I met the amazing people pictured above a year ago, today, at a Bernie Sanders rally in Columbus, Ohio where I was a volunteer, working the door.
I met the amazing people pictured above a year ago, today, at a Bernie Sanders rally in Columbus, Ohio where I was a volunteer, working the door.
We live in an era of fake news.
The propaganda is equally deceptive on both sides of the ideological line. More and more I hear intelligent people saying “I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
On one hand it’s wonderful that people are waking up. CNN has always been neoliberal propaganda. Fox “News” and Breitbart have always been alt-right lies designed to capitalize on fear.
On the other hand the underground news sources that people have flocked to in their attempts to gain information are often just as bad as the corporate media misinformation factories that have sought to deceive the American people since Bill Clinton cast the death blow to media integrity in 1996.
It has been my goal as a political writer to ALWAYS speak the truth, but this is a perilous path. I have often sent an article out for proofreading and heard back..
“If you publish this, you will lose a lot of followers.”
As if the goal behind writing is to attain popularity.
I am immediately suspicious of popularity, as most of the time it is garnered by appealing to the most number of demographics through spoon-feeding garbage coated in sugar.
But there is something alluring to me about integrity.
I am, in many ways, still that same punk-rock kid with the Mohawk and nose-ring who screamed about social injustice and the ideals of truth back when it seemed that no one cared about such things.
One can make a lot of money pandering to people’s fears and integrity is a commodity that not far too few care about, so it saddens me deeply to see people falling for lies, regardless of where they land on the political spectrum.
Media outlets are more concerned with getting traffic than reporting the truth and as a result sensationalist stories rule the day and allow small media outlets to gain massive exposure in a short period of time through publishing their own propaganda.
As is often the case, extremes have more in common than they do differences. This can be exemplified by the Pizzagate scandal, which was first floated by alt-right websites in an attack on Hillary Clinton. The story was quickly picked up by those on the alt-left and spread faster than the common cold.
It has all the makings of a successful fake news story. It targets someone who is universally hated, in Hillary Clinton. It is dark and scary. But perhaps most importantly, it allows the believer to see themselves as being on “the good side”. After all, we ALL agree that the wealthy elites passing around children like party favors is something that we must stand against.
The problem is that the story isn’t true.
I could lie and say that it was true and increase my readership.
I could be silent and cowardly.
After all, what is to be gained by pointing out the obvious flaws in this story?
One cannot prove a negative and those who lack the reasoning (or motivation) to figure out that this is fake news will surely use logical fallacies to defend it.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that those of us who dislike Hillary Clinton for VALID reasons are shouted down by the self-righteous misinformed who have been searching back-channel sources who understand all too well the flaws in human logic that can be exploited by those skilled in rhetoric.
Disagree with Pizzagate and you are accused of being a neoliberal shill who secretly works for Hillary Clinton.
It’s hard to argue with the mentally ill.
It’s impossible to argue with someone who has an agenda.
The casualty of these propaganda factories is The Truth and of course this is the very thing that misinformation sites claim to be standing up for.
The challenge is that one out of several thousand conspiracy theories end up actually being true.
For example, I know, FOR A FACT, that the Democratic Party stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders in their attempts to further the voice of The People and further the agenda of their corporate oligarchy.
But before Wikileaks published the emails showing that the DNC put their collective thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton, all we had was a conspiracy theory.
What further complicates matters is that it is impossible to prove a negative and those who devour fake news have effectively turned the tables of logic and now use the strategy of making outrageous bogus claims then putting the onus on the recipient to prove its lack of validity.
If someone says that Hillary Clinton was using a body-double, even if you know that the claim is ludicrous, you simply cannot prove a negative. The person who believes this can spend several hours finding sites that will provide “proof” for their confirmation bias and they will do so with completely pure intent.
After several hours of “research” they will think of you as an idiot who is brainwashed by corporate media for not believing what has become completely obvious to them and you will likely lose faith in their reasoning abilities as well.
Thus a chasm is formed between people who believe that they know the truth and those who have the courage to admit that they don’t have any REAL evidence one way or another.
What the propaganda consumer is missing is that their arguments suffer from an extremely emotional pathogenesis. They believe with all their heart that they have discovered some great and secret truth. Then they alienate those who disagree with them in order to create a self-sustaining echo-chamber that will perpetuate their beliefs. As they add more and more “evidence” to support their belief, they become more and more removed from the reality that the rest of us try to function in.
What they fail to realize is that their confirmation bias must be engaged in order for them to fall victim to the propaganda.
For example, if someone says to you that Hillary Clinton actually died in September, but employed a body double and that this body double is part of the DNC oligarchy in their attempts to form a one world corporate government, you will probably dismiss this claim if your feelings about Clinton are either positive or neutral.
But if you have tremendous hatred for Clinton, then this theory fulfills several of your emotionally charged preconceived notions about the entity that you hate and therefore provides the motivation one needs to dive deeper and find the information that confirms this ludicrous belief.
Thankfully not everyone steps into these logical potholes on the back-roads of reasoning.
Many people are excellent critical thinkers.
So how do we know what truth is?
You’re not going to like the answer.
The truth of the matter is that often you simply will not be able to find the truth without a master’s degree in sleuthing and even then you will find that often the information is not available and you will have to say the one thing that no ego wants to hear…
“I don’t know”
No one wants to admit that they don’t have the answers and The Internet provides a steady stream of opinions issued as facts for those who are seeking a quick resolution from the anxiety of not knowing.
Why read THIS article that is asking you to use reason, logic and skepticism when there are thousands of websites that will offer instant ego gratification to fulfill your confirmation bias.
Most people will agree that Julian Assange publishing emails that showed how the DNC conspired with corporate media in order to assure that Hillary Clinton attained the nomination for their corrupt party was the catalyst that helped Trump attain the Presidency.
And most people will agree that it appears that Trump and Putin seem to have some sort of preexisting relationship that the American public is not privy to.
But just try to discuss Assange’s motivation behind releasing these emails and leftists who have become mired in identity politics will blindly support the assertion that Assange had no motivation to help the Russians.
What is the basis for this belief?
Because Assange said so.
This is the epitome of identity politics and identify politics is the most prevalent and destructive form of confirmation bias in all of politics.
It is the lie we tell ourselves to gather information to fulfill our own confirmation bias for people whom we believe are on our side.
Am I saying that I believe the six American intelligence agencies that all report that Russia hacked the DNC?
Of course I’m not saying that, because to say such a thing would make me a “sheeple who has been brainwashed by corporate media and is nothing more than a sheepherder for the Oligarchy.”
And herein lies the most insidious part of thinking that your news is better than someone else’s news. The end result is the complete invalidation of the person who disagrees with you.
Bringing it back to the subject, if you were to ask me personally what I think of Assange’s alleged links to the Russians, I would say…
“It’s tough to say. All six intelligence agencies agree, but then again these agencies have lied in the past. They lied about the WMDs in Iraq. The CIA was more than likely involved in the assassination of John Kennedy. Furthermore we know that the United States intelligence agencies have many times decided to keep pertinent information from the people (Pearl Harbor for example). So there is definitely reason to mistrust these agencies. They are not spotless. Having said that, being locked down in an Ecuadorian embassy, counting down the days until US forces storm the building, take you to a blacksite and torture you to death can’t be fun and one could not blame Assange for striking a deal with Putin. Also, these incidents of the intelligence agencies lying are memorable, because they are infrequent. A review of their track records shows that most of the time they seem to be telling the truth. I am left to wonder why Assange did not publish Trump’s tax returns as he once hinted that he would. I am also left to wonder why Wikileaks did not publish hacks of the RNC database. Am I to believe that they could not hack the RNC? Because that is simply too far-fetched to believe as almost any skilled hacker could have infiltrated either party’s system. Then there is the matter of the traces of Russian information in the code itself. Some would say that this is enough to implicate Assange. I would counter that this could be intentionally left behind as a way to throw the intelligence agencies off the scent. So in the end I will have to say the only reasonable thing that one could say in this situation. That I will wait for further information and not make a fool of myself proclaiming to know Truth that is actually just my emotionally charged opinion disguised as Truth.”
But who wants to hear all that?
It’s much easier to just side with the people we like and passionately sing their praises in a celebration of the limitations of identity politics.
In effect, this is a human problem.
We must overcome our own psychological limitations in order to actually find truth and no one wants to accept the ultimate Truth that many times we simply cannot know.
Our “reward” for using reason is ambiguity.
While the rest of the children are off playing with their “facts”, overflowing social media with their poorly argued logic, you have to sit on the sidelines with your “I don’t know.”
Why accept our human limitations when there are thousands of propaganda machines willing to produce something that hacks into these psychological blind spots and deliver something that looks like truth and smells like truth, but is actually one big lie served up to those desperate to know what the actual f+ck is going on?
Not everyone who engages in misinformation has been duped so blatantly.
Some have motivations that cause them to abandon logic and reason.
Many use the specter of imagined corruption to justify their slactivism.
It is so much more alluring to know some secret truth about the boogeyman, George Soros and his shadow involvement in the grassroots organization that you have decided isn’t worth your time.
These “keyboard warriors” will jump down any rabbit-hole that allows them to justify their complete lack of real activism. This allows them to hide behind the safety of their keyboards without ever doing any actual work.
These Social Justice Warriors are lured by the idea of knowing some dark secret that the peasants haven’t discovered. Facts are not important to them, identity is.
Tell them that you are going to an Our Revolution meeting and they will tell you that it is secretly ran by billionaires (based on how Jeff Weaver filed the corporation for tax purposes).
Tell them that Justice Democrats is doing so great work and they will tell you that Cenk Uyguy actually works for Hillary Clinton Super-Pac Correct the Record.
Facts and research are not important to these trolls.
Their goal is to shoot holes in the activism of others.
They engage in character assassination and anyone who disagrees with them is a “tool for the oligarchy”.
Even Bernie Sanders himself is not pure enough for these people, who will ONLY accept that which is universally rejected.
These people are contrarians in the same vein as that kid you knew in high-school who hated every band that you liked and only listened to the bands that no one had ever heard of and rejected those same artists when they achieved social acceptance.
For these people it is about being superior, not about being factual.
They are easy to identify as they will use ad hominem attacks to deflect from the fact that on some level they know that they are operating with fabricated data.
Never mind that they have literally NOTHING to back up their claim.
They now want to devalue you as a person and then expect you to prove a negative, while simultaneously dismissing every one of your thoughts as propaganda.
Truth is the ultimate casualty of fake news.
I love words.
Did you ever pause to think about what an incredible miracle it is that our species developed the ability to use language, that we could come up with these complex series of symbols, that when conveyed to another in our species, can literally alter the neural pathways in the other person’s brain?
The pen truly is mightier than the sword, which is why I find it so sad that so many limit themselves with their communication, even so much as to do harm to the causes that they are so passionate about.
This morning, while perusing the headlines, I made a post on social media that I knew would get people talking.
What I posted would be a distraction from our discussion here, but I made a point to phrase it in a way that was open ended and did not divulge my own view on the subject, while at the same time, pushing my readers buttons enough to know that they would want to chime in.
I promised myself that I would play the devil’s advocate and do my best to argue anyone who attacked my stance in an aggressive manner.
Well for one, it’s a great way to learn.
When two people are at odds with each other, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn.
“I think the sky is blue”
“Oh yeah! Well I think it’s black!”
“Tell me why you think it’s black.”
“Because I’m looking out my window right now and I can see it plainly, you f+cking moron!!”
“Where are you at?”
“Oh. I’m in Indiana. It’s blue here.”
“Well I’m blocking you anyway!! I hate people who disagree with me!!”
The above facetious conversation actually went better than many political discussions I have these days.
Often people just tell me that they are blocking me and insult my intelligence.
It doesn’t exactly hurt my feelings, but it does make me sad.
It saddens me that another human being, so blessed with this amazing ability to communicate and change my mind would rather alienate me and disregard me as a human being.
Seems like an awful waste of an amazing gift.
But learning other people’s point of view was not my only reason for making the controversial post.
I also wanted to see what kind of people I have following me, before we launch our new show, Resist/Revolt.
I want an army of activists, because an army of activists all communicating can change the world and to be honest, knee-jerk reactionaries actually do more harm than good to our cause.
When someone who supposedly represents our value system attacks someone else, it makes it that much harder for anyone else to ever reach them.
The greatest hindrance to Progressives isn’t right wing opposition, it’s those self-proclaimed Progressives that lash out at others and make the rest of us look bad.
Why do I even care?
Isn’t popularity all that matters?
After all, isn’t it just better to have more viewers than to alienate some potential viewers by having an unpopular opinion?
I wholeheartedly reject this notion.
I seek to revolutionize thinking by turning this concept completely upside down.
In fact, I believe that this idea that popularity is king, has completely turned America into a sideshow, where buffoons who know how to walk the line and appeal to the largest demographic are rewarded, while the most brilliant members of our culture are marginalized.
America has become an intellectual wasteland where being “right” means having the most number of people agree with you and THAT is a recipe for fabulous disaster.
When we live in a world of fake news, authenticity becomes a rare commodity.
In fact, while attempting to play devil’s advocate and argue with a few hundred people simultaneously this morning, someone said…
“Why don’t you give up? Can’t you see everyone disagrees with you?”
What a scary thought, that a few hundred people could all be in agreement on something, even if they were misinformed and somehow, as if by magic, a new fact is created out of thin air.
That’s the world we currently live in.
If you want to have lasting change, you must first change the culture.
In order to change the culture, we must first change ourselves.
But be warned. Making actual change is challenging. It’s actually a lot harder than just telling everyone who disagrees with you that they are stupid.
“But wait, Michael, didn’t you just say that you trolled your own readers to illicit a reaction?! Where’s the authenticity in that?!”
First off, trolling, in a limited and friendly context is an effective tool to start a conversation.
I might jokingly say to my Republican friend something like…
“I have a an idea. Why don’t we just have all the GOP members of Congress wear white hoods so they will be easier to identify?”
My friend might look at me sideways and say something like..
“Do you really believe that all Republicans are racist?”
Now we have the makings of a good conversation and as long as there is mutual respect, we can both learn from each other and about each other.
But that’s where it all falls apart, right?
Because when these opportunities present themselves, most people don’t respond like my rhetorical friend did. Most of the time people just attack, which is counterproductive and let’s be clear about something very important…
Right now America is engaged in a cultural war and there is only one way to win it.
YOU have to get out of your comfort zone and actually engage those people who think differently than you do.
Ours is a battle for hearts and minds.
Somehow we ended up with a buffoon in the White House even though only 1 in 5 Americans voted for him.
While there are a million articles written about how this happened, I am more concerned with the story that the “news” isn’t telling.
I don’t want to talk about Clinton’s crappy campaigning or how Wikileaks exposed the corruption in the “Democratic” Party.
Those points have been talked to death.
I am concerned about the deeper why.
I am talking about the elitist attitude that allows someone to think that they are superior to others and the anonymity of The Internet that allows them to freely tell anyone who disagrees with their viewpoint to f+ck right off.
This type of behavior is the death rattle of civilization and I request that you rise above it, before it is too late.
To put it simply, I am asking you to become the type of person who can actually affect real change in the minds of others.
How do we go about doing that?
The first step is easy.
Remember when your mom told you that you had two eyes and two ears but only one mouth and that this was Mother Nature’s way of trying to tell you something?
The first step in “winning” an argument is to let go of the idea of winning.
To call upon another platitude, people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
When you are actively listening to someone, you are passively teaching them about yourself.
People are already bracing themselves to be attacked as they are stating their point of view. In fact, they are probably so used to defending their opinion that they will be caught completely off balance by the simple act of listening.
I am not telling you to pretend to listen. I’m asking for you to genuinely listen.
If you are in a battle and you know where all the enemies troops are stationed then you have a huge advantage right?
If you know their exact plan of attack then you are almost guaranteed to come up with a successful counter.
When you find someone whom you disagree with, have the courage to listen.
Become so intimate with their point of view that you can recite it back to them and then actually recite it back to them and don’t add your own input until two things have been accomplished.
Here’s an imaginary example.
Trump Supporter: Donald Trump is the greatest President this country has ever had.
You: Oh yeah? You feel like he’s proven that in just one month?
TS: He kept his campaign promises, unlike Obama (don’t get sidetracked here).
You: I agree with you completely that keeping your campaign promises is incredibly important. What else do you like about him?
TS: He’s going to keep out the damned illegals!! They are taking all the American jobs!! (don’t get sidetracked here either)
You: We are in agreement again! I am glad that Trump opposed TPP. I am completely against these disastrous trade agreements that continue to outsource America’s factory jobs to China and Mexico. What else do you like about Trump? (learn their position. Without it you are powerless. Arguing without knowing what you are arguing against is counterproductive).
TS: Well he’s going to stop Isis by keeping the damned Muslims out.
You: You and I seem to agree on a lot. Isis is a big problem. Neither of us want to see another 9/11. What else makes you feel that Trump is so amazing?
TS: What else do you need? (most people feel like they have more answers than they actually do and will run out fairly quickly when pressed).
You: I just want to make sure I understand your position. You think Trump is the “best President ever” because he is going to keep his campaign promises, keep jobs in America, instead of outsourcing them and stop Isis? Did I understand you correctly?
TS: That about sums it up. Are you going to try some libtard psychology on me now? Don’t bother. I’ve seen it all.
Before we continue on, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you remember that your goal can NEVER be to change someone’s mind. That’s simply not how this works. Your secondary goal is to OPEN someone’s mind. Do you remember your primary goal? It’s to understand the other person’s position, which they will willingly give to you if you take a few minutes to actively listen. Now that you have it, you can counter it, all the while remembering that the more the person respects you, the more they are willing to listen.
You: While I agree with you that keeping your campaign promises is important and I also agree that keeping jobs in America is important, I am skeptical that someone who has filed bankruptcy repeatedly at the expense of the hardworking American tax payer really cares about working class folks like us (inclusion – common ground). Trump inherited 3.2 billion dollars from his father. He’s never gotten his hands dirty like you and I do on a daily basis. He attended private schools that you and I couldn’t even begin to send our children to. He also exports jobs to China from his own businesses. Don’t you think that is hypocritical?
I’m not going to have an entire imaginary conversation, but you get the idea.
Once you understand the other person’s position, you can use facts to gradually chip away at the areas in which they are misinformed.
Don’t get caught up trying to “win”. You win by keeping your cool and by caring about another human being. It is particularly difficult to care for those whom we passionately disagree with, but it is the path to enlightenment for both you and your new friend.
This approach is infinitely more productive than name-calling and character assassination.
You probably won’t “win the argument”, but you may shed some light into a previously dark area of the person’s mind.
Even if all they learn is that “not all libs are idiots.” then you have already accomplished something amazing.
Many will not take this high-road, because it requires them to be patient and learned.
Many are so caught up in the gratification of their own egos that they use The Internet to fill in some deep desire that they have to feel superior to others.
Don’t be like that and don’t encourage those that are this way.
When you see someone doing this, simply say…
“I’m sorry that (person’s name) is having a hard time using their words today. Not all of us are like that. So you believe that…” and sum up the person’s position and make sure you understand them.
When someone who confesses to represent the values that you represent is blasting people who think differently, they are alienating that person from new information and hurting your cause.
Don’t be afraid to step in and bring some compassion and intelligence to the conversation.
Your goal should be to make friends with those who think differently than you and break down the walls of your echo-chamber.
If you are trying to build an environment where you surround yourself with those who see everything the way that you do, then you are being weak and cowardly.
If you are engaging in this type of asinine and elitist behavior then please don’t call yourself a revolutionary or an activist, because what you are doing is making it harder for the rest of us who seek to bridge the gap with those who see things differently than we do.
The real battle is with the 1% wealthy elite who control every aspect of our lives.
It is NOT with our neighbors.
Break your lazy embarrassing habits.
Change your strategy.
Change your goals.
Change your country.
My grandmother used to say..
“Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line.”
I’m not sure what my grandmother would say about the chaos that makes up our political landscape in 2017, but I think it would be safe to rephrase Grandma’s words as..
“The left thrives on passion. The right thrives on conformity.”
Being a die-hard advocate for Bernie Sanders and the mantra he espouses, I have repeatedly been told that my group and I are “just like the Tea Party”. These words are most certainly meant as an insult, but before we dismiss this assessment out of hand, let’s examine what we have in common with these right-wing radicals and let’s discard all that we do not stand for and use only what was effective for them.
Consider this article a blueprint for political activism.
How can we drag our government, kicking and screaming, to the left?
What tactics made The Tea Party so successful?
And what were the mistakes that ultimately destroyed their movement?
Let’s examine, take what we want and leave out the racism and hatred synonymous with The Tea Party.
The Tea Party Was Completely Dissatisfied with their Republican Leadership
A movement needs people and the post 9/11 GOP was simply not conservative enough for millions of Republicans. This dissatisfaction provided fertile ground for the growth of a new populist movement that took the GOP by storm.
Much in the same fashion, the left has grown sick and tired of corporate Democrats who masquerade themselves as representatives for the working class, while cashing huge checks from the large corporations that dictate their policy decisions.
The left sent a resounding message to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment in 2016 by refusing to vote for her, even against a fascist candidate that the Democratic Party intentionally elevated in order to ensure victory for their corporate-owned nominee.
Just like The Tea Party, our movement is issue based and not set up to follow a single candidate. We are the millions who stood up alongside Bernie Sanders, to fight against tyranny, but these same people showed that they were committed to destroying the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, when they blatantly refused Sanders’ suggestion to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Jill Stein claims that 90,000 Michigan voters filled out their down-ballot, but left the presidential line blank and that this proves voter fraud against Hillary Clinton. I counter with the more likely hypothesis that 90,000 Michigan voters wrote in the name of Bernie Sanders for President as a protest against the DNC and their rigging of the “Democratic” primary election.
Some will say that Sanders’ supporters caused the election of Donald Trump. Although Trump is definitely an unfortunate side effect of Sanders’ supporters refusing to vote for a corporate shill, the election results sent a much needed message to the DNC that the left is mad as hell and will no longer be coerced into voting for candidates that do not represent their values.
But we did not rest after the presidential election.
In fact we increased in power.
Recently Cory Booker, a shill for the Democratic establishment and probable favorite to gain the Democratic nomination in 2019, made the mistake of voting against a bill that would have made it legal for Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.
Within minutes leftists lit up social media with a list of Dems that had voted against the bill, along with a chart of how much money each candidate had received from Big Pharma lobbyists.
Booker, being the most high-profile Democrat, took the brunt of the blow-back and within 72 hours Booker decided that he didn’t have the constitutional makeup required to stand up to our movement.
Booker announced that he was no longer interested in running for president.
Just as the GOP learned to fear The Tea Party, the Democrats are gradually learning to fear our collective movement.
What else can we steal from The Tea Party to further our collective leftist agenda?
The Tea Party Was Loud
One of the lessons political activists can take from The Tea Party is that they excelled at getting in the face of their representatives.
People often overestimate politicians and think that they do not care about criticism. On the contrary, they live in constant fear of it. Many politicians say that if they receive an email, then they assume that 10 other people feel that way and if they receive a phone call then they assume that 50 other people feel that way.
So what happens when you organize a small group of people and show up at your local representative’s office?
What happens if you and your group show up at a ribbon cutting ceremony that was supposed to be a photo op for your local rep and you bring signs, chant, get up in their face and ask them what they plan to do in regards to an upcoming bill?
What happens is that your rep becomes afraid that this movement will spread and cost them their job.
They become afraid because they know that their actions are being observed.
Recently some lawmakers in my home state decided that it would be a good idea to pass a bill that would allow police officers to use “any means necessary” to disperse crowds of “10 or more” people.
I don’t have to tell you that this bill was clearly designed to make protesting illegal and to make protesters too fearful to protest.
Our local group used social media to quickly organize and we showed up at The State House to make our voices heard. We overflowed the court room and selected some of the more passionate members of our group to speak against the bill. The Bill’s author, a conservative who has also proposed bills to make it easier for drunk drivers to attain gun permits and bills that allow transgender people to be incarcerated for using restroom facilities that do not match their birth certificates, had to deal with us staring into his back the entire time he pitched the bill to the State Senate. After the bill was shot down, this fascist had to push through our army of protesters to get to the door, but more importantly, the other lawmakers, clearly bolstered by our presence, treated him absolutely ruthlessly. The bill was easily defeated due to the tremendous power of our presence. None of the lawmakers wanted to deal with our wrath. They all knew that we were watching their every move.
Politicians are very insecure people for the most part.
They literally live their lives in a perpetual popularity contest.
There is nothing that a politician fears more than a group of loud, organized, concerned citizens.
Being loud and organized are important steps, but there is more we do beyond that.
.Where The Tea Party Zigged We Will Zag
The Tea Party was very effective at scaring politicians and that is something to be modeled. Your representatives SHOULD be afraid of you and if they aren’t then you are not doing your job. We are not referring to the use of violence against government officials. In fact, that is completely ineffective on every level, as violence tends to polarize the opposition.
Our movement is a peaceful one, but it is also a movement of great force.
To put it bluntly, we will simply remind our representatives that we are watching them and that they will work for our agenda and vote the way we tell them to vote or they will be voted out of office and then we will actively seek to fulfill our promise if and when the need arises.
Our movement is a non-partisan movement, which allows us to support candidates from any party. This also allows us to pressure candidates of any party. Representatives are simply tools for our agenda, which of course, is what they were originally intended to be, before they were purchased by corporations.
As we discussed in the case of Cory Booker, there are many ways to do this. We can use social media, email, phone calls and rallies to grow our numbers and to make our voices heard.
I’ve created a rough hierarchy for grassroots political activism, to make these concepts easier to grasp. As I said this is only a rough sketch. The creativity of our members is very important to our movement. Please do not view this hierarchy as a prison, but rather as a guideline for your own ideas and activism.
The Next Level
Where The Tea Party relied on threats and hate speech, our movement realizes that this type of behavior may be effective in the short-term, but for long-term changes to be implemented it is better to keep our friends close and our enemies closer.
There is nothing to be gained from creating unnecessary adversaries. On the contrary, it is best to form friendly and peaceful relationships with our representatives, but this does not mean that we are subservient to said leaders.
As part of our mantra, we must ALWAYS be in a position of power, constantly coming from a place where we call the shots and consistently reminding our public officials that they work for us.
This means taking your activism to the next level and having someone from your group (if you can’t find someone, then that person is YOU) who is willing to go and have sit down meetings with your representatives on behalf of the group. This person does not have to be slick or polished. They do not have to own an expensive suit. All that is required of this person is that they be an articulate speaker who is capable of getting your group’s point across, along with the subtle, yet forceful, reminder that you and your group are monitoring your representative and will immediately begin phone-banking and door-knocking on behalf of their opponent in an attempt to destroy their political career if and when this course of action needs to be pursued.
But who is your representative’s opponent?
The Tea Party was good at this as well…
The Tea Party Primaried Traditional Republicans AND WON!!
Empty threats are just that. Empty and devoid of power.
While an organized group of people can be a powerful motivator on representatives locally, eventually, as you move up the ladder of power, you will run into establishment politicians, who not only wield more authority, but simply require a lot more people to scare them into taking the appropriate actions.
Many establishment politicians have been purchased by large corporations and spend the bulk of their time trying to spin and justify their votes to their constituents. These people are adept at rhetoric and pay professional writers to spin lies that make it look like they are protecting their voters, when in fact they are simply working for their donors.
Revisiting the Cory Booker example yet again, Booker claimed that he voted against the bill to import affordable prescription drugs from Canada, because he was concerned about Canadian “safety standards”. While this blatant lie might work on low-information voters, it simply does not work on those who are tuned in. Activists on the left immediately began flooding social media with memes showing that Booker had received $385,000 from large pharmaceutical companies and fact-checking articles that showed that the drugs coming from Canada were actually manufactured in the United States and therefore were already subject to the same standards as drugs purchased in the U.S..
Our movement does not care about the promises of our representatives. We care about voting records and donor money, things that cannot be disputed. Cory Booker talks a good game, but his voter record and donor money expose him.
Booker was caught in a lie and called out for being the establishment shill that he is. Any chance he had of being president disappeared in an instant. We will need some powerful people in New Jersey to take Booker down even further. Someone there needs to run a primary against him.
This is the highest level activism or what I like to call Capital A Activism. When we come up against a “representative” who does not represent us, we fire them. We do this by continuing to grow our numbers at a grassroots level. That initial group of activists that was applying pressure and affecting local policy must follow though on their threat of unseating the establishment candidate for our movement to be taken seriously.
This is done by finding (or being) a candidate who agrees with your group’s platform and by doing the grunt work of rallying, phone-banking, fundraising and knocking on doors. This is not easy work, but it is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding things that you can possibly do.
Your group will be at an extreme disadvantage due to the fact that the establishment candidate will be well funded by their corporate donors and both Democratic and Republican parties are known to funnel money to vulnerable candidates in order to run smear campaigns against their grassroots challengers.
Anyone you select to run for office from your group should be likable, hard working and able to generate excitement in your community. Your job is to work hard on their behalf and motivate others in your community to join the fight.
Just remember that our candidate will always have a huge advantage in the fact that most of your communities problems can be blamed on the current representative and people love the idea of someone new, who is going to make the changes that their community needs.
Use the dissatisfaction with the establishment candidate against them and take their seat.
Never underestimate what an organized group of activists can achieve when they are all in agreement.
Therein lies our greatest challenge.
Our movement is based on a shared collection of values. It is not affiliated with any party. It cannot be destroyed, as it exists only as a system of values shared by like-minded people. Like a virus, we seek to infect the current body and take control of it.
The establishment maintains its power by creating division among the opposition, therefore there is no room for infighting within our movement. As a movement that thrives on passion, it is important to constantly come back to our shared goals instead of focusing too hard on our differences in strategy.
Disagreement and constructive criticism lead to better solutions and the awareness of new options, but if one member believes, for example, that developing a third-party locally is the most effective way to achieve our goals, whereas another believes that infecting and reforming the local Democratic Party is the best way, then there is no need for disagreement as both actions are in line with our movement’s goals of putting Progressive pressure on our representatives.
It is always a good idea to compare and contrast strategies in an attempt to find the best method of attack, but in the end, if no absolute can be arrived at, the appropriate response would be to pursue both actions and see which one was producing the best results. Most theories fall apart in actual practice, so it is best to take an action and learn from it, rather than to waste one’s time arguing theory and never actually taking real proactive steps.
As our movement thrives on passion and the left thrives on creativity, there is the potential for division, but if we are to be successful then we must swallow our pride and be willing to work side by side with ANYONE who shares our collective vision.
For example, I have been attending meetings and rallies with local establishment Democrats. I have been making a point to have discussions with these people and for the most part I find that we have common ground on many issues. Getting hung up on our differences is counterproductive when seeking to mobilize people to action. I have also been attending meetings with the local Green Party and other left leaning political groups. I am not focusing on differences and you shouldn’t either. Our movement is not exclusive. In fact it shares goals with other political movements such as Justice Democrats, Our Revolution and Indivisible.
When we defeated the bill in our local House, I looked around the room and saw members of the local Greens side by side with Democrats and members of the local chapter of Our Revolution.
Our disagreements were not an issue, because we all agreed that this bill needed to be defeated.
Ours is a battle for hearts and minds.
We are engaged in a war for truth and justice and we must fight against the establishment which currently holds the reigns of power.
But history has shown as that “when millions of people stand together, they win.”
It is time to stand up and it is time to stand together.
Bernie Sanders came out on live TV recently and said that he agrees with American intelligence saying that Russia was responsible for the alleged hacks of the DNC and that their goal was to “undermine our democracy”.
Julian Assange has been on record stating that the Russian government was not the source of the alleged hacks.
Whom do we believe when two leftist icons disagree?
Furthermore, why is this even important?
Regardless of who leaked or hacked the emails, the content remains the same. When taken as a whole, we see very clearly that the DNC not only wanted Hillary Clinton as their nominee, but that they were in collusion with corporate media outlets to insure that Sanders never stood a realistic chance to win.
Let us not forget that the DNC sought to use these same corporate media arms to help Donald Trump to become the GOP nominee, because they felt that this would lead to an easy Clinton victory.
America sat by and watched this strategy blow up in Clinton’s face, in an absolutely disastrous election, that saw the Democrats lose control of every branch of government.
Now from the rubble of the Democratic Party come accusations that the Russians are behind the Wikileaks. Some even go so far as to say that we need a complete reelection, starting at the primary level.
This entire situation is such a huge mess that it’s difficult to even begin unraveling it. Even if the Russians were responsible for the alleged hack, this certainly does nothing to change the fact that the Democrats conspired to ruin Sanders and some would say that the source of the leak is not relevant, due to the content found in the emails.
It’s no wonder that Sanders’ supporters find it particularly disturbing that Sanders is on TV saying that the “evidence is overwhelming” that the Russian government is behind the alleged hacks, when he and his followers were the victims of the content found in the emails.
When leftist icons like Sanders and Assange disagree, what are Progressives to believe?
Even though Sanders says that the evidence supports the intelligence claim of Russian involvement, we the people, have no hard evidence that can be linked to the Russian government and there is no reason to believe that Senator Sanders has any more knowledge than the public has.
These accusations against the Russians smell eerily similar to the Bush/Cheney administration’s claims that Iraq was secretly harboring Weapons of Mass Destruction, in the Bush administration’s efforts to sway public sentiment, in order to enter into a war that should have never occurred.
These accusations are dangerous.
What the US government and their corporate media arms hope to accomplish with these allegations can be the subject of infinite speculation, but if we use history as our guide, it is likely a power-play designed to increase the United States’ leverage in their agenda to supplant Assad in Syria, which would give the US access to the building of a pipeline, which would result in trillions of dollars in gains for the corporations that own our government.
Or perhaps it is a ploy to weaken Trump and set him up for impeachment, in hopes of putting the more malleable Mike Pence in charge.
The American people are left to speculate when their government claims that they have proof, but are unwilling or unable to provide said proof.
The unnecessary declaration of war on Iraq lead to the creation of Isis and now we see what appear to be similar maneuverings by our government less than two decades later.
Am I saying that the accusations against the Russian state are untrue? I would not go that far. But upon careful investigation, we see that there is no concrete evidence available to the public to support such a claim.
Forgive us, if we do not trust our government.
But they have a long history of lying to the American people.
Julian Assange has repeatedly busted the American government in the act of cheating and therefore has become a hero to leftists everywhere. But Assange clearly has an agenda and it is not necessarily simply finding the truth.
It is curious that somehow each time Assange finds out something about the American government and its shady dealings, that somehow these findings always seem to benefit Russia. If we are to find truth, we must hold our icons up to the light of skepticism and expect the same transparency that we desire from our own government.
Had Assange released Donald Trump’s tax returns, as Wikileaks originally promised, then the American voter would have had a much clearer picture of the two incredibly corrupt candidates that were running for our nation’s highest office, but Assange reneged on Wikileaks claim that they would deliver Trump’s tax returns and repeatedly focused on Clinton’s corruption. As a result, the American people will learn about Trump’s malfeasance firsthand, once he begins running our country further into the ground by using our nation’s highest office to line his pockets.
Disdain for Hillary Clinton is a separate issue and does not let Assange off the hook here. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend and Assange has a history of helping the Russian government. Add to this Putin’s desire to see Trump in office and we begin to see Assange’s one-sided agenda through a lens of suspicion.
It is no wonder that Assange has become such an icon for the leftist movement. His boyish good looks, charm and accent make him incredibly likable. The fact that he is hiding from our tyrannical government makes him seem downright heroic. Furthermore, he brought down the oligarchy, which makes him an activist legend. But, if you are searching for actual truth, it is worth asking why Assange’s findings repeatedly benefit the Russians. Assange is literally on the Kremlin payroll, with his show, The World Tomorrow, airing on Russian Times, a network founded by Vladimir Putin.
Putin wanted Trump.
Putin pays Assange.
Assange helps deliver Trump.
Don’t we always say to “follow the money”?
Have we become so angry at our own government, that we are willing to embrace Vladimir Putin and allow him power in our elections?
Are we so disgusted with the findings regarding the DNC, that we forget to ask the obvious questions about the intent of those who went hunting for said information to begin with?
Do any of us actually believe that the Russian government is any less corrupt than our own government, with its recent history of propping up dictators in France, Germany, Austria and the Ukraine?
The American people are right to be suspect of our own intelligence agencies, as they have lied to us repeatedly, but you would be doing yourself a great disservice, if you didn’t ask why Putin was so excited to see Trump’s rise to power.
Just as it would be foolish to accept American intelligence as gospel, it would be equally foolhardy to dismiss the preponderance of circumstantial evidence that points directly to Vladimir Putin and his employee, Julian Assange.
Wikileaks fans will repeatedly point out that Wikileaks have never had to retract a single story in their ten year existence. And while I definitely think they deserve tremendous credit for being one of the only sources of truth left on this tyrannical, corporate-controlled planet, it is the stories that Wikileaks isn’t covering that should make you suspicious of their motives.
So why did Bernie Sanders say that the “evidence is overwhelming” when the American people have no hard evidence to implicate the Russians?
Before we attempt to answer this, let’s first congratulate the corporate media, on finally getting Sanders to say something that they can use.
For nearly two years they have been putting microphones in Sanders’ face and asking him tough questions, much tougher questions than any other candidate was ever asked. Each time, Sanders did what he always does, he answered with the truth and then the corporate media did what it always does, they cut out everything he said, only to air a sensationalist story to deceive and distract the public.
But that’s not what happened this time. This time Bernie Sanders said something that actually was consistent with what the corporate media wanted him to say and they have ran the sound-bite on a nonstop loop since he uttered it.
As Sanders attempts to reform the Democrats in his image, those scorned by the party, have been quick to accuse Sanders of being a puppet for the corporate establishment, a scenario that is possible, but highly unlikely.
Sanders has no such record of being in bed with these corporatists and has literally spent his entire life fighting them. Sanders’ life would have been much simpler had he buckled and joined the Democratic Party decades ago, but instead he literally spent his entire career fighting against the Dems and the GOP simultaneously.
What’s more amazing is that he won most of these battles.
Let us also take note that since the general election, Sanders has been incredibly critical of the Democratic Party, saying that it was not enough to say “I’m a woman. Vote for me.” and repeatedly calling on party leaders to shed their corporate ties and serve the American people again.
So if there is no concrete proof of Russian involvement in the DNC hacks, why did Senator Sanders say that “the evidence is overwhelming.”?
I submit that Sanders simply said it because he believes it to be true.
Sanders was asked a direct question on live TV and he spoke on the matter for 30 seconds and never revisited the topic.
He did not bring it up.
He did not say that it cost the Democrats the election.
He said that he “agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment” and based on this, many on the left went right to the “Bernie sold us out” rhetoric that has become the mantra of wannabe revolutionaries.
Of course, it makes perfect sense that every word Sanders says is amplified with white-hot intensity. It is, at once, the best and worst part of his revolution. Sanders brought new blood into politics. Many of the people who follow him are incredibly passionate, but passion can be a double-edged sword. The same people who exult Sanders one minute, will oppose him with intense anger a moment later.
Sanders has become a leftist political icon, but perhaps his followers put him under too much scrutiny, constantly looking for the tiniest defect to prove their hypothesis, that all politicians are corrupt, much in the same way that a teenager will rally behind an obscure punk band, only to turn on that band when the band achieves some measure of commercial success.
Sanders has become Kale Soup for the Leftist/Activist Soul.
When the mountain seems too steep to climb, Sanders’ supporters think of him speaking to those empty Senate floors and feel emboldened. When they feel overwhelmed in their attempts to free our country from tyranny, they think back to the young man who was so determined to fight injustice that he had to be dragged away in handcuffs.
Sanders’ has become more than just a politician. He has become a symbol of hope in the face of impossible odds. So it is only natural that his followers would hover a microscope over his every word and action, looking for cracks in the facade. It is only natural that Sanders’ followers would have a religious zealotry towards this great man and come apart at the seams at the possibility that he has been absorbed by the very machine they have been attempting to bring down.
But Sanders isn’t in anyone’s pocket.
He simply believes that Russia was behind the alleged hack.
You can choose to believe him.
You can choose to believe Julian Assange.
You can choose to believe neither and hope that further evidence comes to light.
The truth is out there.
But in this case, we will probably never know.
As I reflect back over 2016, I feel a deep sadness, for what might have been and for the beautiful people who worked so hard, giving time, money, sweat and tears to the cause of getting Bernie Sanders elected to the presidency.
I feel for my sisters and brothers, because I know that it would be very easy to feel defeated, after such a historic rise and subsequent crashing and burning of what was the greatest political campaign of many of our lifetimes.
I understand that our planet’s outlook never looked bleaker, with a madman in charge of our military and his band of billionaires planning to gut our country’s economy to line their coffers.
I fear that many people will turn away from politics, with an awful taste in their mouth and never return.
And who could blame them?
It is incredibly difficult to battle the creeping death of cynicism, when you see the American dream sold to multinational corporations. It is hard to believe that you have any real power, when you worked for a just cause, only to have victory stolen away from you by a lying, cheating, corporate party that was supposed to represent our ideals, but instead silenced our voices.
If the tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it…
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Do you even have a voice when your government is owned by billionaires?
There are many reasons to bow down to our own helplessness. We could be like Hillary Clinton and lock ourselves away and selfishly cry about our loss, but somehow, through wisdom or delusion, I come out of this mess feeling optimistic.
I feel excited, because I have seen how hard they had to fight to silence us.
I know that Americans are awake like they have never been before and I know that positive change is inevitable.
As I type this, Bernie Sanders is on the Senate floor, using his now prominent voice to shake things up. He came out with a giant poster board, featuring a tweet from Donald Trump, challenging him to tell the House and Senate that he had already promised not to cut Social Security or Medicaid.
Bernie is a master-level strategist and knows that Trump’s huge ego provides a convenient lever by which to manipulate him.
Bernie does not intend to rest and we won’t either.
Sanders has an army of well-trained political revolutionaries.
All Trump has is a huge ego and a job he doesn’t know how to do.
Trump is rudderless.
He has no direction.
Sanders recognizes this and will spend the next four years battling him tooth and nail. But Sanders is nothing without us. His power comes from having millions of people at the ready, willing to stand up and fight for political revolution.
A few days before the Trump-tweet speech, House Republicans voted to get rid of an independent ethics committee. No sooner had they passed the legislation, than phones in state-houses all over the nation began ringing. The constituents were outraged. Trump himself tweeted that he felt that House Republicans should be focused on bigger issues.
House Republicans backed down.
Sanders had barely had time to express his disagreement, before the phone calls started coming in and this is exactly the way he wants it. Sanders wants his revolutionaries to make decisions for themselves.
The time for hand-holding is over.
When Sanders stood on podiums all over America and repeatedly said “Not me, us.” and “When millions of people stand together…” he was not telling us just to elect him. Sanders was striking at something much greater.
He was demanding that Americans get out of their comfort zones and take their government back.
Bernie babied us for eighteen months and taught us how to stand up and take our first steps, but now with the country in the hands of greedy men, who would take us back to the stone ages, if we allowed them to, Sanders is now pointing his mighty finger and ordering his troops to march into battle.
Sanders is fighting the GOP with his right hand and rebuilding the Democratic Party with his left.
Sanders movement has grown in power. No longer are his followers political neophytes. They have grown in knowledge and in number.
Sanders’ revolution is alive and well.
As the GOP crumbles and the Democratic Party is rebuilt in his image, America is primed to become the Progressive Socialist country that Sanders envisioned.
But revolution takes time and hard work.
It is not for the meek.
The Trump-tweet speech is the template for what it means to be a political revolutionary over the next four years.
Trump and the GOP are not on the same page and Sanders knows this and will exploit it at every given opportunity.
By standing up and saying “This is what Trump promised his voters”, Sanders not only rallies his band of rebels, but also paints Trump into a corner with his own followers. Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP are actively involved in a tug-of-war against the very people who voted Trump into office, demanding Trump carry out their agenda, but Trump actually cares about what the masses think. This is why he is constantly involved in Twitter wars. No enemy is too small for this tiny excuse for a man and Sanders knows this and is already showing that he will use it to control Trump’s maneuverings.
In decades past, Trump would have played ball with the GOP and signed backroom deals and millions of people would have lost their health coverage, but now Sanders has the attention of the people and he will use his powerful voice to expose every single misstep by Trump and as The Donald does not like to be embarrassed, he will be jumping through hoops to please Sanders or else face the wrath of his legions.
Before his presidential run Sanders was just a minor annoyance, a punchline for corrupt politicians.
Now he is literally the voice of The People.
Trump was actually planning on cutting Social Security and Medicaid. Now if he does, millions of his voters will know exactly who to thank for their hardships and many will punish the GOP during the 2018 midterms.
Sanders knows that The House can swing to the left in 2018.
He played ball with the Democrats and made himself the most powerful voice in politics.
Now he is using that voice to orchestrate master-level moves, under extremely hostile conditions.
Sanders knows Trump talks out of both sides of his mouth. Trump literally has made his billions being a professional liar, but this is not real estate, this is politics and Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump in a political chess match is a one-sided affair.
Trump isn’t even in office yet and already the battle has begun.
And when Trump backs down and 22 million Americans get to keep their healthcare, then you will know beyond any shadow of a doubt, who the real President is.
As if there was ever any doubt.
I walk into my local bookstore and see my favorite human, Bernie Sanders, staring at me from directly inside the store window. His book, Our Revolution, is flying off the shelves.
As I bring it to the register the clerk says..
“I read it. I cried. I love Bernie.”
And we are immediately friends…
Leaving the shop, I pull up at the stop-light and start looking for the latest Young Turks podcast on my phone. As I do there is honking from behind and beside me. I look up to see what is going on. The guy to my left gives me a thumbs up. It says “Feel the Bern 2020” on both sides of my car. The girl in the car behind me also gives me the thumbs up and then starts taking pictures of my Bernie-mobile.
This happens almost every time I stop at a light.
Someone told me that Bernie Sanders lost the election, but to say this would be to miss the point.
Bernie Sanders won and we won.
More importantly, we are still winning, because Sanders started something and we will not stop until it is finished.
Everywhere I go, I meet people who believe in Sanders message of compassion. The air is alive with people talking political change. This is the most informed generation in our country’s young history. I can go anywhere in America and find people who believe as I do, that every man, woman and child deserves the right to healthcare, a living wage and an opportunity to pursue higher education.
Bernie Sanders made it okay to be a proud Socialist and taught millions of people what the word actually means.
He woke us up and we aren’t going back to sleep.
He introduced us to each other and we are a powerful force to be reckoned with.
That is the incredible gift that Bernie Sanders gave to all of us.
The revolution is going on right now.
It began the moment Sanders stood up in the backyards of rural areas, where Democrats fear to tread and said what we had all been thinking.
Bernie was clear from the beginning that it was about US. He told US to stand together and we would win. I know that it is hard, right now, with the utter mess that our country’s political system has become, but out of chaos arises opportunity.
The confluence of America’s political system hitting rock bottom at the same time as this great man rising up and becoming a voice of awakening for an entire generation, is exactly what needed to happen for our country to take a giant leap forward into a new Progressive era.
Sanders started a conversation and traveled from town to town sharing these truths that we hold to be self-evident.
Now it is up to US to continue the conversation.
It is up to US to help our neighbor. It is up to US to fight injustice. It is up to US to run for office, to boycott corporations, to push until every one of Bernie’s dreams becomes a reality.
Because Bernie’s dreams are our dreams.
Before Sanders, we were fragmented. We felt alone and powerless.
Now awake, we are an unstoppable force.
As I walk into a local coffee shop, Bernie Sanders is on corporate media. He is applying pressure to Barack Obama to declare Standing Rock a national monument. Later the same day, I walk into the gym and one of the Republican guys yells…
“Boy, Ol Bernie is really lettin em have it, Mike!!”
I look up at the TV and Sanders is on talking about reforming the “Democratic” Party and ridding it of corporate influence.
“Show this guy your Bernie tattoo!!” another one of my Republican friends hollers.
I do and they all laugh and tell me how Bernie is “just what this country needs”.
Bernie has a platform now. People are awake. They are listening. And anyone who knows anything about change, knows that first people have to become aware of what needs to change before change can begin.
For the next few years, things will be hard and we will have many opportunities to band together to fight injustice and if we fight hard enough and make our voices loud enough, we can begin usher in a new age of enlightenment in America.
It is up to US to take this wonderful gift that Bernie has given us and continue to give it to everyone we meet.
After doing some (non-corporate) Christmas shopping, I returned to my car to find a note.
I cringed, thinking that some Trump supporter might have taken umbrage with my First Amendment right to express my Socialist views.
I was wrong.
Instead there was a beautiful letter, from a friend I haven’t met, leaving me warm and fuzzy this holiday season.
This was just the latest in a million reminders that our movement has only just begun.
Happy Holidays to all my amazing Bernie friends everywhere.
2016 brought us together.
In 2017 we will continue the fight.
Donald Trump has won the presidency and suddenly Hillary Clinton supporters are up in arms over the electoral college.
Given my dislike for Hillary, you may be surprised to find that I actually agree with her supporters on this issue, but my disdain for the electoral college preexisted this travesty of an election.
Personally I find it appropriate that a candidate who had to use $uper-delegates to “win” her primary, lost to the EC, but my love of Democracy supersedes my Schadenfreude.
Not only is the electoral college undemocratic and favors Republicans, but it ultimately prohibits any chance of an Independent or third-party candidate from becoming president.
Before I venture into how the electoral college prohibits Independents and third-parties from rising to power, I want to point out some of the inherent flaws in this system.
And before you start waiving your pocket Constitution around, talking about how “the founding fathers were infallible”, let me remind you that these men were wise enough to create The Constitution as a living, breathing document, that is meant to be amended as the citizens see fit.
Here are several reasons why we need to write a Constitutional Amendment that will overturn the Twelfth Amendment.
The Electoral College is Based on Slavery
In 1787, when the Twelfth Amendment was drafted, a direct election for president gave more power to the Northern states, due to the fact that Southern states had large populations of slaves who were not eligible to vote.
The Southern states opposed a popular vote system and pushed for a system that was based on population.
In the end those who drafted the Twelfth Amendment agreed to count a slave as 3/5ths of a person and thereby awarded Southern states with hefty amounts of electoral votes based on their huge slave populations.
I don’t have to tell you how outdated this system is when it is based on awarding votes to people who were not even counted as actual human beings, but what further complicates matters is that the electoral college has been calibrated to where some voters actually have nearly four times the voting power as other voters.
Which brings me to my next point…
The Electoral College Gives Voters in Small States More Power Than Voters in Large States
The idea behind the electoral college is that each state is awarded one electoral college vote for every 565,166 residents.
But this system is not properly calibrated and is actually weighted to give voters in small states, which are mostly rural, more power than voters in large states, with many urban population centers.
In short, many people have their voting power diminished and are counted as less than a whole person (what do you expect from a system based on counting slaves as 3/5ths of a human being??!) while other voters are counted as MORE THAN THREE PEOPLE!!
For example, California with its population of 39 million should have 69 electoral college votes (39,000,000/565,166 = 69) but only has 55 electoral votes.
That is 14 electoral votes that California is being robbed of every four years.
To be fair, deep red Texas should have 49 electoral votes, yet only has 38.
But still the left is punished more intensely under the EC.
For example, New York, an uncontested blue state, with the third largest total of electoral votes, once again penalizes the left disproportionately.
New York should have 35 electoral votes, but they only have 29.
Illinois, the third-largest Democrat stronghold, should have 23 electoral votes, but only has 20.
The electoral college favors Republicans and is actually weighted to give rural voters more voting power than city voters.
In other words, a city voter is counted as less than one whole person, whereas a rural voter is often counted as multiple people.
If you ever wondered how Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, yet still lost their respective elections, the answer is simple.
Urban votes are worth less to the electoral college.
Let’s remember that the electoral college was designed to appease Southern slave owners.
Move to a Small State and Triple Your Voting Power!!!
Where do all the electoral votes go that are stripped away from the urban areas?
They are awarded to small states that are mostly rural.
Let’s look at some of the states that have small populations.
Populations of Small States with Disproportionate Voting Power
Alaska – 743,000
Delaware – 942,000
Montana – 1,032,000
North Dakota – 753,000
South Dakota – 867,000
Vermont – 626,000
Wyoming – 588,000
As we have already discussed, one electoral vote is supposed to be awarded for every 565,166 citizens, so the above states should all have ONE electoral vote, correct?
But each of the above states has THREE electoral votes.
This means that if you live in one of these states your vote has the power of two or three people voting, while conversely a California voter is not even treated as one whole person.
Let’s put this into perspective.
Let’s imagine that Candidate A won the state of Florida and Candidate B won the seven small states listed above.
Candidate A, by winning Florida, a state with 20 million people, would be awarded 20 electoral votes.
Candidate B, by winning the seven small states, with a total population of 5.5 million, would be awarded with 21 electoral votes.
Candidate A may have four times as many voters, but will still crawl away with less electoral votes.
That, my friends, is a deeply flawed system.
Inconsistencies such as this abound all across the map and undermine the voting power of tens of millions of Americans.
The electoral college is nothing more than gerrymandering of our nation’s highest office.
In short the electoral college is completely undemocratic.
There is no reason why a voter in one state should have four times the voting power as a voter in another state.
It’s worth pointing out, that this system could be exploited by grassroots efforts in smaller states, because in effect you are converting 3-4 voters every time you convert one.
For example, an upstart party gaining 200,000 members in a large state such as California or Texas would probably go completely unnoticed, as it would make up less than 1% of the state’s population, basically giving zero voting power to the movement, but achieving 200,000 voters in each of the small states would be the same as achieving 600,000 voters in any other state (not to mention that this insurgent party would have complete control over the state’s local politics).
An insurgent third-party could achieve 21 electoral college votes, simply by making strong movements in the seven small states listed above.
This may not seem like many EC votes, but when you consider that this could be achieved with a total voter base of 1,400,000 people you see that this type of election hack provides a tremendous return on investment.
If a third-party wants to gain serious power, but is under-funded, they would be wise to concentrate on these small states, where every citizen has 3-4 times the voting power of people in larger states.
Before we get too excited and start planning the leftist equivalent of The Free State Project, let’s take a look at how the electoral college prevents third-parties from winning the presidency.
Bernie Sanders ran as a Democrat for the presidency in 2016, even though Hillary Clinton and other prominent Dems were quick to remind us that “Bernie Sanders has never been a Democrat.”
Why did he do this?
Why not just run as an Independent or third-party?
The answers to these questions are numerous and complex, but foremost among them is that the electoral college makes it nearly impossible for an Independent or third-party candidate to win the presidency.
Let’s explore how the electoral college handicaps Independent and third-party candidates using the 2016 election as an example.
Just for the sake of simplicity, let’s imagine that American voters are split down the middle 50% whose values lie on the left and 50% whose values lie on the right.
I know that nothing is this simple, but for the sake of this example, we are going to imagine that it is a 50/50 split.
Imagining a 50/50 split is not radical by any means.
In 2012, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney with 51% of the vote (obviously Romney pulled in 49%).
Let’s further imagine that a populist candidate rises up as an Independent or under the umbrella of a third-party.
For the sake of this thought experiment, let’s see what would have happened if Bernie Sanders had run as an Independent in 2016.
Let’s say Bernie pulled many people from the left over, who usually voted Democrat.
And let’s exaggerate the numbers in Bernie’s favor, so we can see how even an incredibly powerful candidate is completely incapable of overcoming the electoral college, without the support of the two corporate parties.
Let’s say that Bernie pulled so many people over from the left that it looked something like this..
Voters on the Left (Sanders voters): 35%
Traditional Democrats (Clinton voters): 15%
Republicans (Trump voters): 50%
In this scenario the left is extremely handicapped, splitting the votes between two strong candidates.
Republicans walk to an easy victory and the electoral college is not a huge factor.
Sanders knew this, which is exactly why he ran inside of a party that he described as “ideologically bankrupt”.
Sanders knows how the system works and knows that under our current system an Independent or third-party simply has the cards stacked against them to the point that it is nearly impossible to win, even if you have popular support.
To illustrate why this is true, let’s run a second thought experiment and in this experiment Sanders runs under the Green Party umbrella and is so incredibly successful that he actually pulls in 10% of Republican voters as well (while it is a fact that many Republicans would have voted for Sanders, it was actually less than 5% of total Republicans. It is highly unlikely that 10% of Republicans would have voted for him).
That scenario would look like this.
Voters on the left + 10% of voters on the right (Sanders voters): 45%
Traditional Democrats (Clinton voters): 15%
Traditional Republicans (Trump voters): 40%
In this outlandish scenario, Sanders wins right?
In this scenario, no candidate would receive the 270 electoral votes required to “win” the presidency, so the House of Representatives would vote on whom they believe the president should be.
As the House is Republican controlled, Donald Trump would be awarded the presidency.
We can run an infinite number of scenarios in which a third-party or Independent runs an incredibly successful campaign, but in each of these scenarios the best that they will achieve is to split the voters on their side of the ideological line and get the election thrown into the House, which will either be controlled by the Democrats or the Republicans and each time the House will vote along party lines and leave the Independent or third-party candidate out in the cold.
So the next time you hear an uniformed voter say “Bernie Sanders sold out!!” you can inform them on the truth of the matter.
Sanders did the only thing he could do inside of a corrupt system.
He ran inside of a party and tried to change it from within.
You simply cannot change the system from the outside.
People have been trying for over 200 years.
Those in power know all the tricks.
They have built in safe-guards against actual Democracy.
The only scenario in which a third-party could possibly win the presidency, under the electoral college, would be to win the 270 EC votes required to win the presidency outright.
Considering that the two corporate parties in the United States are backed by billions of dollars and have the Twelfth Amendment protecting them, this is very nearly an impossibility.
Donald Trump is not a Republican.
Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat.
But both men knew that the only chance they had to win was to play within the system.
Obviously this system needs to be reconstructed.
How to Overturn the Electoral College
There are many more problems with the electoral college that I will not get into in this article.
If the fact that the electoral college was built on slavery and gives some voters nearly four times the power as other voters, while simultaneously locking us into a corrupt two-party system, doesn’t convince you that this system needs to be overturned, then hopefully realizing that we have now elected two unqualified candidates, who lost the popular vote, into the White House, through this system, in the last 16 years will.
In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost to the electoral college and George Bush subsequently went on to invade Iraq and create Isis.
Don’t blame Ralph Nader who received less than 3% of the vote.
Blame the electoral college.
The people spoke and the electoral college silenced them.
Now just 16 years later, another candidate who lost the popular vote and has no business being in charge of our military, will wreak havoc on the planet for the next four years.
Never mind that Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are both awful candidates.
That is a conversation for another time.
The point is that the American political system is broken and becoming worse all the time.
A systematic strike to take down this antiquated Amendment can begin turning things around, as well as providing Americans more choice in parties going forward.
Drafting a Constitutional Amendment begins at the state level, which means that YOU can take action immediately in your state.
Using social media to coordinate with others who are doing the same in their states, a 3/4 majority can be achieved.
Writing a Constitutional Amendment is not impossible.
It has been done 27 times, about once per decade, so it is completely achievable if people organize at a grassroots level.
This would not be the first time that a Constitutional Amendment overturned a previous Amendment.
The 21st Amendment legalized alcohol by overturning the 18th Amendment.
The 28th Amendment will overturn the antiquated 12th Amendment and allow American citizens true voting power.
I am hoping that this article can band together third-party voters with disgruntled Democrats, as well as Independent voters who value true Democracy and are tired of seeing their voting power usurped.
There are enough of us out there, that if we band together, we can write an Amendment to The Constitution.
We have the numbers and we have the knowledge.
Now is the time to bring Democracy to America.
Michael E Sparks is a freelance writer who literally spends every free moment he has researching and writing in hopes of bringing truth to the Progressive masses. If you want to support his work, please donate $1 by clicking HERE.
Dear Barack Obama,
As I sat down to write you today, it occurred to me that being President is a thankless task.
When you do something well, it is overlooked.
When you make a mistake, it is amplified.
Eight years ago, I dragged my children to stand in line on a cold and rainy Indiana day, so we could vote for you as a family.
They were so little at the time.
Chloe was 6 and Dravin 11.
I wanted them to experience this moment with me, because you were the first candidate in my lifetime that actually made me excited to vote.
I felt like you were going to be a legendary president and I wanted my children to be part of that.
I explained to my babies that “a long line was good for us, because it meant that Americans were standing up for hope and change.”
As I walked into the voting booth, I was surprised at how emotional I became.
I teared up as I filled in the little bubble next to your name.
Barack Obama was going to be my president.
I think your presidency must have been one of the more difficult presidencies in our country’s history.
You faced opposition from all sides and dealt with a House that attempted to block everything you tried to do.
Yet somehow you managed to stop Keystone XL and pass the Affordable Care Act, which for all of its flaws, was a major step forward for millions of Americans.
I have not agreed with you on everything.
I radically opposed TPP and I was extremely disappointed that you did not speak up for the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
I read your book and loved your honesty, when you admitted that taking corporate money had negatively affected your presidency.
So you can imagine how disappointed I was when you endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
But I do not write you today to tell you about all the ways in which I agree or disagree with you.
I know you get more than your fair share of critics and detractors.
I know that all great leaders must make tough decisions and that people who are on the outside cannot understand the intricacies of these hard choices.
Even though my politics might fall far to the left of yours, I have defended you consistently and I believe that you are a good man.
I even voted for you again in 2012, because I still believed that you were our best shot at hope and change.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for caring and for doing your best.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown and with great audacity, I ask of you a favor before you leave office, one last swipe of your pen to remind the great people of America that there is still hope, even in the darkest of times.
The good guys really need a victory right now.
And I know you are one of the good guys, so I’m calling on your help.
I’m asking you to declare Standing Rock a federal monument.
By declaring Standing Rock a federal monument you will stop the senseless violence against our Indigenous sisters and brothers and secure your legacy as a president who stood for hope and change.
I understand that corporations are powerful forces, but right now, you are even more powerful.
We can no longer “wait and see how this plays out.”
This is about more than just legalities.
This is much bigger.
It became bigger the moment that attack dogs and rubber bullets were brought in to assault these peace-loving people.
It became bigger when we watched the absolute brutality of our own government spraying freezing water on these good people.
Have the Native American people not suffered enough at the hands of this occupying force of which you are currently the leader?
After centuries of unmitigated rape of their culture, can we please, just this once, side with the people who rightfully own the land?
On behalf of our brethren in North Dakota, I can tell you that we will not back down, because our cause is just and at some point the American people MUST take a stand.
The winter will be long and difficult, but our numbers will grow.
My wife and children have asked me not to go, but I cannot, in good conscience stand by and allow innocent people to be treated with such aggression.
I believe, with all my heart, that the pen is mightier than the sword, so I ask you to look inside yourself and put an end to this atrocity.
I know you are a good man.
I know that you are losing sleep thinking about this situation, along with a hundred others.
You, Mr President, are our last hope.
If you do not intervene then I fear that this will ultimately result in the deaths of many good people.
Perhaps of equal import, is that we need to know that you hear us and that you are on our side, because in a few months someone will be sitting in your chair who is not on our side.
The American People need to know that our voices matter.
The American People need to know that our government still represents us, because the level of cynicism and despair is palpable right now, Mr President.
I’m asking you to make one more difficult choice before you leave office.
I’m asking you to make Standing Rock your legacy.
I’m asking you to declare Standing Rock a federal monument.
From one father to another, I want to be able to look my kids in the eye and remind them of the time we stood in the rain for over an hour, because we believed that you were truly on our side.
I still believe that you are.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service.
Just One Voter