the US-Left and Presidential Elections: what can we learn?

Published on ZNet, by Robin Hahnel, Aug 2, 2016.

… More than 13 million Americans voted for a candidate to be their President who labelled himself a democratic socialist, called for a political revolution, and financed his campaign exclusively with small contributions averaging $27 from over 230 thousand donors. Compared to how the left fared in any of the twelve previous presidential elections I have been eligible to vote in, this stands out as a MONSTROUS SUCCESS! Nobody in their wildest dreams, including the candidate and his team of advisors, imagined this would happen when they began … //

… The Least Politically Sophisticated Populace on Earth:

America may be richer, more technologically advanced, and certainly more powerful militarily than other countries, but the US populace is one of the least politically engaged and sophisticated in the world. Most peasants in underdeveloped countries are more politically savvy than most middle class Americans. Moreover, what little attention the average American does devote to politics occurs during a few months every four years leading up to a presidential election. Which is why it is important for the US Left to have a successful strategy for addressing presidential election campaigns. If you need to engage more Americans – which any Leftist in the US with an ounce of sense knows we must – it is very helpful if you have a plan for how to do so when Americans are most willing to pay attention … //

… Thank You Great Britain: … //
Thank you Supreme Court: … //
Run to Win vs. Run to Raise Issues: … //
Where to Run: Democratic Primaries or the General Election? … //

Safe-State or All-State Campaigns:

If the Left does run in the general election how should we do it? I was a member of the Southern Maryland Greens, a chapter in the Maryland Green Party, when I lived in St. Mary’s County Maryland from 2001 to 2006. So I am a veteran of the heated debates about whether a Green Party presidential candidate should run a “safe-state” or an “all-state” campaign. This debate should have been settled long ago: All evidence points to the logic of running a safe-state campaign.

  • (1) The electoral college and a highly predictable distribution of political tendencies in different states create the conditions which make a safe-state strategy possible. Right now unless there is a landslide victory by either major party – in which case voting Green in any state cannot affect the outcome – if you live in a solid blue state the Democrat will win even if you vote Green, and if you live in a solid red state the Republican will win even if you vote Green. Since roughly 40 states are solid blue or red, that leaves roughly 10 states as “battle ground states” where a vote for the Green candidate might tip the election to the Republican.
  • (2) The Green Party does not have enough resources to mount a productive campaign in all 50 states. It doesn’t even have enough to run full throttle in 30 states, much less the 40 states that are safe states in a general presidential election. So we don’t need to run in battle ground states in order to do the most we can do to “raise our issues.” Besides, we can campaign and raise issues in battle ground states as long as we are clear that we are not asking people to vote for us there – for reasons they will fully understand! Insisting on asking people to vote for the Green Party candidate in battle ground states is a text book example of acting like the proverbial “dog in the manger.” In short, if we are honest with ourselves, we give up literally nothing when we run a safe-state campaign. To those who say: “But if we don’t ask people to vote for us in every state we signal that we are not serious about winning, that we are merely in it to “raise issues.” I say: “Who do you think we are kidding!? The public knows when we can’t win – and if we are honest with ourselves we know it too!”
  • (3) Of course the issue is if there is a lesser evil. If there is truly no predictable significant difference between how unfavorable the political fallout will be from the Republican winning the presidency instead of the Democrat, then there is no reason to run a safe-state campaign. However, let me point out that merely because both major parties are subservient to and dominated by corporate interests, and both major parties are subservient to the military industrial establishment and committed to conducting an imperial foreign policy in slightly different ways, does not mean the political fallout from one winning the White House will not be significantly worse than if the other wins.
  • (4) It is important to make the case that there is a significant difference between the political ramifications of whether a Democratic or Republican candidate wins the White House, and admittedly I am not going to do that here. But in my experience and my opinion there have generally been differences that are significant enough to warrant a safe-state campaign – particularly since it costs us nothing! In some years those differences are greater and in some they are less. However, anyone who cannot see that there is a significant difference this year between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is woefully ill-informed, very politically naïve, or completely unfamiliar with what the face of fascism looks like and the dangers fascism hold. And apparently that means you, Jill Stein!
  • (5) In every one of the twelve presidential elections I have been eligible to vote in I have voted according to the logic of a safe-state strategy – long before there was a Green Party debating its merits. If I lived in a blue state I voted for whatever third party candidate to the left of the Democratic Party was running the best campaign. If I lived in a red state I did the same. And if I lived in a battle-ground state where my vote might affect the outcome, I sucked it up, held my nose, and voted for the lesser evil because as a libertarian socialist I knew that is what was most likely to move the world toward our goals. I live in blue Oregon now, where I am free to vote for Jill Stein knowing that Hillary will still win all 7 of Oregon’s electoral college votes. But Jill, guess what? I am so angry and outraged that you have decided to run an all-state campaign this year, that you are asking people to vote for you in battle ground states, that you are telling people that if this means electing Trump it is worth it!! — that I am going to vote for Hillary as a protest vote against the Green Party candidate who after all these years has learned absolutely nothing about how the US Left should participate in presidential elections.

(full text).


there are no Democratic or Green saviors – get in the streets, on Systemic Disorder, Aug 1, 2016;

CRIME: how the Clinton Foundation Got Rich off Poor Haitians, on Axis of Logic, by Dinesh D’?Souza, Aug 1, 2016: it filtered money through Haiti and back to itself;

Critical Analysis: Silencing America As It Prepares For War, on Axis of Logic, by John Pilger, July 30, 2016: returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party’s rigged convention. The great counter revolution had begun …;

AUDIO – Richard D Wolff Economic Update: Seeds of Fascism, 2016, 49.00 min, uploaded by Dollar Collapsed, July 21, 2016;

they throw us out of our homes but we get ice cream, on Systemic Disorder, July 13, 2016;

why can West/Central Africans Grow their Hair like US, 4.33 min, uploaded by 1000gohead, July 26, 2014;

DNA hoax: African Americans Ain’t African, 7.11 min, uploaded by 1000gohead, Nov 14, 2012;

… and this:

The Most Emotional Voices, Top 30 Auditions, uploaded by Voice Show:

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