Revolt Against Plutocracy:
No One “Sheepdogs” OUR Revolution
Sanders’ Jaw-Dropping Call for Revolution
One time Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for political revolution. That was gargantuan news, which posed an equally gargantuan paradox to wrap our heads around. Now, it’s not as if some civic-minded voice in the wilderness like, say, Chris Hedges or Ralph Nader, has called for political revolution. Instead, an incumbent U.S. Senator, running for the world’s most powerful office in one of our two electable, establishment parties (the same ones corporate donors lavish billions of dollars on), called for political revolution.
That was literally jaw-dropping political news. So why didn’t you hear about it discussed much? Because nearly everyone—skeptical leftists like Hedges and Nader, the entire Democratic party establishment (including the Warren wing), mainstream and even most left-wing media, even Sanders’ most ardent supporters—apparently, initially believed Bernie Sanders’ call for political revolution was “just BS.”
Besides wondering (playfully) whether Bernie was frequently ragged about his initials in school, we were wondering (seriously) whether he means what he says. And, above all, whether his decision to run for president in today’s ultra-establishment Democratic Party necessarily reduces his call for political revolution—whatever his naive sincerity—to a big, stinking pile of BS. It may turn out that way for what turned out to be the Clintoncratic Party.
Viewing Bernie Sanders as neither naïve nor insincere, the budding revolutionaries of Revolt Against Plutocracy categorically deny that Bernie’s decision to run as a Democrat must reduce his call for political revolution to bullshit. We found such thinking lazy, unimaginative, and, ultimately, irresponsible—especially since he’d already hinted where the responsibility for political revolution must lie. It doesn’t depend on him; it depends on US.
Bernie Sanders had a campaign to run—a thing he does extraordinarily well—and we should all be deeply grateful to him for running it. We at Revolt Against Plutocracy feel we best express that gratitude by doing the one thing his campaign shackles him from doing—and which only grassroots activists can do anyway—organize his revolution. “Grassroots revolution isn’t just BS” is one slogan we pray becomes a meme, and as ardent believers that our disintegrating political system screamed for Bernie’s revolution, we’re writing to announce it. And to recruit for it.
But to do so effectively, we must demolish the crippling misconception that his revolution’s the same thing as his campaign. It’s not; as just noted, the revolution’s not really his at all. It’s ours, and dangerously overdue. His campaign simply provides our ideal springboard for launching it.
Revolutions Breaks Eggs; Bernie’s Campaign Had to Walk on Them
You’ve probably heard the familiar revolutionary slogan “To make an omelet, you’ve got to break some eggs.” In the vivid contrast between “breaking eggs” and “walking on eggs”—the latter expression implying a tortuous, torturous effort to avoid cracking the shells one is forced to tiptoe among—we glimpse the most compelling reason Sanders’ called-for revolution can’t be the same thing as his campaign.
In a political system that’s now a hollow shell of representative government, our eggshell metaphor couldn’t be better chosen. Where virtually the sole real purpose of government is to shove the will of plutocrats—whether Wall Street, fossil fuel, Big Ag, Big Pharma, or military-industrial-surveillance complex plutocrats—down the sane majority’s throats (to the planet-threatening detriment of the common good), the chief purpose of most political campaigns is to maintain the trompe-l’oeil solid appearance of representation’s hollow shell. In other words, most campaigns amount to propaganda touting the lie that our existing political system is still serving us. It’s clearly not—to the extent that even such a sold-out tool as today’s Democratic Party must allow more radical voices bent on serving the common good, like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, within its ranks to maintain the faintest illusion of legitimacy.
Given the extreme betrayals of faux-progressive presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, political leftists have earned an incontestable right to distrust: above all, to distrust of soaring campaign rhetoric high on promise and devoid of detail. Considering the global catastrophe for economy, democracy, and peace that was George W. Bush’s presidency, Obama’s betrayal of urgently needed progressive reform is especially unfortunate. But amidst its well-earned distrust, the left makes a serious mistake by tarring the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren with the same incriminating brush as Obama and the Clintons, punishing them for their mere association with Democrats. As regards the treachery of Democrats’ party leadership and its favored minions like Clinton, the left is incontestably right, as the analysis of honest veteran operative Bill Curry or a little research into the sleazy trickery of its corporatist leadership should make clear.
But by two powerful litmus tests—speaking in detail and speaking in season—politicians like Sanders and Warren prove they shouldn’t be tarred with the same accusatory brush as Hillary and the DNC. Just contrast the detail of Sanders’ economic platform and the timeliness of his TPP opposition with Clinton’s detail-allergic vagueness and cowardly equivocation on the same two matters. Besides, as the Democratic leadership well knows, Democrats’ legitimacy among progressives is so near-moribund that only the strong medicine of real sincerity, and not the placebo of fake, can restore its vigor. That the party tolerated a lifelong independent and self-professed socialist (one calling for political revolution, to boot) as contender for the top spot on its ticket underlined the sheer desperation of Democrats’ quest for lost legitimacy.
So, leftists should regard Democrats’ desperate need for legitimacy as vouchsafe of Bernie’s sincerity. But his personal sincerity provides no evidence whatsoever we should trust the substantially bought-off party he’s running in. Nor did it free him from the delicate, eggshell-walking task of ardently fighting plutocracy while maintaining the illusion of legitimacy for a party whose leadership has made plutocrats’ wettest wet dreams their own. Clearly, Democrats’ acute crisis of legitimacy opens a vulnerable flank for attack by Sanders’ revolution. And it makes our battle plan equally clear: to hammer the message that all legitimacy lies with Bernie, his domestic agenda and his sympathizers, and none with Hillary and the party establishment. Responding to the facts on the ground, Bernie’s revolution must treat his candidacy as a hostile coup against the Clinton/Obama wing of the Party and its corporatist leadership. Clearly a job for Bernie’s revolution and not Sanders himself, since he must—at peril of shutdown by the DNC—diplomatically avoid cracking the same eggshell of legitimacy his revolution needs to smash.
Lesser-Evilism: The Con Game of Misplaced Guilt
Revolutions don’t walk on eggs; they smash the eggshell of phony legitimacy. But phony legitimacy is exactly what today’s Democratic leadership seek: legitimacy without fundamental reform. As fundamental reform is what Bernie’s political revolution seeks—why the hell else start a revolution?—the Democratic Party establishment, Hillary Clinton, and their political allies, who clearly intend to go on forever feeding like pigs at the plutocrat trough, must remain squarely in our crosshairs as our revolution’s determined, neoliberal opponents.
Volunteers in our Bernie or Bust army printed out, signed, stuffed into an envelope and mailed 95%+ the superdelegates notifying them this movement is not the Party Unity My Ass of 8 years ago. It’s a pledge to revolution. They were warned RAP has a super PAC we would unleash against Hillary Clinton in the general election in support of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President; but they wouldn’t use their role as superdelegates to make sure they won in Nov. They, not RAP’s #JillOrBUST strategy, were responsible for President Trump.
That letter to the superdelegates was the left’s get-out-of-the-two-party-prison free card. Votes counted in PA show the Bernie or Bust movement cannot be blamed for President Trump. The superdelegates should be fired for dereliction of their duty to ensure they pick the candidate who was best situated to win. This is our letter of liberation. We were free to go about the 50 states voting our conscience on November 8th. #ProgressiveOrBust is another attempt to help lead the majority of Americans, who are to the left of the neoliberal elite, out of the two-party mental prison.
But the illegitimacy of today’s neoliberal Democrats hardly implies today’s Republicans are legit. In fact, the urgency of political revolution in a nation saddled with a malfunctioning two-party system strongly implies that both parties suck. And it’s hardly going on a limb to say that today’s know-nothing, science-denying, vote-repressing, proto-fascist Republicans suck. In fact, today’s Republicans are a blasphemy on everything that’s sane, civilized, and (ironically, given their religious bent) even Christian—strong candidates for the title “whore of Babylon” if not that of “Antichrist.” But their utterly perverse badness—for which, as we argued, superdelegates bear sole responsibility—hardly implies that Democrats are acceptable. Clinton’s uber-hawkish and mistake prone foreign policy experience coupled with her support for corporate-fascist, so-called “free-trade agreements” made Secretary Clinton the greater of two dangerous plutocrats. Nothing in the notion of a two-party system logically implies that both parties can’t be unspeakably bad. Indeed, given a two-party system, that’s precisely what one would expect in circumstances demanding political revolution.
Which brings us to Democrat’s sleazy “lesser-evil” con game. Now, what should be clear is that both major parties serve roughly the same corporate puppet masters. What differs is that Republicans serve somewhat more evil ones, and serve them with greater unanimity and stronger fealty; it’s as if that the party had made taking Voldemort’s Dark Mark a litmus test for membership. While Democrats certainly are somewhat different, they’re certainly not different enough—different enough, that is, for responsive, responsible governance meeting the grave emergencies of our society and planet.
In fact, no one has stressed that damning lack of difference more forcefully than Barack Obama. Perhaps the Democratic Party leadership should have considered ordering a mob hit on Obama, for when he spoke his unguarded mind, no one could cripple Democrats’ crumbling legitimacy more grievously. It was bad enough when Obama privately reassured Democrats’ sponsoring banksters (many likely guilty of large-scale criminal fraud) that he intended to stand between them and the pitchforks. But consider something even more damning Obama said—more damning because he said it to Chris Matthews on national television. Remember the highly colored—but scarcely exaggerated—words portraying the ever-worsening evil of today’s Republicans? Well Obama, scarily lucid when he wants to be, acknowledged that Democrats aren’t really all that different from those same Republicans, saying “Most of the time we’re playing between the forty yard lines here.” Just consider those words, which carry the authority of the Democratic Party’s sitting U.S. president, the next time Democrats try to con you that they’re radically different from those “evil Republicans.” As the Democratic Underground writer of the “forty yard line” link just shared tellingly put it, “Maybe that’s because both teams are owned by the same people—and it’s not us.”
Not only do corporatist Democrats differ little from evil, bought-off Republicans; they’re actually criminally culpable for condoning and perpetuating Republican evil. Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in Obama’s failure to investigate and prosecute major war criminal George W. Bush and his henchmen, and in Democrats’ utter refusal (a refusal imposed even on plain-spoken Bernie Sanders) to label Jeb Bush “the war criminal’s brother.” Considering Democrats’ obvious self-interest in using that label—it would have been the instant death blow for Jeb’s campaign—their refusal to apply it proves just how much Democrats are part of the same evil game. For applying it would raise embarrassing, unanswerable questions for Democrats, like why Bill Clinton imposed genocidal sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s innocent people, why Democrats overwhelmingly joined the bandwagon for Bush’s wildly imprudent criminal war, or why Barack Obama decided to continue Bush’s universal spying and even expand his unending ill-advised war on terror (albeit in proxy form). But perhaps the worst instance of Democrats and Republicans playing the same evil game is Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s criminally irresponsible “gentleman’s agreement” never to mention climate change—a life-or-death issue for humanity, but politically inconvenient for both—throughout their series of 2012 presidential debates.
All of which convincingly proves that Democrats’ “lesser-evil” argument, blaming reform-minded voters for enabling Republican evil when in fact no one deserves blame for enabling it more than the Democratic Party itself, is a sleazy con game. CounterPunch writer Andrew Levine has insightfully argued that “lesser-evilism” is a political race to the bottom, but he didn’t go far enough in explaining its sleazy dynamic. In fact, it’s rather simple: both Democrat and Republican teams playing for the same plutocrat owners, both operate under severe constraints controlling what they may say and do. Ditto for consolidated mainstream media, owned by an ever smaller number of corporate media giants. So among the three “parties” (Democrats, Republicans, and media), there’s a common conspiracy—that Republicans’ worst misdeeds—generally embarrassing to Democrats and media, since they’re complicit—should disappear down the memory hole. Their worst misdeeds never properly denounced, Republicans are emboldened for ever-worse coups against the common good.
A Democratic Party not complicit, and holding the moral high ground to denounce Republican evil, could have stopped the GOP’s worst misdeeds long ago. With Democrats, so deeply to blame for Republican evil, no reform-minded voters should be duped by the sleazy blame-shifting con of voting for Democrats as the lesser evil. In fact, Democrats simply hide beneath the ground cover of Republican evil to perpetuate their own plutocrat donors’ preferred brand. What voters should in fact feel guilty for is enabling that.
No Contract, No Vote
Sorry if we’ve been long in stating our revolutionary case, but since we, unlike our enemies, believe that rational persuasion is the essence of democracy, we took pains to be clear and well-documented. While our revolution’s justification was somewhat long, its strategy is short and sweet. It can be summarized in the slogan “No Contract, No Vote.”
We focused on the 2016 presidential race, since, important as Congressional races are, the presidential race was the only one commanding national attention. Going forward, this changes. Bernie or Bust was a demand, and so is a candidate’s signature on a legally binding contract which compels those elected to fulfill that populist agenda.
Contrary to the unimaginative, Democrat-allergic left, which merely dismisses Sanders’ Democratic candidacy as a sham, we saw a rare honest presidential candidate openly calling for political revolution, in a race that drew obsessive national attention, as a virtual revolutionary “perfect storm.” But only if we don’t make the fatal mistake of settling for Sanders’ Democratic candidacy as our revolution. Obviously, we don’t plan to. While Sanders willingly urged his supporters to vote for the greater of two dangerous candidates, #ProgressiveOrBust is a new declaration: we will not support any neo-liberal or neo-conservative candidate, and it must be in writing. #NoContractNoVote If need be, we will leave the line on the ballot blank if no candidate has the willingness to stand behind his or her campaign agenda by signing on the dotted line. In 2018 #BerniesAgendaOrBust does mean we won’t vote for anyone running for Congress without the buttress of a signed contract.
Instead, what we plan to do is rigorously apply our slogan “No Contract, No Vote” to the whole pack of 2018 congressional candidates. Plutocrats’ purchase of our government is the root of all our political evils, and as the only major-party candidate who called for a political revolution against plutocrat money, Bernie Sanders was the only adult in the room, the only candidate utterly free from the influence of that money, and the only one with a viable platform for ridding us of it. Therefore, he was the only major-party presidential candidate worth voting for. This is a similar standard we’re setting in some 430 congressional districts across the nation.
As solicitors of billions of plutocrat dollars, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush didn’t even register on our radar as serious candidates. And we have a strong bias against other establishment Democrats and Republicans, because their party leadership makes it virtually obligatory for them to accept oligarch dollars. As a lifelong independent scarcely funded at all by corporate dollars, strategically forced to run as a Democrat, Bernie alone had our trust. This next time around, we won’t trust any candidate unwilling to buttress their promises by committing to them in writing as a binding contract.
Our Nickname Should Be “Sheep No More”
As the political revolution Bernie called for but could not as a Democratic candidate lead—and perhaps must have disavowed—we passionately believe Bernie shouldn’t be a sheepdog if his ever-growing legion of supporters aren’t sheep. For those who do, who “feel the Bern” so strongly its sparks could ignite revolution, please consider joining ours. For more information, visit our Revolt Against Plutocracy Facebook page; to make the ultimate revolutionary commitment, sign up to become a #leverage activist in your congressional district on our Revolt Against Plutocracy homepage. By refusing the con of lesser-evilism, you’ll show our revolutionary movement truly deserves the nickname “Sheep No More.”
Post it with pride: #SheepNoMore #ProgressiveOrBust #BerniesAgendaOrBust #NoContractNoVote