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The Lesser of Two Evils

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The renowned twentieth-century political scientist Jerry Garcia noted that “choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” That is where I will start with the Bernie-Hillary row that is going to split the Democratic Party.

I will begin by noting that the Democratic Party is not the progressive party. It once was. During the presidency of FDR the Democratic Party came as close as it ever would be to a true people’s party, although even then its work was tainted by racism and party bosses. But whatever claim the Democratic Party once had to populism was lost with the election of Bill Clinton, whose policies were closer to those of Richard Nixon than FDR.  Obama ran as a progressive but didn’t govern as one, perhaps bowing to the exigencies of the Washington establishment. And now Hillary, by hook or literally by crook, promises to continue the 1% friendly policies of the past three decades.

The vacuousness of the Clinton campaign is revealed by their emphasis on this: at least she’s not Trump. Followed by, if you don’t vote for Hillary, you’re going to get Trump elected, and that will be all your fault. It’s time to be reasonable, pragmatic. You can’t have everything all at once. It’s time to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.

Nonsense.

America was built on idealism. When our founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, they weren’t risking everything in the hope that someday the people of Britain would elect a Parliament that would respect their rights. For them it was all or nothing.

George Washington at the end of his presidency warned against party politics because he saw the corruption of democracy partisanship would foster. He observed that in the end partisanship would do more to destroy than to further the will of the people.

One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions & aims of other Districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies & heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to render Alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal Affection. — Washington Farewell Address

Jefferson believed an educated electorate should vote their conscience and leave it to Reason to create a Republic of Virtue. And Thoreau saw voting as at best a feeble statement of preference that should reflect nothing other than your positive judgment. He believed if there was nothing to vote for, you should not vote.

The two party system has reduced the American political system to little more than the illusion of democracy. It’s like when you try to convince your six year old that they have a choice: red socks or blue socks. But it’s not a real choice; the kid is going to wear socks. In the same way, we are expected to celebrate the election of the red neo-liberal or the blue one as a real choice. But either way we’re getting neo-liberalism: massive income redistribution to the one percent, the disappearance of the middle class, continued wars for profit, crumbling infrastructure, unresponsive government, poverty, lack of access to affordable education and health care, all supported by a corporate owned information media that keeps us distracted and divided with celebrity shenanigans, pseudo “issues” (transgender bathrooms), and other artificially created conflicts.

Bernie Sanders has found resonance with the younger generation, prone to idealism, and those of us in the older generation whose youthful idealism has not yet been completely extinguished, because he offers a real alternative to the status quo. He speaks the truth. He refuses to play the two party game, much to the fury of the 1% and their puppets in the DNC.

It may be true that Bernie will not be the Democratic candidate for president. The DNC had this process rigged from the beginning. Not against Bernie per se, because the fix was in before Bernie unexpectedly announced. It was rigged for Hillary by a superannuated party apparatus for the purpose maintaining the system as it is.

Bernie has animated the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and brought millions of idealistic young people into the political process. But none of these have any allegiance to the DNC, whose cronyism and venality drove them away from politics to begin with. We won’t be frightened with the prospect of the greater of two evils; we will only settle for positive good. And if HRC and the Democratic establishment continues to flip us off, it will be they who are responsible for burning down the house.

And maybe it needed to be burned down anyway, to make room for a real People’s party.

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