2016- Letter to a Third Party Voter

2016- Letter to a Third Party Voter

For the life of me, it is incomprehensible to me why anyone would gamble with third party votes? I do think it is one of the most critical questions that progressives and the Democratic Party face, though, if they are going to win back House or Senate seats in 2018 and the White House in 2020. Although the Democratic Party has been the vehicle of the progressive movement since Franklin D. Roosevelt, bringing us our county’s entire safety net for it’s citizens including a long list of popular programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s G.I. Bill, civil rights, the women’s right to vote, public education, the eight hour work day, the forty hour week, overtime, unemployment, environmental protections, gay marriage, and so much, so much more, some that pose and posture on the left put more energy into bringing down the Democratic Party than they do fighting the real enemies of the progressive movement!!! What is it that would cause someone that leans to the left politically to turn their back on this party, undermine this party and throw the election to an extreme right wing fascistic, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic candidate?

Those voting for 2016’s “Ralph Naders,” Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were not the only reason Hillary lost and may not even be the main reason. James Comey and the FBI had a huge impact. The Russians had a big impact. The media spent months giving Trump billions of dollars of free media. People like Chris Mathews on MSNBC spent much of the time chasing ratings rather than chasing truth. There were way too many false equivalencies between truly irrelevant emails and the private server with real bigotry and crimes by Trump. Those things are not equal. Hillary’s emails and the server were used to keep it a “horse race.” Trumps absurdities were minimized and normalized. Rabid white fundamentalist evangelicals in the Bible belt, salivating over control of the Supreme Court, had every bit as much impact as the white under-employed in the rust belt that felt like nobody was paying attention to them. Apparently they felt left out and insulted by those enjoying the economy’s resurgence and prosperity in the big cities on either coast.

BUT, it is dismissing reality to dismiss the impact of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, though, and those that didn’t bother to vote because of James Comey, the FBI, the Russians or old stories from the Faux News channel. I think misogyny certainly played a role and sadly, many women are just as misogynistic as men can be. We know racism played a role for 8 years in the Obama administration and many felt like this would be a third term for him and they would do anything to put a stop to that. Some in the rust belt apparently felt like people of color were being heard and their needs were being addressed more than the needs of white people that they saw as the “real Americans.” White Americans wanted to take their country back from all the brown, black, Muslim and gay people they thought had stolen it from them. They didn’t see themselves as “privileged” anymore. They saw themselves as “oppressed” anytime anyone got equal rights to theirs that diminished their sense of “privilege” and entitlement.

Then there were the pollsters. How many people felt like I did, lulled into believing there really was a “blue firewall” and almost impossible for Hillary to lose? I had done some phone banking as I have done in every election since the 80’s and sent texts through Moveon.org and contributed cash to the campaign but I could have done so much more if I thought it was needed!! The polls all assured me that I could finally relax that last couple of days. (All the pollsters should be fired or fined for incompetence and malpractice!!!) But, in the end, we have to remember that Hillary DID actually win all the debates and did win the primary vote with the most actual votes and the popular vote in the general. This was against odds. When you have James Comey, the FBI, the Russians, Chris Mathews, racists, misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, fundamentalist evangelicals. under-employed resentful, entitled privileged white people in the rust belt. and disgruntled “Bernie or Bust”ers all working against you, it is amazing how well Hillary actually did!!

There is nothing that I can do on a personal level about all the other factors that handed the election to Donald Trump but what I really want to focus on, discuss and try to understand is, why anyone leaning left would vote against the Democratic Party? Why is it that so many people seem to take pride in not being registered in either of the parties that can actually win? As a long time progressive since the sixties, I could never comprehend registering as a Republican and wonder why everyone wouldn’t want to register as a Democrat? What did the Democratic Party ever do to you that you find so egregious?

Now, just for a moment, consider what the Democratic Party has done FOR you. If you are able to read this and you went to a public school, thank the Democratic Party for that. If you are going to go to college and get student aid, thank a Democrat for that. If you are a woman that votes, thank a Democrat for that. If your an African American and vote, thank a Democrat. If you are employed, thank a Democrat for the 8 hour day, the forty hour week, overtime pay, and the minimum wage. If your a veteran and used the G.I. Bill, thank a Democrat. I could go on about benefit after benefit you enjoy because of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party’s New Deal brought us out of the Republican caused Great Depression and built the worlds premier infrastructure. Obama and Democrats brought us out of George Bush’s Great Recession. Now, take a moment. Off the top of your head, name ONE thing the Republican Party has ever done for you? If you can name something, my guess is that you are somehow misinformed. The truth is, the Republican Party has never done ANYTHING for you. Why doesn’t the Democratic Party deserve some loyalty after all they have done? Did you think the Democratic Party had ever stopped working for you despite the last eight years of obstruction from the Republican Congress?? And you turned your back.

Maybe your a “Bernie or Bust” er and was hoping all along that Hillary would fail so you could jump on your high horse and insist that “If only Bernie had been the candidate, he would have won.” The fact is that Bernie couldn’t even win the primary, how is it now that you believe he could have won the general? What bubble do you live in? Have you been 100 miles East of the West coast or 100 miles West of the East Coast? Have you talked to anyone outside your progressive bubble??? How many people over forty in this country are going to vote for anyone so naive as to self label as any kind of “socialist” whether “Democratic” or otherwise?

We have all heard your “Bernie or Bust”ers admonitions toward the fundraising arm of the Democratic Party, the D.N.C.. Yes, some emails showed Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ preference for the Democratic candidate. Maybe that had something to do with Debbie Wasserman Schultz being a loyal Democrat supporting a candidate that had been loyal to the Democratic Party since 1969 over an independent socialist that didn’t become a Democrat until he wanted to run in the Democratic primary. By the time Bernie entered the race, most loyal Democrats had already assumed the candidate would be Hillary. Many had made the decision to support Hillary’s candidacy for 2016 way back in 2008 when she lost to Obama. Some had decided Hillary would be the best candidate when she had a 67% approval rating as Secretary of State. So, was it really any wonder that most Democrats would choose a loyal Democrat over an opportunistic outsider that had the poor judgment of calling themselves a Socialist rather than a New Deal Democrat? By the time Bernie entered the race, many loyal Democrats had already made up their minds and anything the D.N.C. and Debbie Wasserman Schultz did later was already irrelevent to who most Democrats would support.

Yea, we all loved the fact that Bernie was to Hillary’s left and most loyal Democrats saw his role as pulling Hillary from her center left position, further to the left, but most of us, including Bernie, also knew that any kind of self described “Socialist” was never going to win a general election in this country in 2016. That is just a reality regardless of how you might like to delude yourself.

Hillary entered the Democratic primary April 12th, 2015. Many loyal Democrats coalesced around Hillary quickly. She had a built in constituency. She had been building her coalition for as many years as the right wing media had been smearing her and creating conspiracy theories about her. By the time Bernie entered the race 44 days later on May 26th, 2015, many Democrats and especially the infamous “Superdelegates” were already committed to Hillary. That was way before there was any impact from the DNC or Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Bernie’s candidacy was seen by many as something beneficial only in the short run to make that pull to the left on Hillary and for her to have someone to debate with. If there had been no Bernie, there would not have been much of a debate and even less media air time for the Democratic candidate. Bernie was necessary but most of us, at that time, really didn’t think he would take it as far as he did, hanging on even after he had obviously lost the primary, only to do damage to Hillary’s candidacy. His supporters gleefully picked up the thirty years of smears and conspiracy theories from Fox News and the right wing and disseminated these lies through social media. Rather than putting their energies into defeating the Republican candidate, they put their energy into damaging Hillary and the progressive agenda for their own self gratification.

The reality is that Superdelegates were not created for the purpose of thwarting Bernie’s campaign. The Superdelegates had been created back in the eighties after Democrats had suffered landslide defeats and implemented for the first time in the election of 1984!! Democratic leaders wanted nominees that could actually win the White House rather than keep losing to Republicans with  candidates like George McGovern (who I voted for btw). They thought that the party leaders should have an increased influence on who the nominee would be rather than just rank and file Democrats. Although Howard Dean won most of the Superdelegates in 2004, John Kerry actually won the nomination because he won the primaries and caucuses. This was very similar to the situation in 2015 when Hillary entered the race first, secured pledges from most of the Superdelegates before Bernie even entered the race which gave her some advantage as it did Howard Dean in 2004. Unlike John Kerry, though, Bernie was not capable of winning enough delegates in the primaries and caucuses to overcome Hillary’s early advantage and the loyalty of the coalition she had built since her husbands run in the 1990’s.

In the primaries and caucuses, Hillary got almost four million more votes than Bernie and won 11 more contests than he did. Bernie mostly won caucus states. He had much more difficulty in states with one person-one vote elections. In Washington State, Bernie was able to pull a landslide in the less Democratic caucus there, winning 74 of the 101 delegates, but when they had their one person-one vote election, Hillary won with 53% of the vote over Sanders 47% showing that more people actually supported Hillary in Washington State than the caucuses would indicate.  The fact is that way more people participate in primaries than caucuses and in those more democratic contests, Hillary more easily won actual votes.

Some “Bernie or Bust”ers also whined about those registered as “Independents” not being able to vote in the Democratic primaries in some states. I suppose you believe Republicans should be able to vote in the Democratic primaries, too? Of course that is ridiculous. There would be all kinds of mischief. Why should people that work within the Democratic Party day in and day out, making sacrifices for the party and doing the real work have their choices diluted and undermined by those that don’t want to show up until the primary? THAT is ridiculous and unfair, too. if you want to vote in the Democratic primary, register as a Democrat. Not difficult. If you are too self righteous and sanctimonious and holier than thou to be a part of the party that brought us civil rights, minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare and that long list of other benefits you enjoy, then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. The Democratic Party is the vehicle that has brought us this far and it is the party than will continue to take us into the future. It is made up of regular people like you and me except that they are actually willing to put in the unglamorous work that I doubt you are willing to do. If you don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t get to whine about their policies. Most “Independents” I have known are essentially Republicans anyway or privileged, straight white men that don’t have much on the line and can afford to waste their votes.

You say you didn’t “trust” Hillary? Based on what? You and Bernie whined about her speeches? You finally got your way and saw excerpts the Russians wanted you to see and there was nothing very interesting there! A Russian hacked wiki-leak that said she has a public face and a private face? Wow, grow up! We all  have various “faces” we wear depending on who we are with and the situation! You are one person with your spouse- maybe a little sexy at times. You are a different person with your kids. You are one person with your boss and a different one with your co-workers. This is normal. This is reality. You do not put on the same face with everybody you know.

No, personally, I don’t think it was the emails or the speeches or much of anything else except for one thing: misgogyny. You just couldn’t accept a woman in a position of power. You would prefer to believe sources like Faux News that you would never believe otherwise. You are not really that gullible but, in this case, you made an exception. You CHOSE not to trust Hillary based on smoke and mirrors from the far right 30 year campaign to smear her and decided that you would rather “trust” a flake like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or a fascist like Donald Trump. Maybe you jumped on the Comey FBI train during that last week before the election, assuming that there would finally be something substantial in the “new” emails. You must have really felt like a gullible fool when nothing materialized and you had contributed to a fascist taking power.

My suspicion is that a lot of people like to pose and posture on the left, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. In reality, the only real way to move a progressive agenda forward is through coalitions and collective action within the Democratic party. There are always those on the fringes that don’t want to put in the time or the effort but then want to second guess, undermine and sabotage the hard work of others. We are already hearing ultimatums from some “Bernie or Bust”er types that they will never vote for a Democrat if Bernie’s pick, Keith Ellison, isn’t elected DNC chair. They would rather see a fascist in office than lift a finger for the party that has always lifted them up unless they get their way 100% of the time. How did we raise a generation with so much entitlement that they would cut of their nose to spite their face and undermine everything they themselves believe in???

The only true progressives are those that are wiling to put in the time and the work to nudge the Democratic Party forward and to the left. It takes a herculean effort by selfless individuals that care more about others and the progressive agenda than just self gratification and their own ego. If people want to denigrate the party rather than fix it or go off and do their own little impotent circle jerk, so be it, but that really doesn’t do much for anybody else, the progressive agenda or our country. Sometimes individuals have to subjugate their own egocentric wants and desires and work for the greater good. That is what coalitions are all about. That is what collective bargaining is all about. If you decide to attend a protest and the protest is walking down Market Street and you don’t like that route and decide to take a turn by yourself on Van Ness, your not really part of the protest any longer. You are just another individual walking up Van Ness. That is essentially what your “protest” vote amounted to.

So, many “Bernie or Bust”ers, feeling “pure” in their “waiting for the messiah” posture, mad at the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party for their perceived “impurity,” decided to take out their revenge on women, minorities, children, the disabled, immigrants and even themselves and their peers to get back at what they saw, whether true or not, a “rigged system.” Trump and Republicans delighted in taking up their cause. Conservatives are always looking for ways to undermine the progressive agenda. This time, they had a lot of help from the disgruntled, deluded and dishonest “Bernie or Bust”ers who turned out to be racist, sexist, ageist, and paternalistic too. These, mostly straight, white males thought they knew better than African-Americans, women and people over 40 that overwhelmingly voted for Hillary. They thought their votes should matter more than people of color, women, and those that had been fighting in the real “revolution” since the sixties. Many millinniels with no grasp of history, discounted, minimized and dismissed the long struggles that came before them, believing the “revolution” started with them and Bernie. The real revolution started with people like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, and Harvey Milk. These people, along with the Democratic Party had brought us civil rights, women’s rights and lgbt rights. The real revolution didn’t start with Bernie. The real revolution isn’t about one generation, one candidate or one election.

There are so many people these days living in the tinfoil hat, flat earth, anti-intellectualism bubble of ignorance. Anti-science. Anti-logic. Anti-reason. They ignore all the accomplishments of the Democratic Party and all the accomplishments of the Obama administration. They minimize and dismiss the obstruction of the Republican Congress. Even though Obama saved us from the worst recession since the Great Depression, that still isn’t enough for them. In their ignorance, they complain that Obama is not “progressive” enough as if he could have done anything more in the face of the brick walls called the House and the Senate. Some of them listen to Alex Jones and his conspiracy theories. Some are actually naive enough to think someone like “Bernie” could have done better than Obama. (Even Bernie doesn’t believe that!) These are the kind of people alarmed by chemtrails, vaccines, and the “reptilian” elite. They reject science and western medicine in favor or medical quackery and vote for people like anti-vaxxer Jill Stein. Sadly, we have a lot of them that posture and pose on the left.

I don’t play sports or have much interest in sports but I do understand that teamwork, people working together, is what wins the game. As a union person all of my life, I understand that collective bargaining and working together accomplishes more than individuals going it alone. As a Democrat, I know that it takes coalitions to win elections.

Does every team member agree with the coach? My guess is probably not. My guess is that individual team members subjugate their own ideas for the greater good of the team. Did I always agree with my union? Definitely not, but I always showed up on the picket line because I knew it wasn’t always just about what I thought I wanted. When I was in my twenties and couldn’t imagine ever being old, retirement benefits didn’t matter to me. I wanted more money per hour. I didn’t get my way but ultimately I benefitted from the collective effort with others when, somehow, I did get old.

Reagan’s so called “11th Commandment,” (actually penned by Gaylord Parkinson) was “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” The point was to discourage infighting. It was a winning strategy for Republicans for many years just as good teamwork is a winning strategy in sports and solidarity is a winning strategy for unions and coalition building is a winning strategy for political parties. If there are two opposing sides and one is going to win, dissension only improves the odds of the other side winning.

Since the election, I was looking back over Cory Booker’s speech at the DNC this year. He said “I respect and value the ideals of rugged individualism and self-reliance. But rugged individualism didn’t defeat the British, it didn’t get us to the moon, build our nation’s highways, or map the human genome. We did that together.” Egocentric individualism does not win in sports, unions or in politics. Cory said, “We must find the common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.” Apparently, you could not find the “common good” that Hillary and the Democratic Party were offering.

“If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together,” Cory said. I have heard the impatience of others that thought the whole system needed changing, the “swamp drained” and wanted that done yesterday and fast and went off in their own direction and didn’t end up changing the system at all or really accomplishing anything together with others.

One last quote of Cory’s from that speech I liked was “We cannot be seduced into cynicism about our politics, because cynicism is a refuge for cowards.”

Of course, Washington, like Oregon and California are “safe states.” You, like others I know in the Bay Area, knew your third party votes wouldn’t matter much because others would pick up the slack anyway. I kind of doubt if that works in sports- one team member figures the rest of the team will do fine without them putting in as much effort? It doesn’t work with unions when one member decides they would rather take a vacation during the strike than walk the picket line. It obviously doesn’t work for political parties, especially in those states that are not “safe.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Don’t think that I am trying to chastise you or beat a dead horse here. I really am trying to understand the logic. You are not the only person I know that decided to abandon the coalition that makes up the Democratic Party and the collective action it requires to win elections to vote for someone with no possibility of winning. It doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t compute. It doesn’t follow any kind of logic I can figure out?

For some, on the far left I know in the Bay Area, as I have said multiple times, it is merely about self righteousness, feeling sanctimonious and leftier than thou. I guess it makes them feel superior in some way to the regular folks that do the day in and day out grunt work, week in and week out, months and years of work. Those that started the real “revolution,” like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan and Harvey Milk are minimized and discounted. Current leaders in the African-American community are denigrated. Primarily young, straight, white males paternalistically insist that African Americans must not know what they are doing because they overwhelmingly voted for Hillary. That ends up feeling a bit racist to me. The same young, straight, white males insist women that voted for Hillary must not know what they are doing either. That always sounds a bit sexist. When they find out that people over forty voted for Hillary in the primary, the Bernie or Buster types figure people over forty don’t know what they are talking about either. Then they play into the hands of Republicans manipulating them with Russian hacked emails about the DNC. Well, yea, the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz may not have been perfect, but who hasn’t made mistakes? Donald Trump? You think Bernie Sanders is the messiah?

I think most of the “Bernie or Buster”ers are young— too young to remember 2000 and the Ralph Nader debacle. I don’t think that is all of you that sat out the election or voted third party,  but it is something I saw in 2000 and see in 2016. For me, it feels like putting ego and self over community and common interests. For me, it is the same thing that would undermine a team, a union, a political party and the progressive agenda. Many of these people are former Bernie supporters but rather than follow Bernies advise and support the Democratic Party, they individually decided that they knew better than the team, the coalition The Party AND Bernie!!! Rather than playing a part in productive collective action, they chose to go it alone and accomplish nothing for anybody except to have that feeling that somehow they were above it all and others really didn’t matter as much as their own self gratifying orgasm of self righteousness.

Eldridge Cleaver said “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” For me, I think that is my mantra for the next couple of years until 2018 and certainly 2020. I don’t understand the logic of your voting third party and I don’t understand the logic of others voting 3rd party but it is something to ponder for the next couple of years.

Hillary was an imperfect candidate in some ways but, at the very least, she was qualified. She had also been well vetted. We knew everything about her there was to know. She made a few mistakes along the way which she was willing to admit. Nothing ever bordering on criminal in spite of 30 years of right wing lies, smears and conspiracy theories.

We knew little about Jill Stein but most of what we knew showed her to be a bit of a flake and not qualified for political office. Gary Johnson also showed himself to be uninformed and flakey as well. So, a vote for one of them was essentially a “protest” vote I suppose? For me, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were part of the problem just as Ralph Nader was a part of the problem in 2000. Progressives must learn the same lesson again that they learned in 2000. As imperfect as it may be, the Democratic Party IS the only viable progressive party. The only “real” revolutionaries are those progressives that are willing to put the time and energy into the day to day grunt work that keeps the Democratic Party functioning as the vehicle for the progressive agenda. There will always be that fringe element that wants to stand on the sidelines through history and then think they are entitled to remake the Democratic Party every four years at their convenience and then abandon it when they don’t get 100% of what they want. Hillary did win the popular vote which a “socialist” in 2016 could have never done. Jill Stein could never do it. Gary Johnson could never do it. There was only one other person that could win the election despite losing the popular vote and that was the racist, misgoynistic, xenophobic, homophobic fascist you helped get elected because of your narcissistic self righteous, sanctimonious, “leftier-than-thou” desire for self importance and self gratification. Hopefully, more so called “progressives” will get that narcissim doesn’t win elections. Solidarity, loyalty to the Democratic Party, teamwork, and hanging together is what wins elections. As Hillary said, “Stronger Together.” By 2018 and 2020 if we are still holding elections by then and it hasn’t turned into a totally totalitarian country by then.

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