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Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?

I respect and pretty much agree with the point that Dave Marsh made in his recent column, but also think he misunderstands a Green Party tactic for a Green Party policy. Let me explain briefly.

First, no one has any delusion in their mind that Bernie Sanders is actually going to become a Green (or at least I hope not). As Ralph Nader, who knows a few things about the Greens, told Abby Martin on an episode of Empire Files a few months ago, Sanders is fully cognizant of the fact he is coming up on seniority in his Senate seat and simply cannot afford to alienate the Democrats. But I do not know if all the Sanders crowd understands this also. In fact, some are still so high they think Bernie still has a shot at the convention. Besides wanting to meet their drug dealer as soon as possible, I’m simply amazed by this cult of personality and how far it is taking people.

As such, in tactical terms, the Greens are laying the path very early to lead a pack of Sanders supporters to the Stein campaign. This explains the reason the Party recently said there will be a “Green welcome mat” awaiting the Sanders crowd in July and why Stein recently publicly reached out to Bernie to continue the revolution. The Greens know that someone is in the buff but the Sanders gang has yet to catch on that their emperor has no clothes.

Second, and more importantly, Marsh has left out a key point in his analysis. The Greens just passed a major benchmark to gain federal funding. Every vote Jill Stein gets, even if she does not win, is a vote for further funding for the Greens. That is a brilliant type of long game. Even if the Greens lose in 2016, by 2018 they would have more resources for the midterm elections. It was correct to say that Sanders was a sheep-dog but the Greens rather ingeniously have figured out how to use that to their advantage. Instead of putting themselves in the line of fire, as Nader did in 1999-2000, they let Sanders do all the work for them. Now the Democrats have exposed themselves as a bunch of wretched, despicable people in beating up on one of their own. In other words, they shot the sheep-dog too early and now the herd is both exposed AND, more importantly, not just wandering but running away on their own!

Finally, let us be clear, Obama is doing everything he can to get the TPP passed and chaos is resulting. Clinton is so obviously phony and transparent only the criminally insane would deny it. Sanders is treading water but the ship is still sinking. The Democratic Party Gossip Sheet, which the rest of the world calls New York Times, is clumsily playing catch-up and trying to cover the behinds of both Wall Street and the Clintons.

The Greens now need to only do two things now to make their goal even more successful. First, Jill Stein and the Greens need to seriously consider branding themselves in a way that evokes Scandinavian democratic socialism, if not calling themselves Green Democratic Socialists outright. That is a perilous decision because it could alienate potential Green voters who are more moderate. I personally have seen and written in my own work about how the Greens are the actual democratic socialists of America as opposed to the Michael Harrington-Cornel West-Bayard Rustin Democratic Party kinda-sorta socialists. But there are an awful lot of Trump voters who call themselves “fiscal conservatives and social liberals” that have rejected neoclassical economic policies this election cycle that could be alienated.

My own thinking is this. First, wait until Sanders dies off in July and get his followers to jump into the Green Party. Then, begin to build Vote Pacts like Sam Husseini advocates with your Libertarian friends. Finally, consider seriously how these Vote Pacts, in the aftermath of the election, could be used to create an effective anti-war and anti-austerity united front from below. The first tactical action that such a united front could take on would be a boycott of Wal-Mart, small business owners hate them because they ruin their business and union activists hate them because they bust organizing drives. If a town were to refuse to shop at Wal-Mart until it allows a union vote, we could actually begin to retake economic democracy in a meaningful fashion.

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Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.

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