposed upon people, for corporate profit.  In each of these expansions of the remit of the Green Party, the Democratic Party had previously pretty much abandoned its progressive stance, in favor of what its corporate backers preferred.

So, today, we have Native Americans being tear-gassed and attacked with concussion grenades, while Hillary Clinton remains silent and Barack Obama does little or nothing.  In contrast, Jill Stein has been indicted for her non-violent support for the Standing Rock protesters.  It is not just some Democratic Party politicians betraying the progressive cause, it is the incumbent President and the Party nominee for President: in short, the titular heads of the Democratic Party have no use for the outstanding progressive cause of the present day.

That is, in a nutshell, why it is the Democratic Party, not the Green Party, that is a non-starter for the progressive cause in the United States today.

Update 19 December 2016: For those like Roland Vincent who  believe that there is a possibility for turning the Democratic Party around, the events since the election surely are evidence of the futility of their hopes (which futility they assign to the Greens, interestingly enough).  Diane Johnstone writes this morning on Counterpunch [warning: this website is specifically among those that are not approved by the Washington Post]

The hysterical anti-Trump reaction is unable to grasp the implications of the campaign to blame Hillary’s defeat on Putin. Do the kids in the street really want war with Russia? I doubt it. But they do not perceive that for all its glaring faults, the Trump presidency provides an opportunity to avoid war with Russia. This is a window of opportunity than will be slammed shut if the Clintonite establishment and the War Party get their way. Whether they realize it or not, the street protesters are helping that establishment delegitimatize Trump and sabotage the one positive element in his program: peace with Russia.

Sexism is bad. Racial profiling is bad. Economic inequality, growing worse by the decade, is probably worse than either. But worst of all is the perpetual war, begun under both Democratic and Republican party leaders, and enshrined into the normal state of affairs since 2003. Peaceful coexistence departs radically from what Clinton was putting forward as the policy of the Democratic Party (and was not opposed audibly by Sanders). Peaceful coexistence is what Trump appeared during the campaign and appears since, to prefer.

All the more reason to stick with the party that has such non-violent conflict resolution as a founding principle, the Green Party, and to leave the Democrats, with their now front-and-center demonization of all who oppose U.S. world hegemony, behind.

Update 20 December 2016: I am apparently getting my oft-expressed wish granted; the machine here tells me that not a single person is viewing my posts.  Be that as it may, this morning’s post by Dave Lindorff, another genuine investigative journalist, on Counterpunch, agrees with the above analysis of the Democratic Party abandonment of progressive voters.  Further, considering the events since the election, Lindorff adds the comment you will also find in my posts, were you to read them,

The “false news” about Russians hacking US democracy, pushed by the Clinton campaign, sclerotic Democratic Party leadership, elements within the intelligence establishment and the Obama administration and parroted endlessly by the corporate media and by normally sentient liberals usually quick to condemn “conspiracy thinking,” doesn’t bode well for any real effort to wrench the Democratic Party away from its thoroughly discredited corporatist political stance, and raises the prospect of further Republican gains in the coming off-year Congressional elections in 2018.

Emphasis, as they say, added.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
This entry was posted in Bradley Manning, Economics, Elections, Empire, Global, Healthcare, Inequality, Jim Robison, Lloyd Marbet, Pacific Green Party, Permaculture, Ronald Reagan, Spiritual life. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Bitter Disappointment

  1. Like many Berners. I was disappointed and frustrated by Bernie’s endorsement of the Whore of Wall Street. And like many Berners I voted for Jill Stein.

    And I did much more than vote for Stein. I campaigned for her, urging progressives and animal activists in non-swing states to vote Green.

    My motivation was to help the Greens reach the 5% necessary to qualify for federal funding.

    But many political newbies actually believed Jill had a prayer. They looked at the registration numbers for independent voters and reached the absurd conclusion that all independents were Bernie voters. Voters registered as independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans, but they do not vote as a bloc for third party candidates.

    Jill Stein received less than a third of the votes that Ralph Nader earned in 2000.

    She received one twentieth of the votes Ross Perot garnered in 1992.

    For those unwilling to buy into Bernie’s strategy of supporting Hillary, and unwilling to vote for Trump in swing states, Jill Stein was a vote of conscience for many.

    But not for very many.

    In truth and in fact, the Greens are a joke.

    At least in the US.

    The grim reality is that even if Bernie Sanders had run as a Green, Donald Trump would still be in line as our next president. Unless one candidate captures 270 electoral votes, the presidential contest is thrown into the House of Representatives. Each state’s congressional delegation casts one vote for the candidate supported by a majority of the delegation. Had Bernie run as a Green, or had Jill managed to deny Trump or Hillary 270 electoral votes, Trump would win in the House, as Republicans control a majority of the state congressional delegations.

    Hillary supporters are now up in arms about the unfairness of the Electoral College, where Donald Trump is poised to win the electoral vote while Hillary is leading slightly in the popular vote. Amid cries that the system in undemocratic, there are several attempts being launched to end or circumvent the Electoral College.

    The irony is not lost on Berners, who are still furious about Hillary’s use of super delegates to defeat democracy in the primaries.

    Senator Barbara Boxer is introducing a bill (likely unconstitutional) to award the presidency to the winner of the popular vote. Several years ago, Maryland adopted a measure which will require Maryland electors to vote for the candidate who wins the national popular vote rather than the candidate who wins in Maryland, once a majority of states adopt similar legislation.

    The Electoral College is a roadblock to third parties. But it is not the only one.

    The Constitution does not provide for governments to be brought down by lack of confidence votes. It places the Executive branch in the hands of the single successful presidential aspirant, it effectively makes third parties irrelevant.

    Those limitations are compounded for third parties in the states, as not a single state in the Union employs parliamentary procedure, either.

    The only successes, if one can call them that, are at the local level. Town councils, county executives, school boards, etc. Yet even those offices are being purchased by special interests seeking development approvals, zoning variances, building permits, and school text book contracts.

    Government is a sewer. And it is polluted by money and greed.

    The absurdity of voting patterns is nowhere more evident than in those whom are elected to Congress. Former Rep Alan Grayson observed that a recent poll found dog poop to be more popular than is Congress. Yet most Members of Congress are routinely re-elected by their constituents. People seem to like their own Member of Congress, but hate everyone else’s.

    It is bribery which keeps Members in office. It is bribery which drives our entire political system. It is bribery which clogs the drains and keeps the establishment in power.

    There is one “fix” that we should be pursuing: a constitutional amendment to ban private campaign donations and gifts to public officials. Not the absurd “overturn Citizens United” effort, but one which would provide for public campaign financing.

    Overturning Citizens United would merely return bribery to 2010 levels, when the lawsuit was originally filed.

    With the defeat of Hillary and her Wall Street sycophants, the fight begins for the soul of the Democratic party. A prize easier to win than building the Greens into a national party, and far more likely to effect real political change.

    The most passionate and principled of the Democratic left was drawn to Jill Stein. The very people who can drive progressives to winning control of the Democrats and to assume leadership roles in the party.

    We just kicked the Wall Street Democrats in the ass. We need to be there to finish them off.

    Take the yellow out of Green and it becomes Blue.

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