“[I]n this most desperate hour, I could not in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required by all of us.
— Bernie Sanders
April 8, 2020
Was this the bitter end? Yes. Did it mark a powerful new beginning? Also yes. Bernie effusively thanked his thousands upon thousands of supporters who had staked their hopes and dreams on his vision. He listed some of his successes. His campaign had valiantly taken “Medicare for All” into the mainstream. And the Green New Deal. He had won the hearts and minds of younger voters to a progressive, if not fully socialistic, vision. He had struck mortal fear into the craven hearts of Wall Street and the Democratic Party establishment.
And then — “not with a bang but a whimper” — he announced that it was over. He tried to soften the blow by saying he was only “suspending” the campaign. But the bottom line was that he had pledged allegiance to Joe Biden. He claimed Sleepy Joe was “a very decent man.” He promised that at the Democratic Convention “we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform.” But people remembered how that worked out in 2016.
This is not to be a replay of 2016. Rather, this marked a powerful new beginning.
I worked for Bernie in 2016. Without regrets. He seemed to be the best thing going. Many of us Greens left the party to join the crusade. But early on, I saw the writing on the wall. The forces aligned against him were too powerful. The campaign organization in St. Petersburg was actually hostile to working in the Black community, a failure that was to prove fatal. Our grassroots campaign organization was taken over by “professionals” who reduced us to mechanized phone-bankers who had no scope for actually organizing in our communities.
I argued mightily that, following the Democratic National Convention, Bernie supporters should get behind the Green Party’s Jill Stein. A few eventually did, but by-and-large those who weren’t ready to throw in the towel clung to a heart-breaking faith that Bernie would somehow pull off a miracle. The DNC super-delegates would come over to Bernie. Or maybe Bernie actually had some “secret strategy.” Whatever.
As in 2016, in 2020, the Green Party lost a lot of people to Bernie. But this round it was very different. Bernie’s people still believed fiercely in Bernie, but there was no nonsense about a secret strategy, no miracles. The DNC would not have a magical change of heart. Many vowed that there was no way they were going to vote for Joe Biden or Mike Bloomberg if Bernie was cheated out of the nomination. This time they meant it.
What had changed? People had learned from experience. When Bernie ended up actually campaigning for Hillary in 2016, many of his followers were outraged, but they did not perceive the Green Party as a viable alternative. In 2020, Green has become an option. In many ways, it was roughly the same Green Party as 2016. It was the Bernie people who had changed. THEY THEMSELVES WERE THE ALTERNATIVE! The Green Party wasn’t just some hopeless wilderness to wander in. Instead, it was and is something they could build themselves.
The DNC has been counting on the sheer awfulness of Trump to stifle any DemExit. But hold on Slippery Jim! People had been caught flat-footed when the Hope Obama had inspired turned to ashes in their mouths. Obama had promised healthcare, then turned around and turned people’s healthcare over to Big Pharma and the corporate health industry with their exorbitant co-pays and killer premiums and restrictions. Obama was revealed as just as much a warmonger as the Republicans had ever been. That betrayal by Obama proved the death blow to Hillary’s plans for a coronation — too many disgusted Democrats stayed home. They remembered.
The 2019 impeachment debacle was a clown show at best. Trump should have been impeached for gutting America’s Social Safety Net. He should have been put on a Nuremburg-style docket as a war criminal for his sanction-fueled reign of starvation in the Middle East and around the world. Instead, the Democrats trifled with trying to nail Trump on the kind of technicalities that the Democrats violated every day of the week and twice on Sundays. They competed to see who could be bigger jingoists than even the Republicans in cranking up the New Cold War.
Last week, almost in a rage, Joe Biden was saying how he would veto Medicare for All if it ever crossed his presidential desk. He is a straight-out Pentagon hawk. He charged that “the Russians want to see Trump reelected. And they like Bernie.” He ends his speeches with a rousing “Support Our Troops!”
The Democrats proved that you can get away with anything as long as you want. Until you can’t.
So now we are seeing a new beginning. The Green Party presidential primary season has been starved for cash, as Bernie so thoroughly sucked all the oxygen out of the donor pool. But after the second Super Tuesday sealed Bernie’s fate, donations started to pour in for the front-running Howie Hawkins campaign. When Bernie dropped out yesterday, phones began ringing all day for Hawkins and for the Green Party in general. Hawkins got over $8,000 in contributions in just that one day. People were asking, “How can I get involved?”
Twitter trending Hashtags (April 8):
In 2016, the DNC and the media fretted no end over what the Bernie people would do after the convention. In 2016 they got away relatively unscathed. This time around, they won’t.
Bernie’s campaigns gets credit for having planted seeds, bringing Socialism into the national dialogue, bringing Medicare for All and the Green New Deal into the mainstream dialogue. Bernie has energized millions.
Now let’s give some more credit where credit is due. The Green Party has worked as hard as ever to plow the soil tor those seeds — mastering ballot access law, running small local races, creating infrastructure, all that hard and not-so-exciting grunt work that keeps the torch burning.
At the same time, the Green Party has to do some stretching, rising to new challenges. We’ve gotten too used to being small. We’ve gotten comfortable with being amateurs. Now we have to take on the responsibility for being a party that makes a difference. Problems? Yeah. Those are just the kind of problems we’d love to have.
— Jeff Roby
April 9, 2020