It is the elephant in so many rooms. HRC supporters blame Bernie, the FBI, the media, and sexism. Bernie supporters blame the DNC, Wasserman-Schultz, the debate schedule, and the media. But what is lost across this divide is that in failing to heal the breach and move on, we miss how closely aligned we could be on policies, platforms, and even party leadership.
Events & Opportunities. Before diving into the Hillary-Bernie breach, I want to remind folks that on Saturday, April 29, New Energy Economy, Retake Our Democracy, Earth Care, NM Climate Action, and the National Council of Elders have organized not a march, but an opportunity for serious grassroots deliberation and planning. The focus will be on how to create a transition from fossil fuel to a sustainable economy fueled by renewable energy. Click here for more on this very important event. On the Events & Opportunities page there is also information on voting for the Pre-K initiative (polls close Tuesday, May 2) and info on the Meow Wolf Dear Patriarch, a celebration of Indigenous art and music. We also have another event to promote, a feel-good moment kinda thing. At the Cocteau, from May 5-11, The End of War will be screened at the Cocteau. Produced by local Glenn Silber who will be on hand to introduce the film on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening (with Sunday being a benefit for KSFR), this is a tremendous Academy Award nominated documentary. Retake and Indivisible will have tables on Friday through Sunday. Roxanne and I viewed this last night and it contains tremendous video of some iconic moments from the 60s and 70s. Lastly, we were saddened to hear of the closing of Skylight, a venue that had opened its doors without charge to benefits for SantaFe4Bernie, Standing Rock, and now this Saturday for the Santa Fe Dreamers. Click here for more info on all of these events.
The Elephant in the Room: Bernie vs. Hillary. Time to Move On and Find Common Ground
In reaction to Tuesday’s blog post about how capitalism dominates both political parties, I have been having a respectful email exchange with a NM Hillary supporter who is high up in DPNM leadership. We can’t seem to get past our individual sense of what could have been, and to varying degrees we point the finger at each other’s candidate. While understandable from both perspectives—much was lost in 2016, and we are paying for it now–unless we want to spend eternity in the ‘what-if,’ we need to move on.
Whichever candidate you supported in the primaries, we both lost and together we need to forge a new path. But part of that new path must involve introspection into the root causes of the 2016 defeat, how we can create an inspiring Party, and how we can restore the Party to the people. Let’s start here: by and large Hillary supporters are progressive people who are not opposed to an open party, to a $15 minimum wage, to 100% renewables, to progressive tax structures, and to regulating mega-banks. I suspect most Hillary supporters would rather make out a check every month for $27, than to go to an endless number of whatever-a-person house parties and listen to Ben Ray, Javier, Martin, Michelle or whoever. So, Bernie and Hillary supporters are not separated as much by ideology and aspirations as we are by hurt feelings. Is it possible that together we could examine where we agree and forget that if the DNC hadn’t cheated, Bernie would be president right now, and that if so many Bernie supporters hadn’t sat on their hands, Hillary would be president.
We need to move beyond those realities and the recriminations that ensue and examine what we have in common. But we also must examine what the Party could look like going forward. So I pose this question: Regardless of who you supported in the primary, would you prefer a Party that is beholden to corporate interests or one that fights unashamedly and with consistency for social, environmental, and economic justice? Would you prefer a party that was funded by millions or funded by millionaires? Hopefully, these were easy questions.
To create a Party that actually can advocate for justice with consistency, that Party must first free itself from its corporate ties. For decades the Democratic Party has been losing local and state elections with shocking constancy. Part of this has been due to the GOP’s skillful manipulation of the redistricting process, but the Democratic Party must accept its share of the blame. For far too long, as described in Tuesday’s post, Democrats found themselves in the conflict of needing a majority to vote for them, but feeling they needed huge contributions from the corporate sector and 1% to fund the campaigns. Click here if you missed Tuesday’s post. As a result, the Democrats have campaigned with the rhetoric of justice and fairness and then governed in partnership with corporate interests. Voters can only feel betrayed so many times before they stop caring, stop voting, stop paying attention, with dismal turnouts the result. And when there is a dismal turnout, the GOP does well. So, the Democratic Party’s ties to corporate donations leads to policies that ignore the working class, which leads to low turnout, which leads to frustration, even fury, which leads ultimately to today: Trump.
But Bernie Sanders rejected all of this. Please, Hillary supporters, keep reading. He would have nothing to do with big money and spoke the truth with a refreshing consistency. Here was a moment when the Democratic Party could have made a choice, it could have stepped back and let the primaries play out and it could have learned a new way of politicking, a process driven by and for the people. This was and remains not a naive dream, but an achievable future. Taking $27 monthly from millions of Americans translated into the kind of campaign trough that could fuel a progressive populist victory. Taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from several handful of glitterati, all being photo-tagged as they and their tuxedos exited limos to enter the event, projected a terrible image. We need a different path. But the DNC was and remains largely comprised of lobbyists, major donors, and entrenched career politicians. They were not about to hand over the reins to someone who was not playing by their rules, and Bernie held a mirror to the Party and to Hillary, exposing their all too comfortable liaisons with the ruling class. He raised money from the people, turned his back on the corporatocracy, and threatened to push past their lobbyists and insist on policies that benefited the majority. Why is this a bad thing?
Stop here: we know what happened; let’s not rehash. Let’s just ask this question: Would you prefer to have a Party that inspired so much grassroots enthusiasm, that motivated hundreds of thousands of young Americans to not just register but to make phone calls and canvass and donate their $27 a month? Or is it really better for the Party to cater to Barbara Streisand, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and worse, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and Monsanto?
We actually can begin answering that question right now and right here in New Mexico. As reported from multiple sources, the Albuquerque Journal, ProgressNowNM, the New Mexican, a huge outpouring of new and enthusiastic Democrats have turned out to run for Ward Chair positions, to run for county and State Central Committee positions, and to seek committee roles in the Party. This has happened in states all across the nation. DPNM now faces the same kind of choice the DNC faced in 2015-16. Do we allow this enthusiasm to take hold? Do we let loose the reins a bit and take a chance that people who have not been involved just may be able to sustain their enthusiasm and put the Party on their backs and carry it forward?
I’ll be honest, I completely understand how the long-time Democratic Party officials and volunteers can feel under attack; I get how they could be asking: Where were you in October? But as this entire post has tried to convey: you have your questions and we have ours. Can we bury them and focus on what we have in common? Because our planet is running out of time and doesn’t really give a damn about our hurt feelings. This planet will continue warming whether we are happy or not.
For the Democratic Party to mean anything, it needs to turn its back on the corporatocracy and perhaps for the first time since FDR, genuinely represent the interests of common people. And no one in this century has manifested that commitment more than Bernie Sanders. At some point, the party needs to stop tolerating Sanders and his policies and embrace him, fully. It is unlikely he will be a candidate in 2020, but the Party needs to think in terms of a very different path, a very different candidate. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Party’s need to fully embrace a Single Payer System. But there are other policies, as well: $15 an hour, 100% renewables, dissolution of the private prison system, a path to citizenship, and most importantly embracing Sanders’ fundraising model, getting money out of the election process, and embracing a truly progressive candidate. Pushing for these policies and a reformed party begins here in NM at the DPNM election, and it is my fervent hope that those of us who were so bitterly disappointed by the rigged primaries and tone-deaf election campaign remember this experience when we vote. But I also hope that HRC supporters and long-time DPNM stalwarts can recognize that it is time to turn the page. And to quote Hillary herself: Stronger Together. Or we could continue bickering and have two Trump terms and, God forbid, Pearce as Governor.
Let’s do something else together.
Roxanne and Paul