Conventions

“I think that politicians like Dean Rusk, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and anybody else I might have listed before and now forgotten have lost their authority with wide sections of the American people.”
— Tom Hayden; National Mobilization for 1968 Democratic National Convention.

“We can change the world
Re-arrange the world
It’s dying … if you believe in justice
It’s dying … and if you believe in freedom
It’s dying … let a man live his own life
It’s dying … rules and regulations, who needs them
Open up the door
Somehow people must be free
I hope the day comes soon
Won’t you please come to Chicago
Show your face
From the bottom of the ocean
To the mountains on the moon
Won’t you please come to Chicago
No one else can take your place”
— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Chicago
As both the Democratic and republican party’s 2016 presidential primaries approach their final contests, their national conventions are beginning to come into focus. Let’s take a look at what is likely to take place at each — including which candidate each party will select as their nominee — and what the consequences may result from each of those choices.

The republican national convention will be held from July 18-21, in Cleveland, Ohio. At this point, it appears obvious that Donald Trump has “won” the republican primary contest. However, if he does not reach the magic number of delegates, there is a very real possibility that the republican establishment will attempt to force a brokered, or a contested, convention. While there are slight differences between “brokered” and “contested” conventions, in this context, it simply means the party elites are not satisfied to let registered republicans select their own candidate.

The ruling class of republicans had, of course, picked Jeb Bush as their candidate well before the primaries started. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of republicans were unwilling to support another Bush-establishment candidate. John Kasich was tasked in February with staying in the primaries, despite his humiliating showing, to try to prevent Trump from getting the delegates required to win. As the only other option was Ted Cruz, the most repulsive person to ever seek the presidency, the republican establishment even considered drafting Paul Ryan. However, because it is clear that Trump has won the primary contest, their establishment will either opt to place a Cheney-like figure on the ticket as vice president, or risk an open rebellion if they attempt to deny Trump his rightful place.

Obviously, if Trump is the republican candidate, and attempts to call his own shots, the republican establishment will support Hillary Clinton. Indeed, she would hold great appeal to the elite republicans: she has been on Wall Street’s payroll, and is a true neoconservative. Thus, we have already heard republican elites ranging from the Koch brothers to Laura “Pickles” Bush singing her praise.

The Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 25-28. At this point in time, it appears likely that Hillary Clinton will “win” our party’s nomination. This is not written in stone, of course, and there remains a possibility that unexpected events could derail the establishment’s best laid plans. Still, progressive Democrats should be making plans for how we will continue the Sanders revolution between today and July 24; during the convention; and going forward from there.

At the end of every presidential primary cycle, each party tries to join together to present a united front. This generally involves reaching agreement on the party’s platform. However, the “rank and file” voters have seen that despite the various platforms, the winner of the November election tends to “lead” in a manner that shows little if any influence from the platform.

Hence, progressive Democrats would be foolish to think that an acceptable outcome for the Sanders revolution would be some fine words and uplifting phrases being included in the Democratic Party’s platform. We are not going to be satisfied by a gentle pat upon our humbly bowed heads. Rather, we will be traveling to Philadelphia for the same reasons that this nation’s Founding Fathers did in the summer of 1787.

We will be joined by our friends and associates from the Democratic Left — those progressives who are registered as independents, or with minority parties, but who share the same principles and values as progressive members of the Democratic Party. For too long, our party’s establishment has taken the Democratic Left for granted, assuming that they had no where else to go. This, of course, is merely an extension of the establishment’s reliance on the concept that progressive Democrats could be depended upon to vote for “the lesser of two evils.”

There is a legitimate concern on the Clinton campaign’s part, that those who support Bernie Sanders will not vote for Hillary, if she is the Democratic nominee. This includes both registered Democrats and the many independents that his campaign has attracted. And it includes the college students, who overwhelmingly support Bernie.

I can only speak for myself, of course. I’ve been a registered member of the Democratic Party, and have voted for each and every Democratic candidate in presidential elections since I became eligible to register and vote. At the grass roots level, I have worked with registered Democrats, and Democratic independents, for longer than I’ve been a registered voter. Thus, I am confident that, just as I’m comfortable for deciding who I will vote for, everyone else I know is just as capable of deciding for themselves in November.

This isn’t a “business-as-usual” year. In order to engage in any meaningful dialogue at the convention, we need to move beyond some of the Clinton campaign’s “talking points.” These are things that every rational person can agree are not accurate. Let’s look at a few examples.

Several of Hillary supporters have told me to leave the Democratic Party and join a third party if I’m not satisfied with my party. This failed attempt at rudeness is actually hilarious. But even a funny joke shouldn’t be told too often. No one “owns” the Democratic Party — even though corporations definitely own some elected officials from both parties. Myself and many other Bernie supporters do not take orders from ethically inferior party members.

Do not tell us that if one does not vote for Hillary, it is equal to a vote for Donald Trump. Just because you couldn’t pass third-grade math does not mean that we didn’t.

And do not mistake the saying that “politics is the art of compromise” justifies the betrayal of one’s principles. It doesn’t. Such confusion upon your part strongly suggests that you need to re-examine the concepts of principles and ethics.

For those in the progressive movement — including registered Democrats and independents, etc — we need to begin solidifying our plans. Obviously, we are going to be involved in nonviolent protests against the machine. What would you like to see and experience in Philly in late July?

Peace,
Patrick R. McElligott

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