I understand the frustration that progressives are feeling after coming so close to defeating the establishment in 2016. We almost did it, and now we are stuck with choices that we would rather not have. I understand that people are tired of the fear card being played by establishment Democrats when they ask, “Would you rather have Trump?”
While that argument does resonate with me, and I think Trump would be a disaster for the country, I also see a strategic reason to keep the Democrats in the White House while we build on the successes of the past 18 months.
Bernie Sanders has pointed us in the right direction. Bernie knew the country was ready for progressive politics, and he had long considered an independent run for the White House. He correctly concluded that the system is rigged in favor of the two major parties and that the only way to succeed is using one of them as a vehicle. He chose to run as a Democrat so he couldn’t be ignored. It is a shame that our political system is rigged. The two major political parties are incapable of representing the diverse views of our country. Until we take power and change the rules of the game, we are forced to play by those rules.
Now the good news: The progressive movement is on the rise, and if we build on our momentum nothing will stop us from taking over the Democratic Party. The entrenched establishment held on for dear life in 2016 and is dying. We can beat them in 2020 or 2024 if we build on our gains.
How many progressive activists out there have attended a central committee meeting of your local Democratic Party? We complain about the Democrats, yet we don’t get involved in the party and do the work it will take to make it a progressive party. It’s not enough to vote in the primaries or work on the campaign of a candidate you like. If we are going to transform the Democratic Party we have to become the Democratic Party.
Let’s face it, there is no enthusiasm for the corporate wing of the party. The Democratic Party is ripe for the taking. It will take a lot of work. It’s not just about running for office or working on campaigns – we can take over the mechanisms of the party, and the enthusiasm is there for our agenda. The establishment is counting on us remaining on the outside and letting them continue to control the machine. We need to do better at the inside game to go with our superior outside game. If the Clinton campaign hadn’t had control of the party mechanisms, Bernie would have been the nominee this time. Change is coming as long as we move forward and don’t squander our gains.
Here is what we should do:
1. Start attending the meetings of your local central committee. There are unfilled seats that you can fill. When we gain the majority, we will be able to elect the county and state chairs. We will be able to change the rules on how our state parties operate. And we will be able to support progressive candidates the same way the local parties have supported neo-liberals in the past.
2. Bernie is right about running for local office and working on campaigns for progressive candidates. Elected officials build organizations that they can use to turn out the vote for other candidates they align with. We made a big deal about the superdelegates voting for Hillary to put her over the top, but the reality is that their collective political organizations did as much to help Clinton as the delegate count.
Let’s look at the states where Bernie did really well. In Oregon, Bernie had a senator in his camp, Jeff Merkley, who had a statewide organization that helped Bernie. We all expected a big win in California, but where was the governor, both senators? They were mobilizing active Democratic Party voters for Hillary Clinton. Gil Cidillio probably had the biggest political organization in the Bernie camp in California, but that organization was no match for Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer.
Illinois was close because Chuy Garcia was a force, but imagine if instead of supporting Hillary Clinton, a senator or governor had been in Bernie’s camp. The party’s elected officials stood together this time behind Hillary. Our job is to make sure there is a political price for that in the future. We don’t have that leverage yet, but when we build it we will be unstoppable.
3. Continue the outside pressure that we are good at. Get involved in your local Fight for 15, your local frontline environmental groups, peace groups, women’s groups, etc. It will take an inside/outside strategy for us to succeed. Elected officials need pressure from within the party and from outside advocacy groups. They work hand in hand.
That’s just a start. Don’t give up now – we are making progress.
4. You are not going to like this one, and I risk having you reject the rest of it, but on the national level we should continue to vote Democrat while we take the party over from within. It is the best strategic move if we want to forward a progressive agenda. Of course it’s a tough one to stomach – Bernie was the best candidate by far. But he is not an option in November.
Jill Stein is right on the issues, but the rigged political system keeps her from being a viable option. It sucks, you are right. We should be able to vote for someone who shares our values. The problem is that in our current political system, voting against the two major parties is nothing more than a protest vote. It is not a smart strategic vote.
Here are some positive reasons voting for Hillary Clinton is the best strategic vote for the political revolution:
The Supreme Court. In our current political system the president appoints Supreme Court justices. There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton will appoint better Supreme Court justices than Donald Trump would.
Health Care. I’m with you: Single payer is the way to go, and Obamacare is flawed. The alternative under the Republicans is worse. It’s personal for me – Obamacare saved my life. I would love a public option, but the subsidy has made health care affordable for me and I don’t want the repeal on Donald Trump’s desk. Hillary supports a public option as the next step in Obamacare and will increase funding for community clinics. These are steps in the right direction.
Iran Nuclear Deal. Donald Trump would scrap the Iran nuclear deal and give radicals in Iran the support they need to reconstitute their nuclear weapons program. Hillary will stand by the deal she helped bring into fruition.
Climate Change. I hear you: ban fracking. Hillary is not there yet, but she acknowledges the existence of climate change and will do more than climate change deniers in the Republican Party.
Minimum Wage. Let’s be honest, Clinton doesn’t oppose the Fight for 15. She thinks $12 an hour is easier to achieve, but if we put a $15 an hour national minimum wage on her desk, Hillary Clinton would sign it. Donald Trump would not only veto it, he would lead the fight against it in community after community.
Debt Free College Tuition. Okay, I used her term. It’s not free public college tuition, but it is a step in the right direction. The Republicans don’t have a plan. They like college for those who can afford it.
As you see, we can make progress under Hillary Clinton, while we will make no progress under Donald Trump.
If you want to vote Green, just understand that you are voting with your heart and you will not likely help the political revolution in a strategic way. Voting for Hillary Clinton is voting to make some progress. Not the progress we had hoped for, sadly, but progress we can build on.
Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News