The recent conventions crowning of two of the most despised presidential candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties has put millions of voters between the proverbial rock and a hard place for theNovember 8 general election. It is indeed between the lesser of two evils: Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D). The strangle hold by the two-party (duopoly) system must make many wish the U.S. had a multiplicity of parties, such as Nepal (122), Serbia (111), Russia (78) or at least Britain (8).
Too many potential voters now see Trump and Clinton as the King and Queen of Chaos, giving only lip-service platforms to desperate needs of the middle and lower classes they secretly despise. Once elected, vows to the “masses” will be ignored and either one will continue to live lavishly and rule tyrannically just like Bourbon royalty for two centuries until they met up with the French Revolution’s guillotine in 1792.
No need here to point out that the two-party perpetual lock on the voting system—and voter acceptance of this status quo—has brought us to this same critical juncture: Domestic austerity of the 99% against both colossal profiteering and endless wars by the 1%. Bombing Syria and, again, Libya, and jingoistic propaganda against Russia and China could vaporize us all. The opiates of patriotism and obedience are being used once again by the Administration and Pentagon to drug most Americans into submission. For those of us objecting, it’ll be street barricades against militarized police using sound cannons, concussion bombs, tasers, and the latest in pepper sprays.
Historically, if a third-party candidate or party grassroots upstart seriously threatens the duopoly—as happened to Jesse Jackson (1988), Ross Perot (1992), Ralph Nader and Howard Dean (2004)—they face money, the mainstream media, or Machiavellian methods to snuff them out.
‘Dirty tricks’ used to snuff out upstart candidates
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) are experts at it. Their latest tool was to stunt voter turnout by a news service getting a few superdelegates’ views and announcing the primary’s results beforeballots were even cast. At its convention, officials “de-credentialized” Sanders’ delegates daring walkouts.
Other dirty tricks by both parties include gerrymandering, hackable voting machines, and cutting polling places or staffs.
A major tactic these days is purging voter-registration rolls guaranteeing thousands of provisional ballots. It took a month for California’s election staffers to count more than 2,500,000 million provisional/mail-inballots.
Bernie Sanders became a monumental threat to the Democratic nomination with rallies of tens of thousands around the country. Trump seemed to be in the same boat with his rallies and primary wins. By July, Sanders had raised $227,687,274 from 2,500,000 donors averaging $27 each. His volunteers, heavily millennials, outnumbered Clinton’s by at least55,000 in California alone.
The pro-Clinton DNC machinations against him have been exposed in recent Wikileaks’ revelations. Yet primary election results were a sensational and historic win for a grass-roots candidate: He got 12,029,699 votes and won 22 states—versus 15,805,136 for Clinton (28 states).
In California’s late count of 1,684,384 provisional/mail ballots, he won by 879,671 to Clinton’s 804,713. So if the AP had not called the results before the vote, it’s possible Sanders would have swept the state.
GOP officials fail to use Rule 9 to boot Trump
As for the Republican primaries, party officials seemed violently opposed to Trump’s wins, yet no dirty tricks have been detected. But when he won the nomination, they ignored the party’s Rule No. 9 about removing a candidate for “impairment” in the “otherwise” category of death, declination, or “otherwise.”
All of the foregoing shows a closed two-party system that for decades has been unresponsive and contemptuous of the 99% and their fundamental needs. But it could lose if a big new opposition party fights back with one purpose in mind. For example, the French—and in 1916 with the Russian people—overthrew the 1% and its supporters. So did angry and frustrated masses in Britain when the workingclasses formed the Labour party in 1906 to chiefly oppose the Conservative party and it’s still powerful. Interestingly, a move is afoot by a Scottish party to abolish the unelected House of Lords from even rubberstamping Parliament’s laws “for people’s daily lives.”
In the U.S., Minnesota’s destitute farmers and working class finally had declared “enough was enough” and started the Farmer-Labor party in 1921. It grew almost instantly and became so powerful that by 1941 the party had “elected three governors, four U.S. senators, eight Congressmen,” and most of the legislature. By 1944, the Democrats begged to get under its tent and later became the Democratic Farmer-Labor party. The “DFL” is still Minnesota’s major party.
In other words, in hard times a new, major opposition party for the 99% is possible and can grow—fast. Anational outcry is demanding one because the workingclass has no party to support their interests.
Populist insurgency is ‘ratcheting up’
Famed newsletter editor Jim Hightower just headlined his late July edition “The populist insurgency is ratcheting up” and declared:
WE WON! “We” being the millions of young people, mad-as-hell working stiffs, independents, deep-rooted progressives, and other “outsiders” who felt the Bern and forged a new, game-changing, populist force of, by, and for grassroots Americans. True, this progressive-populist coalition did not win the White House on its first go ’round behind the feisty Sanders insurgency (which the smug political establishment had literally laughed at when he began his run). But they are not laughing now, for even they can see that the outsider revolt against power elites won something even more momentous than the 2016 election: The future.
In short, a large new opposition party’s time has finally come, united with one purpose: representing the 99%.
It can’t be done with a coalition of minor parties because of each group jealously guarding its philosopies, leadership, membership lists, campaign experience and energy—and egotists. Google’s “squabbling coalition parties” has pages attesting to such weaknesses around the world. As one veteran activist emailed me about a coalition’s circular firing squads, “they don’t know what to do with the greed-for-power itch that so many [minor parties] seem to have.” Moreover, the duopoly system is adept at the divide-and-conquer tactics via infiltrators and provocateurs.
A new major party with a strong singleness of purpose, however, is difficult to sabotage. This would be especially true if it’s blessed with a list of Sanders’ 2,500,000 donors. As long-time Portland political blogger just wrote me:
A new movement will not be built on the tiny group of activists in the old radical and Socialist parties. The enormous group of Sandernistas is the real actor here and [we] oldtimers should forget our sectarian differences and join them if they ever get organized in that movement everyone is calling for. If the unions want to call themselves Socialist, which I doubt, OK. But whatever they call themselves, they have to be the base that Sandernistas support with action and money.
Why not call the new party ‘The Commons’?
As for a party name, why not use only one word for simplicity and voter recognition to attract registrants. After checking hundreds of party names around the globe, none appealed. As a long-time listener to Thom Hartmann’s constant reference to people as “the commons,” I decided on the “Commons Party.” “Commons,” according to the Oxford dictionary, is “the common people regarded as a part of a political system” (as in a parliament’s House of Commons).
Millions of voters for a new major party certainly exist from the primaries.
For instance, Trump’s three major opponents collectively received 18,765,763 votes. If Sanders’ 12,029,699 votes are added, it becomes a pool of 30,795,462 prospects—not counting millions disenfranchised by the duopoly. Add the millions of union members seething about leaders endorsing candidates the rank-and-file loathed. And never overlook students—high schools or universities. After all, that’s where today’s powerful bloc of millennials came from.
Granted, thousands may still vote for the duopoly’s candidates out of party loyalty (“Yellow Dogs Democrats,” “Straight-Ticket Republicans”) or ignorance. Or because Clinton is a woman or Trump a “straight-talker.” Or the heartbreaking belief new blood can transform a party’s sclerotic Old Guard.
Millions more yearn for a major opposition party against what 2016 offers. Without one as yet, many are checking out—or registering—into minor parties: Libertarian, Green, Independent, Tea Party, at least four types of Socialist parties, and like the Sandernistas’ Our Revolution.
To paraphrase the legendary activist Joe Hill: “Don’t mourn for the duopoly’s “lesser evils.” Organize to oppose them—now!” Activists are legion and bring extraordinary organizational skills. Sanders had55,000 volunteers in California alone.
Putting focus on long-neglected domestic needs
Both the thousands in Occupy and both Sanders and Trump campaign armies’ centered down on opposing the 1%’s policies and, instead, focused on meeting long-neglected domestic needs: single-purpose health care to a $15 per hour minimum wage, increasing and expanding Social Security/Medicare, free tuition at public universities, blocking banks from speculation, fixing infrastructure, stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty benefitting only giant corporations, halting climate change, and echoing Sanders’ convention delegates’ chants of “No More Wars.”
Imagine what a Commons party could achieve with this menu! It could also blacklist Congressional members and Administrations ignoring these demands, despite their swearing to “promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Or cut the Pentagon’s allocation in half and put the remainder into domestic needs.
Such movements also taught veteran campaigners and newbies to put principles before personalities in everything from fundraising, canvassing, creating media and overpass signs, phonebanking, fliering, street theatre and demonstrations and running those “huuuuge” rallies around the country.
Meetings usually weren’t held in plush quarters or rented halls, but in homes, warehouses, libraries, schools, pizza parlors, pubs and backyard potlucks. Leadership generally followed Napoleon’s guideline: “Every French soldier carries a [general’s] baton in his knapsack.” So leaders were rotated from the ranks instead of bossy, ambitious wannabe “generals.”
Occupy’s democratic meeting methods reappeared: timed agenda items, fair input by “stacking,” “twinkling” fingers for approvals, and projects assigned to initiators.
In his latest major interview, Sanders spoke for the fearful, the despairing, and the angries about what those in other times and other places did to change their countries, and to follow their example unless we want to be ruled by lesser evils preferring we vanish. And to begin right now:
We must continue to bring millions of people into the political process to stand up to take on the billionaire class, to fight for economic and social and racial and environmental justice, and that fight must continue the day after the election because fundamental changes, transformational changes…take time to happen. They don’t happen overnight…”
That’s the cue for our actions now toward the only possible solution to the duopoly’s ignoring the 99%: forming a major opposition party. The Commons party.