“You say you’ll change the Constitution,
Well you know
We all want to change your head.”
— John Lennon; Revolution
The Constitution of the United States provides that there are to be three co-equal branches of our federal government. These include the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. During the time of the last three presidencies, strong cases have been made that the other two branches are “broken.” That’s a polite way of saying the legislative and judicial branches have been corrupted. Let’s take a look some history.

In its early days, the nation was a republic; in the first decade of the nineteenth century, Thomas Jefferson successfully advocated transforming it into a democracy. Although still imperfect, this attempt to create a balance between republican and democratic tendencies was a significant step forward in creating “a more perfect union.”

In the beginning of his 2005 book “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln” (W.W. Norton & Co.), Sean Wilentz notes that the word “republic” comes from “res publica,’ meaning “public thing” administered by wealthy, educated men. “Democracy” comes from “demos krateo,” meaning “rule of the people.” The Federalists of the day believed democracy was dangerous, and that the wealthy, educated (white) men should hold the reins of power, alone determining who would “represent” the public interest.

It would be an error to believe that the two current major parties are firmly rooted in the context of those definitions. Indeed, the Constitution does not speak of any political party or parties. In the beginning, there were no parties. By the Civil War era, there were dozens of political parties. This produced, for example, what is known as the Golden Age of the US Senate.

The post-Civil War era produced the Gilded Age. The heads of industry were able exert undo influence upon the government. Between the years 1865 and 1900, for example, politicians literally gave the railroad robber barons approximately a quarter millions miles of land –more than the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin combined.

Shifts in industrial production in the middle of the century resulted in President Eisenhower delivering his famous farewell address, in which he warned the nation about the un-democratic tendencies of the military-industrial complex. Less well known is that in his thirty-plus “rough drafts” of the speech, Ike referred to it as the military-industrial-congressional complex” in the vast majority of the drafts. (Jim Newton; Eisenhower: The White House Years; Doubleday; 2011)

In 2006, authors Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein published, “The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America” (Oxford). Their bipartisan effort to define the issues clearly, so that solutions could be identified, was ignored by the leaders of both political parties. Both the House and Senate have become further corrupted in the decade since.

Vincent Bugliosi’s 2001 book, “The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President” (Thunder’s Mouth Press) documented the vile corruption of the US Supreme Court. Combined, these two books suggest that President Eisenhower should have stuck with the “military-industrial-congressional complex” description of the threat to our constitutional democracy.

While there have been hundred of books published in recent decades attacking specific presidents — some good, some bad, and almost exclusively partisan — the last serious book to examine the dangers of the executive branch was Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s 1973 “The Imperial Presidency.” In it, the author documents how almost without exception, each president has expanded the powers of office beyond what is constitutional. At the time the book was published, virtually no president had willingly relinquished those unconstitutional powers that his predecessors had added to the Oval Office.

In each instance, the president had justified his power-grab by citing some foreign and/or domestic “threat” to the nation. In some instances, these threats were certainly real. However, few justified the power-grab, and none had justified institutionalizing that new power.

Those presidents who most seriously abused the Constitution always did one of two things: either they purposely lied outright about the nature of the “threat,” or — more often — engaged in these activities secretly. Doing so, especially the secrecy bit — makes the actual balance of equal powers almost impossible. This was particularly true during the recent Bush-Cheney administration, as detailed in dozens of serious books published since 2003.

The Obama administration, which has been an improvement in many areas of the Bush-Cheney presidency, has still maintained unconstitutional powers. These are related to “national security,” of course, and include numerous military conflicts our nation is engaged in. More, they fund the “private forces,” or mercenaries, that became high profile in the Bush-Cheney years, though these adventures are also kept secret from the public.

There is good reason for those who believe that our nation should return to it’s Constitutional roots to consider what, if anything, might bring that option about. Clearly, the influx of “big money” in elections makes it far more difficult — though not entirely impossible. While the 1% and corporations exercise undue influence, they are not invincible.

President Eisenhower’s original warning of a military-industrial-congressional complex is definitely one of the major stumbling blocks. In a very real sense, this raises serious questions about the current two party system. As Minister Malcolm X noted, it provides voters with a choice: to be attacked by a fox, or a wolf. One smiles to your face, and bites you from behind when you least expect it; the other simply bites you. They are both members of the same canine family, serving as attack canines for that elite 1%.

Still, the rise of a populist in the Democratic Party’s primaries, and even of a neo-populist in the republican contests, indicates that voters have the potential to upset the apple cart. This does not imply that the current two party system works — for the Democratic machine cheated every member of the Sanders Revolution, and the republican machine is conflicted about supporting Trump.

Some people have firmly decided who they will vote for in November. Others haven’t, and that’s fine: there is plenty of time to make a final decision. What is apparent, however, is that progressive in the Democratic Party must continue to work with our family and friends among the Democratic Left. We need to keep in mind what Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman taught me when I was young: alone, we are like individual fingers that our enemy can easily twist and break; together, we form a powerful fist that is fully capable of defending all of our rights.

The Clinton vs. Trump establishment contest appears stark on the surface. The Democratic establishment’s mantra is that we have a moral/ ethical duty to defeat poor Donald. Yet, a few things seem self-evident: first, if Trump is actually as dangerously unhinged as being portrayed, the larger establishment — which consists of the economic elites — will not allow him to “win,” no matter how many votes he actually gets; or, second, his original goal was to knee-cap Jeb Bush, and has been expanded to divide and damage the republican party.

Either way, the Clinton campaign is seeking a landslide victory, to pretend Clinton has a mandate. In fact, her “mandate” is to benefit the 1% first, and then the 10%. To accomplish that, of course, she would work closely with the republicans in Congress.

Thus, it would appear that in order for the progressive community to exercise its power, there needs to be a large vote for Jill Stein. I understand that some progress members of the Democratic Party will vote for Clinton. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. But it is important that the Green Party’s candidate wins the support of several of the fingers that comprise our fist.


Guns vs Butter

Today on Face Book, I read about a dozen posts stating that, if a person is considering voting for a third party candidate — rather than for Hillary Clinton — they were betraying others in such a manner that requires an apology. This reminded me of two lessons that I learned as a young man. First, my father pointed out that only republicans always voted as directed; second, that attempts to manipulate others’ behaviors by guilt and shame are rarely effective.

If one’s behavior is defined by what an external “authority” directs, it means that they are without the insight and understanding to think for themselves. They are, in effect, mere cogs, lacking the human qualities that democracy requires. If someone is convinced that voting for a specific candidate is in everyone’s best interests, surely guilt and shame are not necessary in attempts to convince other like-minded people.

I have felt that the Clinton campaign has run a terrible operation. Several months ago, on an internet forum, I pointed out that they were clearly aiming at getting republican support, from both moderates at the community level, and from the establishment. For example, once Trump had done his alpha-male routine on poor Jeb Bush, it was obvious the Bush organization would quietly support Clinton. Weeks later, Laura “Pickles” Bush expressed her support of Hillary.

At the same time, they dismissed Bernie Sanders and his campaign. The old assumption that progressives would have nowhere else to go come November, and would fall in line in another “the lesser of two evils” mindset. By the time they grasped how strong the Sanders Revolution had become, they were running a confused campaign. The attempt to pretend that there are only “minor” differences between the two Democratic candidates, and that they shared social values, has not played well. And for good reason: it’s not true.

What they have failed to confront honestly is the reasons that progressives support Bernie, and nor Hillary. They refuse to actually discuss the legitimate concerns about their candidate. Instead, they rely upon the mantra that progressives are parroting the great right-wing conspiracy. I’ve had equally stimulating discussions with Moonies in the Los Angeles airport.

Let’s consider a few of those concerns. First, during this year’s primary contest, the Sanders Revolution voiced concerns that the DNC was actively supporting Clinton, and opposing Sanders. The Clinton supporters dismissed this as a “conspiracy theory.” Indeed, it was, and the release of the DNC’s poison e-mails on the eve of the convention documented that it was 100% accurate. In response, the Clinton campaign has attempted to divert focus with a conspiracy theory involving Russiia.

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz was forced to resign in disgrace. Still, the corporate media ignored the glaring fact that the DNC’s tactics — in coordination with the Clinton campaign — are basically the same that the Senate Watergate Report detailed in the historic Ervin Committee’s report’s Chapter Two, on political activities between 1968-’71. Hillary should be fully aware of this, considering that she served as a legal adviser to the 1974 House Judiciary Committee’s inquiry on impeaching Richard Nixon. Yet, in response to the DNC corruption, Clinton opted to provide Wasserman Shultz with a comfortable position in her general election campaign.

Clinton’s supporters point to the party’s platform as “proof” that their ticket represents us all. Yet in the history of modern politics, a party’s platform is merely served as “feel good” words for conventions. They are far less important, for example, than the nominee’s selection of a vice president. Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine definitely provides greater insights into her opinion of progressive values, and how she plans to serve Wall Street, than the platform.

This past weekend, Hillary made her first television appearance on Fox News. Again, this clearly indicates who’s support she seeks in November. More, she attempted to blur what FBI Director James Comey stated in his press conference, and his appearance before Congress. He did state she had not lied in her interview with the FBI. But he made painfully clear that she had lied to the American public, and to s congressional committee.

Clinton’s supporters do not address the problems with her dishonesty, but instead attempt to blur the issue by noting that her e-mail system was no different than Colin Powell and Condi Rice’s. Think about that: is being no different than those two a good thing? Is that really what the Democratic Party should be honoring?

I understand that human beings have both “good” and “bad” sides. And that these impact how we each attempt to get our needs meet. When any person is running for president, it is fair to take a full inventory of how these play out in their public life (as opposed to their private affairs). This type of evaluation should be based upon rational thought, not emotions.

Any and every progressive that I know recognizes that Hillary Clinton has some good qualities that have benefited our society. But they have sincere concerns about her bad side, and how that has played out while a Senator and Secretary of State — her two most important positions. Unless and until these are addressed by her campaign, it’s unlikely that the majority of the progressive community will support her.

The e-mail server issue shows that she is highly secretive. Obviously, she believed this would work to her advantage, because republicans have attempted to smear her with “scandals” over the years. So she didn’t want them to have access. But this does not grant license to ignore laws and policies on national security. Or to lie to the public. Shades of Richard Nixon that go far beyond being a close associate of Henry Kissinger.

Last fall, Robert Kennedy, Jr., spoke to the media several times about the actual reasons for the US involvement in Syria and Libya. In both instances, those policies — advanced by Secretary of State Clinton — were directly tied to the interests of US “energy” corporations. Similarly, Clinton advocated fracking for gas, both domestically and in foreign nations. I think it is important for progressives — and all people — to consider the implications.

In the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary compared Barack Obama to Martin Luther King, Jr., and herself to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Now, that’s interesting. In 2016, it would be difficult to place Obama and King on the same level. But the LBJ bit could be considered more accurate. Johnson was effective in making some significant domestic advances. But he couldn’t say no to the ugly war in Vietnam. His supporters continue to insist others were to blame, and many of his advisers were. Yet far more important in the “guns or butter” conflict was LBJ’s character.

These character issues are among the reasons that many in the progressive community are not embracing Hillary.

Franklin Meant

“When passions drive, let reason hold the reins.”
— Ben Franklin
A number of good people who worked hard for the Bernie Sanders’s campaign are discouraged by the Senator’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton. This is neither surprising, nor usual — it was an acrimonious contest. Yet, we “officially” won 22 states in the Democratic Party’s primaries, and still more were so close as to be tied. Further, the leaking of DNC e-mails proves that there was corruption impacting the process, and that the Sanders Revolution likely won more.

Let’s contrast this with another historic example of the power of grass roots activism, which took place in 1964. A group of citizens formed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, to contest the racist seating of that state’s delegates at the convention. They based their case on the law, which mandated equal representation at the convention. Yet their state sought to seat an entirely white group, and deny black citizens the representation they had clearly won in their primary.

The MFDP was supported by Minister Malcolm X. They were viewed as radical by the establishment — including the Democratic Party establishment. They were intent upon bringing about justice, by any means necessary. The Democratic Party was intent upon electing Lyndon Johnson, who was opposed by Barry Goldwater. LBJ was concerned that the MFDP would create a conflict at the convention, and damage his candidacy. The very idea of black citizens demanding their constitutional rights could frighten the public.

The MFDP would eventually reach a mutually unsatisfactory compromise with the party. Yet it created the foundation upon which they would re-structure the party’s representation in 1968, in a more just manner. Though some were disappointed, this was indeed a huge victory. They changed one state, yet they influenced many others.

The Sanders Revolution won at least 22 states. This effort, which involved millions of Americans, was led by one man ….an older US Senator, who throughout his public life had not been a registered member of the Democratic Party. And there is no evidence that he had ever wanted to register as a member. He did so, not for personal gain, but because he recognized that the times call for a movement to transform our socio-economic-political conditions.

An important goal was getting as many wins in the primaries as possible, and hopefully secure the nomination. But what is more important is to make true reforms in our system, to bring the public to higher ground. There is no question that Senator Sanders had the ability to win the general election, and serve as president. But that is not the archetype of his type of leadership.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the most influential leader of the civil rights movement. There were other leaders with more experience, and still others who followed. But King stepped up at a time when circumstances demanded the leadership that he could provide. This required that King pass upon the many other career and life options available to him. He understood that it demanded sacrifice, and he shared the definition of that personal sacrifice on the eve of his assassination:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

That is the archetype of a specific type of leadership. In the bible, it is represented by the prophet Moses, who leads his people within view of that promised higher ground. But Moses would not arrive at that destination.

In the times of Moses and Martin, their followers were understandably upset, even confused. Many believed it was the end of the journey. They did not grasp, at that moment, that they had been brought to exactly where they needed to be, and they then possessed the exact qualities and experience needed to begin the next chapter of their movement.

When Sanders entered the Democratic Party’s primaries, he agreed that he would support Clinton if she won. If he had not done so, the opposition would have discredited him and his supporters, by claiming they were not “authentic” party members. Plus, Sanders had stated early in the primaries that if Clinton won, he would endorse her — but that this would not mean his supporters would fall in line behind Clinton. Everyone knew this when working the Sanders campaign (anyone who didn’t, wasn’t paying attention).

It is important to recognize that we won — at the very least — 22 states in the primaries. So we own territory there. More, we have other places we can occupy. This allows each and all of us numerous alternatives. Some people will vote for Clinton, while others will vote for Jill Stein. That is an individual choice, that is based upon a person’s experiences, understanding of the issues, and beliefs on what best gives voice to their conscience.

What is more important is what we do, both besides and after the presidential election. We need to harness all of the progressive power that we can. There is no single “correct” way to exercise this power. We must remain united in our efforts to bring forth progressive change in America, in a coordinated, multi-level manner.

The only “wasted” opportunity is the one that not attempted. The only “wasted” vote is the one that remain un-cast. There is an important presidential election coming in November, plus congressional, state, and local contests. And there are approximately 100 days before Election Day. As groups and individuals, we have a lot of options for how we best make the progressive voice heard.

Unfinished Business (#9)

As we witnessed the Democratic National Convention, there remain serious differences that divide the supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While in presidential elections past, it has been taken for granted that progressive members of the Democratic Party would pledge their support to the nominee by the end of the convention — and that the Democratic Left would have no where else to go in November — the differences in values has become entrenched after an acrimonious primary season.

Anyone who reads through political discussion sites on the internet might safely conclude that Team Clinton and the Sanders Revolution speak very different languages. Some people on both sides have purposely insulted their primary opposition; based upon my readings in the past year, the Clinton camp showed far more disrespect to the Sanders’s people, than Sanders’s people to the Clinton supporters. This has continued, even after the Clinton’s hired former Sanders’s political operatives, and Senator Sanders has semi-endorsed Hillary, by committing to defeat Donald Trump.

Adding her vice presidential pick to the ticket hurt. Yet, the hiring of the disgraced Debbie Wasserman Shultz on her campaign was simply terrible. It reflects the Clinton’s values and intentions.

Still, the Clinton team seems genuinely confused as to why Hillary has not gained the support of the Sanders Revolution. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to consider what in sociology are known as the three types of “authority.” These were best defined by Max Weber in his writings in 1919-1920, specifically his wonderful essay “Politics as a Vocation.” These include traditional, bureaucratic, and charismatic authority.

Traditional authority is most closely associated with pre-industrial societies, where people tend to do things the way that previous generations of their tribe or clan did. Bureaucratic authority is found in larger, industrial or high-tech societies. Weber also identified this as “legal-rational authority. Charismatic authority has been found in both traditional and bureaucratic systems, when an individual of unusual personal characteristics creates a movement to reform the social system. Each of the three types has potential strengths and weaknesses.

There have been aspects of each of these three during the Democratic Party’s 2016 primary season. My family, for example, has been active in the Democratic Party for generations; I have only voted for the party’s candidate in presidential elections. However, as the party has shifted to the right in recent decades, progressives like myself find the bureaucratic structure unresponsive to its traditional values. Thus, the Sanders campaign — which spoke to the values and offered the opportunity to reform the system — held an attraction that Hillary Clinton simply can not.

The former Sanders campaign aides who now work for Clinton are part of the current bureaucratic system. Their priories are not rooted in values — instead, they seek employment opportunities within the bureaucracy. In effect, they are like ball players traded to another team, or the reporters who go from MSNBC to CNN or Fox. This is distinct from the millions of progressives who volunteered with the campaign, because Bernie spoke to their values. And those values create a sense of loyalty to a cause, which simply cannot be “traded” or sold to the Clinton team.

The second sociological dynamic we should consider is the public’s identity in social groups. These are usually nationality, economic class, and political party. For example, in times of national crises, it is common for people to identify as “Americans.” Indeed, in times past, if the US was involved in a military conflict, even politicians in Washington held that differences of opinion ended at our shores. While in other nations, socio-economic class has created a united front with common interests, that has not tended to be the American experience.

Among the divides between the Clinton and Sanders’s camps is an economic canyon. If you are doing okay today, you might favor Clinton. But for millions of Americans who are being crushed financially — through no fault of their own, but rather by a global economy endorsed by Hillary — she is part of the establishment that is incapable of providing true social justice.

Finally, let’s consider the three general concepts of “progress.” These include the idea that things go in cycles. This is an understanding that was/ is common in traditional societies. And it was central to Kennedy family historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s ideas on politics in the 1950’s and 60’s.

The belief in evolutionary change is common within bureaucratic cultures. It was, in fact, a system first identified by ancient Chinese culture: to identify the wants and needs most common to the largest number of people, and gear the system to meet those needs. Weber believed that bureaucracy was in itself an evolutionary step forward, as the earth’s population increased.

Movements led by charismatic figures tend to be invested in conflict to bring about change. This can be divided into several sub-groups. The most important, for our consideration, are those dedicated to bringing about non-violent change. The historic examples of Gandhi and King illustrated how by using creative tensions, a non-violent group could bring about positive changes. Tactics include boycotts, direct actions, non-cooperation, and more.

Certainly, there are areas where the interests of supporters of Clinton and Sanders overlap. Without question, a percentage of Sanders’s supporters will vote for Hillary in November. Likewise, a percentage will not. An obvious variable is if one is a member of the Democratic Party, or a non-party member of the Democratic Left. Indeed, the three types of identification listed in this essay result in nine different — all valid — choices for who people will vote for in November. The only sure thing is that the only wasted vote is the one that goes un-cast.

Philadelphia Freedom Summer

“For centuries kings, priests, feudal lords, industrial bosses, and parents have insisted that obedience is a virtue and that disobedience is a vice. In order to introduce another point of view, let us set against this position the following statement: human history began with an act of disobedience, and it is not unlikely that it will be terminated by an act of obedience. …
“The prophets, in their messianic concept, confirmed the idea that man had been right in disobeying; that he had not been corrupted by his ‘sin,’ but freed from the fetters of pre-human harmony. For the prophets, history is the place where man becomes human; during its unfolding he develops his powers of reason and of love until he creates a new harmony between himself, his fellow man, and nature.”
— Erich Fromm; On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying “No” to Power; 1963.
The dissension within the Democratic Party in 2016 has created a divide of historic proportions. As the national convention approaches, both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns believe that they have proven that their candidate has earned the right to be the party’s nominee for this fall’s election. The hostility between the two campaigns has apparently created a level of emotion that prevents any possibility of finding common ground before the convention in late July.

Thus, it begs the question: will it be possible for the Democratic Party to hold together for the November election?

The historic example that some are eager to compare 2016 to is the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. This has been especially true since the events in Nevada. Several of the establishment Democrats engaged in Chicken Little, knee-jerk response, lying about chairs being thrown, and claiming they feared for their safety. The corporate media, being firmly in the Clinton camp, has been all to eager to breathlessly report that the Sanders campaign is attempting to bring down the sky.

There are unconfirmed reports that suggest that other forces — not from either campaign — may be attempting to increase the sense of paranoia, by making threatening phone calls to an establishment party official. If true, I’m confident that the police will soon identify and hold that person responsible. Clearly, such behavior — if it happened — is unacceptable.

It is true that there are ingredients that could combine for a convention as ugly and brutal as Chicago. It would be a shame if that happens. While events from Chicago are an important chapter in our history, it is not because what happened in that city, or the results, were positive. Quite the opposite: it was a display of the authoritarian violence unleashed upon people who were simply exercising their constitutional rights.

Perhaps a better model for Philadelphia to follow would be the 1964 convention in Atlantic City. An important group of Democrats had created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, to challenge the gross violations of party rules by the establishment in their state. Now, there were very real tensions leading up to this. Earlier in the year, while the MFDP had been making its plans, James Forman, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, had said, “If we can’t sit at the table, let’s knock the fucking legs off.” (See the PBS series, “Eyes on the Prize.”) And the MFDP was in close contact with Minister Malcolm X that summer.

This made the Democratic Party’s establishment mighty nervous. The establishment attempted to discourage the MFDP from coming to Atlantic City, despite the fact that they had every right to. In fact, were the party’s rules followed, they would have been seated and recognized as the legitimate representatives of their state. They had won, fair and square, while the state establishment had cheated to try to deny them their voice.

The MFDP said “No” to power. They were coming to the Democratic National Convention. They refused to accept the establishment’s outright lies, or their promises for a rosy, ill-defined future voice in the party. Instead, they demanded power. This scared both President Lyndon Johnson and VP Hubert Humphrey — two politicians that Hillary Clinton compared herself to in the 2008 primaries.

When the establishment’s lies did not get the intended results, they resorted to the “old reliable” tactics of fear and guilt. The MFDP could be responsible for electing that mad man Barry Goldwater, if they showed up in Atlantic City. But the MFDP was beyond fear: they didn’t feel that stick. They came to Atlantic City by the bus loads. They exercised militant non-violence. They gained power. And they made progress.

Now, think about all the states that Bernie Sanders has won this year. Think about how many people have been dedicated activists in the Sanders revolution. Yet the establishment is paranoid that we plan on attending the convention in Philadelphia! They have attempted to make the same false promises — also known as lies — to us as their counterparts made to the MFDP. Since that hasn’t worked, they resorted to fear and guilt, talking about Donald Trump. That doesn’t cut it: if Hillary can’t beat Trump, then we are definitely correct that the establishment is wrong to select her as the nominee.

We are coming to Philadelphia. You have no reason to fear us. Let’s all conduct ourselves in a civilized manner.

The Sound of Silence

“I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner.”
— Minister Malcolm X
The chances of a reconciliation within the Democratic Party were greatly reduced by events in Nevada last week. The growing sense of entitlement on the part of the party’s establishment resulted in flagrant misconduct by officials Once again, the Clinton campaign displayed its Animal Farm belief that while all animals are equal, some are more equal than others.

Perhaps more disturbing has been the reaction of those supporting Hillary who recognize that if she is the nominee, Clinton will need substantial support from the progressive community. Without it, she would be at risk of losing. Clearly, the Democratic Party’s establishment’s undemocratic behaviors could result in a Trump presidency. Clinton’s other supporters, by pretending that corruption is somehow okay — just part of the game — would likewise be responsible if Donald Trump is elected.

As we approach the July convention in Philadelphia, several things are certain. Neither Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will have won enough delegates to win the nomination. Clinton does have a lead in both votes and delegates. However, the corrupt actions by the establishment in Nevada are not a one-time, isolated incident. Rather, they are part of a pattern.

Clinton’s supporters tend to either deny that her political machine engages in unmethodical behavior, or to simply view it how political contests are fought. The Clinton machine mocks the Sanders supporters for attempting to make their cheating an issue. Politics isn’t a pillow fight, of course, but as history shows, the manner a candidate campaigns always indicates the manner in which they will “serve,” if elected. Perhaps the most important example of this is found in Richard Nixon.

Clinton would face a tough fight with Trump. Bernie would thrash Donald. Yet the “super delegates” — those animals who are more equal than all others — are posed to support Clinton. Most had declared their support for Hillary before Bernie Sanders entered the primary contest. Even in states were Sanders won the primary — including where he won literally every county in the state — the “super delegates” still are supporting Clinton. Obviously, the establishment has an agenda that does not respect the will of the voters.

“There comes a time,” Martin Luther King, Jr., warned us, “when silence is betrayal.” That time has arrived for the Democratic Party. The open and aggressive betrayal of the rules of fairness in Nevada is unacceptable. As an active participant in the Sanders revolution, I do not expect the establishment to acknowledge their wrong-doing. For they have no respect for the will of the people. They have no conscience.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the “average” citizen who supports Hillary Clinton to speak up. This includes the need for them to address the issues of corruption with the Clinton machine, and to engage in a civil discourse with the Sanders’s supporters. The progressive community — including members of the Democratic Party and the independents of the Democratic Left — know that the Clinton machine is convinced that we have “no where else to go” if the general election pits Clinton versus Trump. For they demand a level of loyalty to the party that they do not share.

But the grass roots’ supporters of Hillary know better. Many of them have begun parroting the machine’s threat that if progressives don’t fall in line, they will be responsible for electing Trump. This includes the fiction that anything but a vote for Clinton equals a vote for Trump — solid evidence that public education needs more focus on basic math. The truth is that the establishment is most responsible for opening the door to a possible Trump presidency.

The people at the grass roots level who support Hillary also have responsibility here. For they are classic enablers. And it is this, and this alone, that serves as the first stumbling block that prevents the supporters of the two Democratic candidates from engaging in any meaningful discourse today. If it continues to become more entrenched before the July convention, and the establishment picks Clinton for its nominee, there will be little chance of us finding common ground. But, if they act upon conscience, it keeps the door open for all of us to identify some common ground in Philadelphia …..including the possibility that from there, we could move together to higher ground.

Entering Philadelphia

“It is beneath human dignity to lose one’s individuality and become a mere cog in the machine. In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. It is slavery to be amenable to the majority no matter what its decisions are.”
— Mohandas K. Gandhi
Last night, I hosted had an informal meeting of local leaders of grass roots political leaders from a three-county area of upstate New York. All of those attending were registered Democrats. Most are from communities in which Democrats are the minority among voters, with republicans being the majority, followed by independents.

While we met to discuss several upcoming elections, our primary focus was to try to find common ground, in preparation for a area Democratic Party meeting. At issue is, not surprisingly, people’s opinions about the presidential primary. We are in a region of the state where the majority of Democratic voters support Bernie Sanders. Virtually everyone at my house has been active in the Sanders revolution.

At a recent Democratic Party meeting, there was “lively” debate about our state’s primary, and its implications. Although the map of the state shows that Bernie won almost all of the upstate, Hillary won in terms of numbers. The majority of people in our region believes that there was some “hanky-panky” involved. (And this was before Nevada.) This is equally true among members of the Democratic Left — many of whom have been attending Democratic Party meetings in our area. One fellow’s pronouncement — “I like to participate when I get fucked” — sums up the general feeling.

There are, of course, some Democrats who voted for Clinton. They do not deny that there are, at times, underhanded activities with elections. It’s as American as apple pie. They were convinced that both Trump and Cruz posed such a threat to this country, that people in our party need to speak in one voice in opposition to them. Indeed, they believe that Trump represents fascism, and Cruz theocracy, and that each one poses such a threat — particularly in regard to the US Supreme Court — that the Sanders revolution will need to unite with the Clinton campaign, for the common good.

There are also people, including one of my top advisers, who support Bernie, but think that by the time of the Democratic National Convention, we will need to support Hillary as the much lesser of two evils. From what I’ve seen — from an admittedly small sample group — those who feel this way tend to be over 50 years old.

Now, to me, anyone under the age of fifty is a “kid.” I’m not hip to all the names young folks use t identify themselves. But those who are approximately 34 to 49 seem less inclined to be willing to consider compromising at this time. And those 18 to 33 are even more intent on “Bernie or Bust.” However, age does not appear to be a factor in people’s desire to go to Philadelphia in July, for the convention; all of those planning to attend are part of the Sanders revolution, and want to engage in peaceful demonstrations, if Clinton gets the nod.

As often is the case, I agreed with everyone and no one, simultaneously. I fully support everyone’s right to decide for themselves what to do in July and November. As Gandhi often said, I believe in anarchy, so long as it is well-organized. I also disagree with those who tell others what to do.

We need to have trust in each other’s ability to weight the facts, and come to their own conclusions. There is plenty of time, between now and the convention, for each of us to evaluate who we will or will not vote for. And there’s enough time between July and November for people to re-evaluate, based upon current events. We need to have trust in that process.

Trust in the process does not equate with trusting the system. Our political system is corrupt. National politics is rotten to the core. But as a growing number of citizens recognize that the system has become a pile of compost, we can nurture new life that grows from that decay. We must have the patience of gardeners.

There is nothing “wrong” with Sanders’s supporters supporting Hillary Clinton if she is given the party’s nomination. A person can do that in good conscience. Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with a person who decides that supporting Hillary would require them to butcher their conscience, and opting not to vote for her. Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with not deciding either way at this time, and keeping all options open.

It is wrong to tell a person how they “must” cast their vote. It’s wrong to consider those who would vote for her as sell-outs. It’s wrong to tell someone that they must ignore their values and beliefs, and vote for a candidate they despise. Neither one of these options works, or brings about good in the long run.

I’ve said that, to say this: if you are concerned with the direction our nation is heading in, please come to Philadelphia. Come and voice your opinion. The first of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights speaks to citizens’ rights — as groups or individual — to speak their mind publicly.

We need to exercise that right. More, we need to understand that with rights, come responsibilities. No matter what your opinion of the two Democratic candidates may be, come to Philadelphia. It promises to be an important event in our nation’s history. And no one else can speak for you.