It is a very good thing that the Democrats at their four-day convention, both the corporate wing and the progressive wing, really let Donald Trump have it. In speeches and in videos they made a strong case for why Trump is not just unfit to be President but a tremendous danger to the world who must be defeated.
And at least in the short-term, meaning up until November 8, it is helpful that the Democrats presented Hillary Clinton in a way which should help her vote totals. They took on very little of the Bill and Hillary personal and political history which has led to her very high negatives on the “trustworthy” barometer. But they did an OK job humanizing her, and Clinton’s speech last night was surprisingly effective and good.
It is also good that Bernie and his supporters and some of the major issues of the Bernie movement were a continual presence. They were there a number of the speeches of Clinton supporters, including Hillary’s, and they were there in the protests that took place outside and inside the convention hall. The March for a Clean Energy Revolution on a blistering-hot Sunday brought together over 900 organizations and upwards of 10,000 people. It started the week off on the right foot with a strong call to ban fracking and get serious about a rapid shift from fossil fuels to renewables.
From what I saw and heard on C-Span and elsewhere, “Stop TPP,” “No More Wars” and “Ban Fracking Now” were the major issues which Bernie supporters were able to raise up on the convention floor.
All of this keeps alive and moves forward what should be the two-pronged agenda of the millions of people who voted for Bernie Sanders: defeating Donald Trump by electing Hillary Clinton (there’s no other way), and developing the organizational networks that will keep the Bernie movement alive to advance the political revolution.
Bernie seems to be there. He definitely sees the need to defeat Trump by helping Clinton win in November. And he has announced that he is creating new organizations to help multiply and strengthen the number of progressive candidates running for office and to keep an ongoing focus on the issues. Already, during the convention, he has reached out to people who financially supported him with regular monthly donations during the campaign. He is urging them to continue to keep doing so to finance this next stage of the political revolution. Build, Bernie, Build!
Unfortunately, Jill Stein and the national Green Party seem to be outliers on the defeat Trump/build the Bernie movement agenda. They amazingly keep talking about how they have a chance of winning three months from now, even though, as of today, the Real Clear Politics average of the latest polling shows Stein at 3% of the vote. They present the Green Party as THE alternative, the leaders of the progressive movement in the electoral arena that all other progressives should now get behind and support.
I support the political positions of the national Green Party. The 10 key values are a concise, valuable summary of what should undergird our work as progressives. But it is not enough to have the best positions on issues or a Presidential candidate who is articulate in putting them forward.
The Green Party is a very weak reed organizationally. Earlier this year I received a letter from the national office asking for money. One of the things they pointed to in the letter as an indicator of their effectiveness was the fact that 160 of their members were in office around the country. When I read that I remembered that, 12 years ago, at its 2004 convention in Milwaukee, Presidential nominee David Cobb had spoken about the 220 members who were in office around the country.
220 or 160—-neither is a showing of strength. It may be a showing of staying power, but not strength, not when there are over 50,000 elected offices in the country.
I heard Jill Stein on Democracy Now a few days ago reference the “42 million millennials” as the people who could vote her into the White House. It was an amazing if very disturbing statement, an indication of how out of touch she and the national Greens have become.
The Green Party needs to pull back from the brink. It needs to recognize that it is part of the much broader independent progressive movement, but it is not the greater part or the looked-to leaders of it. Rather than going into battleground states over the next three months and primarily attacking Hillary Clinton, helping Donald Trump, it should explicitly call for progressive people in those states to be guided by conscience in deciding whom to vote for on November 8.
And here’s the ironic thing: if it did so, if it focused its campaign in the many states where it is clear that either Clinton or Trump is going to win and said, “Don’t waste your vote, vote for a party that is consistently progressive and not the lesser evil,” it is virtually certain that it would win more votes nationally. It would come out of the 2016 campaign season stronger in terms of its percentage of the votes won and stronger in terms of its relationships with the broader progressive movement.
The bottom line is this: the national Green Party right now has a losing strategy and has had it for a long time. You don’t build an alternative to the Republicans and the corporatist wing of the Democratic Party the way that they are.
The powerful impact of the Bernie campaign over the last 15 months, an impact that we saw all throughout the four days of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, shows us the path to what we need to do to bring about revolutionary change in this country. It is a path which brings together independents and progressive Democrats. It is a path which is flexible tactically when it comes to whether one runs as a Democrat or an independent (maybe even an occasional Republican, at local levels). It is a path which has to make clear the intersectionality of issues. It must work consciously for a fully multi-racial and gender-balanced leadership and movement. And it must be active in both the electoral arena and in the streets, including nonviolent direct action.
101 days to the election. Let’s defeat Trump, deal a big setback to Trumpism and lay the basis for a people’s movement that cannot be denied going forward.
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968 and was an active Bernie supporter. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.