Beyond Bernie

Michael Kagan

Those of us who were inspired by the campaign of Bernie Sanders, who rang doorbells, made phone calls, contributed small amounts of money, and had the (perhaps) irrational hope that he would overcome the extremely long odds, the lack of media coverage, the misinformation promulgated by both parties, and the "yoooge" donations going to other candidates, are likely very sad to hear him "endorse" Hillary Clinton*, and wonder what we should do next. Should we "hold our noses" and vote for the "lesser of two evils"? Should we hope that somehow, Hillary Clinton, if/when elected, will act upon the “progressive” promises she made after Bernie dragged her slightly leftward? Or is there some other alternative about which we can feel more positive?

I went to an event called "Beyond Bernie" recently, along with about 50 other people, not knowing what to expect, but hoping to find a sense of hope for the future. We were treated to a very impressive video speech by Dr. Jill Stein, who is once again the Green Party candidate for president. There was also a video in which Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative Seattle City Council member, urged people to support Dr. Stein.

In listening to Jill, i found what she said actually did go "beyond Bernie"; that is, her ideas were even more progressive than his in some respects. The only platform i know of that is better than what she was presenting is the 50 Step Plan of Unidos Podemos (see link below) in Spain, which is an amazing document that i would love to see put in place in any country.

The attendees at the meeting responded quite favorably to the presentation. Some people, notably Thom Hartmann on his nationwide radio program, encourage changing the Democratic Party from within. This appears to be a losing strategy, as the Democrats do not seem to want to change. The party competes with the Republicans to maintain the status quo, to represent the interests of the 1% while giving lip service to the needs of the 99%. Both major parties are two sides of the same coin, with the D’s being a bit better than the obstructionist, government-hating R’s.

After the videos, people from the audience spoke in favor of supporting Jill Stein as an alternative to the horrific vision of Donald Trump in the Oval Office. (Even if he loses, however, i believe that the likelihood of his obtaining over 50 million votes indicates to me that this is a sick and broken country. In 2012, Obama received 66 million votes, while 61 million people voted for Romney.) HRC is also unacceptable to many.

I rose to give a bit of perspective on the feasibility of third parties.

Living in Spain for most of the past 8 months, and having visited there regularly over the past several years, i have some familiarity with their elections and parties. The Podemos Party, now joined with Izquierda Unida (United Left) to form Unidos Podemos (Together We Can), sprang from the Indignados Movement, which began in May of 2011. (That movement also spawned our Occupy Movement.) Podemos succeeded in having many candidates elected in municipal and provincial elections. Even the mayors of Madrid and Barcelona (both women!) are with Podemos. In December’s election, the first in which neither of the two major parties achieved a majority of the seats in the parliament, Podemos received over 20% of the votes!

This was an enormous accomplishment in just three years of existence, and proves that minor parties can rise in stature if people believe in them, support them, and do not throw up their hands in despair, or vote for the lesser evil of the major parties.

Developing a political party takes a lot of time and effort, though Podemos has accomplished so much in such a short period. The Green Party has been around for a while and is gaining strength all across the country. By voting Green, we will show the two major parties that they are on the wrong track, that they are out of the true mainstream, and that we want different solutions to the problems they created. Furthermore, in the "blue state" of Washington, voting Green can be considered a safe and savvy political choice.

The progressives at the Beyond Bernie event found a breath of fresh air in what Jill Stein presented. The despair they felt in hearing that Bernie had endorsed HRC that very day was mitigated by having a very attractive alternative, who is on the ballots in 47 states. This seems much better than beating one’s head against the wall trying to enlighten Democratic officials to see that democracy and elections belong to all of us, not just the wealthy few, corporations, and foreign interests.

The disappointment with the two major presidential candidates points out the need, no matter which one is elected, to ensure that progressives are elected to Congress.

I never have voted for a presidential candidate with a D or an R after his name, and cannot vote for either of the presumed candidates this year. I have always refused to vote for the “lesser evil”? Why would one support someone felt to be inferior or unacceptable? Thus i will vote happily and enthusiastically for the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein again this year.

For more information, you can go to the Green Party website and Jill Stein’s 2016 campaign site. For the Green Party platform, go to their platform page.

Read the Unidos Podemos 50 Step Plan here.

* Note: A woman at the event explained to us the significance of Bernie’s “endorsement” of HRC. As a Bernie delegate, she had learned that he had to do that, according to party rules, in order to gain entrance to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. This may or may not be true; there is some confusion about the meaning of Bernie’s endorsement of HRC. We will see what it means when the Democrats meet in Philadelphia. The fact remains that Bernie did not concede, and must have some plan for the convention.

[Editor’s Note: Our editorial policy for articles that advocate for a candidate is to require the article to educate and inform our readers. In addition, we invite others to submit articles advocating for other progressive candidates.]

[Editor's note: The use of lower case 'i' for the first person pronoun singular is not a typo. The author prefers the lower case.]

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