Democracy Spring After the DNC

Democracy Spring way fwdI just had the pleasure of reading Democracy Spring’s piece entitled “Democracy Spring After the DNC”, posted on Medium. It spoke not only to me, but also for me. Here is my summary, or rather Cliff’s notes version of that piece. The link to the full version will be at the bottom of this page. It is well worth your time.

First, the social view of power tells us that popular movements can win regardless of who holds authority in government.
Further, voting must be clearly understood, as Noam Chomsky argues, not as “a form of individual self-expression [but rather] as an act to be judged on its likely consequences.” Predictable social impact, not preferred alignment with personal values, must guide us.

Second, the fundamental structure of the United States electoral system limits our options for effective political action. Denying these constraints won’t help us change them.
Ours is a first-past-the-post, winner-take-all, single-member district electoral system. Further, if a minor party candidate gains substantial minority support they actually empower the major party most opposed to their positions by pulling a potentially decisive margin of votes from the more closely-aligned major party. The “spoiler effect” is real.
At no level of government is this more true than the Presidency. In the US, the presidential candidate who wins a majority of electoral college votes wins the race.

Thus — a third key point — in the US, movements win by mobilizing popular support to shift the political landscape and force at least one of the two parties to adopt and institutionalize their demands.

Together, these three points lead to a clear conclusion: strategic voting and effective electoral engagement for progressive struggles in our country requires that, with rare exceptions, we shape the terrain of political struggle in our favor by supporting egalitarian challengers like Bernie Sanders in Democratic Party primaries and — to defeat Republicans who firmly oppose our demands — critically supporting Democrats in the general election.

First, we must defeat Trump. In this populist moment, Trump’s fascism represents the greatest possible threat to the democracy movement and any progressive insurgency.

Second, we must accept the fact that Trump will only be defeated by electing Hillary Clinton. Because of the electoral rules we reviewed above, a minor party candidate like Jill Stein — despite her bold progressive platform and transformative aspirations — simply will not win.

However, let us be very clear. By voting for Clinton, we are not choosing a friend, a leader, or a champion of our values. We are choosing the better option among two possible political battlefields.

We must also acknowledge — if only to recognize the victories and power of progressive movements — that Clinton has been pushed to adopt many just positions including the key demands of our movement, DAPA, the fight for $15, debt-free college, and opposition to the TPP. These promises matter not because Clinton is a trustworthy leader, but because the support of a presidential nominee legitimizes our positions, shifts the debate in our favor, and creates political costs for elected officials (including her) who fail to enact our demands.

Third, we must remember that despite the importance of the Presidency for defining the political landscape, control of Congress is even more critical for our fight.

With the Equal Voice For All Declaration (EVFA) and decentralized nonviolent direct action. We will challenge competitive Congressional and down-ballot candidates across the country to sign the EVFA and go on the record in support of democracy reform.

No reform, we shut it down. Then in 2018, we take over.
Full article: Democracy Spring After The DNC

 

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