Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Open Letter to Jill Stein and the Green Party

I have given up trying to talk Bernie delegates out of voting for a third party candidate or not voting at all for that matter. I understand the bit about voting your conscience; I understand the deep visceral dislike and distrust of Hillary and all things Clinton. I'm not in love with her myself. But she is the nominee. There are only two candidates in this race, so far as I can see, viability wise. and Jill Stein is not one of them.
The Green Party, for the most part, has not done the hard work of building the base, for building up a reservoir of local State and Federal officials. Yes, where I am fortunate to live, the San Francisco Bay Area, there are Green City Council members, even a water board member in Marin County. But how common is that? Arcata has Greens on the Council. I'm sure others do too. But there is a deep gulf between the City Council of a small progressive town and the President of the United States.

So while I support the Green Party's progressive policy statements and platform points, I cannot support the decision to run Presidential candidates at such a critical juncture in our history. And I am and have always been a strong supporter of some form of a multiple party system; of coalition governments like they have in Europe. However, we do not have such a viable system now. And running losing Presidential candidates every year, with no back up in the form of legislators in State and Federal government, doesn't make the job easier.

Especially in crucial years, such as this one, where the stakes are so high. Where a Donald Trump Presidency, however remote that seems to all of us, cannot be counted out.

Call Hillary and the Dems corrupt all you want. They are all that stands between us and world annihilation, deep alienation at the least, a country where guns may outnumber classrooms, where hate is encouraged, suspicion of one's neighbors is encouraged, and how long do you think it will be before they start asking us to "name names?" Trump has been called the new McCarthy, Hitler, Mussolini.  Yes, he is a dangerous man, and his invective against anyone not white, male and sycophantic horrifying.

So, I have decided not to address the earnest Bernie supporters who have left the Party (Democratic Party that is), who do not think its worth trying to appeal to Hillary, to stay and fight and hold her feet to the fire, as Bernie has asked us to do. It's your right to ignore the candidate you supported all those months, years, because he is disappointing you by supporting his rival in the Primaries. I get that.

And so I turn to the Green Party itself and to its candidate, Jill Stein. At one point she offered her position to Bernie Sanders. He declined to take it. He does not want to run as a third party candidate. He gets that the stakes are too high to take the risk.

Now it is time for the Green Party to step up, or stand down, as the case may be. To give the Bernie delegates and supporters false hopes that their candidate has a chance, that their message, at the least coming from the outside, will make a difference, is just plain cruel and wrong headed. (Of course, I hasten to say this is my opinion only., but it seems to be the logical conclusion); and the Green Party does not and should not indulge in cruelty. They call for peace, for humane treatment of all, for justice.

Love her or not, Hillary is the only nominee we have capable of beating Trump at this point. Bernie is gone. Jill Stein, no matter how saintly, is marginal. Do the right thing, and drop out of the race; throw your support to Hillary for the good of the Country and the future, for the children.
And I am talking quite literally here. With Donald Trump and his petty vendettas, there may be no future, nothing for the children, no clean air, or water, possibly no livable planet at all if he gets his finger on "the button."

No chance to build a viable third party movement that can make the changes we all want to see.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our Revolution or The Kids are All right

Democracy is always unruly. So are revolutions. And you can't always separate what works from what doesn't. There are always going to be sausage casings on the floor, and slippery muck underfoot. Don't look too close and take away what you will.

Like conspiracy theories. Was the election rigged? Like most things, the answer will turn out to be yes and no. Those in power want to stay in power. You sometimes have to chop them down at the root. Whoops, there goes Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And the people doing the chopping and the chanting, don't always know what they want, or when they get it it.

On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, as I sat among the Bernie kids, I didn't have a very hard time seeing my younger self in them. We wanted revolution too, and we seriously thought we'd get it. Not only in our lifetimes, but before we turned thirty, and could not longer trust ourselves, an irony totally lost on us back then.

Tonight, I see disorganization in action, carefully Kinko printed signs waved at appropriate or inappropriate times; Bernie no longer visible in his box where he has been sitting, chin on hand for the last three nights (although people say he's still there, hidden behind the crowds, his own people, Hillary people, Secret Service, DNC goons, or whatever the theory of the moment is about where all these new people came from).

We had rushed to get there early, warned that seat holders, hired off Craigslist would keep us from our places in the stands, and the seats had occupied -  the three old ladies, I call us, Mayme, Ruth and me - do find our accustomed places three rows from the top of the California delegation, at the end of the row, amidst the unruly northern California Bernie kids, taken, we find places a few rows down where a lone woman in a white blazer, with smoldering eyes stands in the middle of the row and declaims "These seats are for my friends."

You can't save seats, we say; we are sitting here. No she says, my friends are coming. "You can stay," I say in my most accommodating tone, "but we have to sit somewhere, and people are in our seats."  We sit, she fumes; she threatens to tell someone; schoolyard tactics.

later Alieta from the DNC arrives, smoothing ruffled feathers.  I realize I may one of the very few people here who actually know people in the DNC, who actually got to vote for them, as I sit on the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party. It's the last night of the Convention; previously empty seats are filled. How did all the Hillary people get here so early, when the first buses didn't leave until 2:30 and we were on one? (How, for that matter, did all these other Bernie people get here before us to take our seats?) Seat fillers, people knowingly whisper, no, shout around us. Goons, paid to keep us, rightfully elected Bernie delegates, from our seats.

If you leave you'll never get back in, they say. They will put someone in your seat. The guards at the door wont let you in.  I seriously want a drink. Tom Steyer, of Next Gen Climate Change has established a watering hole and buffet free to California delegates in the closed down bar across from our section. You need an ID to get in, to prove you are a California delegate, and not an interloper from, say Arkansas. Bernie and Hillary delegates mingle and drink together, eat ersatz fajitas and middle eastern fare, fruit and popcorn, vie for a space on the comfy white leather couches and fat arm chairs equipped with outlets for phone charging.
I ask the volunteers at the door if I can go out and still get back in. Of course, as long as you have your floor badge. At least one myth debunked. But later I see videos of the reserved signs on all the seats, ours included, and the very same woman who tried to keep us from sitting in the row she was saving "for her friends" refusing to budge, even after the Bernie people pull all the reserved signs off the seats.

I head for the bar. There on the TVs usually reserved for basketball viewing (this is a basketball arena after all), I watch some blustering General echo the troubling theme of military might. Inside the arena, the kids are shouting No More War and waving signs wildly. California may be off to the side, the Oregon and Washington are front and Center, their bright neon shirts proclaiming Enough is Enough leading the chants.

Inside, more conspiracy theories. Shawnee Badger, a twenty-two year old delegate who aspires to modeling and acting on her website, talks incessantly and urgently into her phone, recording the whole action; "See those things up there," she says, holding aloft her phone to film the mounted boxes above us that look like speakers. "Those are white noise machines, to drown us out." Later we learn they are wi fi enhancers or something innocuous , but it does seem to be true that after the first unruly chants of nights one and two, the home viewing audience doesn't hear much from the California Berners. Across from us, chants of USA USA are drowning out the "No more war" chants when Hillary speaks, once again, of American military might. I have the very surreal feeling I have stumbled into a parallel universe of the Republicans National Convention, or maybe an international soccer match.

After some Bernie kids creatively "deface' the first few official signs, using their smuggled in markers to change some wording to reflect pro-Bernie, anti-war, anti-Hillary sentiment, they are handed on the first couple of nights, signs reading  Stronger Together, Love Trumps Hate, others, the volunteers in neon vests, or hall monitors, as I think of them, no longer give us any more. We don't get the Hillary signs, or the USA signs, don't want those. We do get American flags, the kids affix to their Bernie signs or their Ban Fracking signs, or other signs, some of which make no sense, until deep reflection. Not made for prime time, but the cameras are not on our section.

The Oregon group across the way sticks to the main message NO TPP. When Hillary speaks, our elected whips or representatives try to keep a form of order by determining which signs to hold up when. Bernie has texted everyone that he wants us to be respectful. He has nominated Hillary after all. Some people can't help themselves and boo anyway. Sounds of Shhh Shh, can be heard. Shouts of "Hold up your signs. No, the other sign!" pointing out the "intersectionality Matters signs people have been given. "But I don't know what it means," says a woman behind me." I'm not holding up any signs. Except, I can't help myself, once an anti-war activist, always an anti-war activist, I do wave my No more war sign, when Hillary who must prove she is tough, Commander in Chief material, I get it, starts in on how she helped decide to kill Bin Laden.

The night before, we shouted that message to Leon Panetta, and I chanted along with the rest, and he got it, looking chagrined to be out shouted by the crowd. They turned off the lights in Oregon, and the kids took up the chant, "Lights lights lights!" And the Oregon delegation lit up their cell phone flashlights. This is what Democracy looks like.

Many of these kids came out of the Occupy movement. And they have come to occupy the DNC. Many of them have turned their back on Bernie from the moment he endorsed Clinton last Tuesday in a joint appearance. Or they just refuse to believe it. The vote is rigged; (well, yes, isn't it always), he didn't actually say he conceded. When we cast our votes for him at the Convention, won't they be surprised. The interwebs are buzzing in the lead up to the Convention, with loose strategy. "Talk to a superdelegate," Some people urge. "Make them understand  if they vote for Hillary, she can't win. They must vote for Berrnie." "Talk to Hillary delegates," say others, "Get them to change their votes. Explain the polls to them. Only Bernie can win against Trump"  I don't know if anyone actually did try talking to Superdelegate or Hillary delegates at the Convention. I know letters were sent to some Superdlegates urging them to vote for Bernie, or at least abstain. On the night of the roll call, several abstentions were noted in some states. Were these Superdelegates who listened? or leftover Martin O'Malley supporters? Or something else altogether?

When WikiLeaks confirms the fears of NC complicity in a Hillary victory,  and Wasserman Schultz provided more resources to the Hillary camp than the Bernie camp despite their supposed neutrality and even handedness toward all candidates, the game is amped up. Wassermann Schultz is forced to resign. But why did Hillary hire her?The questions persist. Many people still to this day feel the election was rigged. Perfect, no. Did some in the DNC try to influence the election for Hillary. No question. But what exactly was done, who did it and why? It's up to us to ferret that out. Let's ask our DNC delegates as soon as we can, to sit down and discuss these serious issues with us.