FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

2016 Electoral Guide

Any discussion of U.S. elections needs to be based on the understanding that, at present, voting is carefully designed to, in Chomsky’s words “reduce the population to apathy and obedience”, putting us in a position where we are forced to demonstrate our fealty to the corporate state by actively endorsing one of its two anointed representatives.

It doesn’t have to be that way: Greek voters had an alternative to vote against neoliberal austerity and they exercised it putting Syriza in office. Same with the upcoming elections in Spain where Podemos will offer a similar alternative. And, of course, over the past two decades, voters in Latin America had real choices and made the right decision in electing Morales, Correa, Chavez, Kirchner and other populist left candidates, to the great displeasure of the U.S. State Department.

We are not at that point and so we need to be doing the on-the-ground work which is necessary to get us there. That work involves

1) strongly supporting mass protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15, System Change Not Climate Change and the remnants of OWS the consolidation of which could eventually evolve into an electoral alternative at some point in the future.

and

2) strongly supporting viable local third party campaigns such as those of Kshama Sawant and the candidates from the Richmond Progressive Alliance helping these scale up to statewide and eventually national organizations.

In the meantime, it does no good to pretend that running marginal national candidates is a substitute for 1) and 2). Only once we have satisfied ourselves that we have done the work can we begin to play the rigged game which is the party primary system and the national “electoral extravaganza” in November 2016. We should do so, in my opinion, via one of the following four paths.

Path 1) Support Sanders in the Democratic primaries.

Caveat: Those exercising this option need to be fully aware of Sanders’s likely “sheepdog” role. They should make clear to others involved in the campaign that they plan to return to the fold of independent activists once Sanders is obliterated by Clinton, rejecting DP operatives and Sanders’s own efforts to herd left voters into the toxic Clinton campaign and the graveyard which is Democratic Party Politics.

Path 2) Support Jill Stein, the likely Green Party nominee.

Caveat: The Green Party lacks a sufficient level of organization where it can mount a credible campaign and even achieving ballot access will require a substantial investment of activist energy which (arguably) might be better channeled into option 1 or 2 above. A possible poor showing (Stein received less than 500,000 votes in 2012-down from Nader’s 2,882,995 in 2000) will marginalize rather than legitimate the politics we are trying to advance.

Path 3) Not voting.

Caveat: Lack of participation will be perceived as indicating that the public satisfied with both corporate options. We know otherwise, of course, but we will be unable to get that message out.  Staying uninvolved and uncommitted also prevents the development of organized networks of supporters which can become the nucleus of local campaigns and activist organizations, as happened in the wake of the Nader Green Party 2000 run.

Path 4) One of the above and then voting for the lesser evil in November.

Caveat: This option should only be exercised in a swing state and even then some leftists will regard voting for what may turn out to be not the lesser, but the more effective evil  as indefensible. What’s important is that we not allow the Sanders issue become yet another left circular firing squad of mutual recriminations and personal animosity-as the Democrats are strategizing that it will. We might not agree with lesser-evlism, but we shouldn’t demonize those who do. Nor should lesser evilist pragmatists condescend to those who refuse to be constrained by the worm’s eye, world weary pramatism of those who have resigned themselves to the Democratic Party as our only hope for change-a dangerous delusion as we should have learned in 2008 and 2012.

We need keep all that in mind to get the best possible results from the fatally compromised, corrupt and cynical electoral system in 2016.

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes

More articles by:

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes. He tweets at: jghalle.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is still wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Robert Koehler
The Nuclear Status Quo
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail