Paul Cienfuegos’ June 9th, 2015 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
I stopped using the words progressive and left-winger to describe my politics years ago. I still view my politics as left of center, but I concluded more than a decade ago that labels like left and right wing cause more harm than good, as they put us all in boxes rather than build community and solidarity across ideologies. And given that I’m now a grassroots leader in the Community Rights movement, which is passing local laws in towns, cities and counties of all political stripes across the United States, and in which rural conservatives are its greatest heroes, I no longer think it’s very relevant where on the political spectrum I locate myself.
What’s much more intriguing to me is that voters from both the left and the right already agree on some of the most contentious issues of our time, such as the fact that corporate power is destroying our society and needs to be dismantled. Whereas the Republican elite and the Democrat elite, such as those who are running for President, are almost entirely united in their support of more and more corporate power in our society. So if the voters from our two mainstream parties were truly paying attention to reality, very few of us would be voting for a Republican or a Democrat for President in November 2016.
I think it’s important that voters understand this fact, because we are now in the opening weeks of what is likely to become the most painful presidential election circus in our history. With seventeen months still to go, we are already being subjected to endless so-called news about who’s running, and who is and is not a serious contender. So I was absolutely delighted to run across an article published a month ago by Arun Gupta titled, “The Only Article You Need to Read About the 2016 Election” *.
Gupta points out that…
At the presidential level, the two parties are aligned on the big issues like free trade, monetary policy, deregulation, welfare, education, and entitlement “reform,” war, surveillance, and policing, borders, and prisons. There is slight to modest contrasts on actual policies … concerning immigration, health care, LGBT and reproductive rights, climate change, and labor issues.
From the opening paragraphs of Gupta’s essay, I was stunned by his recommendations, although I ended up agreeing with every word. Here’s how the essay begins:
In the general election, the Democrats need the left to be silent about how bankrupt and corrupt the party is so it can gloss its rush to the right in a veneer of progressive rhetoric. If you’re progressive or on the left, here’s your cheat sheet on how to participate in the 2016 presidential election…. If you live in one of the first states in the Democratic primary process, like Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, vote for Bernie Sanders. You can also sign an online petition for him, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you chance upon one of his campaign rallies and have nothing better to do, join the crowd. But don’t do anything else. Don’t become a campaign volunteer, do phone banking, door knocking, get [out] the vote, and certainly don’t send him a dime of your money. During the general election, if you live in a swing state where polls show a razor-thin margin between Hillary Clinton and [whoever] the Republicans nominate—and that will be a few states at most—flick a lever for Clinton, if you are inclined. Otherwise, don’t do a thing for her campaign or send her a penny as she and Bill will be raking in $2 billion from their network of plutocrats.
Arun Gupta goes on to explain that Bernie Sanders cannot possibly win the Democratic nomination for President simply because he can’t possibly raise the amount of money necessary to do so. To think otherwise is to practice magical thinking. And that just as Dennis Kucinich did in his presidential campaign in 2004, when he ran on a platform of opposition to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, but ultimately conceded the race and turned over all of his delegates to John Kerry, whose position was to escalate the war; Bernie Sanders will end up doing exactly the same thing after he concedes the race and hands his delegates to pro-war pro-corporate pro-GMO candidate Hillary Clinton. And once again, progressives who have worked hard to elect Bernie Sanders will end up being thrown under the bus. Which is why the author is encouraging us to vote for Bernie Sanders, but let’s not lie to ourselves that he has a chance in hell of winning. And therefore let’s not waste any of our hard-earned money or time on his campaign. And it’s not just Dennis Kucinich who sold out their progressive supporters, according to Arun Gupta. So did Jerry Brown in 1992, Jesse Jackson in 1988, Ted Kennedy in 1980, and John Edwards in 2008.
One final excerpt from Arun Gupta’s provocative essay:
“If we step back and take a look at just the last few years, it’s non-electoral organizing like Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, immigrants’ rights, and low-wage worker organizing that is actually making social change and forcing the Democrats to the left. So go ahead and vote for Sanders and Clinton, but that’s all. Spend the rest of your time, energy, and money on building militant grassroots activism. Because while elections are about moving candidates, social movements move the whole system.”
I have to admit, I am in full agreement with this analysis. What do you think?
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.
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* Arun Gupta’s May 7, 2015 article can be accessed here: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-Only-Article-You-Need-to-Read-About-the-2016-Election-20150507-0030.html.