On Leverage*

Leverage is less force pushing more….

The following is an edited excerpt from the acclaimed Bernie or Bust: Pioneers of Electoral Revolt.

Revolt Against Plutocracy’s trans-partisan, inside/outside strategy of electoral revolt against the establishment will remain active to let Democrats know in all national elections, we are generically #ProgressiveOrBust. That means in the general election of 2020, the nominee for the Democratic Party will have to be a real progressive. We sent a similar message to superdelegates in Philadelphia using a billboard between the airport and downtown during the week of the DNC and at our press conference on the first day of the Convention. The superdelegates chose to let Donald Trump become President when they voted for Secretary Clinton. The force behind #ProgressiveOrBust is a voter pledge.

Party affiliation is of secondary consideration for leverage tacticians. Leverage is a strategy to deploy until a third party can successfully challenge Democrats in elections. The Green Party can’t win, but they can function as an option for voters pledged to vote for a genuine progressive. A quarter to a half of the traditionally Democrat Party progressive base should be enough to provide the leverage needed. It’s not hard work; we’re just changing parties to either compel reform of the Wall Street-backed neoliberals or escort them to the dustbin of history. With the selection of Clinton-supporting and Obama White House recommended Tom Perez as the Party Chairman, the establishment retains control of the Democrats. When progressives running against neo-liberal Democrats and Republicans begin to win in three or four-way contests for the House and Senate, leverage will become obsolete.

So why bother supporting progressive candidates running as Democrats? It depends on the congressional district. If a popular progressive is running either as an independent or progressive party candidate against the establishment Democrat, “or bust” messaging on social media would not be needed. Changing parties to vote for the progressive in the Democratic primary would help convey the leverage strategy to Democratic Party loyalists, but why bother if a strong progressive candidate is just as likely to win? A national Progressive or Bust strategy for congressional races can have exceptions based on local conditions.

A progressive Democrat at this stage in the revolution has the best chance of getting elected. If the establishment Democrats get crushed even more in the 2018 midterms and thereafter than they did in 2016, it would set-back social progress faster than the neoliberals. If Trump is re-elected because the Democrats nominate another Wall Street-backed candidate many revolutionary progressives have pledged a refusal to vote for, and he doesn’t become a “free-trade” neoliberal himself, national self-determination and sabotaged, illegitimate, “democratic” self-government will be protected from international, corporate rule-making. It’s one thing to have an elected president deregulating business activities; it’s quite another to allow the corporations to write their own rules during secret negotiations when an up–or–down vote with no amending of “free-trade agreements” is the law of the land. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement should be a wake-up call to Americans. Two elements of the establishment’s agenda are another cold war with Russia and so-called “free-trade” agreements. Liberal establishment pundits will vigorously disagree, but those elements remain the reasons Trump is not as dangerous as the neoliberal Democrats who support those two agenda items along with hydrofracking and continued, extreme extraction of fossil fuels such as mountain top removal to extract coal and deep water drilling for oil.

Why bother working to reform the corrupt, Wall Street-backed Democratic Party at all? Until a progressive party of opposition to both fascism (R) and neoliberalism (D or R) can win three–way or four–way contests, supporting one will certainly divide the American left and help elect neoliberals and fascistic Republicans. That is precisely the promise of “or bust.” Progressive or Bust is the most likely manner at this juncture of history with which progressives can actually win primary elections. Organized citizens can undertake a leverage strategy for a candidate, or the candidate can do this alone by announcing and campaigning to run either as a write-in candidate where permitted or in a third party where available.

RAP co-founder Victor Tiffany explains leverage:

“See FAR” candidates are explained in Bernie or Bust. “On Leverage” continues below.

When the members of the Democratic National Committee elected an anti-Sanders Clintoncrat, Tom Perez, as Party Chairman and voted against a ban on corporate donations on February 25, 2017, they sent a message to progressives. The Democratic Party will remain a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street banks and the rest of corporate America. The establishment learned nothing from their loss to Trump, and the Democrats will continue to lose to Republicans unless Party members themselves reject neoliberals in the primaries and choose progressives instead. If they do not, Trump and other Republicans will be re-elected; and the neo-liberal Democratic Party will be en route to the dustbin of history right next to the Whig Party where they will belong.

A strategy that threatens the re-election of Trump seems at odds with the strategy of revolutionary consumption. Trump is dangerous, but another neoliberal like Senator Cory Booker (D–NY) would not be much better for climate preservation and more frightening still, with Hillary Clinton. We do not need to be the world’s policeman, judge, jury, prison guard and executioner, a modern day “empire.” Congress would declare war on any nation pouring terror from the sky on American families in the form of Hellfire missiles launched from robots flying above. The foreign policy of neocons like Clinton, the neoliberal like Obama or the “bomb the shit out of them” nationalist like Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon, will produce backlash against the West and Americans. The United States needs to and can militarily withdraw from the Middle East. Our wars there are causing more problems for American’s safety and security than they are solving. This demand isn’t a purity test; the people need to get control of the military profit-making corporate complex which contributes to both regional instabilities and climate change as most ships and all tanks and aircrafts run on fossil fuel. Peace and climate preservation is going to require an American revolution to take power from the neo-conservatives, fascists and neoliberals. Liberal and moderate Democrats must decide if they want to defeat Trump behind a real progressive or lose again in 2020 by nominating another neoliberal “free-trader” and/or warmonger. Revolution isn’t a “purity test;” it’s a necessary struggle for peace, sustainable prosperity and climate preservation. Revolution is not a choice; it’s necessary for human survival and further evolution.

If the left takes on a range of strategies every presidential election cycle, we’ll never win. Revolution trumps party loyalty. RAP’s inside/outside strategy of electoral revolt against the establishment will remain active to let Democrats know in all national elections that the movement remains #ProgressiveOrBust. Unlike previous efforts to reform the Democratic Party, we’re giving them an existential choice. It either becomes a party of labor, climate preservation, peace and human rights; or we’ll do our level best to help kick it into the aforementioned dustbin of history.

We were #DemExit; we joined the Green Party. We have now #DemEntered again to execute #ProgressiveOrBust in 2020. If the liberals in the Democratic Party side with the neoliberal establishment, we’ll then #DemExit again. Until a progressive, third party is strong enough to win three–way or four–way contests in national elections, the Green Party at this particular stage of American history can serve as an instrument of leverage (our fallback position) when neoliberals win their Democratic Party primaries. This strategy will only last as long as needed to either destroy the neoliberal, Democratic Party or to compel its reform into a progressive party as it used to be before the 1970’s.

If Bernie Sanders and someone like Tulsi Gabbard (D–HI ) were to start a new party, that would render leverage obsolete and in all likelihood lead to the re-election of Trump unless the Libertarians put forward a strong enough ticket to also divide the right. Unless the Democratic Party collapses between now and 2020, electoral leverage could serve as a vehicle of progressive change just as Senator Sanders attempted in 2016.