The Stench of Bernie Sanders and the “Unsafe State Strategy”

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A foul odor wafted through my office window early Tuesday morning. At first I thought it was just the toxic exhaust from diesel trucks burning up the 710 freeway out of the Port of Long Beach on their way to deliver cheap goods to the Walmarts of America, but another whiff and I knew it was something far more noxious. It was the smell of defeat; Bernie Sanders had formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

But was it really a defeat, or was that staged rally with Hillary and Bernie the deal all along? Had Bernie simply been the DNC’s dupe and wrangled up America’s disgruntled youth into the stinky feedlot of the Democratic Party, so that Hillary wouldn’t have to do the dirty work herself? Is that why Bernie was so damn afraid to go after her email scandal in those debates? Was that why he refused to “go negative” even though the Clinton camp never held back their contempt for Bernie? Is that why Sanders refused to take on her egregious foreign policies (or was that because he supported most of them)? It really shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise regardless, at the outset Bernie said he planned to back Hillary in the general election if his primary bid burned out — and Bern out it did.

Now Bernie’s supporters are left scratching their heads. What’s next? Back Hillary, that drone-firing Wall Street-loving crook? Screw the whole thing up and vote Trump out of disgust? Give up entirely and move to Baja to surf and drink cheap Mexican beer? The latter option sounds enticing, I’ll admit. But here’s a better idea. Why not put real pressure on Hillary in the states that matter most to her electoral campaign in what my co-editor Jeffrey St. Clair calls the “unsafe state strategy”. If somebody like Dr. Jill Stein, for instance, spent their time campaigning only in the states that could cost Hillary the election, the left might get somewhere.

Here’s the deal. If a progressive independent party (Green Party?) focused their efforts in Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and the few other states up for grabs, Hillary and the Democratic machine would be forced to listen. She’d either have to address its demands or lose to Trump outright. Progressives might actually make a real impact no matter how small of a minority they may be. Why run a 50-state strategy, spending millions to overcome ballot access hurdles put up by the Democrats and Republicans, and instead spend that cash on organizing in hopes of spoiling this thing from the inside out? Go ahead and work to build independent grassroot city and state campaigns, but at the national level, why not fuck shit up?

Sounds reasonable to me and I bet a lot of those Sandernistas out there would be excited to continue filling town halls, arenas and ballparks this summer to rail against warmongering Hillary and that racist Trump. The movement Bernie helped to spawn shouldn’t die on the Democratic vine, which is clearly the plan. It should live on in true movement form. Now’s the best time to join forces with Black Lives Matter (with Bernie out of the way this ought to be an easier maneuver) and hit the streets. Register voters in swing states, rally the troops, protest these assholes from now up to election day.

Hillary won’t look back if she isn’t constantly hounded along the campaign trail. And those little nuggets Sanders slipped into the Democratic Platform will be all but forgotten if she wins. The worst thing Sanders supporters could do would be to back Hillary’s bid and embrace the lesser-evil mantra he’s now shilling with her by his side.

Please, don’t buy his hollow schtick. The stench is already too much to bear.

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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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