Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements

 

This article also appeared in Counterpunch

Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements. 

Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline began in October 2014. Young warriors of the Standing Rock Sioux established the Sacred Stone Camp in April 2016. Since then, thousands of native and non-native supporters have joined in non-violent resistance under the leadership of native elders.

And suddenly, as thousands of US veterans arrived in North Dakota, Obama blinked, and kicked the can further down the road. The people have won an important victory in the struggle for native rights and against climate change.

The most important victory is learning how to win.

The lessons flow fast and furious from Standing Rock and our teachers are Sitting Bull’s people. We have learned that violence has become one of the governments preferred methods of dealing with serious social problems and political challenges at home and abroad. Democrats and Republicans have created a vast militarized penal system — the domestic equivalent of the US military — that they intend to use against anyone who stands in their way.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard was founder of Sacred Stone Camp.

“Now they are tying to build a pipeline outside my door, my son is buried on the hill. Who wants a pipeline next to your son’s grave. We talk about racial discrimination, sexual discrimination. You talk about political power: corporations owning America. I am seeing it all, it’s all happening right here.1

 

Violence becomes necessary when the ideological and cultural tools that the elites use to  co-opt or crush political challenges fail to work any longer. The resistance of native people has lifted the veil for all of us, exposing the existing order for what it truly is. The empire, with its relentless and insatiable drive for profit and power is on full display. The Dakota Access Pipeline is, after all, a project of finance capital and the fossil fuel industry; the cold-blooded heart of the corporate power.

Hostilities aimed at native people and the conquest of land and resources we associate with the old frontier is not just our past but is an on-going part of today’s global empire.

Lauren Howland, one of the young leaders, puts it this way:

Just like Custer did, the government did here. Morton county came with their guns. They came with weapons, they came with violence. And just put it on a prayerful and peaceful people. It’s complete genocide and I don’t know why it’s even happening in 2016. Everybody says we are moving forward let’s not look back, but how can we not look back when it’s still happening. How can we recover when it’s still being done.”2

The courageous confrontation over physical space and natural resources challenged the ideological defenses of the elites. All the establishment claims of progress and growth, of cherishing diversity, of democracy achieved, of American Exceptionalism wore thin. No
wonder the corporate media came late to the story only to twist and turn. The Republican Party is the only major party in the world to deny climate change. The Democrats make nice speeches and sign empty agreements but still make war for oil and waste billions in taxpayer subsidies funding the very corporations threatening our planet.  Obama saw the need for concession and retreat. Will Trump?

“All we have is each other.” Harold Frazier, Chair of the Cheyenne River Tribe Sioux

Native resistance has revealed our true character but also shown us how to remake ourselves. Like other great social movements before it, Standing Rock is transformative. Activism and engagement turns one thing into another thing.

Protestors have become protectors. Protestors are against something. Protectors preserve and defend what is good, meaningful and essential. Let us learn that fundamental social change takes shape around affirmations of the greatest good.

It is easy to critique the social order and really difficult to become the authors of a new history. But that new history is being made at Standing Rock today. Its power flows from a remarkable fusion of the spiritual, political and scientific. This is the stuff great social movements and cultural revolutions are made of.

As Standing Rock historian, Jon Eagle Sr. tells us:

The protest, the demonstrations, the camp actually stem from a prayer. What we didn’t know at that time was that… that prayer was going to go all the way around the world.

In a world hungry for spiritual sustenance, the fusion of politics and the sacred has already touched millions. Like most white people, I know little of native beliefs. But the straightforward reverence for nature — a theme common to many indigenous cultures — is a universal truth that appeals to the whole person and to people around the whole world.

For Eagle, Standing Rock’s determination is deeply rooted. “We know all the forces of nature are in this fight with us,” he said. The planet itself is on the water protector’s side and provides what Martin Luther King, in his day, called “cosmic companionship.” The protectors walk with mother nature in confidence that their cause and purpose is just and true.

And now our best science confirms our highest spirituality and steadfast political resistance. The scientific community may differ on just how soon there will be hell to pay for our addiction to fossil fuel but most agree the time for dramatic action is now. That action is Standing Rock and the many Standing Rocks to come.

Four Arrows, also known as Don Trent Jacobs, an American Indian scholar and co-founder of the Northern Arizona chapter of Veterans For Peace weaves together the threads of spirituality, political action and scientific knowledge.

“The last healthy land masses on our planet are not coincidentally those occupied by Indigenous Peoples. That they are on the front lines in standing against oil and mining operations threatening to destroy waterways should not be surprising. The Indigenous worldview, one that guided humans to live in relative ecological harmony, sees this place as sacred…At this crossing point in American history, at the threshold of a mass extinction, the Standing Rock protest is much more than symbolic…”

The transformative turn made by Standing Rock is highlighted by the self-deployment of thousand of military veterans. The protest at Standing Rock is the largest demonstration of dissident veterans since the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and other soldier and veteran groups took on the US war machine decades ago.

Veteran activism would seem to hinge on a stunning insight drawn from both their war experience and witnessing the illegitimate use of force against unarmed prayerful demonstrators trying to protect water. The political and economic forces of the political “center” — the corporations, the militarized police forces and the politicians — now constitute a threat to the very people the veterans have sworn to defend and the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.  Armed with this knowledge, the veterans will continue to be a political force to be reckoned with.

We Can Make and Remake History

“We know our ancestors are in this fight with us,” Jon Eagle tell us. And, white people, our ancestors are with us too. Our actions of support and solidarity for Standing Rock can give the bloody story of the frontier and empire a different outcome.  We can honor our ancestors best by redeeming them with our own actions. It begins with respect for native people, learning from their example and making change in our own communities.

This battle may be won for now but the long war against climate change and the system that drives it, demands vision, organizing and perseverance.   We will be standing on the shoulders of Standing Rock for many years to come.

We should be guided by these words:

“This fight is about the future of our people…..We have no choice but to win.”

 

  1.  Video is embedded in this Guardian article.
  2. Ibid.
Posted in American Culture, Martin Luther King, Movement Culture, Organizing Method, Organizing Strategy, revolutionary strategy, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Dumbass Democrats

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This article also appeared in CounterPunch

Dumbass Democrats

Congratulations, you played yourself!

Ok, this is rant from my working-class heart, but it is due time for a rant.

Well, who the hell are the Democrats going to blame now? The degree to which you scapegoat the Green Party or the white working-class is precisely the degree to which you are proving you will never learn a damn thing and are completely unable to lead this country.

If it wasn’t such a farce, I’d say it is King Lear redux.

Let’s look at some really basic, I mean high school level politics. Not fair, the average 16 year old is far wiser than the big shots of the DNC.

Establishment Candidate in an Anti-Established Year.

It’s not just that the Democrats did not take the pulse of the electorate. They did not even try.

Simple stuff really. It’s an anti-establishment year. So the DNC stays with the predetermined candidate that represents the corrupt establishment itself. Duh.

The Democrats were oblivious to the deep discontent among the American people because that simply does not figure into their clever and cunning calculations. Why should it? Fear, lesser of two evils, scapegoating, palace politics — all these things worked in the past, didn’t they?

So all the discontent and unhappiness from years of economic distress fed right into the only other choice. We have the “great two party system” don’t we? Both Democrats and Republicans insist there is no alternative. The Democrats fail, the Republican succeed. Damn the binary, we so need a multi-party system.

The Democrats run a candidate who spent eight years in the White House, crow about her experience, even when the experience included the fact that Bill Clinton was IMPEACHED and widely viewed as a bum.  The Democrats embrace a family dynasty the includes one of the two presidents in all of American history impeached by the House of Representatives. Good choice! This has to be one of the most amazing proofs that the Democratic Party echo chamber is truly deafening.

Burning Down Democracy

Then in another move — that has to rank as one of the most moronic and dishonest tactics in American politics — the DNC conspires with the corporate media to cheat Bernie Sanders, the rightful nominee. Then, in a brilliant tactic, the DNC elevates Trump as the easy one to beat. Both demobilize voters, especially younger voters, by giving them proof positive that their vote does not count. Only a machine so insulated and out of touch with the country it proposes to lead could make such an elementary error. An error impossible to make if Democrats held the interest of the county higher than the control over the machine. But, they do not.

Show Me the Message

Up until the bitter end the Clinton campaign was so distracted by underhanded manipulation and palace politics that its failed to have a concise, convincing message. I am not Donald Trump, she cried out. I am a women — well I am a human with a female anatomy anyway. Token to feminism but hatchet man to the women in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Honduras, the garment workers in Haiti, the women thrown off welfare, and the millions of working women struggling to get by. People are not stupid and these unmentionable casualties were greater than the “deplorables” we were instructed to despise.

And while you are at it, remember that condescension toward the working class is always a winning appeal, well until now. Obama, joker that he is, had the sense to promise hope and change. At least lie like a politician, ok?

Clinton in one of her most passionate statement on domestic policy promised us that universal health care would “never ever” happen. I mean, did they pay someone to think that up?

Rely on Fear Then Scare the Shit Out of Everyone

We already have seven wars under Obama. Just not enough for Hillary. Clinton’s lust for war and love of the military-industrial complex was so great she spoke openly of nuclear war. During the last debate we learned we are four minutes from oblivion. Now that was smart!

To the American legion she said “One of the first things I will do as president, is to call for a new nuclear posture review.” Unneccesary war mongering. Clinton knew damn well that Obama had already ordered a trillion dollar upgrade of the nuclear arsenal including the production of dangerous tactical nukes, weapons small enough that they could actually be used. So if you are going to rely on fear of the other candidate to manipulate the voters try not to be the scarier one. In 1968 Nixon actually ran as a “peace candidate” to the “left” of Humphrey whose response to the war in Vietnam was “more of the same.” Nixon won you dumbasses.

Welcome to the Machine

Machine politics do not work anymore. There are jobs at stake and god knows “I was just going my job.” But having spent over 15 years as union staff I can attest to the swaggering arrogance of so many of the “best and brightest” machine operatives, particularly those in legislative and electoral work. Power is just so intoxicating. I prefer beer. I can see them now, nodding in agreement, smug, certain, and unanimous.

If the labor movement and other social movement groups that “got in early” behind Clinton — as their predictable advisors always advise — instead poured every possible resource into Bernie Sander, or god help us, Jill Stein, we would not be in this position. But no. The machine demands that its cogs sacrifice their own political judgements and morality to the leader, or in this, the season of fascism, might we say “fuhrer.” If the big, so badass unions, AFT, NEA, SEIU, AFSME, do not clean house and fire their sharp and savvy political advisors, who they pay plenty, then we can only expect they have learned nothing and are as unfit to lead the American working class as the Democrats are unfit to lead the country.

Dominion is Mind Rot

In the larger frame, policy choices and machine politics are just the tactic and strategy of power. The failure of the Democrats is the price of dominion. And, dominion is mind rot. It’s not simply that the Clintons have wielded power far too long. Far too long surrounded by sycophants, job seekers, and donors. “Yes, Madam Secretary.” “No, Madam Secretary.” “Hillary” is marketing for suckers.  Blindness is the consequence of immense power and that is why, in a democracy, power is supposed to be insecure not dynastic. Checks and balances. Separation of power. This is one of the many reasons empires fall and perhaps the only silver lining to Trump’s victory. The American empire grows feeble. Let us do it under.

The Measure of Mendacity

The scapegoating will be a good measures as to just how decadent the Democrats are.   The Democrats learned the wrong lesson in 2000. What lesson will they learn now? Oh, and the scapegoating and fear mongering the Democrats are so fond of have made people less likely to resist the system. Who wants to be blamed and shamed for months and years of activism? Nice job dumbasses.

The other, equally dangerous measure of mendacity will be the degree to which the Democrats capitulate to Trump. Judging by Obama’s addiction to serial compromise with the uncompromising Republicans, the Democrats may well move yet again to the right; ever closer to Trump. Remember that the rise of the Clinton machine and the “third way” Democrats in the 1990s was an accommodation to the “Reagan Revolution.”

What Are We Waiting For?

So if the Democrats are hopeless dumbasses and the Republican hopeless on all accounts, where is the leadership to come from? It is not too hard to see really. Sine the last revolution of the mid-twentieth century, it has been “we the people” embodied in the social movements. We have the morality, political values, strategy and courage to lead the country. Start with the “mother of all movements,” the civil rights movement. Read Martin Luther King’s, Where Do We Go From Here? Read it now and then live it.

Then take a close look at the new civil rights movement. Right now — as the political parties parade their intellectual and moral bankruptcy — school is in session. The people at Standing Rock are demonstrating the kind of deep wisdom — a wisdom with global appeal — that we can use to create a future worth living for. Pay close attention. And if we work hard we can organize a political party that is the electoral wing of the social moments. Right now there is only one candidate for the job: the Green Party.

The only thing worse than a dumbass is a chickenshit. Let’s get it on!

Posted in Electoral Strategy for 2016, Martin Luther King, Organizing Strategy, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Election Eve 2016

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Whatever happens tomorrow we have made our mark on history. In declaring our independence from the two-party system we have achieved a new level of political power, raised consciousness, and done more to restore hope for democracy than any electoral campaign in recent history.

We may not have conquered fear but at last we are no longer its captive.

Regardless of who is in the White House there are grand changes in the wind. Seven wars, climate change, the vast militarized penal system, corporate control of government and media: these things cannot stand. The existing order is simply unsustainable because it will drive us to ruin or revolution.

We will emerge from this struggle with an opposition party; 5% of the vote or not. But, to make it real, we must take our energies and ideals into the movements for peace, democracy and a whole earth. It is time to hone our organizing skills, build truly mass movements capable of sustained non-violent resistance and to create, within our communities and organizations, the kinds of relationships we want the new world to embody. And if we do so, we can help the Green Party live up to its promise of a new economy and a new society.

It is entirely up to the us. After the election, a little retreat and rest. Soon we soldier on.

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Do We Vote for the “Lesser of Two Evils” or to “Recapture the Revolutionary Spirit.”

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“The future of the deep structural changes we seek will not be found in the decaying political machines.” – Martin Luther King*

The scale of our problems are far too great. There is far too much at stake. The problems we face are dangerous, deeply embedded, institutionalized. There is no clever, cunning or purely tactical way of addressing them.  Inside baseball and palace politics have failed.

We are approaching a shift in the equation of risk. The dangers we face in making the big political changes are becoming less threatening than the dangers we face in continuing on the current course. Perhaps we are already there.

Let’s consider the core issues of power and social control in the US today:

The Corporate Power is vast wealth wedded to political control.  And, it rules America.   This power grab was not the result of free markets; it has been engineered.  A century of political interventions and a dense web of public subsidies and tax benefits have redistributed wealth to the 1%.  The richest country in world history, the US has among the worst income inequality in the developed world.

And the Corporate Power is reckless. Climate change is proceeding at a pace that surprises even climate scientists.  Yet, fossil fuels giants remain our primary source of energy. The fossil industry claims billions of public dollars in a complex array of entitlements and privileges.  We fight wars for oil.

Seemingly endless wars expand on multiple fronts in Asia and Africa. The current cycle of regime change, preemptive war and increased terrorism dates at least to 1978 when we first overthrew the government in Afghanistan by organizing and arming the Mujahideen.  We are 15 years in Afghanistan, 13 years in Iraq; a county we have been bombing since 1991. Libya. Syria. Yemen. Pakistan.

The US now has the the largest system of military bases in world history. There are 650 major bases and nearly 900 total bases in 150 countries. The military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us about long ago, grows ever larger. The US has been the world biggest producer and exporter of weapons for over half a century. And, war is environmental catastrophe. The US military is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels as it is sent to protect and secure oil supplies. War and empire lays claim to the greatest share of discretionary spending in the federal budget for over half a century at least.

Our vast militarized penal system is the worlds largest. No other county imprisons as many of its own citizens.  Non-violent offenders fill prisons mostly from the war on drugs.   The so-called war on drugs has functioned like a preemptive strike on the potentially most rebellious ranks of the American people: people of color, the poor, the working-class and the young. And, extra-judicial killings by police, aimed largely at black and native people are rampant, at roughly 100 times that of other countries.

Since 9/11 domestic surveillance has grown exponentially. Millions of Americans, accused of no crime, routinely have their emails, phone calls, internet use, and mail spied upon. The penal and surveillance system have shredded basic civil liberties enshired in the Bill of Rights. What cannot be efficiently caged, shot or spied on is instructed in the ways of fear and fatalism by the corporate media.

Six giant corporations control 90% of the mass media.  Decades of corporate influence including the Telecommunications Act of 1996 signed into law by President Bill Clinton and FCC rule changes by Republicans have created a sophisticated propaganda machine in the service of the existing order.

And finally “the great two-party system” itself. With a stranglehold on the Constitution  and government, both parties have built formidable legal obstacles prohibiting opposition parties and limiting reform efforts from within. The big corporations and the billionaires successfully govern through money and the revolving door of lobbyists, legislators and officials.  The evidence is so compelling we hardly needed the Princeton study of 1,800 policy initiatives or former President Jimmy Carter to tell us we are no longer a democracy but an oligarchy.

And yet, the machines have overplayed their hand. The strategy of triangulation depends on lesser of two evils voters that consciously choose candidates and parties they know no longer represent them.  How else could the Democrats so closely mimic the Republicans — abandon their traditional New Deal voter base — and still maintain power?

But, the capacity of the establishment to scare people into forgoing the basic concepts of representational democracy — that people vote for candidates and parties they believe to represent their views and interest — finally appears to be reaching its limits. Evidence? 40% of registered voters are now Independent.  Another 40% of eligible voters do not vote. The Sanders surge is unprecedented by almost any historical measure.  And growing numbers of the Sanders supporters are refusing to vote Clinton if the machine prevails.

War and Empire, mass incarceration, mass surveillance, corporate media, the decaying two party system; these are not simply policy choices, nor conspiracies, but deeply rooted and interlocking historical trends that constitute corporate dominance. These institutionalized structures are well financed, protected by law and power. For three decades and more, the Corporate Power and its means of social control has been the bipartisan project of the so-called “center.”

If this be the center, if this be moderation, what then is extremism?

And, the Clintons have been among the most influential architects of the system. By what measure or by what scenario can the “lesser of two evils” challenge the extremism of the center?

Instead, this begs revolution. And yes it will take movement building outside of the electoral arena. But in 2016, we will have a real choice: Bernie Sanders for President or we will vote for the Green Party.

Martin Luther King was no “lesser of two evils” voter.  King attacked the machine.

In addition to the development of genuinely independent and representative political leaders, we shall have to master the art of political alliances. Negroes should be natural allies of many white reform and independent political groups, yet they are commonly organized by old-line machine politicians. We will have to learn to refuse crumbs from the big-city machines and steadfastly demand a fair share of the loaf.

When the machine politicians demur, we must be prepared to act in unity and throw our support to such independent parties or reform wings of the major parties as are prepared to take our demands seriously and fight for them vigorously. This is political freedom; this is political maturity expressing our aroused and determined new spirit to be treated as equals in all aspects of life.”[1]

We can declare our independence, reclaim our political freedom. We can make our ancestors proud.

“It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries…..Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal opposition to poverty, racism and militarism.”[2]

King’s vision endures. It rings true to our time. We can vote to recapture the revolutionary spirit.  It begins with Sanders or Green in 2016.

It ends with us.

1.*Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go From Here?

2. King, Where Do We Go From Here?.

3. King, A Time to Break the Silence.

Posted in American Culture, Electoral Strategy for 2016, Martin Luther King, Movement Culture, Organizing Strategy, revolutionary strategy, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Letter to My Nephew: On Power, Privilege and Passage

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Letter to My Nephew: On Power, Privilege, and Passage

This article also appeared in CounterPunch.

I wish I could tell you that the road ahead was going to offer clear choices, or change without risk, but that is highly unlikely. It is a gut-wrenching time and my guts roil too.

What lies ahead is uncertain, but all the major trends on war, climate change, and democracy are very disturbing. The challenges are steep and anything that appears to be an easy way out is but a mirage.

Power

I know that opposition to the two-party system and the established order seems risky and confusing, and it is. I am certainly not suggesting anyone should vote for Trump under any conditions.

It’s true that just flipping the script on “lesser of two evils” does not get us anywhere. We have to write our own history and our own narrative. That is why I support Jill Stein. It’s not just that Green politics provide a vision for a way forward, it’s because we deserve democracy and the two-party system has none to offer.

That system, now a century and a half old, is one of the most powerful forms of control the establishment has. But, its bankruptcy is screamed aloud by the choices we are offered.

We have Trump enhancing his already convincing credentials as an all-purpose, full-spectrum bigot, misogynist and would-be fascist unqualified for public office of any kind. And Clinton, the manipulating, calculating master of empire and corporate power willing to frack, provoke war with Russia and invite disaster to maintain the status quo and cover her tracks.

What a contest! I aim a lot of my fire at Clinton because Trump is such an obvious target it really does not take much to critique him. So I focus at the part of the system — the Clinton machine— that has the most success in winning allegiance to a government that no longer represents us.

It might sound easy, but it’s really hard to appreciate that the two-party system is a system.

If you are inside its logic it seems like there is real debate between Democrats and Republicans. But, if your perspective is outside the two parties then the view changes. On the major issues of power and social control — war and empire, corporate power, the vast militarized penal system, mass media, and mass surveillance — they agree. The Democrats and Republicans have shared power over the last 50 years to create the world we now inhabit.

And, it is the Clinton Foundation that has become a global clearinghouse where governments and corporate interests that profit from war and fossils fuels can wield political power, undermine democracy and poison the planet.

Privilege

The privilege arguments are another case of flipping the script. Privilege discourse was originally a way for white people to understand how the system used benefits and bribes to control us. Privilege discourse was originally aimed at educating white people to see that we are being used as tools and fools. Armed with this knowledge we could build solidarity and make alliances with others to better resist the system.

Now the Democrats have flipped the privilege script to shame and guilt-trip privileged people into supporting the system. The not-so-hidden message is that the system really does work for us white people, that the system really does represent the white working class. The Democratic version of privilege is not a discourse of resistance but one of passivity and acquiescence. If you obey the machine, instead of resisting it, you will never learn that your privileges are also chains.

Think of Bob Dylan singing “Only a Pawn in Their Game” at the legendary 1963 March on Washington. Our privileges turns us into pawns and all these years later, it’s still their game, not ours; not yet anyway.

The ugly fact is that many marginalized people can not wait out the existing order. We confine two million to cages, and have a million prison slaves. How many killed in extra-judicial executions? The Obama administration does not count the dead. How many in poverty? How many killed in the Greater Middle East? How are we to interpret the record suicide rates of our veteran as we sit here in the comfort of our “imperial privilege.” The bombs do not fall on us, and we are not in jail, well not yet.

So many cannot wait. What is the message of the new civil rights movement and BlackLivesMatter? The standoff at Standing Rock? The nationwide strike of prison workers? What do you think the message is?

People are not just resisting some awful future, they are resting the awful present.

Passage

We should let people speak for themselves. If we listen closely we will hear that every community has differences. I do not claim the right to represent the marginalized. I am content to speak for myself and engage people in the discussion that democracy demands.  And for than I am grateful to you and millions of younger Americans that are willing to think, question, and to act. It is, after all, your future too.

I hope it does not take world war, but it might. The peace movement against the Vietnam War was revolutionary because it forced people to a deep understanding: a war designed and conducted by liberals had the support of Democrats and Republicans all. Opposition to the war opened a passageway beyond the “liberal” worldview of the established order.

But things will have to get bad, real bad. When you can no longer tell your courage from your desperation then the passage beyond the two-party system and the existing order will open wide.

We are approaching a shift in the equation of risk. The dangers we face in making the big political changes are becoming less threatening than the dangers we face in continuing on the current course. Perhaps we are already there.

 

Posted in American Culture, Electoral Strategy for 2016, Movement Culture, Organizing Strategy, revolutionary strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5% for Jill Stein Means More than 55% for Clinton or Trump

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A Vote for Jill Stein is a Vote for Democracy

A vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, is anything but a wasted vote because it’s a vote for democracy. In a land where democracy is lost, that’s big — real big. No vote for Trump, no vote for Clinton can even come close to matching that.

For the first time in many-a-decade a vote for an opposition party is not a protest vote but a vote to return power to the people. With courage, vision and a whole lot of organizing we can build a viable opposition party and break the stranglehold of the decaying machines on American government and on us all.

The two-party system has failed us.  Elections have been rigged, the economy is rigged, the prisons are full, the rule of law has no top and no bottom, and the dogs of war have become our masters.

The US Constitution makes no mention of political parties and what the founders feared has come to be. The parties have usurped power and they have rigged the system against “We the People.”

And nothing screams this truth louder than the current contest between fossil fuel promoter, corporate champion, war monger and election thief Clinton and bigot, infantile blowhard, climate denier and fascist pretender Trump. This is what 40 years of voting for the lesser of two evils has come to. This is what a century of two-party rule has wrought.

We will have oligarchy and empire with all the paternalistic trimmings: clever speeches and pretty window dressing. Or, we can have it straight up: mean-spirited and ugly — but we will have it. It is only democracy we can never have.

Unless of course we have the courage and vision to vote for Jill Stein.

It’s In Our Hands

It’s time for some real political competition. It’s time for a real opposition party. Jill Stein puts people, planet and peace over profit. That we think this strange or impossible in a land that once aspired to both freedom and democracy should make us tremble. Justice will not sleep forever and mother earth does not calculate profits or wait on compromise.

There is a way home but the road is rocky.

In the US, the greatest candidate in the world must still break through all the laws passed and traps set by Democrats and Republicans. We have among the most restrictive laws in the so-called democratic world regarding elections. The two parties have regulated political competition, restricted debate and placed mass media under the control of giant corporations that know their class interest always, but truth never.

This election is so wrenching because it revealed just how nasty and vulnerable the system has become. On the one hand, millions turn away in disgust. On the other, millions more are taking a stand. Thanks to the great work of the Stein campaign, the history-making movement of 14 million Bernie Sanders supporters, and the record 43% of Americans registered independents, we have a chance at restoring some measure of democracy to the electoral arena.

And we must recognize, with deep gratitude and solidarity, the role of young people who — living inside the lie that American has become — needed no one to pull back the veil. Together we have a chance at wining.

And Jill can win. With the help of Berner converts, Stein now appears on the ballot in 48 states, an all time record for the Green Party. Keep in mind that in 2008, with the highest turnout in decades, only 57.1% of voting age population went to the polls. Yes, that means that numerical minorities elect the President of the Unites States.

Revolutions happen in stages.  5% is the first stage.

In 1856 a new “third” party — the Republican Party – lost the presidency but  upset the existing two-party system by becoming a major party.  It was a time of  political realignment, deep-seated conflict and vibrant social movements. In 1860 Lincoln won for the new party but earned not a single electoral college in the slave-holding states, not even appearing on the ballot in 10 states.  In 10 states Lincoln got zero popular votes but became President none the less.

Perhaps we will make our revolution in stages too. With 5% of the popular vote, the Green Party can make history by becoming the first viable opposition party in living memory. With 5% we can begin to compete more fully on local, state and national stages. 5% is a project we can both imagine and accomplish.

Just 5% of the popular vote wins us:

  • Minimum of $10 million in public funding in 2020
  • A place on the ballot in most states. (threshold varies by state.)
  • Capacity to challenge on the local, state and national level.
  • National recognition for Green policies and platform

And this, of course, is just the beginning.  Four long years of Clinton or Trump will only deepen the crisis so we must prepare. The new social movements grow robust and nothing can stop us now.

We are breaking down the barriers that keep us in our places.  Native communities have connected oil with water and the sacred with the political.  Protesters have transformed to Protectors. The new civil rights movement sees occupation at home and occupation abroad through the same lens. The peace and environmental movement face interlocking enemies: war drives climate change and climate change drives war.  American workers will never prosper without prosperity for workers in Haiti, Honduras, and Columbia.  The prison laborer, the fast food worker, the adjunct instructor, and all of us, toil on same supply chain.

Understanding our many connections and the inescapable network of mutuality is the currency of revolutionary consciousness.  We are connected in the worst of ways by the insatiable demands of Corporate Power and in the best of ways by the boundless resistance, love and audacity of “we the people.”

This could be our time but only if we don’t vote out of fear or hatred.  A vote for Jill Stein is — at long last and once again — a vote for government of the people, by the people, for the people.

5% and we move forward. 5% and we live to fight again another day. This election is a big battle but not the last battle. We will soldier on.

 

 

Posted in American Culture, Electoral Strategy for 2016, Martin Luther King, Movement Culture, Organizing Strategy, revolutionary strategy, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Elevating Trump

 

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This article also appeared in Counterpunch

Elevating Trump

The new evidence provided by Wikileaks Podesta files makes a convincing case that the Clinton team wanted extreme Republicans as the best possible opponents. They wanted not rational discourse but exactly the kind of mean-spirited bigotry that Trump has delivered so well.

The Wikileaks documents are a window into the soul of power. We can see how the Clinton machine played the strategy of triangulation on the level of action and tactic.

The Motive

For the Clinton machine to maintain power, it needs the likes of Donald Trump. It’s a package deal. The Clinton’s lesser of two evils campaign can corral voters most efficiently if their Republicans competitors are extreme, scary and incoherent. Trump is so frightening and potentially disruptive that even powerful Republican elites turn to Clinton for refuge.

So essential is the extreme right-wing to the Democrats strategy that the right-wing must be encouraged and promoted! Apparently Clinton wants and needs Trump.

The Intent

Here are excerpts from an email (click on attachments) outlining strategy and goals to the DNC dated 4/7/2015. Well before Trump officially declared his candidacy.

Force all Republican Candidates to lock themselves into extreme conservative positions that will hurt them in a general election….

The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream Republican Party. Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to:

Ted Cruz
Donald Trump
Ben Carson

We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.

Here it is: a premeditated, purposeful and extremely reckless design to bring Trump into the national spotlight. If doing so sabotages the informed public discourse that democracy depends on, so be it.

The strategy of triangulation has been moving Democrats, Republicans and public discourse to the right for three decades but rarely do we see this kind of direct evidence of intent.

The sad, truly tragic, truth is that without Trump, or his kind, the Democrats would lose one of their main forms of control over voters. Without Trump they might be forced to have a message, offer a positive program, or mobilize the millions of occasional voters and non-voters. But to do so would be to serve the people and that is incompatible with endless war and the rule of the corporations.

The Means

We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.

Given the already “cozy relationship” between political elites and the corporate media the means to do the deed was right at hand.

And indeed the press did follow orders and took Trump seriously.  And for months mass media was quite comfortable broadcasting Trumps bigotry.

I always wondered why media giants, so deeply committed to the Clinton machine — big donors to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton campaign alike — lavished so much attention and so many resources on Trump.  They are driven by the same desire to maximize profit as other corporations, true,  but it still seemed like there were other stories that could sell soap.  The candidacy of a Jewish socialist from Brooklyn was such a story but, well, never mind.  And it’s true that Trump fit the entertainment model of what we still think of as mainstream news.

The New York Times estimates that two billion dollars worth of  free media coverage was given to Trump. Half that would be astounding. The Trump campaign is a study in corporate welfare.

Well, disasters like the election of 2016 have an overabundance of causes. But the Democrats desire to elevate Trump was part of the potion.  And the media followed direction with gusto.  The Clinton’s were owed a favor and refusal was out of the question.

After all it’s just a little payback to the Clinton’s for the Telecommunication Act of 1996 that paved the way for the consolidation of mass media into the hands of a few corporations and a few hundred executives.  The corporate media knows their class interests.

The Verdict

The racism, sexism and trash-talking commentary from Trump, and its effect on public discourse, is acceptable collateral damage, a toxic side effect, of the Clintons’ will to power.

This is the crime: premeditated Trump love. The Democrats had the motive, intent and means to make Trump great.

The verdict: a vote for Clinton is a vote for Trump.

Such is the twisted two-party system. A system that, unless disrupted, will continue to produce Trumps and Clintons and worse.

A ray of light: the Green Party and the social movements.

Sorry Clinton fans, but this kind of mass manipulation is deeply destructive of what little remains of democratic culture in the US. I am afraid that millions will stay home on election day. Withdrawal is a predictable outcome when politics are so debased, but so is resistance. Vote for Jill Stein, become part of the new civil rights, anti-war and environmental moments. Let’s get real political issues back on the front burner.

 

 

Posted in Electoral Strategy for 2016, Organizing Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments