What Is To Be Done? A Message to the Left

I imagined the mood of the American people this morning to be like a bad hangover where none of us were quite sure what we did last night. Instead I hardly remember ever seeing this much optimism and triumph in people’s faces. It could be short-lived, or could be a prolonged sense of victory. But the important thing now is that all people, specifically the left, stay vigilant.

The republicans control both the house and the senate (albeit by a small margin) and the presidency. Trump is in position to manipulate a reactionary judge into the supreme court, raping the American people for decades. The question now is, what is to be done?

The first thing to do is to organize. The left has been in pieces for decades and this is the best chance to finally unify. Many people were content with the idea of a Clinton presidency merely to avoid a Trump regime, but that has all changed now. If Clinton had won I expected no real movement to spawn simply because there would be a universal feeling of dodging a bullet. But there can now be a shared feeling of anger. Anger towards Trump and anger towards the reactionaries that elected him, a feeling that could be shared by all on the left. But the danger here is to rebel through the establishment, meaning we cannot just hope for a new progressive hero to come from the democrats. If nothing else this election the democrats have proved they are unwilling to change when they need it most. The mistreatment and abuse of the Sanders campaign have shown that the DNC and the RNC alike must burn, this is what they asked for.

Why can we not accept the democrats anymore? Regardless if Bernie could have beaten Trump or not, the DNC manipulated the race and chose one of the most hated politicians in the country as their leader. Whether they were fully aware of it or not, they chose Trump instead of Bernie. They were unwilling to change. It is foolish to think that real change, the change we desperately need, can come from a party that is part of the problem. They are not the lesser of two evils, they are just evil nonetheless.

When we organize, what exactly do we need? Many will already call for grassroots action to help facilitate change but there are serious limitations to this approach. The absolute ideal is for top-to-bottom change. Grassroots action can be useful for specific issues, such as protesting the DAPL or for higher wages, but it cannot bring the systematic change that is needed. If we wish to truly change the political, economic, and social corruption that we face, we need first focus on the broadest issues that we can. Mass civil disobedience is now needed, not a passive resentment.

Part of the outrage last night was that Clinton did not speak at 2:00 am, that she waited until morning to give her speech. I hoped with all my heart that she would not concede, but of course that never happens. Previously I had little respect for Clinton but that would have changed immensely if she had just stood up for herself. But she’s spineless. She stood on stage and told millions of people that we’re “Stronger together” and that she accepted a Trump presidency. What would have happened if she did not?

First of all she would have jump-started the wave of protests that are sure to come. Her defiance would have meant everything, but instead she chose to crawl away in passivity. She gave the message that we should merely accept our position and try to make the best we can, but this is folly. The true message, the message they don’t want you to hear, is that you can reject this altogether, that you can revolt. This is not the time to work with our enemies. Don’t accept the decaying image of our country they want to push, we can still change it.

Organizing is crucial to the rebuilding of the left, but it is not the only factor. The second step is to learn. If we want to build a movement we must have the philosophical, political, and economic foundation firmly set if we are to avoid the mistakes made by leftists of the 20th century. We must read, learn, and know as much as we can to fight against the demoralizing propaganda and deliberate misinformation that will be shoved down our throats. We must no longer be subjects to the misinformed elite, they have shown with all fervor they cannot help the country any more than they can help themselves.

We cannot be afraid to express our opinions just because we are in the minority. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned being in the South, with my views being largely in the minority of my peers it’s clear their own beliefs can be without foundation and based on faith. The ruling elite, the ruling elite, cannot justify itself. It cannot stand up to scrutiny and that’s why an open discussion about the greatest issues we face are often suppressed. To quote Martin Luther King Jr:

You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.

This gets to the heart of the issue, if you question one aspect of the ruling ideology you must question the entire thing, and that is exactly what they don’t want you to do. People can be fight ferociously if the values they’ve been told they believe in all their lives are put into question.

In 1943 Jean Paul Sartre wrote “If war breaks out, it is in my image, it is my war and I deserve it” and this can be true of today as well. This fate is our fate and we deserve, we all could have done more to prevent it. But the important thing now is to change the future, the future that we believe we deserve we can have if we just fight for it. Unification of the left is our only hope at this point as the wave of reactionaries continues to grow throughout the world. We are in uncertain times and we must fight to keep our hopes and dreams alive.

Advertisements

Third Party Politics

It was reported earlier today that Jill Stein, the assumed presidential candidate of the Green Party, offered to step aside if Bernie Sanders wanted to run on the party’s ticket. This is an interesting proposal, especially since just yesterday it was leaked that Sanders will supposedly endorse Clinton at an upcoming rally next week. The idea isn’t completely ludicrous, after all Sanders served as an independent in Congress and his ideas match up more smoothly with the Green Party. In fact, as a sign of support, during the California primary Jill Stein actually urged voters to vote for Sanders if they were registered as Democrat or independent, saying that “The more the Sanders team can raise the bar for the people not the billionaires, the stronger we will all be for it.”

This raises more crucial questions about the function of third parties in the U.S. First off I’d like to mention the abuse of the term ‘third party’ when every organization that isn’t the Democrats or Republicans is merely called the ‘third party’, in a way hinting at it’s own failure. But it turns out that the Green Party is the second largest alternative party with ballot access in 20 states in the country, right behind the Libertarian Party with access in 34 states.

The issue is, which would really be the most beneficial solution? Suppose that Sanders does endorse Clinton, that doesn’t automatically mean that all of his supporters will vote for her. In fact it seems the only reason the Democrats want the endorsement from Sanders is really just as an admission of defeat. Only that way will the party begin to pacify many of its more outraged members. But imagine if Sanders turned around and endorsed Stein? That seems much more likely than Sanders running on the Green Party ticket, and it would mean an unprecedented amount of people would suddenly very seriously consider the party. Sanders began endorsing and fundraising for progressives running for local elections, the most impressive feat being the fundraising of $250,000 for Tim Canova, an opponent of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Jill Stein
Jill Stein is currently running for President as a member of the Green Party, and previously ran in 2012.

I don’t expect this to ever happen. Sanders is already poised to have a great deal of influence in the Democratic party and will likely continue to influence generations of voters. But a move like this would grant him the same status as Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate often accused of taking votes from the Democrats clearing the way for the 2000 Bush election. In an election season without Donald Trump I would fully support this, but for now the best thing might be for Sanders to continue to build the new labor movement, regardless if it is within or outside the Democratic Party.

However the future of any alternative party does not depend solely on Bernie Sanders. The biggest issue at the moment is exposure, the fact is that the majority of Americans couldn’t identify an alternative party to vote for. This is being remedied in some ways. For instance in late 2015 the Green Party and the Libertarian party filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates in hopes to gain access to the national debates. The lawsuit was filed on the grounds that the exclusion of alternative candidates violated antitrust laws, and in many ways actually does. The ideal for the new system would be any candidate would be featured in the debates if they had secured their place on enough state ballots to potentially win a majority in the electoral college. This seems to be a reasonable way for candidates to actually earn their place on the debate stage rather than having it handed to them.

Despite this being a reasonable solution it is unlikely to succeed. Prior to 1988 the debates were sponsored by the League of Women Voters, however after the group chose to pull out of the debates the Democrats and Republicans put together a joint effort to create the CPD. Although technically the CPD is a non-profit organization you can imagine the amount of influence the two major parties have over their operations. As a result in 2000 the rule was created that for a candidate to be featured in the debates that candidate would need to garner at least 15% of national support across five polls. Of course it’s extremely difficult to poll that high without any sort of national recognition such as a debate would bring. This is exactly what the Green’s and Libertarian’s lawsuit would seek to end.

There is a great deal more that needs to be done to see the growth of an alternative party. Although an endorsement from Bernie Sanders would seem like a quick fix there is still other issues inherent to these parties. The biggest example is the mentality of the “Lesser of two evils.” The idea is that you vote for the least despicable of the two major candidates simply to deny the worst candidate from winning. It doesn’t matter if you actually agree with the person you voted for, the mentality just states you vote for the person you disagree with least. This is such a silly idea you could hardly find anyone that seriously supports it.

There are a number of problems with this argument. While it is largely utilitarian, your vote would be much better spent going towards a candidate you actually agree with. Not only would you be putting your effort towards ideals you believe in but you wouldn’t have to compromise yourself into this trap of “lesser evils.” Think of it this way: if Hitler and Stalin were campaigning on the Republican and Democratic tickets, respectively, would you vote for the lesser of two evils? You wouldn’t vote for Stalin simply because you believe he is the less despicable, you would simply revolt. And that is all there is to do.

The thing about the lesser of two evils is that they are both still evil, which in my mind means that we can do better. However, I’ll be honest. I would much rather see a comprehensive labor movement in the U.S. than a new party, but I’ll take what I can get.

Reaction to Making “America White Again”

Making headlines across the country, Rick Tyler, running for a congressional seat from the 3rd district of Tennessee, put up a billboard with the words “Make America White Again” to bring publicity to his campaign. In an interview he practically admitted it was to stir up controversy, but still claimed there was a great amount of truth to it. In his own words he wanted to go back to the America of the 1960’s, or what he calls the “Ozzie and Harriet” or the “Leave it to Beaver” America. But something striking about this interview is how completely composed the man is: he speaks intelligently (or just what he regards as intelligent sounding), he has his ideas clear and articulates, he even provides a few shady statistics to reinforce his claims.

There were already speculations about the true meaning of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and what it actually meant, but Tyler’s slogan takes all suspicion out of it. He confirms our suspicions in a way that even the demagoguery of Trump would not dare to do.Read More »

Criticism of the Sanders Campaign

The 2nd Democratic debate last night revealed some interesting things about the Democratic Party. Each candidate had their own moment, for Sanders it was the quote “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower“, and for O’Malley it was calling Trump an “Immigrant-Bashing carnival barker” and oddly enough for Clinton, it was using 9/11 to justify taking corporate donations. But it was about all that was expected.

Many of the  internet polls after the debate showed Sanders to have won the debate by at least 70%-90%, but many still proclaim for the average viewer that Clinton won the debate. This comes at an unfortunate time, the latest poll shows that in the early voting state of New Hampshire Clinton leads by 21 points, just last months Sanders was leading. The results are similar in Iowa, while Sanders and Clinton were tied at one point, Clinton now leads by over 18 points.Read More »

Reflections on NaNoWriMo

Starting tomorrow, on November 1st, the National Novel Writing Month officially begins. The goal is for a concentrated month in which participants aim for at least 50,000 words written during that month (even though novels are generally 80,000 words). However, they do admit that the length they choose makes most novels turn out to be short novels or even novellas. Their reason being:

We don’t use the word “novella” because it doesn’t seem to impress people the way “novel” does.

Water for Elephants was written as a result of NaNoWriMo and later went on to become a major motion picture.
Water for Elephants was written as a result of NaNoWriMo and later went on to become a major motion picture.

NaNoWriMo is nonprofit organization and runs largely off donations and sponsors. Their main focus of prizes is simply that winners get the satisfaction of completing their novel, the winners being people who meet the writing goals. There is also a list of other prizes that winners get, such as 50% of the Scrivener writing software and other discounts to writing related perks. Also to boost their credibility they have sections dealing with media coverage of the event and a list of books published as a result of NaNoWriMo. One of the most famous novels published being Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants”.Read More »

Participating in a democracy

With election season underway and the first debate for the democrats tonight, people are paying more attention to politics. Obviously this has been an odd election due to the non-establishment politicians running for president, and even becoming the front runners. What a lot people tend to forget is that politics is not just relevant every four years. Political activism is an important part of our lives because the way the country is governed impacts not only ourselves, but the entire country for generations to come.

The reason I feel a lot of people are turned off politics is for two reasons. 1) That politics is boring and takes too much effort to learn, or 2) What the individual does will not have an effect on the outcome.

I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of politics is boring. Most people couldn’t care less about the legislative process our the power plays that go on in congress. But while those parts are boring the actual issues that politics focuses on are interesting. Since people are naturally very opinionated, as long as they aren’t completely self-centered, it’s difficult to have absolutely no feelings for an issue. Chances are they feel very strongly for at least on topic, whether it is gay rights, veterans benefits, helping the poor, healthcare, abortion, or any other topic, there is something political that resonates with their personality. You don’t have to know everything about politics to still fight for these issues.Read More »

The Impact of Biden’s Presidential Candidacy

There’s been a lot of rumors lately about the possibility of Vice President Joe Biden running for President in the upcoming election. First of all it is worth noting the political atmosphere right now. A recent study came out that now shows that Bernie Sanders is leading by +7 points in New Hampshire (Page 2). In the same state it was reported that favorability for Sanders was 78% with Clinton’s at 63% and rapidly dropping due to the whole email scandal surrounding her.

With this happening the rumors about Biden begin circulating again, and this time with more coverage. There is still some time before the first Democratic debate in October, but if this is going to happen Biden needs to get moving. Of course he may not have time to, depending if Hillary bounces back or not.Read More »