#NeverTrump, #NeverHillary-- Unity Camp? Please... Down With Tyranny
The Washington Examiner isn't a place I got for news, but now that I've excised Rachel Maddow's show from my regular viewing I do wander over to Fox sometimes in the slot when I used to watch her and Wednesday night Philip Klein-- no relation, but the Examiner's managing editor-- was a guest. He switched his party registration from Republican to Independent in light of the Trump takeover of his party. His explanation of why he would never vote for Trump closely shadows the reason why so many Bernie supporters will never vote for Hillary. (Yes, yes, calm down-- she's the lesser of two evils, fine.)
This is how Phil Klein explained why he'd never buckle under just because the GOP wants him to: "I am not a professional Republican. I am a journalist and I have conservative viewpoints and the Republican Party is not an end in and of itself to me. It's a means to an end and that's to advance conservative principles that I agree with... The Republican Party has chosen to embrace Donald Trump; that's their prerogative. But this is where I get off the boat... I'd never cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. But the Republican Party is not my family. It only has value to me in the sense that it's been likely than the Democratic Party to advance ideas that I believe in. That's clearly no longer the case."
Let's reword that ever so slightly so it could be spoken by a different Klein. "I am not a professional Democrat. I am strongly committed to a progressive vision s and the Democratic Party is not an end in and of itself to me. It's a means to an end and that's to advance progressive principles that I agree with... The corrupt Democratic Party establishment has managed to drag it's horrific onservative candidate towards the finish line; that's their prerogative. But this is where I get off the boat... I'd never cast a vote for Trump. But the Democratic Party is not my family. It only has value to me in the sense that it's been likely than the Republican Party to advance ideas that I believe in. That's clearly less and less the case and certainly has been since Bill Clinton won the White House." You can agree with every sentiment in this web ad Hillary's campaign released yesterday without lowering yourself to acquiescing to her undeserved and probably calamitous ascension to the White House.
Charles Lenchner, a trusted friend of mine, is one of the founders of People for Bernie. I haven't asked him if he plans to vote for Hillary or Trump if they are the two nominees of the two corrupt Beltway parties. But he shed some light on how many serious and committed Bernie supporters see the next six months unfolding. "I celebrate the defeat, and near defeat, of the establishment candidates this year," he said. "I think weakening the center is an important goal, politically, and doing so enriches our democracy. I'd like to learn from this to help push the defeat of more establishment candidates up and down the ballot, this year and in the future. It's a glorious thing when money power, corporate connections and 'safe' stances on issues do so little for so many. May this moment last!" We see eye to eye on that and this is as good a time as any to invite you to visit the Bernie Congress ActBlue page. Charles continued:
Near as I can tell, the effort to focus on Trump has a likely, if unfortunate, corollary. That because Trump is awful, we need to ignore the remaining primaries, tell Sanders to change his tone, and allow the 'unity camp' to come to the fore. Of course, 'unity camp' is the same as 'the democratic party' or 'HRC'.Amen.
Trump is awful. But I'm holding out on the unity camp. I belong to a constituency that HRC needs to win over. And until I see tangible evidence that this has sunk in, I'm going to do everything I can to push back. To be specific: suspicious Bernie voters ought to be seen as a bloc that might support HRC, but only in exchange for strategic focus, concessions, dialogue, and respect. And no existing progressive brand name, and not even Bernie himself, can 'deliver' that or act as an intermediary. As Bernie himself notes, he has no command and control over his base.
That evidence can include Bernie surrogates and staffers working productively with the campaign after the DNC, information about spending and campaign activity driven by and for the left (not aimed at the center or the right), policy commitments to Bernie that are public, and changes in DNC leadership and rules. Let's see some of that superpac money going to the Bernroots. Or else. We'll see just how motivated the unity camp is when we see the expense reports.
Near as I can tell, giving any ground to the unity camp before such evidence exists will weaken the left camp. My goal is to change the dynamics of U.S. politics for a generation, not to fight over a few percentage points in the general. Or haggle over lists and donations. The risks are higher, but the rewards make it a reasonable calculation. Bernie defied the odds to get bigger than almost anyone expected; the social forces now set loose upon the land are likely to resist assimilation, and that's a good thing.
As organizers, let's remember that the heart of organizing is self-interest, not altruism. Want to defeat Trump? Give the Bernroots some skin in the game. Negotiate. Put that smile on. Because they will not swerve right in this game of chicken unless they are getting something in return.
Trump is a battle we are going to win. When it is time to do so. After the current one is over, and not a day before.