I have spent the last several weeks arguing against Bernie or Bust and Demexit because my understanding of Bernie’s strategy from the beginning was to transform (take over) the Democratic Party, the largest organization of any kind in the country. But, after the convention, I’m softening my stance. It’s possible that this is a Green Party moment. I’m willing to admit that I don’t know what the best strategy to pursue is right now. I’d like to humbly suggest that maybe none of us know, and it’s okay and healthy to disagree on strategy going forward.
I do know that “voting your conscience” or unfriending people with differing views are not revolutionary acts.
One of the factors leading me to re-think my position is the role of Nina Turner, the best of the Bernie surrogates. She’s been there, she’s powerful, she has experience as an elected official. Would Jill Stein step aside to create a Turner-Stein ticket? That would be worth a second look for sure. As it stands now, though, the Green Party is a mostly white party, and no revolution in this country will ever be led by a predominantly white group. Would it be possible for the Greens to coalesce with Black Lives Matter or the Movement for Black Lives?
Wisdom from Malkia Cyril of Black Lives Matter: “I’m not with her. I’m not with him. They’re not with me. I think it’s important to be clear about that. I am with us, and act from that place.Ideology shapes analysis. Analysis guides strategy. Strategy drives action. Ideology alone should never drive action. Voting, for me, under a rigged system, is strategic and tactical, not ideological. That’s it and that’s all.”
We need to give the Clinton campaign some credit for a well-fought campaign. One thing she did was start running for this nomination back in 2009, and we’re surprised that she got her people on the DNC? That’s the way politics work. You get power by putting your people in positions of influence. For Bernie to join the party some 14 months ago and expect the DNC to be neutral was hardly realistic. If he wanted to win, he should have joined the party three years ago and got his own people on the DNC.
The other thing she did well was reach the Black community, especially in the early voting Southern states. Why did so many Black people vote for her when Bernie’s platform was clearly closer to their interests? There are several reasons. One, social media where Bernie’s forces shined just isn’t as big a thing in the Black south yet. Two, Black women, in particular, having elected the first Black president, were excited to support a woman. We shouldn’t belittle this attitude, even if we don’t think Hillary is the “right” woman. More importantly, three, Black people having just experienced the Dylan Roof Charleston massacre, figured they had a lot to lose with Trumps’ harnessing of the white supremacist movement, and that Hillary was the safer bet to defeat him. And finally, reaching out to this community wasn’t a strategic priority for Bernie, at least not at first. His kind of economist socialism initially downplayed race in favor of class, reaching out to working class whites. It’s to his credit that he shifted course and did embrace the anti-racist movement as his campaign progressed, but that was too late to pick up the southern Black vote.
I’m saying all this not because I support Hillary. I’m deeply concerned that she will try to escalate the war in Syria. Her roles in Libya and Honduras were despicable. But like Bernie, I believe in keeping our friends close and our enemies closer. The more influence we can gain in the Democratic Party, the less likely she’ll be able to carry out her militaristic adventurism. At least I’m hopeful that’s true.
I want to emphasize the importance of maintaining unity in our movement despite our differences, which are less of principle than they are of strategy and tactics. Let’s try different things and see what works, but the most important thing is to connect with each other and with the rest our class – and stay connected.