by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy, Oct. 18, 2020
October 19, 2020
When the Democratic Party decided it preferred Trump to Bernie and would rather nominate to run against Trump a more corporate-friendly candidate who was polling more weakly against Trump, there were — in theory — at least two choices.
First, millions of people could have publicly announced that they would not vote for either rotten candidate but only someone who stood for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, public education through college, demilitarization, and massive taxation of corporations and billionaires — or at least one of those things. Either a candidate would have credibly changed or a message would have been sent very loudly to all future candidates. I tried promoting this plan, and a relative handful of people mumbled their agreement. Apart from the Green Party doing its thing, and a new party being started, there was no more organizing around this than there was to reject the Supreme Court handing George W. Bush the crown.
Second, people could vote for a lesser evil while organizing educational and activist campaigns to try to save the world from that evil. There’s a credible, though uncertain and muddy case, that the lesser evil is Joe Biden. Thousands of people have enthusiastically screamed this case at me at the top of their lungs, and accused me of racism, sexism, and working in the employ of the Russian government — even though my actual, real-world employment includes working for an organization pushing just this approach. I’ve pushed just this approach because it’s my second choice and my first choice above has gone nowhere. I’ve also maintained honesty about the rottenness of both candidates, which has angered and confused many supporters of both who believe that part of supporting a candidate is lying about him.
Now, when/if Biden loses or has the election stolen, I would like to point out just a few of the reasons that it’s not my fault or Russia’s or Ralph Nader’s or the Green Party’s.
1) There is no evidence that Russia has had any influence over the 2020 (or 2016) U.S. election. (But please do send me hundreds of angry evidence-free denunciations of the supposed lunacy of saying so.) (I would much rather you blame me than Russia because I don’t have any nuclear weapons.)
2) The Green Party got a teeny tiny bit of the vote and probably gained Biden as many votes in Maine and places that have ranked choice voting as it cost him elsewhere, and is the most likely party to challenge any of Trump’s election-related crimes.
3) I supported Bernie.
4) I didn’t advise campaigning on a promise to keep fracking. I didn’t even pretend that campaign was a mistake driven by ignorance of polling rather than subservience to funders.
5) I didn’t declare “The Party c’est moi!” and run screaming from every popular position.
6) I live in a non-swing state.
7) The notion that I decided the election through my failure to push scheme #2 above aggressively enough is exposed by my utter inability to advance scheme #1.
8) I didn’t create the electoral college — I’m trying to abolish it.
9) I don’t run the corporate media outlets that bow before Trump — I’m trying to break them up and regulate them.
10) I didn’t tolerate Trump’s hateful instigation of violence and intimidation. I’ve been trying to get him impeached, removed, and prosecuted for it since before his first inauguration — but a certain political party preferred a bunch of dangerous lies about Russia and a Ukraine story that made their own guy look bad.
11) I didn’t lie about voting by mail, strip names off rolls, create long lines, or utilize unverifiable machines and scanners. That was your elected officials.
12) I didn’t kneel down and let Trump put a George W. Bush election thief on the Supreme Court. I proposed impeaching Trump for a legitimate offense from the long list of indisputable public outrages, and forcing the Senate to deal with it.
Now, if you want to spend the next couple of weeks telling everyone for the 10 millionth time to vote for Biden, knock yourself out. I’ve had a job doing that for months. But let me offer three pieces of unsolicited and unwanted advice:
1) Bring back honesty as soon as possible. Every bit of bad news about your candidate is not false, is not created by Russia and therefore in need of being ignored regardless of whether it’s false, and is not an assertion of equivalence between your candidate and the other one. If you go into a Biden presidency believing your own BS about him, his presidency will turn out as putrid and disastrous as Clinton’s or Obama’s and lead straight to one as openly fascist as Bush’s or Trump’s.
2) Bring back understanding of activism as soon as possible. Restore remembrance of the nonviolent activist campaigns that created the right to vote, rights for various groups, fair treatment and humane policies and peace. Voting is an important tiny bit of civic duty that alone will never change the world.
3) Bring back politeness and respect as soon as possible. Stop all the screaming and denunciations and baseless accusations and xenophobic coldwarism so you can work with people to do the things actually needed to turn the U.S. government into what it’s nice but dangerous to imagine voting for one lousy candidate over another will do.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include Leaving World War II Behind (2020), Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) and War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Support David’s work.
From the archives:
Chris Hedges: The Politics of Cultural Despair
Chris Hedges: This Is The Unraveling Of The US Empire + The Childish Mania of Hope
Abby Martin: Biden vs. Trump on Foreign Policy
The Dollar Crash Of 2021: The Next Step In Capitalist Collapse + 2020 Will End With The U.S. Moving Much Closer To Dictatorship, by Rainer Shea
Trump’s License to Violence, by Finian Cunningham + An Appeal to Fascism for All to See, by Kenn Orphan
US Style Fascism Is A Bipartisan Effort, by Phil Rockstroh
The Banality of Evil of The Evil of Two Lessers + The Democratic Party’s Raison D’être Is To Co-Opt, Absorb, Marginalize, and Neutralize The Left, by Phil Rockstroh
Chris Hedges and Greg Palast: Stealing Elections
The Russian Menace and the Dangers of Believing the New York Times, by David Swanson
Ralph Nader: Dispelling the Myth of the 2000 Election (repost)
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As a member of the Green Party, I agree with all of David Swanson’s excellent points, here. And still I say: “Vote for Biden, especially in swing states.”
I’ve written, repeatedly, why I disagree with the Greens’ strategy in running a candidate for president in this election — even though I’ll vote for the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins for President here in New York (and hoping that Biden wins so overwhelmingly here that my vote for Howie won’t mean bupkis in terms of Biden receiving New York’s electoral votes). Why do I say this, even though David Swanson is completely right about the war-mongering, imperialist Democratic Party?
1) This election is different than any other in our lifetimes, because Trump is consolidating mass fascist, white-supremacist death squads, which is a departure from “normal” capitalist elections. Those are not consolidated yet, they are not powerful enough to overturn Biden when Trump loses, but they will be consolidated during the course of a 2nd Trump term, which means they’ll be much harder and more dangerous to stop 4 years from now. That doesn’t mean to vote for Biden and do nothing — just the opposite. It means that we have to have elbow room for organizing Black Lives Matter and other antifascist mass-organizations, rather than being locked up or murdered under an extension of the Trump/Barr regime.
2) The Green Party doesn’t deserve our votes for President anyway because it has done zilch the last 4 years in organizing radical direct action non-electoral campaigns around key issues. It has forgotten how to mass organize save for electoral pronouncements. It does not seem likely that we will get the once-vibrant Green Party to change its strategic course.
3) So long as the only rationale the Green Party puts forth among alternative parties to the Dems and Reps in the presidential race is around “words” — policies we’d idealistically like to see enacted, but with no on-the-ground organizing around them — why vote for the Greens as opposed to Party for Liberation and Socialism (Gloria La Riva), for example, or for Socialist Action’s candidate (Jeff Mackler)? Once we constrain ourselves to debates over party line, over whose stated position I agree with more, then in most areas other than environment I find the various socialist parties’ programs more militant, as opposed to the Green Party’s “think tank” approach. And then we’re in a world of splitting hairs over issues like Yemen and Syria, while taking no steps and organizing no real base to do anything about them anyway.
I’d like to see Greens offer some coherent arguments that address each of those points. Thus far, all I’ve heard is that the Democratic Party honchos have made it necessary for the Greens to run national candidates, even if we think it’s not a good idea, in order to maintain ballot status — yes, a worthwhile goal, but by doing so we’re trapping ourselves in the system’s game.
Of course, it sucks. That’s why they’re doing it to us. We have to be smarter and not fall into their traps.
No radical is saying “Vote for Biden and watch progressive change happen”. Nor is anyone saying that Biden’s foreign policy would be any better than Trump’s. We’re saying “Vote for Biden to defeat Trump and prevent his consolidation of a domestic neo-Nazi White Supremacist anti-Semitic anti-woman anti-choice and homophobic fascist movement.”
Imagine how much credibility the Green Party would have by recognizing all that and announcing that it’s stopping its campaign for president in swing states and urging voters to vote for Biden despite our major problems with him and with the Democrats. Enormous. Maybe even enough so that people will then begin to pay attention to the Green Party on our issues ….
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party
Thanks for your commentary, Mitchel.