Because I have been observing these trends for quite awhile, I wanted to take a breath after the election and take a hard documented look at where we are going and how we got here.
1. The Democrats are as Evil as the Republicans
We would all like to have the Democratic Party be a large strong party defending progressive ideals. It has not been such for decades. For documentation see The Democratic Party is the More Effective of Two Evils.
As a reminder the Democratic Party voted for the following in its 2016 platform.
- Against an immediate 15.00 minimum wage
- Against expanding solar power
- Against an amendment banning fracking
- Pro TPP
- pro Israeli war crimes against Palestinians
- Against a carbon emission tax
- Against pension protection to keep them from being cut
- Against an amendment blocking energy companies from using eminent domain for fossil fuel extraction
- Against an amendment to make climate change a test for building a future Keystone pipelines
- Against an amendment for a single payer healthcare system
- Against an amendment to make healthcare a right
- Against an amendment eliminating the use of any force in the Syrian conflict
- Against an amendment calling for the end of U.S. exportation of fracking to foreign nations
After losing the Presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives, the Democratic Party pushed to have Chuck Schumer be the Senate Minority Leader. As a reminder Schumer
- Voted for the Patriot Act
- Voted to repeal Glass-Steagall
- Voted to bail out Wall Street
- Voted to invade Iraq
- Voted for the Defense of Marriage Act
- Gets the most “donations” from Wall Street Firms
2. The Sheepdogging keeps marching along…
(and Bernie Sanders is your typical sheepdogging democrat.)
Sheepdogging is having democrats lightly “criticize” their party for leaving progressive values such as peace and the environment to gain credibility and then for major elections urge democrats to return to the fold and vote democratic because of a variety of false excuses. Excuse examples follow.
- Lesser of Two Evils (LOTE): At least we are not republicans.
- Half a Loaf of Bread: Getting something is better than getting nothing. This hides the fact that what the democrats frequently get is nothing disguised as a real improvement.
- Republicans are Worse: Just look at their rhetoric and ignore our actual results.
- False helplessness before minority republicans: Contrast with Bush Jr. who despite a democratic majority in both houses still did whatever the hell he wanted to.
- Progress not perfection: This is said to hide the lack of progress.
- This is the most important election ever! or This election is just too important!
- Elect democrats and then hold their feet to the fire then forget to hold them accountable on war, civil rights, the environment, etc.
- Supreme Court! If shouted loudly enough repeatedly it can successfully obscure that those appointed by democrats have often disappointed.
Bernie started his campaign by saying Clinton was a far better candidate than Trump and that he would not hesitate to support her if she were the nominee. He never contested the obvious and extensive voting fraud. See Election Reform Is Needed. Though he pledged to take his fight to the convention, in June he said he expected Hilary Clinton would be the nominee, he would vote for her and he would stop trying to tell super delegates to change their mind. This was before the Convention even opened let alone a vote taken.
Bernie has never voted against Israel’s war crimes and giving Israel with now up to over four billion dollars every year or 11 million dollars a day. For this continuing tragedy in Gaza see also references 170, 191, 194, 227, 237, 248, 256, 257, 258, 259, 262, 263, 266, 273, 281-302, 309-347, 362, 374-381, 384, 401-407, 433, 459-470, 488, 516-534, 576, 581-587, 626, 627 of this article: Continuous Wars.
Chris Hedges said, "Sanders squandered his most important historical moment. He had a chance, one chance, to take the energy, anger and momentum, walk out the doors of the Wells Fargo Center and into the streets to help build a third-party movement. His call to his delegates to face “reality” and support Clinton was an insulting repudiation of the reality his supporters, mostly young men and young women, had overcome by lifting him from an obscure candidate polling at 12 percent into a serious contender for the nomination. Sanders not only sold out his base, he mocked it. This was a spiritual wound, not a political one. For this he must ask forgiveness."
Bernie has also supported war, drone killing, and the military industrial complex. Saying he has blood on his hands is not hyperbole, it is an accurate assessment. On subjects such as TPP he criticizes when brought up by republicans but looks the other way when pushed by democrats such as Obama. See Don’t Let These People or Organizations Fool You. See also Gary Swing on Bernie Sanders.
Sanders said, "My campaign brought millions of people into the political process, the overwhelming majority of whom ended up voting for Hillary Clinton." I think that sums it up nicely.
Why persist in hitting Bernie? Because the democrats play exactly the same game year after year after year. It does not take any type of political expertise to know that he would give up and support Hilary just as he said he would. It is amazing to me how the democrats use this sheep herder strategy successfully over and over again: Jesse Jackson, Kerry, Obama, Kucinich, Cuomo, Grayson, Van Jones, Warren, Sanders, Clinton twice, etc. This has been going on for a long time. For example see Grayson, Kucinich, Warren, and the Road to Hell.
Sure, I hoped Bernie would cause an influx of disappointed democrats permanently migrating to the Greens, but as usual it did not happen. We need to take a hard look at keeping democrats as an integral part of the Green Party. The Green Party may need to shed democrats and shrink before it can become competitive.
Who is the next sheepherder? Tulsi Gabbard, a democrat in the US HOR from Hawaii, is a good possibility and people are already trumpeting her as the next savior who will eventually betray and then sheepdog by “reluctantly” urging voters to vote democratic one more time and then hold their feet to the fire.
3. The Absolute Necessity of Purity Tests and Integrity
In October 2016 an Associated Press poll found that nearly seven out of ten third party supporters say they could still change their minds. AP-GfK poll: Third party backers a wild card in 2016 race.
It is not a very high bar to say stop Israeli war crimes, stop the US military industrial complex around the globe, stop economic destruction, stop corruption, stop torturing, and stop environmental destruction. And yet by constantly buying into the democratic excuses listed above, the Green Party prevents its own growth.
An expression often put forth by democrats which Greens unfortunately buy into is, “I don’t have patience with purity tests.” The assumption is that by cooperating with democrats and giving up on values - such as the ten Green Party values - progress is possible. Conversely, stubbornly clinging to one’s values makes progress impossible. Just the opposite is true. Cooperation with the democrats – which they never return – means voters get scared, desperate, and confused. The result is voters end up leaving the Green Party and voting for democrats yet again. In 2016 we had perhaps the two most despised presidential candidates in history running against each other. The above poll indicating many are anxious for an alternative. Despite this the Green Party – the only large left independent party in the United States – only got 1 percent of the vote. Contrast with the Libertarian Party which for all its faults still got over three times as many votes. The Libertarian Party at least was not confused about what it stood for nor afraid to use purity tests. Using purity tests are another way of declaring and standing behind your ideals. For an example of how Republicans have used them successfully and why we need to do likewise see And Have Not Love.
The Elephant in the Room is the question if the numbers of counted voters are accurate. There is a great deal of evidence both that there was massive voter fraud for the democratic primary and that voting machines are easily manipulated. See Election Reform Is Needed.
For third parties, the two biggest are the Green Party on the left and the Libertarian Party on the right.
Green Party (GP) Ralph Nader 2.70%
GP David Cobb 0.10%
Nader again .38%
GP Cynthia McKinney 0.12%
GP Jill Stein 0.36%
(Rocky Anderson and Roseanne Barr also ran smaller campaigns which may have had some effect. Both proved to be fickle allies to the progressive movement.)
GP Jill Stein 1.0%
Take a hard unsentimental look at these numbers.
The use of Nader in 2000 had a temporary increase in those voting Green Party, but it had no long lasting effect. Certainly Nader showed absolutely no loyalty towards the Greens afterward, treating them as just another party and even running against them in 2004. Running celebrities has not helped us.
The Libertarian Party – with a mythology substituting for an academic basis – has soundly trounced the Greens in every election since 2000 by two to almost four times.
While the Green Party has gone up slightly, one must look at the whole picture to appreciate the extent of the failure. David Cobb ran in 2004 and was Jill Stein’s 2016 campaign manager. He came up with the safe state strategy in 2004 which was to vote for a Green except when it could hurt the precious democrats. Cynthia McKinney ran in 2008 as a communist with all the baggage that carried. In 2012 I thought Jill Stein ran a fairly good campaign and was open to all Greens, but only got .36 percent of the vote.
In 2016 one must look at more than just that the Libertarians once again got over three times as many votes despite their lack of ideas and unpopular positions. Clinton and Trump were the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern history – perhaps all of US History - to be running at the same time. There should have been a huge third party vote. In October 2016 an Associated Press poll found that nearly seven out of ten third party supporters say they could still change their minds. See AP-GfK poll: Third party backers a wild card in 2016 race
Despite this, the Green Party could not get - after almost half a century of building - more than one percent of the vote. The reason is in the Green Party there are a huge number of democrats who treat it just as a subordinate wing of the Democratic Party. Many promise to vote for Greens, but always end up voting democratic. This has been going on for decades. One big reason is many Greens do not see a big difference between the Greens and the democrats. Tragically, Jill’s campaign of trying to link with Sanders put off the needed divorce with democrats still further. Her pathetic attempt to help HRC by only contesting those states which would help Clinton certainly did not help.
See references 5, 6, and 7.
5. What went wrong with Jill Stein and the Green Party?
I voted for Jill Stein in both 2012 and 2016. What then is wrong? Michael Cavlan said, “It is not so much Jill, it is the people she hangs around with.” And so it is.
Rick Sklader said, “The problem with Stein was the campaign she ran. First the Sanders candidacy initially supplanted Stein & The Green Party by stealing their essentially Social Democratic platform. Even at that point Stein was not yet the GP nominee, yet rather then present a more robust left working class perspective Dr Stein immediately began flip flopping. Recall her asking then offering Bernie (a pro imperialist) the top of the GP ticket. Then after Sanders was toast Stein doubled down adopting Sanders politics focusing most of her attention on millennials rather than focus her attention on the working class Black & white. So it really doesn't matter what their platform says as I think she ran a horrible campaign running everywhere but not building very much.”
Brian Sullivan wrote on Facebook, “Time is short, so here's my take on where we are vs where we need to be. With HRC potentially on the ropes, the tide may finally swing back to the third party movement under Jill's leadership. The problem is that there are still too many progressives who are hoping to see Bernie rejoin the fight. This will never happen because the system got to him and he is no longer a viable candidate for the movement, not now, not ever. I know it is fun to bash him as a turncoat etc, but you saw the pain on his face at the DNC the same as I did. If he were truly on board with backing HRC in a "ha fooled you fuckers" sense, it would have been completely apparent, but in fact his entire demeanor suggested otherwise. Ultimately it means very little now after the fact, but the damage has been done as the movement has become fractured with so many former Bernie supporters now joining HRC to "stop" Trump instead of standing with Jill Stein. The dire truth is that the oligarchy outflanked us by neutralizing the alpha figurehead of the revolution, plain and simple, and the fallout continues to affect Jill's progress in a big way. Make no mistake, I'm grateful that we have her and she's still getting my vote in November, but she's not getting anywhere near the traction she'll need thanks to the Sanders loyalists and the continued "Fascist Trump" fantasy being pushed hard by the establishment.”
Many Greens who were concerned about where Jill was taking the Green Party wrote the following letter which was never answered.
Dear Dr. Jill Stein
Our respectful opinion is that you disregarded the Green Party 10 Key Values and 4 Pillars by acting as the Green Party’s presumptive nominee and pandering to Bernie Sanders to join the Green Party’s presidential ticket. There is a primary, and several other excellent candidates are seeking the Green Party’s presidential nomination.
How can you possibly support a war criminal like Bernie Sanders? Are you willing to sell out the Green values of nonviolence and social justice in a desperate effort to win enough votes to secure federal funding for a future election? This is not building an alternative; it is creating just one more corrupt political party that is willing to sell its soul for votes.
We want to help grow a Green Party that remains true to the values that it claims to represent. We want Green Party candidates to earn millions of votes, but not if we have to accept a Green nominee who has consistently voted to finance the murder of millions of people throughout his career as a member of Congress. We reject a politician who has welcomed and subsidized the military-industrial complex as a job provider. We reject a politician who has had the police arrest peaceful protesters who opposed his support for genocide. We reject a politician who supports the repressive apartheid regime in Israel.
There are no short-cuts to a revolution against the ruling class through the Democratic Party. The Bernie Sanders campaign is a get-rich-quick scheme that can’t succeed. The Green Party currently lacks the resources to collaborate with Bernie Sanders’ supporters in building a political movement based on Green values.
You seem to be disconnected from the implications of your actions.
In your 2012 campaign, you spent a great deal of time and effort appealing to and motivating Greens of long standing to put together a tremendous coalition within the existing Party as well as recruiting a large number of new supporters to the Party. This time around, however, your campaign seems to many of us to be entirely focused on the new recruits, and especially the Sanders supporters. On the surface, this might seem to be a good strategy, given the amount of support a nominal socialist, focusing on issues of economic justice and “political revolution”, has gained. His supporters would indeed seem to have a natural home in the Green Party. But too often your outreach has come across to many of us as ill-timed and poorly executed, creating the perception that you are campaigning for the DNC primary in contrast to getting out the vote for the Green Party.
Your “Open letter to California voters” contained what can only be interpreted as an endorsement of a candidate from a different party running in that party’s primary for that party’s nomination. This was when your own party staged a primary on the very same day. By spending so much effort on voters who literally could not vote for you at that time, in such a way as to privilege another party and another party’s candidates; by focusing so little on your own party; and by equating the Green Party as an organization with yourself and your campaign, you undermined the independence of the Green Party and contradicted many of the arguments that you, yourself, have made about the necessity of an external challenger to the corporate duopoly.
Your tactics feel disrespectful to long-time Greens and the legitimacy you have built for yourself within the party. We urge you to reconsider as we move forward, and to bear in mind that, as grateful as we may be for the good work you’ve done to this point for the Green Party, helping to bring us to a point where we are in fact in a position to be able to capitalize on this historic opening for progressive, small-d democratic, anti-capitalist, ecologically sound politics and policy, nevertheless we are the Green Party and not the Jill Stein Party.
Your actions have motivated us to call for your resignation, and in the future seek an amendment to the Green Party’s national platform to explicitly reject the two corporate political parties, including a ban on supporting and/or endorsing democrats.
True Green Values
Alan Maki said, “Not many Bernie supporters are going Green as far as the total number. Most are backing Hillary Clinton. And an even fewer number than have gone Green are willing to consider what most American workers want--- a new party to call their own. The Greens have been very weak on working class issues. The biggest turn-off for me has been the same as it was for Bernie Sanders--- an unwillingness to have a dialog on the issues while arrogantly attacking anyone who suggests other issues need to be addressed or the Greens do not go far enough with articulating specific solutions in order to pander for the small business votes they aren't going to get anyways. The dialog they claim they are for is continually suppressed with manipulation and control and name-calling not much different from the Democrats and very much like the way Bernie Sanders conducted his campaign. I think this more than anything has doomed the Greens the same way it doomed Sanders' campaign.”
In 2012 both Jill Stein and her campaign were open to correspondence and the New Progressive Alliance endorsed her. After 2012 instead of connecting with Green Party chapters, she became more isolationist. She was briefly associated with the Green Party think tank, but all the think tank did was isolate itself and ask for money. (Jill has always been good at asking for money.) For the 2016 campaign she and her campaign were much more isolationist. Though she granted interviews to very obscure Facebook writers, she ignored offers to help from the Green Party and the New Progressive Alliance. Even more disturbing she seemed to imply that Sanders with Palestine blood on his hands and after having supporting American imperialism and Obamacare was a better candidate than Jill and she was willing to just step aside. I understand it was a ruse to get Sanders voters, but it backfired when voters thought that stopping Trump was the most important priority and HRC was not that bad because she was a democrat like Bernie and Bernie endorsed her.
Why focus on Jill Stein? The election is over and she may not run again. The reason is her problems are endemic to the Green Party. I remember in 2012 I tried to get the Green Party to just list three GP candidates from Georgia. Repeated emails and phone calls went unanswered for over half a year and I never did get their names listed. Running as a GP candidate in Georgia is hard enough. We should have been able to at least have national GP list those Greens that were running. This has not changed. In order to get a national listing of Greens running for congress listed below Gary Swing had to perform as a detective and check many sources. It should not be a mystery. If the Green Party cannot correctly list all candidates names and contact points then it is incompetent to do anything else. More money or membership dues will not help incompetence.
Recall the 2000 Nader run in the Green Party. Yes we got more votes in the short run with a celebrity. Since then Nader has shown no appreciation or recognition of our effort and the democrats have gotten everyone to believe that Nader and third parties are responsible for a republican election. Nader himself shows little inclination to counter that lie.
We did the same thing with Sanders. Jill has repeatedly implied she is in agreement with Bernie and appeared on a TV interview with a chart in the background showing that war drones were the only area where they disagreed. The bottom line Jill pushed is that democrats such as Bernie are our only hope.
Jeff Roby described the position Jill Stein finally came to after the DNC stabbed Sanders in the back and then Sanders stabbed his supporters in the back. “It is Stein’s and Baraka’s radical challenge to the fundamental premises of not only Wall Street but the Empire itself that allow them to take the Sanders movement to the next level, with her Economic Bill of Rights and her Green New Deal. The message is simple. Certain necessities are fundamental human rights, and human rights are not to be compromised to appease corporate power. Period.” (See reference 4.) That was indeed her position at that time and it was the correct and in fact the only decent position to take. Unfortunately, by that time it was way too late.
The Green Party has an abusive wife relationship with the Democratic Party, but we keep going back. Candidates run for the Green Party to get experience and then become democrats with no adverse consequences. Many have told me they vote for democrats when crunch time comes. There seems to be universal GP acceptance as a junior partner to the democrats. We must divorce the democrats or we cannot move forward.
The Green Party may be beyond hope if it goes along with Jill Stein on a recount apparently designed to elect Clinton: Jill Stein raises money to request recounts in key swing states where Trump won 2016 saw Stein spend a large part of the election year campaigning for a democrat (Sanders) by ignoring his record and after the election seemed intent on electing Clinton and convincing all voters she is supportive of the Democratic Party. To blame the blatant and proven Clinton election corruption on the Russians - as Stein did in her legal complaints asking for a recount only in those states which would help Clinton - sends a clear message. The Green Party does not escape responsibility by saying that what the Green Party presidential nominee for both 2012 and 2016 does is her business having nothing to do with the Green Party. Also at question is how she raised so much money - more than both her presidential campaigns combined - in just a few days.
Jeff Roby advises caution against leaving the Green Party in Independent isn’t just another word for nothing left to sell. He also said in that article, "She was unjustly getting the blame for Trump’s victory. She buckled. Now the official line is that this recount she is making possible is not for the sake of Hillary, but for fairness. But consider the results in a few other states where Hillary’s margin of victory was quite thin:
If her true concern were fairness, she would have challenged results in these 5 states as well. If her true concern were fairness, she would have been challenging the results in Democratic primaries all across the country where Sanders votes were found in dumpsters, where hundreds of thousands of Sanders supporters disappeared from the voter rolls right before the primaries where one had to be a party registrant."
On February 16, 2017 I attended a nationwide phone session on "Building Green Power" supposedly about breaking free of the duopoly. And yet in actions not endorsing democrats or republicans came dead last at 57% as did global warming in another poll at 52%. Once again the impression was this was a bunch of clueless people who do not get it. After making these major mistakes and miscalculations after years of operation suggests the Green Party may not be able to be salvaged.
See references below for documentation.
The Green Party needs to do three things to grow.
1-Just answer your damned mail! This is a simple, but necessary, first step. Not only at National, but if you are representing any candidate or have any job then answer correspondence or the people who may be on your side will lose interest and fade away. Spare me the “We need more money…” excuse. If you cannot handle this very basic task then I will certainly not offer any money let alone pay dues. The same with updating websites with contact information and current people running for office. Jeff Roby has some excellent insight on this in reference 2.
2-For the Green Party, they absolutely need to finally and permanently cut loose from the sheepdogging democrats. Failure to do so means we are stupidly and repeatedly falling for the same democratic strategy year after year. Rose Roby correctly asks this crucial question in reference 16: "So this is a replay of David Cobb’s disastrous Safe States campaign of 2004. Will anyone be able to take the Green Party seriously as a challenge to the two corporate parties if elements of the party’s leadership won’t get on board with taking the party’s independence all the way?" (The correct answer is no.)
3-How do you separate from the sheepdogging democrats? Focus on issues! Whether you call it a purity test or just integrity does not matter. What does matter is people not confuse democrats (Sanders) with the Green Party (Stein) as being indistinguishable.
Don’t think the Greens can change enough to evolve and survive? Want to start another third party to replace the Greens? Great, you may be right, but that means real work. Making comments on Facebook or giving free advice on work others must do but you are unwilling to do is a waste of time. So is forming a token party that runs once every four years with a token candidate for president. Ditto with conversations on Facebook about how long Marx’s beard is or other philosophical discussions. Forming a third party is hard, particularly where you are facing a populace who are uneducated by choice and frightened of change from the duopoly. See A New Party is Not Easy by Scott McLarty. See also reference 1 which has insight from Jeff Roby for a lifetime of hard work fighting the good fight. Jeff also describes the experience many of us have had with both the Democratic and Green Parties in reference 3.
Let us not forget, the 2016 election picture was not totally negative. The Green Party elected people in at least California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and perhaps more. Environmental and marijuana initiatives passed in several states. Gary Swing got a 5.5% Green Party vote running for US Senate in conservative Arizona using just social media, no money, focusing on issues, and refusing to cooperate with democrats. Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida all voted for Obama and then changed to Trump in 2016 meaning abandoning the democrats is possible.
Gary Swing reported, "There were Green Party candidates on the ballot for US Senate in ten states in 2016, including nine in the general election and California's open primary on June 7. There were 55 Green Party candidates for US Representative in 2016. These numbers don't include South Carolina Democrats who used the Green Party's ballot line for US Senate and three US House seats under that state's fusion voting system.
Five Green Party candidates for US Senate received more than two percent of the vote:
Gary Swing (Arizona), 5.48%, 138,634 votes, 3rd of 3
Margaret Flowers (Maryland), 3.3%, 89,970 votes, 3/3
Eric Navickas (Oregon), 2.4%, 48,823 votes, 5/6
Joe DeMare (Ohio), 2%, 84,521 votes, 4/5
Scott Summers (Illinois), 2.1%, 117,619 votes, 5/5
Fourteen Green Party candidates for US Representative received more than 4% of the vote:
Mark Salazar (AZ 8), 31.43%, 93,954 votes, 2nd of 2
Hal Ridley (TX 36), 11.39%, 24,890 votes, 2/2
Gary Stuard (TX 32), 9.95%, 22,813 votes, 3/3
Barry Hermanson (CA 12), 6.6%, 14,289 votes, 4/4
Paula Bradshaw (IL 12), 6.0%, 18,780 votes, 3/3
Ray Parrish (AZ 1), 5.97%, 16.746 votes, 3/3
Mark Lawson (TX 19), 4.81%, 9,785 votes, 3/3
Paul Pipkin (TX 20), 4.78%, 8.974 votes, 3/3
Rob Sherman (IL 5), 4.7%, 14,657 votes, 3/3
Natale Stracuzzi (DC Delegate), 4.59%, 14,336 votes, 3/3
Matt Funiciello (NY 21), 4.38%, 11,399 votes, 3/3
Mary Gourdoux (TX 16), 4.29%, 7,510 votes, 3/3
Joe Manchik (Ohio 12th Congressional District), 4.1%, 3/4
Derrick Hendricks (OH 8), 4.2%, 13,371 votes, 3/3
For more information on third party news see Ballot Access News.
All this shows change is possible, but we have to work at it. As one piece of the puzzle, the New Progressive Alliance can act as a poor man’s think tank.
2-50 Shades of Green by Jeff Roby
3-Cautionary Tales by Jeff Roby
4-Jill Stein vs. the Two Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Jeff Roby
8-Safe States, Inside-Outside, and Other Liberal Illusions (Pushing the democrats from inside or outside has never made any difference.)
9-Fooled Again by Chris Hedges (Unless we stop keep repeating the same mistakes then we are doomed to the status quo.)
10-Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain (sucking independents back into DNC)
16-An Interview with Don DeBar about Jill Stein's Strange Support of Clinton by Jeff and Rose Roby
21-Make Your Case! Feel free to use this poor man's think tank for documentation or to help you make your case.