Podcast: w/Deborah Danzy & Fran Fox-Pizzonia – Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Rights in 2019

Fran Fox-Pizzonia and Deborah Danzy of Planned Parenthood discuss the organization’s role in their community, and the challenges posed by the current political climate.

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Podcast: w/Dawn Wilkin & Regina Cieslak – TEAM Newburgh’s Fight Against Opioids and Addiction

Dawn Wilkin and Regina Cieslak of TEAM Newburgh discuss their efforts on the ground in the fight against addiction and opioid abuse.

Podcast: w/Nick Brana – The Movement for a People’s Party

Nick Brana, former Bernie Sanders organizer and founding member of Our Revolution, discusses his current project as founder and national director at the Movement for a People’s Party.

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Podcast: The Warren Dilemma

On this episode we discuss Elizabeth Warren’s policy blitz, and why it creates a dilemma for progressives moving forward.

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The Green Party’s Big Chance: Endorse, and Defer to, Bernie Sanders

by Keaton Weiss

In her recent appearance on the “Primo Nutmeg” podcast, Jill Stein recounts her public appeal to Bernie Sanders in July of 2016. Her offer was a simple one. She invited Bernie to replace her at the top of the ticket, and run for president as the Green Party nominee. She made this offer after all the primary states had voted, and just weeks before the Democratic National Convention, when Hillary Clinton was set to officially secure the Democratic nomination.

Stein, in her interview, expresses a good deal of disappointment that Sanders dismissed her proposal out of hand. In fact, the way she puts it, it’s unclear whether he formally declined her offer or simply ignored it altogether. In her words, “He didn’t even want to talk about it.” She goes on to explain why she feels that the deck is once again stacked against him in 2020. She mentions that superdelegates are still part of the equation despite the Democrats’ having removed them from the first ballot, and iterates a concern shared by many progressives that such a crowded Democratic field will yield a final result in which no one candidate has a majority of delegates secured going into the convention, and that ultimately the superdelegates could override the will of the people should they cast their votes on the second ballot for a candidate other than the one with the plurality of delegates, especially if the candidate with the plurality of delegates is Bernie Sanders.

“The Democrats have offered false hopes for decades and decades,” she says, “I personally can’t put my eggs into that basket, and think that the Democrats are gonna somehow magically allow a progressive to get the nomination.” Her bleak outlook extends far beyond Bernie’s prospects. She mentions that “America and the world are crumbling,” and that absent the implementation of a transformative vision, climate change, nuclear proliferation, economic inequality, and the rise of fascism, will swallow us whole.

Surely, if the game is as rigged as she says it is, and the hour is as late as she says it is, her answer for such a dire moment cannot possibly be another third party presidential run in which the best case scenario is a 5% showing to secure federal funding for her party the next time around.

Rather, I’d argue, it’s time to think outside the box. If the Green Party wants to finally become a relevant political force in this country, it now has its chance: endorse Bernie Sanders for president in 2020, and promise not to run a candidate on the Green Party line should he be the Democratic nominee. And make this announcement right now.

It stands to reason that the Greens would be open to such an arrangement, as Jill Stein herself was willing to cede her own presidential nomination to Bernie, and was confident she could persuade the party at large to sign off on such a move. Announcing this endorsement and defining its terms could have any one or more of many different effects, all of which are positive for both the Sanders campaign and the Green Party moving forward (to clarify, I’m not a Green. I’m an independent. This is just some free advice.)

First, it could win Bernie some votes by using the Democrats’ own neurosis, paranoia, and delusions against them. In the closing days of every campaign, a certain unfortunate contingent of nervous Democrats make it a point to admonish progressives against voting third party, lest they inadvertently play “spoiler” for the Republican candidate. The prospect of relief from such anxiety, i.e., not having a left wing spoiler in the race at all, could be a very attractive one, perhaps enough to elicit some much needed votes for Bernie in the primary.

Second, this arrangement could boost Bernie’s chances in the general election by padding his vote total with would-be Green voters who now feel compelled to vote blue, not because they’ve been harangued by annoying, vapid, loud-mouthed partisan hacks, but because the Democrats finally made enough good decisions to earn their votes the old fashioned way. A natural political alliance could be formed on the basis of a common political vision, and in the process, Democrats could boost their vote percentage total by one to one-and-a-half points, depending on the state. If that number seems small, consider that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were all decided by less than one point, and in the latter two states, Jill Stein’s vote total was higher than Trump’s margin of victory.

Third, if the Democrats remain unmoved by the proposal, as they likely will, and move full steam ahead towards a Biden-like nominee, this would expose the scapegoating of third party voters after Democratic defeats for the lie it is and has always been. By offering to step aside should a progressive win the nomination, the Greens can flip the script on the Democrats by putting them in the position of determining whether or not they want to take their chances with a Green on the ballot. For the Democrats to nominate a centrist candidate would thus demonstrate both an open willingness to accept that risk, as well as an acknowledgment that Green voters are not simply bitter, defiant would-be Democrats, but rather autonomous independent political actors who made them a good faith offer, which they declined. In other words, this would expose a common fallacy put forward by Democrats while simultaneously establishing the Green Party as a sovereign political entity.

And finally, deferring to Sanders and pledging to forego running a presidential candidate against him might, on its face, look like capitulation and surrender on their part, but conversely, it could bring an energy and excitement to the Green Party that they’ve likely never experienced, because, for the first time ever, they’d be in it to win it. They would no longer be the disaffected lefties casting protest votes out of disgust for the two party duopoly. Instead, their revolutionary politics could be implemented in the truly revolutionary pursuit of winning the presidency. In its current form, the Green Party is a waste of political energy. The political establishment which it rails against is actually relieved to see that the Greens have voluntarily relegated themselves to obscurity by withdrawing themselves from any actual power struggle, and instead pursuing symbolic benchmarks every four years as they toil in the single digits. Endorsing Bernie Sanders right now would instantly change that dynamic. Overnight, the Green Party would become a viable political force for 2020 and beyond. If you’re a Green, why pass up such a unique opportunity?

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Joe Biden and the Insufferable Weakness of Democratic Voters

by Keaton Weiss

Joe Biden has a lot going for him, or so we’re told. He’s got a compelling personal story. He’s got experience. He’s got blue-collar, working class, Rust Belt appeal. He’s got policy solutions for America’s most urgent problems — oh, wait, he hasn’t announced any of those yet. Well, I’m sure he will soon. But even if he doesn’t, it shouldn’t matter, because by far the biggest boon to Joe Biden’s prospects for winning the Democratic nomination is not any personal trait, resume point, or policy position of Joe Biden’s. Rather, it’s the insufferable weakness of the Democratic primary electorate.

That’s right. Democrats aren’t weak. You’re weak. And Joe Biden knows you’re weak. How do I know this? Biden, in his first days on the campaign trail, has repeatedly referred to the election of Donald Trump in 2016, and the subsequent years and months, as an “aberration.” Just a glitch in the system. A bug in the matrix, if you will. And, to milk the matrix analogy, this explanation he offers for Trump and Trumpism is as “blue pill” as it gets. Swallow it, and you get to believe that this has all been one big mistake. A mix-up. A fluke. A one-off. Hillary won the popular vote, plus the Russians interfered, plus Obama was a popular president, plus Trump’s negatives were high, plus Democrats won back the House, and so, really, America isn’t as troubled a place as we think it is. We just caught a bad break, and this “aberrant” national nightmare will soon be over, and normalcy will be restored.

That’s the sanitized version of the past few years that Joe Biden is peddling. And it’s no wonder that it appeals to a distraught Democratic electorate who’s in desperate need of consolation and reassurance. Of course, the only problem with it is that it’s fundamentally wrong.

The reality is that decades of systemic failures led to an increasingly disaffected working class, whose insecurities over immigration and other cultural issues morphed into resentments that were just waiting to be seized upon by a demagogue like Donald Trump. That’s the red pill version of America, in a nutshell. And Joe Biden offers no lasting remedies for it, and you know it.

You know it, but do you care? According to the recent Quinnipiac poll in which Biden opened up a commanding lead over his Democratic rivals, 38-12 over Elizabeth Warren, with Bernie Sanders finishing third at 11%, only 23% of those polled thought Biden had the best policies of any candidate in the race. 56% though, saw him as the most electable in a general election against Trump. This is not an outlier. In fact, poll after poll shows that Democrats are far less concerned with candidates’ policy positions than they are with their ability to defeat Trump in a general election. This dynamic is as lamentable as it is dangerous.

It’s lamentable in that party primary voters, supposedly the most engaged and astute members of a given party’s electorate, ought to care about the policies the party puts forward. The prevalence of the “blue no matter who” crowd this early on is evidence that little to no such concern exists within the party. What does it say about a political party when over half its members don’t really concern themselves with what it stands for? Rather, they only see their party as a necessary counterweight to the opposition party. What it says is that the party is weak, because its voters are weak.

The danger comes when this weakness can be exploited by a corporate media that’s been branded, mostly by the right wing opposition, as “liberal.” So for example, when Chuck Todd says on MSNBC’s MTP Daily that Bernie Sanders is unelectable because the right would “hammer and sickle him to death,” and that Joe Biden is the best bet for victory in November, his feeble, shallow audience of emotionally fraught Democratic primary voters listens, and votes accordingly.

Because it’s already born out in all of the polling data that most voters don’t even care what the candidates’ policies are, the task of the corporate media becomes extremely simple: convince the lemmings to follow the guy who they say is the most electable. There’s no need to parse the differences between Medicare for All and a public option. No need to discuss how and to what extent we can increase wages. No need to get into the nuances of environmental policy. Or student debt. Or immigration. Or anything, for that matter. They can simply show their viewers an early poll of Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump, and trust that they’ll fall in line. And they will. Because, once again, they’re weak.

Contrast this with the 2016 Republican nominating contest. Sure, Fox News is now a propaganda arm of the Trump White House, but during the primaries, they, like most conservative media, were intent on thwarting his path to the nomination. Except Republican primary voters didn’t give a damn what Chris Wallace, or Brit Hume, or Megyn Kelly, had to say about Donald Trump. They heard warning after warning from their media outlets, elected officials, and former presidential nominees, that Donald Trump was too far outside the mainstream to be elected, and that nominating him would all but hand Hillary Clinton the presidency on a silver platter.

Their voters, though, unlike Democratic primary voters, had the fortitude to buck the party establishment, defy conventional wisdom, and nominate the candidate whose policies they most aligned with, and who they felt would best represent them if elected president. And, of course, they won.

What will it take for Democrats to show the same strength? A Biden defeat to Trump, perhaps? After all, the “electability” strategy has a long history of backfiring, most recently in 2016 when Clinton was considered more palatable to the broader electorate than the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. Also in 2012, when the Republicans compromised on Mitt Romney, thinking he was the most “presidential” of the pack and the best to match up against Obama. Also, 2004, when progressives in the Democratic Party were ultimately abandoned in favor of the uninspiring “safe bet” John Kerry. Then there was Al Gore. And so on, and so forth. In fact, the most common example we hear of the opposite strategy backfiring, that is to say, nominating a firebrand and losing, is George McGovern in 1972 against Richard Nixon. 1972.

So if Biden’s “safeness” fails to ignite the base and drive turnout, and if his support for NAFTA, TPP, and permanent normalizing of trade with China spells doom in the Rust Belt, as it well could, since Trump will claim that he turned the corner on a stagnant Obama-era economy and that Biden would be a giant step backwards, and the Democrats’ reward for pragmatism and practicality is yet another defeat at the hands of the uncompromising Republican Party, will that change their approach next time around? Probably not.

Remember, we thought after 2016 that such a humiliating defeat would close the book on Clintonian neoliberalism once and for all. Surely, the verdict was in on the viability of uninspiring, vapid candidates and their listless, hollow campaigns. And yet, three years later, here we are. Joe Biden: front runner.

We can rail against the corrupt Democratic establishment all we want, and we will. But the reality is that this one’s on us, the voters, if we screw it up. We are now far beyond “fool me once” territory. We, as Democratic primary voters, are staring down a failure of Shakespearean proportions; indeed, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

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Welcome, one and all

Welcome to the Due Dissidence blog! Check here for new episodes, writings, and more from our team!

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