Bigger than Hillary and Bernie
Bigger than Hillary and Bernie

A guest human writer takes a step back to look at the bigger picture from the Left side of American politics: what is this all about, what does the electoral process reveal, and what is the fundamental change American progressives seek?

Swirl paw

San Francisco, California – Monday 23 May 2016

I am concerned about the calls for unity within the Democratic Party and the head scratching over why Bernie Sanders just won't quit. While, yes, I am a Bernie supporter, it is not about his candidacy that my concern originates. It is over the fact that once again, with so many bigger picture issues at stake, moderate Democrats are pushing for an easier victory for Hillary Clinton at the cost of those issues getting more time on the table to be addressed.

Establishment Democratic Party politics has made advances and more importantly they have somewhat held off the Tea Party play for total political and cultural dominance. These can not be underappreciated and would be the case for Hillary as a better choice than Trump even if he were not a bombastic showman with little substance and a lot of skill in the populace game.

With issues as critical as climate change, the stranglehold of business on politics, the broken middle class, increased poverty and all the issues that come from that, progressive and non incremental thinking and action have a critical role to play.

Right now in this primary we are talking about things at a depth and breadth that we have not enjoyed in my memory within politics. This is because a handful of progressive democrats and independents on the federal level have pushed them into view, and because clearly these issues' time has come or is coming.

The Revolution

It has taken a lot of doing on the part of the Sander's campaign and the many many thousands of people who have come out for "the revolution" which is building on other social grassroots movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. From my perspective the progressive voices are finally speaking loudly enough and clearly enough to be noticed. So much so that many of the ideas Hillary, the establishment candidate, has altered her own strategy and platform to embrace them. The longer these issues stay on the table, the closer they will become established and normalized ideas that more of the populace will be discussing and voting around.

This is the role of progressive ideas, movements and politics and any of us moderate or progressive who can not recognize the need to use this time to examine and explore the diverse needs of our citizenry, and would rather quickly unify around a single candidate out of worry for the results in the general election is continuing the trend of playing the dangerously short sighted game of fear.

Every rights based movement, where we drew the circle around more people who would be included in a productive citizenry has come from first radical and intellectual, then progressive and activist and finally establishment and popular. I would caution against calls for unity before they are indeed needed by sacrificing the critical work that progressive ideas and action must do at this time.

The Primary Elections Process

Democratic Primary Results May 2016
Primary Results as of 22/05/2016: Sanders (Green) Clinton (Brown)

Consider the Sander's race simply from the superdelegate concept. It is precisely because he is not giving in, that we are taking a closer look and indeed already changing some rules around this broken part of our system. I saw a quote online of someone saying that we shouldn't have elected officials choosing our elected officials. I don't agree that our democracy is working on many levels and this is one of them. A lot of people come out to vote, but in the end if their vote can be overruled by a small number of superdelegates with loyalty to one ideology or candidate or company then ultimately the people must face this system down. It will not happen without a scenario exactly like the one we have now. Establishment establishes and continues to establish its hold over the system it is established within. Progressive ideas and action are the very things the establishment must struggle with in order for the establishment to avoid collapse and suffer a massive effort to reorganize and establish a productive tempo again.

There are far too many parts of our system that actually have strangleholds on the vital impulse of progressive ideas and practices. I see them everywhere from public education, to campaign finance, to superdelegates. The great risk at this moment to strangle or end the Sander's campaign or suggest nicely that people begin to focus on unity 6 months away from the general election, is that we have a rare moment where some of those ideas and actions are coming through. We need as many as we can get, and we have a window of time to get them.

Examine history and you see that whenever establishment strangles these ideas for long enough revolution does occur - sometimes it comes peacefully and sometimes in great upsets of one nature or another. If you can not see that we are in this very place now, then I would encourage you to look more closely if only at the types of movements and mindsets that have advanced liberty within our own country in its short history.

Why not throw in the towel?

So for those of you wondering why Bernie just doesn't throw in the towel so Hillary can get on with her general election plans, it is precisely because we need more progressive traction if we can get it. Bernie knows this as do the many supporters who are focused on the bigger picture. While I would love to see him in office, I am just grateful he has seen an opportunity to expand the discussion and stepped in to make that happen. I feel it is a blessing to get every day we can get out of it.

As far as party unity. Well I still have questions whether we are talking about unity or dominance. This country and its two party system may well be better served with far less unity for a time. I think the fault lines separating the ideological tectonic plates of this country are far more visible during this election that I have ever seen them. If there are ever going to be new parties that have a shot at the presidency, there will need to be far less unity for a time as people reorganize not to the default establishment but face down the work that needs to be done to build something else.

It is not a time to seek comfort or ease. It is a time for hard work and struggling with these serious issues. The road ahead for our country and indeed our planet is a complex winding and rocky path. While the road of the past might have for a time been easier or at least easier to pretend it was, the road ahead will most certainly be filled with a call to virtues like self sacrifice, long term thinking and planning, abundance and resilience thinking and plain old fashioned grit.

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