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rigged 2016LUMPENPROLETARIATThe Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States, and the most widely read weekly journal of progressive (or liberal) political and cultural news, opinion, and analysis.  John Nichols is their current Washington, D.C. correspondent.  Among other things, Nichols is a familiar voice in liberal and progressive media, and is often featured on free speech radio KPFA, and throughout the Pacifica Radio Network.  It’s interesting, however, that the usually Democrat-leaning Nichols, has actually called for opening up the 2016 presidential debates. [1]

In an article for The Nation, John Nichols argued for political diversity, pointing out the importance (and fairness) of including all presidential candidates who have national ballot access, such as the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka.  This message is not one we usually associate with the politically liberal John Nichols.  But, of course, for someone who calls himself a progressive, such as Nichols does, to not point out the obvious antidemocratic nature of a two-party system begins to strain credibility.  And, unfortunately, Nichols cannot resist perpetuating the spoiler vote meme, nor apologising for the anti-democratic fear-based decision-making, which succumbs to fearmongering about a Trump presidency.  Candidates outside the two-party cartel, such as in the Green Party, make clear that it’s important to vote one’s conscience now, not tomorrow.  The Green Party states:  It’s important to vote Green in blue (and red) states.  You don’t have to vote for Hillary to defeat Trump. [2]  About voting based on fear of a spoiler vote or a Trump presidency, Nichols writes:

“There is nothing wrong with this discussion; it is entirely reasonable, for instance, for progressives who are frightened by Trump’s candidacy to urge voters to support Clinton as the strongest alternative to an extremist Republican.”

Vote_12345Nichols attempts to qualify this “reasonable” perspective by emphasising to his audience that the “United States needs a broader politics”.  But this seems insincere because he avoids any specifics.  Nichols chose not to mention ranked-choice voting (also known as instant run-off voting).  He doesn’t mention proportional representation in Congress, nor public financing of elections, nor many important electoral solutions, which have been abandoned or ignored.  Nichols doesn’t expose the electoral fraud being perpetrated against the American people, as the League of Women Voters has complained, when they refused to go along with the political theatre being staged by the Commission On Presidential Debates, an antidemocratic creature of the Democratic and Republican parties.  And Nichols perpetuated the flawed status quo ideology of voting for the lesser of two evils.  Dr. Jill Stein, for example, has made strong arguments for deepening our democracy in these areas, which have historically functioned to prevent alternative political parties from participating meaningfully in our political process.  Nichols provides us with a nice headline, but digging deeper into his writing (or sophistry), we find much of the same old anti-democratic two-party thinking.

It’s good that Nichols has called for opening up the 2016 presidential election debates.  But it’s only a footnote to a body of presidential election analysis from a liberal perspective, mainly framed in a conventional two-party framework, in much the same way as done by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! and the SaveKPFA faction at free speech radio KPFA.



THE NATION—[19 AUG 2016]  Jill Stein Should Be Part of a 4-Way Presidential Debate

John Nichols

After the Republicans and Democrats finished their conventions in late July, the Green Party gathered this month to nominate Dr. Jill Stein for the presidency. Stein’s campaign—with her party on ballot lines in the majority of states, and her poll numbers surging ahead of Green numbers from recent presidential elections—has the potential to be a breakthrough bid for the Greens, and for a more robust democracy.

Stein recognized the prospect in an optimistic yet urgent acceptance speech in which she spoke of “unstoppable momentum for transformational change.” The candidate who talks of ushering in a “Green New Deal” told the Green Party Convention that the party has “an historic opportunity, an historic responsibility to be the agents of that change. As Martin Luther King said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ I know that arc is bending in us, and through us. And we are actors in something much bigger than us as we struggle for justice, for peace, for community, for healing.”

Stein’s appeal drew an enthusiastic response from her supporters, and she gained a good deal of media attention.

But there are no guarantees that her candidacy will succeed—along with that of Libertarian Gary Johnson—in clearing the way for the more diverse and competitive multi-party politics that is common in other countries but relatively rare in the recent history of the United States.

For that to happen, supporters of the Green nominee, as well as progressives who will be inclined to back Democrat Hillary Clinton in order to block the candidacy of Republican Donald Trump but who still want a broader debate, will have to advocate for something that is rare in presidential politics: fair play.


Learn more at THE NATION.


[1]  Perhaps, Mr. Nichols is finally coming around to realising (or to building the courage to admit) the antidemocratic nature of the political cartelisation of our democratic process by a two-party system.  Perhaps, Nichols may finally reject the two-party system this year, or by 2020, after he sees what a mess the two party-dictatorship will have made after the 2016 elections.  That would be nice because it would represent an improved level of intellectual honesty for The Nation, which has historically engaged in Democratic Party apologism.  Even if Nichols became an outspoken supporter of third-party politics, the predominant editorial slant at The Nation would likely continue to be Democrat-leaning.  But we gotta call it like we see it.  Nichols wrote sympathetically in prose, which evokes some degree of emotion.  But he chooses not to apply the full rigour of his intellectual abilities when it comes to intellectually rocking the boat of electoral politics in the United States.  This is what we call holding back.

As Dr. David Ray Griffin has asked regarding intellectual dishonesty around analyses of the crimes of 9/11:  Why do Bill Moyers and Robert Parry accept miracles?  Dr. Griffin pointed out how courageous and clear some public intellectuals are on certain issues, but then uncharacteristically weak on other, more controversial, issues, such as the crimes of 9/11 or the facts, which evidence our democratic process as rigged.  Of course, this disparity in intellectual rigour, as applied to more or less controversial issues, smacks of intellectual dishonesty.

Your author recalls how frustrating it was to see such fine thinkers and intellectuals consistently fall for the lesser of two evils scam during past election cycles.  For example, we may recall back in 2008 (perhaps also 2012), when progressives, such as Chris Hedges, were backing then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, despite knowing full well the horrible political track record of the Democratic Party.  We could say the same thing about Dr. Cornel West.  They were both once on the wrong side of history.  Another example, is Hillary Clinton apologist Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  He is still cashing in his access to the White House inner sanctum, at the expense of making political arguments, which will tarnish his legacy as an intellectual.  Fortunately, Chris Hedges and Dr. Cornel West have finally come out against the Democratic Party, as an anti-progressive and anti-working class party.  May Nichols, and other such liberals, finally come to see the light as well.

[2]  See Green Voter Guide (Green Party 2016 Election voter guide, page 3):

It’s Important to Vote Green in Blue (and Red) States (or Why You Don’t Have to Vote for Hillary to Defeat Trumplethinskin)

“We can list all the reasons people are told to silence themselves and vote for a lesser evil candidate: . . . jobs going overseas, the climate meltdown, expanding wars . . . Look around. This is exactly what we’ve gotten, much of it under a Democratic White House. The lesser evil … merely paves the way to the greater evil.”

– Interview with Dr. Jill Stein, “Thinking and voting outside the two-party box,” Socialist Worker, May 9, 2016 https://socialistworker.org/

Despite the consequences of lesser-of-two-evils voting, many are persuaded by the admonition to not “waste their vote” on a Third Party — this time, the “practical” urgency of defeating Donald Trump must override the principle of voting one’s conscience. But whatever its merits, the logic of the “spoiler effect” does not apply in California.

In California, we live in a deep blue state. This means that statewide, the vote is overwhelmingly likely to go to a Democrat. Our state is so blue that the only two choices in the Senate race are Democrats. California’s Electoral College votes are awarded as “winner-take all.” This means that effectively we don’t have a say in who wins the presidency. If Hillary wins the state by one vote, or ten million, she gets every Electoral College vote.

You may ask, “In this close election, what if Drumpf von Clownface wins the state?” Remember that California won’t be voting in a vacuum: if he can even get close to winning California, Trump will overwhelmingly carry the major “battleground,” or “swing” states in the East.

But, you may ask: “Don’t we have to vote for The Hillary to stop The Donkey of the Decade?” Not if you live in a deep blue or deep red state. It might be a question worthy of discussion in the battleground states, but not here. In deep blue or deep red states, you are free to vote for someone you believe in, not just the “lesser of two evils.”

And if millions of Bernie supporters and others, vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, it will signal to the new Democratic administration that the political revolution Bernie’s voters started is far from over. The more votes Jill gets, the more powerful the signal.

Whether or not you choose to vote for Jill Stein, you can exert powerful political pressure by registering with the Green Party. The Green Party, like Bernie Sanders, rejects corporate money, and the Green platform has all the good stuff the Bernie folks couldn’t get the Democrats to accept, and more. In addition to the policy statement registering Green makes, it also plants a progressive flag for candidates and just plain folks wishing to organize using the voter registration rolls. You may not get as much junk mail before the next election, but the quality will be much better.


[2 NOV 2016]

[Last modified 19:15 PDT  3 NOV 2016]