Progressives, The Real Battleground is not the Democratic Party
by Asher Platts
This is in response to Bob O’Connell’s letter to the editor in the Press Herald, “Republicans, ‘Greens’ who like Sanders must hurry to register for Democratic caucus”.
It’s all fine and good that Bob is “feeling the Bern” but don’t tell Greens to abandon the project of building a political party that actually is what Sanders supporters wish the DNC was (but isn’t).
Sanders is just the latest in a long line of principled crusaders, who have taken on the undemocratic Democratic Party in an attempt to win serious progressive reforms, whose campaign has been fought against tooth and nail by the very party he is running in.
The Democratic Party has no desire to implement anything in Sander’s platform, which is why they have repeatedly attacked the Sanders campaign: by denying him access to his own NGPVAN database, limiting the number of debates, opening the floodgates of corporate money to their own party to better support Hillary, and more. And there will be much more to come.
Why is this the case? The root of problem is that the Democratic Party is just as dependent on Wall Street funding as the Republican Party is. They are both capitalist parties, one is rude and blatant about it (the GOP), and the other is slightly less enthusiastic about it.
The end result is the same: a government that is completely bought by the 1%.
In this arrangement, the role of the Democratic Party is to promise us progressive reforms during the election cycle, and then after getting into positions to implement those reforms, explain to the masses why these reforms will never be implemented on their watch.
This just happened recently regarding single-payer. The Democrats don’t want Single Payer healthcare, as Sanders does, because they — like the GOP — take money from the insurance industry.
The ACA is a bailout to that industry, forcing us to buy a financial product that doesn’t actually mean we’re getting the care we need. The ACA leaves upwards of 30 million Americans unable to afford insurance, and millions more are forced to buy inadequate “catastrophic coverage” plans.
With a deductible of $4,000-$5,000 making the cost of any preventative care being entirely out of pocket, the coverage of these plans truly is that — catastrophic.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, with the backing of the Democratic Party leaders like Pelosi and Reid, took to the bully pulpit to decry Sanders, saying that single-payer will “never happen.” That is, however, largely thanks to the Democratic Party themselves.
Here in Maine, not so long ago, the Democratic Party, while controlling both chambers and the Governor’s seat, torpedoed efforts by citizens to achieve Single Payer Healthcare. What they gave us in its place, was a privately administrated plan, which used public dollars to line the pockets of a politically connected private insurer.
At the national level, during the ACA hearings, chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) called for security to arrest my friend Dr Margaret Flowers, a soft-spoken pediatrician who was in attendance at an ACA hearing to speak in support of single-payer. She instead was arrested and escorted out, while legislators from both the Republican and Democratic parties laughed at her attempt to provide information about why single-payer was the least expensive, best-health-outcome system we could implement.
Dr Flowers had a rude awakening that day. The Democratic Party is not on our side, it’s on the side of the giant corporations that donate to their campaigns.
Dr Flowers is now running for US Senate in her home state of Maryland. Instead of making the mistake that Sanders is making, running in the primary of a capitalist party, she is running on the Green Party ticket. As a Green she can be as progressive and principled as she needs to be. Actually, Greens encourage it.
The Democratic Party’s betrayals of working class people are extensive. But for this article’s sake, I will simply suggest readers purchase the book Democrats: A Critical History, by Lance Selfa.
It isn’t even a distant memory yet that the Maine Democrats failed to open impeachment investigations for LePage, not because they don’t have a majority in the State House (they do), but because *nearly half* of the house Democrats voted against it, in a move that showed political cowardice, and has only emboldened LePage to act out even more recklessly.
Back to the Sanders campaign. Because the Democratic Party is deeply entrenched in the corporate control of our government, his campaign looks to be an insurgent one. Great. But the inner workings of the Democratic Party are not democratic.
You will be voting on March 6th to send delegates to the Maine Democratic Convention, who will then elect Party bosses to do the voting for you on the DNC floor. Your votes in the caucus are really more like suggestions.
Making matters worse is the system unique to the Democratic Party, of Super Delegates, who are appointed by the DNC, not elected by its membership, and make up a full 1/5th of the vote on the floor of the convention – enough to sway the convention to the favorite of the party bosses in a tight race.
Even without this spitefully placed obstacle course the DNC is dropping in front of the Sanders campaign to slow his advance, there are a number of bureaucratic procedures that can be used on the floor of the nominating convention, which are all “legal” and “part of the rules” that could be used to deny Sanders the number of delegates needed to win.
For instance, because he is an Independent, his delegates from Texas may be called into question, which could possibly deny him the number of delegates needed to win. And of course, they can always simply vote to suspend the rules.
So! What is a progressive to do?
Well, when the DNC punts the insurgent forces of the Sanders campaign this summer, unless there is a Green Party nominee for President on the ballot, Bernie’s insurgents will have no place to go to support a candidate for President who shares Bernie’s progressive domestic agenda — unless they join the Green Party.
Which brings me back to Bob O’Connell’s suggestion that Greens should join the ranks of the Democratic Party. I would argue that the Democratic Party is not our battleground, or at least not one that we can win on.
The real battleground is in the workplace, in your union, in the streets, and at the ballot box — not in the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is committed to standing in the way, between us and political revolution.
If we are serious as political revolutionaries, we must stay focused on building a politically independent vehicle of our own.
For me, that vehicle is the Green Party.
Right now, the Maine Greens are in the middle of maintaining our ballot status in Maine by holding caucuses in all 16 counties, and turning out a certain number of our registered voters for elections, as all three political parties must do, by state law. This is work that must be done by registered Green Party members.
We also have candidates of our own for State Senate, and State House, who need to gather signatures to get on the ballot so we can bring the fight against the entrenched corruption of the two capitalist parties to the ballot box, not just at the Presidential level, but at the state legislative level as well.
Abandoning our post in the Green Party to vote in the Democratic Party caucus for a candidate whom the DNC is actively fighting to prevent, is incredibly irresponsible for a Green.
First, state law would then prohibit that Green from being able to hold a caucus for the Green Party’s Presidential nominee. Second, it will also prohibit them from signing for Green Party candidates, who need signatures from other registered Greens to be on the ballot this November.
In order to keep Bernie’s political revolution moving past the DNC convention this summer, we need to be doing the work NOW to ensure that it will have a place to land.
Join the Green Party, caucus for one of our five candidates presently seeking the nomination of our party. Sign ballot access petitions for our state legislative candidates. Keep the revolution going past July 28th, through this November and for years beyond, by doing the work to build the Green Party NOW. It’s in your hands.
2012 and 2014 Green Party candidate for State Senate