“This is politics, so get over it.” An Occupy Organizer’s Case for Bernie

By JT Haines – January 26, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.06.42 PMNew York-based Wildfire Project Director Yotam Marom supports Bernie Sanders for President. As a former Occupy organizer and leftist with a fairly large and national group of followers, Marom’s posts fill a space in the conversation not often reached by the MSM. This morning he directly and concisely addresses many of the questions about Sanders I often hear from those concerned the Sanders campaign isn’t left/progressive enough. If you’ve heard, or have, these questions also, I recommend this as well worth a read:

Folks, I think at this point, it’s just irresponsible for movement people not to support Bernie Sanders for president. Bianca and I watched the democratic town hall on tv last night. Millions of people got to listen to Bernie rail against Wall Street, demand that capitalists pay for social programs, preach against the war, popularize the term socialism, explain programs like single payer health care and free higher ed as common sense, and more. Bernie ain’t perfect: His foreign policy is weak, I wish he was stronger on race, and this election isn’t going to fundamentally change the system one way or the other. And still, nothing could be better at this moment – both for our movements and the hundreds of millions of working people in this country – than the continued possibility of a Sanders presidency, and the immense political education the public is undergoing with every day of this election cycle as a result of the megaphone our movements have given him. But if he loses Iowa or New Hampshire, it’s over, the megaphone goes away, and we go back to business as usual, a boring ass election between a bunch of right wingers. If you’re a cautious democrat: You have nothing to lose by gambling on this; the only thing holding Bernie back is our fear that he can’t win, but he will if you back him. And if you’re a leftist holding out for the revolution: Me too. But this is politics, so get over it. We use all the tools at our disposal that might move us forward. Your silence on this – like neutrality in the face of any imbalance of power – is actually a vote for Hillary.

Mr. Sanders and his campaign are indeed far from perfect. With that firmly in mind, this may be the healthiest conversation in many decades about the opportunities and limitations of any one campaign. For that alone we should be thanking Bernie, and giving him a fair amount of latitude on his decisions about how, where, and with what party to run.

This is not 2008. I think posts like Marom’s make that clear. And (as is no secret), I certainly share Marom’s conclusion that the tools the Sanders campaign is offering us right now are far too useful to pass up.


Time for Hillary to Withdraw

Clinton 2016 campaign announcement speech. Image (c) msnbc.com/NBC Universal

Clinton 2016 campaign announcement speech. Image (c) msnbc.com/NBC Universal

By JT Haines — June 26, 2015

Sanders is surging, and some are surprised. (Newspeak Review is not. The sentiments expressed here in 2013 are playing out as predicted.) In any case, the surge has drawn the expected consternation and in-fighting among the “left” (those willing to hope that incremental change funded by corporate contributions is going to get us there), and the left (those who believe — with some evidence — that it will not).

Which puts us in a familiar and uncomfortable place — Bush Gore Nader, Obama Romney Stein, Nolan Mills Sandman (Minnesota’s 8th 2014), even in many ways Obama Clinton ’08 — just ratcheted up yet further.

As per script, these old conversations are happening everywhere:

Is Bernie wrecking it for Hillary and the country, because Supreme Court nominees etc?
Is Jill Stein wrecking it for Bernie and the country, because Nader?
Is Bernie wrecking it for Jill Stein and the country, because inevitable folding back into establishment politics, waste of energy, etc?
Will Bernie Sanders and/or Jill Stein “cause” a rabid Republican to get elected, who will destroy the universe worse than DC Dems already have been?
Is supporting Bernie in particular for his stance on economic inequality worth it?
Is supporting Stein for her stances on basically everything worth it?
Is a chance at avoiding 9 more years of bi-partisan consensus on the taxpayer subsidized corporate takeover of the economy, the environment, and the republic, worth near term risks on some issues?

Put differently, among those who otherwise agree that a change is necessary, the question is how *big* a change is necessary, and when is it necessary, and when is it possible? If we’re being honest, supporters of each of Sanders, Stein, and Clinton all on some level have a point. But these debates are about tactics, and strategy, and individual assessments of how urgent and possible change is at this moment. They ask the question: Is addressing inequality, and climate change, and the corporate takeover of politics in a meaningful way realistic and worth the risk, not whether it is necessary. A vast majority of people seem to agree about that. So sad that individual citizens are stuck in perpetuity debating strategy and not considering together the things that would make our country better!

In any case, it can’t go on forever. A breaking point is inevitable — when you sell out the American public for 20, 30+ years, eventually the chickens are going to roost. And that’s no longer even a particularly radical suggestion; it looks like it may be happening now. The Sanders surge is just the latest sign.

For the time being, we may be stuck plodding along with many of the same conversations — on social media, in blogs, at the dinner table, at conventions — with would-be allies, until we hit the point where that’s no longer an option.

Or. Hillary could step aside now.

Maybe it’s time to add to the list the possibility that it is actually Hillary and corporate Dems that are ruining it for the country, not the other way around. Why wouldn’t we? It happens to be the truth. And wouldn’t that give us something to do for the next year? Whether Sanders, Stein, or otherwise, imagine the possibilities and the impact on the conversation. We might even stand a chance of not spending the entire year bickering with each other.

Before we blow our — oh my gosh that’ll never happen, crazy unexpected things never happen in this country (false) — lids: It goes without saying that this would be a pretty radical turn for all the reasons that are immediately running through your head right now. It would take real vision, commitment to this country, and willingness to put ones own personal interests and efforts aside.

But Hillary stepping down is the right thing to do. And, somewhere in there, I think she might even realize it. With tiny apologies to the impressive run that Hillary Clinton and her supporters have had, it’s time to add the prospect of her withdrawal to the conversation.

More Hillary, and the “fates of peoples”

From “Ready for Hillary” today on facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 10.19.21 AM

The post and photo currently has 124,000 likes and 15,000 shares.

My take: Hillary’s strategy so far is (1) allying herself with Wall Street money, and (2) emphasizing the clear truth that it’s time for a helluva lot more women in DC. That may work for her, we’ll see. However, even just on the possibility of Hillary running there are already a lot of conflicted people who want the latter, without ceding to the former, creating divides among otherwise allies. Which causes me to question just whose, exactly, interests her running would really serve. Anyway, you know my position. Give me Warren/Sanders (or Stein/Flowers, etc).

Getting out in front of the “lesser of two evils”

By JT Haines, December 14, 2013

I’ve noticed lately there’s hardly an article about Elizabeth Warren (she’s great) which doesn’t also offer presumptions about the 2016 candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Fair enough, I guess, except that the same agents of the status quo currently lining themselves up around Sec. Clinton will no doubt later seek to pawn her candidacy off on us as the result of an authentic democratic process.

The scenario is familiar: 1) Party machinery grinds forward one or more insider candidates long before most of us are involved. 2) Barring sufficient democratic intervention, said candidate receives the party’s nomination. 3) And, with Ranked Choice Voting not yet nationally available, those preferring a meaningful departure from the status quo are faced with a lesser-of-two-evils scenario, which is, at that late date, regrettably compelling.

Frankly, I resent the dynamic. I thought about doing some huffing and puffing about how I will be refusing to support a corporatist-warmonger candidate in 2016, including Hillary, regardless of what type of maniac the other corporatist-warmonger party nominates. But then I thought, this is not a threat, this is feedback which might genuinely be useful to someone.

Because here’s the thing, I might actually refuse to support another corporatist-warmonger candidate in 2016. I for one feel more fortified in this position than I did last year when I, yes, reluctantly voted for Mr. Drone. (Although I did not, I’d like to note, offer support in the form of money, organizing, or positive voice, as I do for candidates representing a genuine alternative.)

As I see it – and I’ll grant, it’s an uncomfortable position to assume — the risk to the planet of another four years without a radical departure from the status quo may now be more dangerous than the risk of one corporatist candidate losing to another corporatist candidate. And to the extent others are agreeing, it’s likely in a manner not currently anticipated by backward looking data and self-serving whitepapers. Given the thin margins in which these campaigns now operate, it wouldn’t take many.

In other words, dear Democrats, as you paper state fairs and clog inboxes with presumptions and propaganda about your self-appointed candidate, a friendly heads up: If you are counting on the same levels of reluctant, nose-holding support in 2016 as was received in 2012, it may not be forthcoming.

As Russell Brand put it in his popular recent BBC interview, “Then it’s this one gets in, then it’s that one get in, but the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?” Given what will surely be pitched as another hugely important election in 2016, I think those of us who demand a genuine alternative should be saying so early and often.

Update: This sponsored ad is popping up on facebook feeds December 2013. Establishment money at work.No thx

Update #2: From MSNBC Feb 11, 2014: “Don’t Run, Hillary, Don’t Run.” A very interesting piece, and headed in the right direction.

Update #3: January 19, 2016: In a piece titled “Democrats Fear Bernie Sanders Supporters Won’t Back Clinton if She Wins Nomination,” the Washington Times reports that 14% of Sanders supporters say they will not vote for Clinton under any circumstance.

Update #4: November 9, 2016. Oh no.