Blaming the Greens Nine Months in Advance
The article An Open Letter to the Green Party About 2020 Election Strategy by Noam Chomsky, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kathy Kelly, Ron Daniels, Leslie Cagan, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters, and Michael Albert (LA Progressive) gets to its point relatively quickly.
“If Clinton got Jill Stein’s Green votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Clinton would have won the election. Thus, the Green Party’s decision to run in those states, saying even that there was little or no difference between Trump and Clinton, seems to us to be a factor worthy of being removed from contested state dynamics, just like the Electoral College is a factor worthy of being removed across all states.”
Let’s just get Trump out, then we can fix everything. Just like we fixed everything after Bush. It doesn’t matter who it is. (Spoiler alert: It won’t be Bernie). Fix nothing. Shit on allies. Typical mainstream faux-progressivism. Defeatist horseshit, assuming a tight race because the Democrats suck so hard. But let them try to win again by asking the Greens not to run, like that’s the problem. Like Hillary won.
“Similarly, if these Stein voters did indeed erroneously believe that no harm could come from casting a vote for Stein in a close state in a close election, that also to some degree was surely a result of Green campaigning insisting that Green voters bore no responsibility for the 2000 election result.”
This is not surprising because Chomsky has actually been telling us to “hold our noses and vote” for decades. How the fuck do these éminence grises want to convince us the Green Party matters?
They’re still blaming Nader for the 2000 election? The last time they ran a pathetic milquetoast named Al Gore, who utterly failed to inspire a nation because he was tacking too hard to the right. Or in 2004 when it was again Nader’s fault that another boring milquetoast John Kerry. I respect many of these authors, but they seem to be blinded to the reality that a real candidate who wasn’t slavering to fuck over the American people for four years in place of the Republicans would sweep any idiot the Republicans could offer, regardless of how many electoral machinations they managed.
“[…] dispiriting to remove themselves as a factor that might abet global catastrophe via a Trump re-election.”
Hahaha. Credibility is zero. Climate crisis averted if you get not-Trump? Like with Obama? We’re all going to die in the climate conflagration, but at least I’ll have my pride. Honestly, the whole human race can take a flying leap, but I’ll have my self-respect. If it comes to a decision like that, then we can put a fork in it. We’re done, anyway.
You all, on the other hand, will have written a letter blaming the Democratic Party’s inevitable loss across all elections on the Green Party nine months in advance this time. I’m sitting over here in the comfort of a country whose Green Party just grew by leaps and bounds in the last elections because it’s been allowed to do so over the years. Also, we have parliamentary representation (percentage of votes corresponds to percentage of seats).
“Greens tell Democrats “to stop worrying about the Green Party and focus on getting your own base out.” We agree on the importance of Democrats getting their base out, starting with nominating Sanders, or, at worst, Warren. But how does that warrant the Green Party risking contributing to Trump winning?”
Fuck you all. There is no other answer than Green or an alternative party. The Democratic Party is so catastrophically unappealing that it can’t get elected without cheating and special help. So be it. The U.S. is fundamentally broken. What Chomsky et. al. are saying is that there is no hope but from revolution.
And how does your advice look now? Now that a doddering Joe Biden is drooling his way to the nomination? His platform is shambolic. He can barely string two sentences together. He’s got a rape accusation that the mainstream media is doing its utter best to ignore—unlike every other rape accusation against anyone else in the last five years. They claim that they won’t have to explain this one away, because it’s not credible. Trump does not follow their rules. He will cudgel the Dems so hard with it that they won’t even make it to September with Biden. Trump. Doesn’t. Care. He doesn’t play by the rules that these naive authors seem to think people still play by.
There were other reactions, such as the article Sorry Chomsky and Friends, The Green Party isn’t the Problem by Nick Pemberton (CounterPunch), which excused the authors generously at the very top:
“This is going to be a charitable response to a condescending letter. I trust it is not the author’s finest work, as all of the authors of said letter are brave heroes in the fight against corporate rule. We applaud them for their work and stand in awe of their courageous stands against the ruling class. Becoming distracted by counter-productive leftist infighting is a small sin for such heroes and will not be judged harshly.”
I agree with this sentiment.
Pemberton continues, though, disparaging the authors for ad hominem attacks:
“Today is not the time to be dismissing anyone’s efforts to fight against the corporate rule as “feel-good”.”
Then he makes the point that is salient: that a reasonable person can have decided that neither party candidate is right for an American and fuck lesser-evilism. Is it an elite attitude to risk Trump? Just because one is from a class largely unaffected by Republican machinations?
“[…] one were to listen to Stein, they would surely find that Clinton and Trump did not literally believe the same things, but that either candidate winning would be, in her view, an unacceptable outcome for the future of the country.”
We’ve watched lesser-evilism for forty years. The country sinks further and further down the toilet while the Democrats do nothing to stop it. Instead, they fight the Republicans for power and donors.
“We should be asking the Democratic Party why they continue to endure their own base having their vote suppressed. Is it because they ultimately have no interest in challenging their own donor base and that voter restrictions in fact keep the party voting to the right, where the Democrats are most comfortable? In this spirit, we should not be turning people away from the polls, no matter who they vote for, but rather be focusing on welcoming all voting strategies.”
“To make this a specific Green Party problem rather than a shift in corporate consolidation of power is perplexing.”
Pemberton goes on to theorize that if the goal is to stop Trump, then Bernie should never have run—because it’s a distraction. Therefore,
“We could all be happier if we stopped with these expectations of justice and just accepted our role as peasants to the corporate class. This would be peaceful, I don’t deny it.
“But even if we accept the ruling class thesis that the working class simply is too uneducated and idealistic to ever vote for its own interest, even if we accept this shockingly classist argument laid out in the letter, we would have to concede that such a pivot is impossible for the human soul.”
The problem is that lesser-evilism doesn’t work for even rational people—because they are, after all, people.
“These are the dynamics. It’s not rational. It’s not good. It’s merely human. It’s just the natural way to respond. Capitalism has left us so commodified we are alienated from not just the political system, but our own friends, families and souls.”
“I would have no problem voting for Joe Biden. But that’s not a good thing. It just isn’t. I would do it, I follow the line of rationale. However, most people are just better than that. Most people are. For most people they got their bills to pay on that Tuesday, their kids to take care of because daycare is that expensive, their two jobs to work, their joblessness to drug themselves out of.”
Good point. Chomsky and Solomon are out of touch. I’m Surprised Ehrenreich is as well, but she’s no spring chicken. People find Dems unappealing because they’re fucking Saruman. You wanna fuck me? Fine. What am I going to do to stop you? But I’m not going to say please and thank-you and mean it.
The following is a collection of more citations from the Pemberton article, which was really quite excellent.
“We can’t be telling people not to despair before we fix the conditions of despair. We cannot be telling people to get over themselves and their distrust in politics before we fix the corporate stranglehold on politics.”
“It is in this sense I see both Warren and Sanders as positive steps. If the corporate class was smart, they’d roll with them. They’d self-correct and go home with money. But that’s not how the corporate class is either. They are just as irrational and sad as we are. Just as desperate. Not for survival. Not for dignity. Not for peace of mind from humiliation. Not for freedom from abuse. But just desperate for more bullshit. Can’t we see these two sides aren’t coming to the table?”
Pemberton offers an alternative: Have the Democrats be less shitty. (But we all know that’s not going to happen.)
“Life under the Democrats is better. Trump is a unique danger. The Green Party has no path to victory. Want to have people vote Democrat? Make the party accountable to their electorate. When we do this in reverse we forego democracy. It’s a harder and longer road. It may mean more Trump victories. It may mean the end of the species before we fix it.”
“We are dealing with half the country that doesn’t vote. A few more leftists won’t move the needle. I wish we were that important.”
“The Stephen Hawking quote being thrown around that humans die from greed and stupidity isn’t all true. We die from idealism and hope too. We die from our recognition that we have rights and that we should fight for them. We die from our sense of dignity. We die from stubbornness and independence. We die from our desire to be free, to be somebody in this cruel world, to make it a better place. And we all do die. One day. But let it be fighting for the collective good. Let this sacrifice be one that makes our world better. This is the Bernie Sanders gamble. I’m sorry, it is. It’s one that says enough is enough. We won’t take it anymore. And we’ll see where the chips fall.”
“I sometimes share that desire for us to be less human. To be able to be realistic, to not feel. Wouldn’t that be easier? But no, our leaders are irrational. Our billionaires aim to kill us all and don’t care. Who are we to be lectured? Let us try, at least.”
“No, people just want their material rights taken care of. This despair is universal. It’s the personalized neoliberalism. We’re talking about politics here. Politics. Get people homes, jobs, water, food, leisure time, air, schools, health care, roads, etc. That’s what it is. No one needs their wildest dreams here. The rich do, and that’s why they destroy stuff.”
“Now is the time to love every single person in the room, tell them they are beautiful and tell them the ruling class is trying its very best to kill us all for an extra buck. We must join hands in an organized force against said power and assert that the power of love is stronger than the power of capital. There is a concrete structure here. Love, when multiplied, defies this cynical logic that you are a spoiled brat with dreams.”
“The job is hope. The work is hope. The mission is hope. If we can’t believe, who are we?”
Money quote again. The open letter strips away too much, obviating the reason we don’t just vote Republican.
“That if we continue the fight, whatever and however we see that fight, the ruling class will have to answer, at least for a moment, to their profiteering ways at the expense of public health.”
“It’s about supporting all of us crazies day in and day out. What is it to exist? Have we gone mad? We must do the hard work of political hope and organization every day. Elections don’t change anything. People do. The madness of people to believe that they can and will make a difference in this brief journey from womb to tomb. The elections will come, and they will go. The people must hold their own organizations throughout the year to challenge whoever is in power to accurately reflect the will of the people.”
“Rather than blame the few people who have enough hope to form a political party that they believe in, we should be asking critical questions about why the majority of Americans have lost hope, and what we can do to inspire them into further action. In this spirit, I find any letter telling the Green Party not to run to be unproductive. Rather than blame and shame each other, we should be supporting each other’s fights against corporate rule and Mr. Trump. Just as Mr. Trump is a product of corporate rule, corporate power has been strengthened under Mr. Trump.”
“It is true that if the Stein votes in these states went to Clinton she would have won. Where in the letter does it say if the Gary Johnson votes went to Trump, he might have even won a plurality? Of course that’s not included as it would be too much of a balanced argument to make.”
Who says these were Democrats voting Green? Weren’t some disgusted Republicans who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either Clinton or Trump?
“If the nomination goes to Biden because of the Democrats’ repeated treachery against their own progressive voters, then it begs the questions, ‘Is this even a democracy worth fighting for?’ Trump will win in a landslide, but of course, it will be the Green Party to blame. It always is.”
From Pemberton’s article:
“This is evident in Jill Stein’s proposal to have Bernie Sanders run in her place on the Green Party line.”
“But Sanders, like the writers of this letter, like[s] to have it both ways. They like to say they want to stop Trump, but they also want to radically change the course of the Democratic Party with an agenda completely in opposition to most of their Washington based politicians and corporate donors.”
“If we are being honest about our goal of stopping Trump, we would nominate Joe Biden right now. We would stop this costly primary that only furthers the real divisions between the Democrat’s base and donor class. We would adopt the lovely communist mantra of “Blue No Matter Who” and abstain from all criticism of Mr. Biden, who is the clear frontrunner for not only corporations but many low-information voters.”
“Had he shut up and stayed home the differences between Clinton and Trump would have appeared wider, given we weren’t so focused on the differences between Sanders and the establishment.”
“One could argue that we need the specific left language of a Sanders or Stein. Without this all the dissatisfied people would have had no ideological or material grounding for their distrust and more would have joined the fascist Donald Trump, who echoed the same dissatisfaction but with far different specific solutions.”
“The reasons being that there are more important rights than the right to vote or the right to self-expression, or even political organization. I would argue that the rights to air, water, food, shelter, reproductive rights, safety, freedom from concentration camps, etc. that Trump is dismantling are far more important than our right to self-expression.”
“Now if you get corporate money, you’re corrupt. True enough. But to make this a litmus test obviously exposes the Democrats. I’m sorry. Bernie must know what he’s doing here. Still, he’s right, of course. We need a radical transformation of society. You just can’t have both goals at once. I don’t buy the argument that Chomsky often has which is if you just get your leaders to be a little more liberal you have a greater chance to protest for something better, and so on. No! Once again, this is ignoring real data here. The politics go back and forth between the parties. There’s no ever-greater leftism here that happens naturally as soon as we get centrism in office.”
This sounds almost literally like Žižek.
↩“I am convinced [Bernie’s] success is that he talks very little about specific policy. He is constantly addressing the corporate power in the room and calling them out. This gives people great joy. Our lives are captive to this corporate greed and corruption. We feel helpless as they build and pollute through our lands, lock us up, bomb us, and cut our wages and health care. We hate these people. You have someone come in and say I’ll tinker here and there it doesn’t work. We’re tired of it. Maybe that makes us too full of hope or whatever. Maybe that makes the Green Party too much fun, or whatever. But sorry. Maybe we need some hope. Maybe we need some fun. And maybe we don’t trust anything else about politics. Life isn’t that much fun with the corporate stranglehold around our necks. For many people, life under both political parties just keeps getting worse. Whose fault is that?”