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BernieSanders-Caricature by Flikr user DonkeyHoteyLUMPENPROLETARIATGonzo:  On Monday, I did what I never thought I’d do again.  I registered (online) to vote, as a Democrat.  Gasp.  Like many progressives across the nation, I abandoned an alternative political party—in my case, the socialist Peace and Freedom Party—and registered as a Democrat. [1]

I admit that I voted for Bill Clinton in the first presidential election, in which I was old enough to vote.  But free speech radio and alternative media soon shed light on the many problems with the Clinton administration’s foreign and domestic policies, including laying the foundations for the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.  So, some of us have voted (and campaigned for) Ralph Nader‘s presidential campaigns since then, until Nader’s retirement from running.

But, momentously, Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, has an opportunity to win the Democratic presidential nomination.  But something tells me the Democrat Party bosses, whoever they are, will not allow that to happen.

Although the rules and laws vary from state to state, in California, for example, it seems that so-called independent voters, or closeted voters, those who “Decline to state” a political party, it seems those non-affiliated voters can vote in the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination election, or primary. [2]  At least, that’s what some colleagues tell me.  But, then, the Democratic Party can be anti-democratic, if it so chooses, and break its own rules, as it pleases.  So, voters, such as your author, who are strategically re-registering as Democrat to throw their weight behind the Bernie Sanders campaign and against Hillary Clinton, may simply be discounted by the Democratic Party’s bosses at the last minute.

Lumpenproletariat is a non-partisan website, open to all perspectives, but transparency seems key to understanding.  And, in the interest of transparency, we’ll admit that securing one’s right to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party’s 2016 primary appears to be the most effective strategy working class voters can take at this moment.  We just don’t see the candidates being proposed by any of the alternative political parties as being more progressive or competent than Bernie Sanders.  Of course, we’ll also admit, should Bernie Sanders fail to be nominated by the Democratic Party, we’re immediately going back to building alternative political parties for a more democratic society.

Often, we can rely on free speech radio to be informed about the world around us to be effective and engaged citizens affirming our own political autonomy.  But in the case of electoral politics, at least the free speech radio broadcasts I’ve caught, the public has been given flimsy information.  For example, Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman decided to interview a former Republican congressperson, who was arguing that blanket primaries, were the most democratic form of primaries.  And, sadly, the usually bright Amy Goodman, didn’t question the anti-democratic nature of blanket primaries. [3]  To give a second example, Uprising‘s Sonali Kolhatkar provided a useful broadcast on explaining particular rules and laws of voting processes.  Unfortunately, she decided to interview the author of an antidemocratic Top Two primary law without being particularly critical.  Granted, Sonali Kolhatkar did question the voting system, her questions didn’t seem to have any teeth. [4]

Celebrated, and lionised, Mumia Abu Jamal has also recently contributed to the literature a new commentary on the USA’s electoral process, or lack thereof.  Basically, voting sucks within a corrupt system.

MUMIA ABU JAMAL: [5]  “Voting for your pain.  An election is occurring tonight.  It’s a primary, one of many dozens to come.  It matters not where or, for the most part, even who.  Elections are public expressions of emotion, as in, who do you like?  Who do you feel like voting for?

“Millions of dollars are spent on massive advertising campaigns built to bend your emotions, play to your fears, or evoke your deepest hatreds.  Few have plans for your hopes.  Fewer still have a handle on your dreams.

“We have become accustomed to voting for lesser evils, forgetting the obvious truth that the lesser evil is still evil.

“So, we end up voting for wars we don’t want, policies we don’t support, and people who you don’t like.  Essentially, we settle and wonder why things go from bad to worse.

“Each candidate promises the moon and barely delivers dust.  And that is the nature of the beast.  The U.S. political system wasn’t designed to represent the people.  It was constructed to represent the propertied, the well-to-do, elites.

“A system was built to protect the interests of a wealthy minority.  The people, in the words of one of the so-called founders, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, were seen as a riotous mob, which filled him with fear and trembling.

“Do you really think that founders like these ever wanted the mob to vote, ever?  That spirit, the fear of the mob may be seen today in the increasing efforts to deprive more and more people of a so-called right to vote, not to mention giving them someone to vote for.

“For over 70 years, it allowed primarily southern states to develop practices, that demanded that blacks pass literacy test, bean-counting tests, and noxious grandfather clauses, which allowed one to vote only if one’s grandfather voted, which, if one’s grandfather was a slave, their grandchildren were barred from voting forever.

“Today, voting itself has become a lesser evil, a process, that preserves the power of the propertied and the economic privileges of the elites.

“From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.”



[Partial transcript by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Uprising.]

UPRISING—[14 MAR 2016]  “From Los Angeles, California, this is Uprising.  And I’m Sonali Kolhatkar.  It’s Monday, March 14th, 2016.  With anti-establishment candidates running in the presidential primaries, we’ll explore, today, the question of:  Who can vote in which primary?  And we’ll hear a commentary by Mumia Abu Jamal on voting and elections.  Plus, organiser and activist Rosa Clemente is one of seven people with Black Lives Matter [BLM] facing charges in Los Angeles.  We’ll speak to her about it.  And we’ll hear the voice of Jasmine Richards, a young BLM activist, who may be facing the harshest criminal charges in the nation for her activism.  That’s coming up after the news.” (c. 1:08)

[News Headlines omitted by scribe]

SONALI KOLHATKAR:  “Welcome back to Uprising.  I’m Sonali Kolhatkar.  According to Gallup, more than a third of all eligible voters in the United States are not affiliated with, either, the Democratic or the Republican party.  While they can, also, choose who they want as president in a general election, in the primaries, it becomes more complicated.

“Depending on the state where you live in, independent or Declinetostate voters may, or may not, be allowed to vote for a candidate, that they like, if that candidate is running with a major party.

“The case of Bernie Sanders is especially telling.  The Democratic-leaning Senator spent most of his career identifying as an independent, but is now running as a Democrat.  And he’s attracting plenty of independent progressives.  But can they all vote for him?  (c. 9:11)

“Similarly, there may be some independent voters who back Hillary Clinton simply because they yearn for a woman in the White House.

“Joining me now to shed some light on these questions is Chad Peace.  He is president of Independent Voter Media.  Welcome to Uprising, Chad.” (c. 9:25)

CHAD PEACE:  “Thanks for having me.”

SONALI KOLHATKAR:  “Well, let’s start with California, whose primary is in early June.  It’s a huge state.  Or, as Sanders would say:  a ‘uge state.  Lots of delegates at stake.  If independents can vote in the Democratic Primary, you might have a very different dynamic, than in a closed primary.  So, can they in California?

“Can independent or Decline-to-state or even people registered with other parties, can they vote in the Democratic Primary, if they choose?” (c. 9:54)

CHAD PEACE:  “Well, in California, we have what’s called a semiclosed primary.

“Now, if you wanna get technical about it, our Constitution actually says we’re supposed to have an open primary.  But the Democrats have opened their primary to non-member voters or non-partisan voters.  So, if you’re an independent, you can vote in the Democratic primary, but not if you’re a member of a third-party or the Republican Party.” (c. 10:20)

SONALI KOLHATKAR:  “I see.  So, if you’re like me, who’s Decline to state, I could vote in the Democratic primary.  But if I was with, say, the Green Party, or the Peace and Freedom Party, or the Libertarian Party, I would not be allowed to vote in the Democratic Primary in California.”

CHAD PEACE:  “That’s correct.  You’re Decline-to-state, you have to request a Democratic Party ballot; and they’ll allow you to vote.”

SONALI KOLHATKAR:  “Now, this is something, that the Democratic Party has made as an exception to this year’s election?  Or is this how it always is?”

CHAD PEACE:  “Well, if you go back in—California, actually, used to have what was called an open blanket primary. [3]  And it was the choice of the voters to participate.

“In the year 2000, ironically, it was the Democratic Party, that sued the State of California, saying you can’t force us to allow non-members to participate in our primary.

“Now, they won that case.  And I say irony because now the Democrats, on their own volition, allowed non-members to participate.  In the Republican Party, actually, on their own volition, chooses not to allow them to participate.” (c. 11:21)

SONALI KOLHATKAR:  “And I wanna get to the Republicans in a minute.

“So, just to clarify, for our California listeners, who are eligible voters, if you are registered with a party, that is not the Democratic Party, but you would like to vote in the Democratic Primary, you would have to, either, change your party affiliation to Democrat or Decline to state.

“If you are already Decline-to-state, then you can vote in the Democratic Primary, or you could vote in the primary of, I believe two other parties, that have opened up this year, the Libertarian among them, and one other party.  Right?”

CHAD PEACE:  “The American Independent.”

SONALI KOLHATKAR:  “The American Independent Party.

“So, if you want to vote in the Democratic Party, those are the ways, in a Democratic Party primary, those are the ways, in which you can do so. (c. 12:14)

[SNIP] (c. 59:59)

Learn more at UPRISING.

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints and/or demand or resources allow.]


[1]  Here’s a recent article from the Peace and Freedom Party, the only socialist political party in California, critiquing and citing Bernie Sanders:


We Can’t Tail After the Democrats  by Bernie Sanders

Posted on September 2, 2015 by the Communications Committee

This article is the first to appear in The Sanders Campaign: A Symposium. To download in Adobe Acrobat format for printing and distribution, click here.

Introduction by the PFP Communications Committee

We find much of what presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is currently saying about wealth inequality and by implication about the failures of a capitalist economy in the U.S. to be consistent with our platform.

But we think that Bernie Sanders should be running outside the two-party system. Instead, he is running as a Democrat and will likely support the winner of the Democratic primary (he did with Obama), which almost without a doubt will be the “corporate liberal” Hillary Clinton.

While raising important issues for the electorate to consider, the Sanders candidacy also has the function of giving an undeserved left-liberal legitimacy to the Democratic Party. His campaign, which does not directly criticize the record of the Democratic Party or of Ms. Clinton, serves to draw back into the fold otherwise disaffected voters who had been disappointed when the progressive hopes generated by candidate Obama turned out to be largely hopes without substance.

The Peace and Freedom Party considers that one of the first steps toward progressive change in the U.S. is to have an organized left party that is independent of the two corporate parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Ironically, this argument is masterfully made by Bernie Sanders himself in the following article that is reproduced from The Guardian of September 27, 1989 (we have added the subtitles). Written 26 years ago, Sanders’ prescient analysis applies to his current campaign.

Bernie Sanders says the following …

Democratic and Republican Parties Are Indistinguishable

We need a new, progressive political party in the U.S. because on almost every important issue the Democratic and Republican Parties, both controlled by Big Money, are indistinguishable. The “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980s was not created solely by Ronald Reagan and the Republicans. It was brought about with the active and strong support of the Democratic Party which controlled the U.S. House of Representatives for eight out of Reagan’s eight years and the U.S. Senate for two out of Reagan’s eight years.

During the Reagan era both parties supported huge tax breaks for the rich – and major cutbacks for working people and the poor. Both parties supported a huge increase in military spending – and cutbacks in education, housing and environmental protection. Both parties supported the illegal and immoral wars against Nicaragua – and efforts to weaken the trade union movement.

We need a new, progressive political movement in this country because the Democrats and Republicans are not only incapable of solving any of the major problems facing this country, they are not even prepared to discuss them. On the most important issues facing this country the Democrats and Republicans have nothing to say.

Mass Media Is Heavily Censored

The mass media in this country is heavily censored by the corporate ownership and the companies that advertise. “News” is increasingly presented as entertainment with exciting video of plane crashes, terrorists in action and other 30-second “news briefs.”

Analysis of why things are the way they are–the unfair distribution of wealth and power, starvation and poverty, war, ecological destruction, racism, sexism, etc. – is not considered “news.” Serious writers and cultural workers who wish to address the problems that most affect the U.S. public are completely out of the “public” broadcasting system. The simple truth is that ideas that are in conflict with the ruling-class ideology are almost never allowed on the mass media.

Has the Democratic Party ever once raised the issue of corporate control over the media, and the need to provide for a national media that will address the reality of U.S. life and allow for a diversity of opinion?

For over 150 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations, the U.S. government and U.S. corporations have overthrown, or attempted to overthrow, every government that has come to power in Latin or Central America or the Caribbean that has defended the interests of its workers and peasants.

Compromised and Corrupt Democratic Party Dominated by Big Money

The U.S. people, as almost never before, are rejecting the “2-party” system and are crying out for a political alternative. Half the people no longer vote for President, and fewer vote in state and local elections. Poor people are almost completely boycotting the current election system.

We need a new political movement in this country because our citizens desperately need to see and hear a radical alternative to the tired old status-quo politics of the Democrats and Republicans. Everyone instinctively knows that the current system is failing, but the progressive movement is not getting out an alternative vision of society or an alternative program of immediate demands.

It is my strong opinion that the boldness and clarity that we need to articulate can never be done through the compromised and corrupt Democratic Party – dominated by Big Money.

We Can Create a Third Party

We need a new political movement in this country, one that must put an end to the ineffective single-issue syndrome that currently exists – where unions, environmentalists, women, people of color, farmers, tax reformers, and senior citizen groups fight their separate battles against a hostile establishment.

We must begin to have the courage to fight for power – not handouts. We are the majority of people and must act accordingly. Clearly, there will be differences within the progressive movement that will have to be worked out. We can do it.

I am not naive, and I understand the enormous difficulties that confront us when we take on the Democratic and Republican Parties and the economic oligarchy that controls this country. I believe, however, that if we stop thinking about all the reasons as to why it can’t be done, and go out in the streets and do it, we can succeed.

We can create a third party. We can raise the important issues which the Democrats and Republicans ignore. We can make politics relevant to working people and the poor. We can win.

Bernie Sanders represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and is a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President.


[2]  Fact-check pending.

[3]  For more on the anti-democratic nature of the heinous California Proposition 14 (2010) and blanket primaries, see:

[4]  See free speech radio’s Uprising broadcast for Monday, 14 MAR 2016, 08:00 PDT.

[5]  See free speech radio’s Uprising broadcast for Monday, 14 MAR 2016, 08:00 PDT (c. 24:50).  Transcript by Messina for Lumpenproletariat, Mumia Abu Jamal, Prison Radio, and Uprising.


[Image entitled “Bernie Sanders – Caricature” by Flikr user DonkeyHotey used under Fair Use via Creative Commons.]

[16 MAR 2016]

[Last modified 01:38 PDT  17 MAR 2016]