A New Party is Not Easy

Scott McLarty is the guest writer. Scott is a long time Green Party activist who knows how hard it is to fight the duopoly and gives wise counsel here. Most do not realize to even get on the ballot requires an effort in each state starting about a year in advance of the election. Even getting permission as a write-in candidate requires time, effort, and money in each state. One should also consider that there is much evidence that votes for  write-in candidates - proper or not - are not counted. In many states a write-in ballot is destroyed and loses all other votes for other candidates.  Of course, the Green Party is not perfect, but it is a good place to start because they have been fighting these battles for over 30 years. As Scott has said, "Establishment Democrats make the case for the Green Party."

Kshama Sawant writes "It’s time to break the rules. An aggressive independent campaign for president by Bernie Sanders, linked to building a new mass party for the 99%, could dramatically transform American politics."

Can we please let go of pipedreams? (1) No, Bernie is not going to announce an independent or third-party campaign if Hillary wins the Dem nomination. (2) Bernie is not going to help launch a new party.

It's legally and logistically impossible for Bernie to get on state ballots as a presidential candidate after the Dem convention and he has pledged repeatedly to endorse the Dem nominee.

Regarding (2), why start from scratch when there's already a Green Party that has surmounted many of the obstacles to alternative-party organizing?

Furthermore, the worst way to launch your "grassroots" party is to pin it on a lone national candidate. (Remember Perot?)

I suspect a fantasy at work here, something like "If we wish hard enough, Bernie will help us start over again with a brand new party, we'll magically avoid the problems that the Green Party has faced, we'll have the support of the 99%, and we'll be kicking Democratic and Republican ass in no time."

Some questions about the proposed post-Bernie movement described in this article. How independent from the Democratic Party will it be? Will it involve itself in elections? Will it support non-Dem candidates running against corporate-money Dem frontrunners? If the answer is no, what we'll see is a warmed-over version of MoveOn.

Will the post-Bernie crowd demand a place on the stage for the Green Party nominee in the presidential debates? If not, what kind of progressive movement will it be if it won't insist that its own positions be aired at the most widely watched forum of the election year?

To the Democratic Party and Dem operatives who lead many progressive organizations, the post-convention months will be a time for reconciling Bernie supporters with Hillary, even whipping up enthusiasm for her victory over Fiendish Archvillain Trump. Progressives have a record of discarding much of their own agenda when Dems get elected to the White House: Obama's win in 2008 nearly killed the antiwar movement; progressives rallied behind Obamacare, which was based on a Republican scheme to enrich private insurance firms.

Greens should be ready to pose these challenges to the proposed post-Bernie movement leaders very loudly as that "Now what?" moment approaches. To rank-and-file Bernie supporters, the Green challenge should look more like a welcome mat.

More from Scott McLarty:

(1) Some of us been predicting all along that this was going to happen, that the Democratic Party establishment make sure that Sanders would come nowhere close to winning the nomination. It was evident by July, when Barney Frank when practically accused Sanders of spoiling ("Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie" http://www.politico.com/…/why-progressives-shouldnt-support…).

(2) Bruce Dixon, in Black Agenda Report, called Sanders' Dem campaign an example of the sheepdog effect: the main function of any progressive challenger for the Dem nomination is to make sure that progressive voters never stray, that they forever vote for the corporate-money nominee of a party that rejects their agenda and takes their votes for granted.

The Salon article confirms that Dems leaders have reached the point where they're nervous that one sheepdog was getting too popular and annoyed or embarrassed that their party needs a sheepdog at all. They prefer an uncontested nomination -- a coronation that takes place long before the primaries begin.

(3) A lot of Green Party members have frothed over Sanders' decision to run as Dem and his lousy positions on some big issues. Others of us have preferred to watch the Dem spectacle and urge Greens to prepare a friendly welcome mat for the moment when Sanders' supporters realized that (a) not only would their candidate lose, he never had a chance against the Clinton juggernaut; (b) there's no chance of a "political revolution" within the Dem fold, now or ever; (c) the Democratic Party is quicksand for progressive ideals.

Many, maybe most Sanders supporters will migrate over to Clinton, either on the basis of "pragmatism" ("We must support the lesser evil!") or delusion ("Deep inside, Hillary is one of us!"). Some will even find a way to blame the Green Party for Sanders' loss ("Greens coulda helped Bernie win -- but they decided to spoil again!"), on the idiotic assumption that Greens would have any influence within the Democratic Party.

But some Sanders supporters will conclude that there's no hope of changing the country's political direction, that voting for Clinton will only rubber-stamp a dangerous status quo, and that the political revolution we need requires altering the political landscape, which means ending exclusive two-party rule. The Green Party should reach out to the latter. As I wrote earlier, if even a small percentage of Dems decided to go Green, it would boost the number of Green votes far beyond anything we've seen since 2000.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) from Scott McLarty:

• "What's wrong with promoting support for Bernie Sanders on the Green Party's Facebook pages?"

Individuals have a right to support whomever they like. But don't use the Green Party's pages to urge people to unregister Green and reregister Democrat so they can vote for Bernie in the Dem primaries. The whole point of having a party is to build membership, not lose registered members. We want people to register Green. We have a right to object when people use our social media pages to encourage something that will hurt the Green Party.

• "Doesn't Bernie stand for the same things that the Green nominee will stand for?"

No. There's overlap between Bernie and the Green Party on domestic issues but sharp differences on foreign policy (e.g. Israel-Palestine) and US militarism. Bernie won't use his Democratic campaign to criticize two-party rule and advocate multi-party democracy. He won't encourage people to vote for local & state Green candidates or help state Green Parties achieve ballot access -- two of the most important reasons for Green presidential campaigns. He won't endorse the Green Party platform or ideas like the Green New Deal. Instead of building the Green Party, Bernie is helping to make two-party power more entrenched.

• "Can't the Green Party nominate Bernie for president?"

If Bernie becomes the Dem nominee, laws against fusion in most states will block his name from being placed on other parties' ballot lines. The odds remain very high that the Hillary Machine will defeat him in the Dem primaries. Late spring 2016 will be too late for Bernie to launch a brand new campaign as a Green or Independent. He'll be unable to compete in Green primaries or qualify for a ballot line as an Independent in most states. Bernie himself has said that if he loses the Dem nomination he'll support the Dem nominee.

• "Does this mean Bernie's supporters are the enemy?"

No! It means that we should keep a dialogue going between the Green Party and Bernie supporters -- and challenge them to Go Green after Bernie's likely defeat. Many, maybe most of his supporters will retreat into lesser-evil support for Hillary after she's nominated... but not all of them. There are lots of frustrated former Democrats in the Green Party, as well as former Republicans, former independents, former nonvoters, and many others. Let's not write anyone off.



1-The Write-In Vote - What you NEED To Know!

2-Real Choices

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commented 2016-06-03 14:59:02 -0400 · Flag
Scott McLarty replied to Jeff Roby. “The Green Party is preparing to welcome Bernie Sanders supporters who intend to vote Green if he loses the nomination. (See this page: ”http://www.gp.org/welcome_to_the_green_party">http://www.gp.org/welcome_to_the_green_party) Green candidates for president have also reached out to Sanders supporters. Some party members have posted messages expressing hostility but they don’t reflect the party’s attitude."
commented 2016-06-01 17:42:06 -0400 · Flag
Scot, good piece. One comment. My plan had been to push the vote for Jill Stein at the conclusion of the Democratic convention as the answer to “what next?” It has developed much more quickly than I had anticipated, and Greens have been seriously asking “what next?” even as they hold desperate hopes for a Sanders nomination.

The problem with Sanders supporters joining the Greens is the rampant hostility they face within the Green Party (yes, I manage to read its discussion pages), partly because Sanders supporters were foolish enough to have EVER supported Sanders, partly because the “soft socialist” politic of Sanders runs up against the hard core small business politic, environmentalism is the ONLY priority mantra, and the entrenched Old Guard mentality that is endemic to Old Guards that have been stagnant too long.

I am not going to send my friends into a buzzsaw.