Progressives Must Adopt the Tea Party Playbook

Boston Tea Party destroying tea in Boston Harbor December 16, 1773.

I live in cobalt blue California. There was no possibility of anyone other than Hillary carrying the state. Trump couldn’t have won here, so I got to vote my conscience: Jill Stein.

Like many Berners. I could not bring myself to vote for Hillary. I hoped Trump would win, and I counseled progressives in swing states to vote for Trump. But for those in deep red or blue states, my advice was to help the Greens.

Thankfully, my advice was ignored by Rust Belt Berners, who gave Trump the wins in traditionally blue states of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Pissed off Blue Collar Berners handed Trump the presidency and altered the political landscape for a generation.

Hillary was repudiated. Establishment Democrats were repudiated. Establishment Republicans were repudiated. Politics as usual was repudiated. And the Greens were repudiated.

If there were ever a scenario that favored the Greens, the 2016 general election was it. Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the Democratic nomination. Progressives were outraged. Jill Stein, was echoing Sanders’ positions. Progressive Democrats were embracing #DemExit and urging all Sanders voters to leave the Democratic party and to rally behind Jill Stein and the Greens.

Inexplicably to many Berners, Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton.

The left was outraged. Hillary was their mortal enemy. Even Trump was preferable to the Whore of Wall Street. It was time to bring down the two party duopoly. Time to vote Green and break the stranglehold Wall Street exerted over both political parties.

As we all know, the Green performance was pathetic,

Many of us counseled that such would be the case.

The American political system is not third-party-friendly.

Under the US Constitution, and under the constitutions of every one of the 50 states, the executive branch of government is elected independently of the legislative branch. Congress and the state legislatures do not elect the executives, the people do through direct voting.

Under parliamentary forms of government, the legislature elects the executive branch. Under that scheme, coalitions of minor parties can join together and participate in a coalition government. Similarly, coalitions of minor parties can join together and bring down governments through votes of No Confidence.

Our friends in the UK and Europe are often bewildered by American politics, and additionally, do not understand our electoral system or the limitations on opposition parties.

American political parties, unlike parties in the UK, Europe, and elsewhere, have no party discipline, or any mechanisms to enforce discipline on members. American politicians answer only to their voters, not to any party machine.

All of which conspire to make third parties irrelevant in American politics. They are ignored by the public, the media, observers, pundits, analysts, and voters.

Many Bernie supporters, myself included, were hoping that Sanders would bolt the Democrats and spearhead a full-blown political revolution as the standard bearer of the Greens.

In retrospect, however, the absurdity of such a run is readily apparent.

The Electoral College determines who is elected president. Each state has a delegation of electors equal to its number of Senators and Members of the House.

To win the presidency, a candidate must win a majority of the total electoral votes cast in the Electoral College. Winning a majority in a three-way race is highly unlikely.

If no candidate wins in the Electoral College, the race for president is thrown into the House of Representatives. There, each state has one vote, cast by a mjority of its delegation. As the Republicans controlled the majority of state delegations, Donald Trump would have won the presidency whether or not Bernie Sanders ran as a Green.

Bernie Sanders’ political acumen is substantially superior to that of his minions. Bernie recognized that running as a Green would have been a failure, that his political revolution would have ended, and that the progressive movement might as well have authored its own obituary.

Sanders recognized that controlling the Democratic party, and influencing whom the Democrats nominated was critical to the Democrats being credible and viable in the future.

Learning from our mistakes and re-visiting failed strategies is essential for success. The Greens are hardly a vehicle by which we can elect a president or capture Congress, but they may well be a tool to assure the defeat of a Wall Street Democrat in the future, and could well help to defeat corporatist Democrats for lesser offices.

As progressives, our allegiances do not lie with any political party. Nor should they rule out tactically supporting Republicans where such a strategy would help defeat Wall Street Democrats.

We must adopt the Tea Party playbook of primarying Wall Street Democrats. Supporting insurgent campaigns of progressive challengers will require us to be Democrats except in those states with open primaries.

#DemEnter is a declaration of war on the Democratic establishment and a call to arms to invade and takeover the Democratic party.

Fighting the corrupt leadership in the party is comparable to fighting a corrupt political administration lile Tammany Hall in New York or the Daley Machine in Chicago. We would hardly have advocated moving out of the city as a strategy to defeat Tammany Hall. #DemExit is advocating leaving town. It is essentially running away.

The soul of the Democratic party is not its corrupt leadership or the corporate owned legislators.

The soul of the Democratic party is millions of rank-and-file Americans who believe in equality, justice, and peace. Most of those folks are much closer to Bernie Sanders than they are to Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

We owe it to ourselves and our fellow progressives to win back the Democratic party from the oligarchs who now control it.

And those oligarchs are thrilled that some few progressives are leaving Dodge. To the oligarchy, #DemExit means fewer thorns in their sides, fewer voices of outrage, fewer Bernie Sanders, fewer Nina Turners, fewer Tulsi Gabbards.

#DemExit is complicity with the evil that now owns the Democratic party.



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