ROBERT C. JONES

Election Postmortem

Nov
21

President Trump has arrived. While responsibility for this election outcome can be attributed to a number of factors, the majority of the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC), and the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberal policies. Let me explain.

First, it was Schultz and the DNC who torpedoed the campaign of the one leftist who could have defeated Trump, Bernie Sanders.

Second, HRC’s arrogance, her cozying up to Goldman Sachs, her indifference to the daily lived experiences of the working class—people who can’t pay their bills, people in pain—lost her this election. In embracing neoliberalism, corporatization, and deregulation, it was Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—in continuity with the Reagan-Bush dynasty—that fueled an abandonment of the working class in favor of elite leftist technocrats. They and their ties to the billionaire-class alienated the “deplorables,” offering them nothing but the same ol’ same ol’, pushing them to a right-wing populist demagogue. HRC’s smug condescension towards the working class and her cynical pandering to Black voters (who included those “superpredators” she and Bill demonized) lost this election. None of this analysis is all that original as Glen Greenwald and Chris Hedges (here and here) make clear.

Third, vis-à-vis the American electorate, what do Obama (2008), Bernie, and Trump have in common? Answer (as The Wall Street Journal makes clear): change. Let’s look at Obama v. McCain. As the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney put it, “[l]ow-income rural white voters in Pa. voted for Obama in 2008 and then Trump in 2016, and your explanation is white supremacy? Interesting.” The point that the DNC missed is that, since the Carter administration, the middle-class has been in decline, the number of poor folk has been steadily increasing (half the country has zero net wealth), the true number of unemployed are statistically whitewashed, all while wealth inequality increases with ruthless abandon. In collaboration with Republicans, neoliberal leftists like the Clintons have been responsible for decisions and policies that produced NAFTA, the explosion of the carceral population, and banking deregulation. Disenfranchised Americans didn’t vote primarily for protofascism, but against the status quo. And if HRC represents anything, it’s the status quo. As Michael Moore put it, those portions of the country that have been most ravaged by neoliberal free trade policies saw Trump as a chance to be the “human Molotov cocktail that they’d like to throw into the system to blow it up.” That’s what this election represents, something that was lost on HRC and the DNC. Sadly, Sanders, who represented that change, was denied by the DNC.

Further, a majority of Americans favor (a) single-payer healthcare (58%), (b) stricter gun control laws (55%), (c) debt-free university tuition (62%), and (d) an increase in the minimum wage (53%), all positions traditionally associated with the left (and supported by candidate Sanders). But it was Trump—not Clinton—who spoke to the disaffected white working poor and middle class. The Democrats’ move to the right is not predominantly a response to an increasingly conservative American public. The Democrats’ move to the right is predominantly an artifact of their embracing a neoliberal technocracy whose agenda was to dismantle FDR’s New Deal in favor of globalism, so-called “free trade”, and corporate capitalism, putting the interests of Wall Street over the interests of working people. Trump, in all his misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, protofascist, climate-science-denying glory was the only candidate of the two who spoke to that. And that’s a failure of the elitist left and the DNC.

Finally, to make things worse, Trump is considering an animal-rights-hating oil company exec for Secretary of the Interior. Dark days ahead, indeed.

Why I am Voting for Jill Stein & Ajamu Baraka

Oct
25

I have been pressed by fellow leftists recently about why I am voting for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka instead of Hillary Clinton. Others like Paul StreetChris Hedges (and here), and
Cornel West have provided solid reasons for their support of Stein/Baraka, but here’re just some of mine:

First, as of the writing of this blog entry, Clinton leads by a significant margin in a vast majority of states—even so-called “contested” states—such that the race is no longer close. Thus, the argument that voting for Stein will put Trump closer to the White House is a weak argument.

Second, leftists need to keep the long game in mind here. If Jill Stein can capture 5% of the popular vote, the Green Party will be eligible for $10 million in federal matching funds for a 2020 presidential campaign. That’s significant.

Third, there is precedent for the long game in recent Greek elections. In the Greek general election of 2004, the (at the time) “fringe” leftist Syriza party earned just 3.3% of the total vote. Ten years later, in 2014, the Syriza party took the Greek general election winning 27% of the vote. Voting for Stein increases the possibility that the same thing could happen here in the U.S. In 2012 Stein received 0.37% of the vote. If she gets 5% this time, that would be a 1400% increase, a result that would send a clear message to a Clinton White House to pay attention such a leftist constituency.

Fourth, to argue as many Hillary supporters do that we shouldn’t vote for Stein because she has no chance of winning overlooks the fact that voting for a candidate primarily because you think she has a chance of winning is not the only good reason to vote for a candidate. I have just provided three others above. A question I have for Hillary voters is this: Imagine that current poll numbers indicated an overwhelming landslide for Trump. Imagine that Trump’s victory was predicted to be similar that of Reagan over Mondale, taking 49 of 50 states. Were that the situation today, would you think that a vote for Hillary is a “wasted” vote? Or would you vote for Hillary anyway? I imagine the latter.

For these reasons and others, I am voting Green in the 2016 presidential election.