Since you asked…

Warning: Pop culture references ahead. Sorry if you don’t watch HBO.

It’s a strange experience for Greens: getting asked what we think. It does happen, though, usually at times like just about now.

Yeah, Sanders.

Whenever the Titanic parties seem to have a prominent candidate with good progressive credentials running in the primaries, we’re asked if we’ll “support” him/her.

Let’s run through some things that might happen with such a candidacy. But first, some things that will definitely NOT happen:

(1) He will not get elected President. FucktheKingsmallThat’s as certain as that he will not get the Dem nomination, which is as certain as a much-liked character dying toward the end of each Game of Thrones season.

Every bit as scripted and well-known to the actors involved, too. Even if his campaign is as sincere as I am when I order a chile verde burrito, a progressive platform such as his will never get the hundreds of millions needed for a successful campaign. That can only come from the .01%, and they ain’t buying it. That’s the stage of our history that we’re at, and it’s not changing any time soon.

Daenerys-Dragon-RulerYes, they all say they’re “running to win”. See my earlier essay here.

He will not, after losing the Dem nomination, launch an independent or “third” party campaign. Sanders has explicitly said he won’t act as a “spoiler” for Hillary, but beyond that, there are some states that have clear “sore loser” laws against this. An independent campaign would have to start a massive petition drive RIGHT NOW to get on the ballot in many states. For a “third” party campaign, it wouldn’t make much sense for a party that claims to make decisions democratically to nominate someone who didn’t run in that party’s primaries. As far as I can tell, Bernie is running in the Dem primaries, period. If anyone has different information, please tell me.

(3) He will not get any more attention for his progressive proposals than he would have got with an independent or “third” party campaign. He’s been nominally “independent” for many years now, and it’s got him the occasional interview on MSNBC. That’s about what he would continue to get if he stayed independent, and probably what he’ll get as a candidate for the Dem nomination.




(4) He will not “pull Hillary to the left”. She has positioned herself a bit more as a populist lately because she knows that’s where the rank & file of her party are. It says nothing about what she will do in office, as their campaign speeches said nothing about what her husband or Obama would do in office.




.What IS likely to happen?

seemslegitsmall(1) Much energy will be diverted from non-electoral activism into a campaign that promises pie in the sky. It doesn’t work with everyone, but lefties are usually as short-handed as Jaime Lannister, so losing just a couple more good volunteers pretty well ends anything like a local anti-war movement (killed by the Kerry and Obama campaigns) or whatever remains of Occupy.


(2) For “third” parties, the damage can be severe and permanent. Watching the numbers over the years, I’d guess that about 10-15% of our registrants want to re-register Dem just so they can vote in the Dem primaries whenever there’s a candidate like Kucinich or Sanders running. They might REEEEALY take their time re-registering Green when the season, and the character, end. GreenneedseternalIt also means that, having registered with another party recently, they might not qualify to run as Greens for anything, including administrative posts within the Party.

10-15% might not sound like much, but we often hover pretty close to the number of registrants required to exist as a recognized party in some states. Once that status is gone, it’s very difficult to get back.  Our party’s name would no longer be printed on the registration forms. It would be more difficult to get our candidates on the ballot.  The extent of the damage varies a great deal from one state to another, but you get the idea, I hope.

(3) The failed candidate ends up with a mailing list of known “progressives”.  Depending on just how they use it, this can be a major irritation to those on the list. If you once gave $5 to Bernie, you will forever get helpful reminders that he’s running for re-election to the Senate and really needs your support, or that he has friends with a plan for a grand “Progressive/Dem/Independent/Socialist coalition” or some such hogwash. Bernie will be 75 in 2016. He probably has just one more good fight left in him, and this is what he has chosen to leave it to.

What COULD have happened, but won’t now?

If he had decided to run as a Green, he probably would have swept our primaries pretty easily. Name recognition alone would have overwhelmed anyone else who was interested. His name on our ballot would have given quite a boost to the only party in line with his values that has ballot access in more than three or four states. lookmomnofuturesmall Sanders has chosen NOT to help a movement, or anything, associated with independence of the monoparty, but rather to try once more to draw real grassroots activists into the Dem Party, where they will be quietly smothered. I wouldn’t want that as a legacy, myself.



So… What to do now?

Same thing we’ve been doing. We don’t have much wiggle room left, but there’s no reason not to use it.

freedomsmallKeep the lights on for candidates who might be electable. Get them elected as possible. Run a symbolic candidate for higher office here & there because sometimes we need a certain vote total to keep our ballot line in existence, and being on the ballot is often pretty cheap advertising for the Party.

And don’t take elections too seriously. It’s only one way of many to influence public policy. Most are hardly being used at all.


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17 Responses to Since you asked…

  1. Great analysis. I just wish it all meant something once the whoever-it-ends-up-being ends up in office… 😐

  2. Darius says:

    Ralph Nader always says that Bernie never returns his (or any other progressive’s) calls. So, this is one last individualist gesture by a professional lone wolf. I wouldn’t vote for Sanders anyway after his staunch support for Israel after their massacre of Palestinians!

  3. ocvoice says:

    Great analysis. I wouldn’t vote for Bernie even if he ran for the Green Party nomination because of his foreign policy stands–and notice, you rarely see any mention of that in the Facebook blurbs by his supporters. He is a very disappointing sell out, standing with one foot on solid progressive land and the other in the thicket of Democratic Party whores and pimps–even if he truly believes it is the right thing to do.

  4. vernnelson says:

    Unless something big has changed, Mudge, nobody has to re-register Dem to vote in the Dem Presidential Primary.

  5. Tian says:

    I’m also tired of national campaigns that suck the life out of change movements. When I can’t find a local activist to support I tell people “Stop voting for oil companies at the gas pump.” I also grow my own vegetables. Lately all of the greens I eat at home I grew in my plot. Chard and collards mostly. Advocating for growing your own produce feels like supporting “Nobody”. Nobody for President! I can just hear a Democrat tell somebody else “Jill Stein is nobody.”

  6. Denise Robb says:

    Very well said. Thank you.

  7. Jeff Lebow says:

    I have a different take on Bernie Sanders’ potential impact. First, Bernie is not a saint and I do not agree with 100% of his positions. I am like Bernie, a political pragmatist, not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Bernie, for the most part, echoes Green Party values, a very important issue for me. Bernie’s candidacy, as far as it goes, gives visibility to very central issues critical to moving this country in a progressive direction. Jill Stein cannot do this for us. On the local level is where we Greens stand a chance to win elections. Nationally, forget it. Bernie signed up to run as a Demo because that is the only chance for national exposure for his Green Party values. He is a nationally recognized voice for the 99%. If you are a Green and ignore this fact, then you live on a different planet than I. Jill Stein, or almost any other Green, is a voice for the 99% that will NOT be heard. It’s the issues and values that desperately need to be elevated in our public political dialogue. Both major parties would rather keep Bernie out of the media, as would the corporate media. It is a strange alignment when Greens join the movement for personality cult politics, bought and sold by corporatists who control the messaging to most Americans.

    Being a small fish in a small pond is not how we are going to make America a better and fairer country. In addition to national visibility for shared values, having public support for Bernie’s candidacy will give progressive Dems an option to go Green when the DMC dumps Bernie like yesterday’s paper. I see our early support as benefitting the OC Greens, more than any benefits to the candidate or his adopted party. We can, if we choose to see this question in historic terms, support Bernie’s candidacy without reregistration. I admit that there will be some that reregister and there is some risk to Green registration numbers, but that can be minimized and hopefully offset by recruitment of disaffected progressives remaining in the Democratic Party.

    There are millions of Americans that are tired of holding their noses, so who’s to say Bernie is unelectable. It seems awful early to write him off, especially when we agree with most of his domestic agenda. The domestic agenda and priorities have a direct impact on foreign policy and our capability to maintain global war. Then again, we can remain electorally irrelevant on the national level. Our party is struggling to remain viable in Orange County. We are not growing and I suggest early public support for Senator Sanders’ candidacy would provide more upside than not.

    • kitchenmudge says:

      I can respect Jeff’s point of view. He’s a good Green, but I think he’s unduly optimistic about any benefit Greens ever get by association with Dems. Two phrases bug me a bit here:

      (1) “It is a strange alignment when Greens join the movement for personality cult politics…”

      Where do you observe this? The closest thing I’ve ever seen to personality cult stuff with Greens was with Nader, or maybe Camejo (?). Both are long gone from our ballots, never to return.

      (2) “I suggest early public support for Senator Sanders’ candidacy..”

      As mentioned toward the end of this old post I’d kinda like to see the word “support” banned from political discourse. It doesn’t say anything. Exactly what is being proposed?

      • Anonymous says:

        For clarification, my reference to personality cult politics was a reference to corporate media’s treatment of the standard horse race candidate coverage. Bernie keeps talking issues and has yet to be baited off point. He is the only national candidate speaking on issues Greens care about. No offense to my fellow Greens and progressives, but it is not strategic for a minor party on the left to simply reject creating alliances with progressive Dems and independents. Don’t get me started on the call for revolution. You fight battles, serious battles, when you can win. Although the economic gap between the 1% and the rest of us, if continued, will create greater class consciousness, the time for revolution is not here. The firepower and media are not in our favor so I dismiss this offhand.
        The term “support” is used precisely because it is undefined and allows Greens to build a bridge with non-Green progressives while reserving endorsements for Green candidates. Bernie is not the worst on foreign policy. Voted against Iraq war authorization and his domestic priorities are to reduce the military budget to fund domestic infrastructure repair. That would put a lot of working class folks back to work. Yes he backs Israel and needs to come to terms with the oppression of the Palestinians. He opposes TPP. Bottom line he’s the most progressive candidate currently on the national stage. I appreciate the difference of opinions, so keep’em coming.

  8. John earl says:

    Totally disagree with my friend Jeff Lebow. Bernie’s foreign policy is horrible. He is a willing tool of corporate Democrats in that he has made is deal with the Devil and when you do that the Devil always wins. Mr. Block got struck by a big socialist lightening bolt. Let’s not be Bernie’s Mr. Block. Anyway, Dennis was a far Greener Demo patsy than Bernie and what God did he do? Revolution is the only answer. Until then, save me a place at the pool and bring me my martini dry.

  9. pdiddie says:

    Well-reasoned and well-written. Thanks for adding it to the discussion at my shop.

  10. Hep says:

    Three months later – how does it feel to have been totally wrong ?

    You notice how TV never has reports on the previous year’s Psychic Predictions ?

  11. Pingback: IT’S LONG PAST TIME TO… | kitchenmudge

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