By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Are Jill Stein and the Greens carrying sludge for Democrats? Doesn’t the failure to seek recounts in any state Hillary won prove she and the Greens are being played? Is there a difference between the ways Republicans and Democrats steal elections? Didn’t the Green Party itself refuse to endorse the recount? And what’s this about alleging “foreign operators” being responsible for electoral fraud? Surely Greens don’t believe that nonsense.
Are Jill Stein and the Green Party Being Played By Democrats? Will the Recount Split the Green Party?
By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Why did the Stein campaign only seek recounts in three states where Trump won? Doesn’t this make the Green Party look like tools of the Democrats? Why were recounts not sought in states where Democrats won too?
The notion that “even-handedness” should have led to Stein challenging results in states won by both parties in the recent election fails to take into account the nature and patterns of electoral fraud in the US. While Republicans and Democrats both tamper with election results, they do so at differing points in the election cycle, and Republicans, for reasons we’ll explain, use methods unavailable to Democrats.
Republicans make Democratic votes and voters disappear by the hundreds of thousands in general elections.
For the last two decades the demographic numbers among the most dependable Republican constituencies have been in decline. Republican strategists answered this in two ways.
The first way is by relentlessly gerrymandering the drawing of state legislative and congressional maps that turn minorities of Republican voters into majorities of Republican state legislators and congressmen.
The second Republican answer to their own declining numbers has been the enactment of briar patch of state laws and administrative practices ranging from restrictions on voter registration drives, voter ID laws in many states, cutbacks on early voting, purges to eliminate tens of thousands of eligible voters at a time, and a bewildering array of voting machine tricks from sending all the newer machines to Republican leaning areas and all the older and malfunctioning ones to Democratic neighborhoods to apparent tampering with voting machine hardware and software, and more. Republican consultants even employ private databases like CrossCheck which leverage felony disenfranchisement laws to strike people with names similar to those of an alleged felon from the rolls in multiple states.
None of these tactics are employed by Democrats. To begin with Democrats only control about a third of state legislatures, governorships and secretaries of state, so they lack the ability to pass laws and enact administrative procedures to selectively disenfranchise Republicans in many states. And even if they wanted to, what would a law to make it more difficult for Republican voters to register, to vote or have their votes counted look like? The answer is that no such laws have been enacted or even proposed by Democrats anywhere.
The usual Democrat response to Republican electoral fraud is to lean on their demographic advantage and concentrate on raising registration and turnout. When Democrats succeed in doing this they often win. Hillary couldn’t pull that off, so Trump was able to ““win” this election with fewer votes than Romney lost with in 2012.
A method of vote stealing that Republicans and Democrats DO have in common is singling out a class of voters who are issued provisional or "placebo" ballots which are counted late or not at all, and eventually discarded. But while Republicans use this tactic on core Democratic constituencies in November elections, Democrats seem to use it only during their own primary elections against leftish opponents like Bernie Sanders.
While Democrats rarely seem to commit electoral fraud against Republicans in general elections, they commonly steal votes from opposition candidates in Democratic primary elections.
This is why the Stein campaign didn’t seek recounts in states where Hillary won. There were no signs pointing to fraud, no big divergence between exit polls, the surveys of voters leaving the polls, and announced results. Democrats simply don’t steal from Republicans very often. If you want to find electoral fraud perpetrated by Democrats the place to look is in Democratic primary elections. The deadlines for primary challenges and recounts are of course long past, and under the corrupt and rigged US legal system Greens would have no standing to challenge results in a Democratic primary anyway.
The campaign of Bernie Sanders DID have standing to challenge Democratic primary election skulduggery in California, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois and other places. But they didn’t. Apparently staying in the club with Hillary and the DNC was more important than standing up for the people who voted for him, or the principles they believed in. So there were no challenges.
Stein’s whole election campaign cost $3.5 million, but she raised $7 million for this three state recount, much of it from Democrats. That’s evidence of a sellout right there. It means she and perhaps the Green Party will be controlled by Democratic funders, doesn’t it?
No, it doesn’t. Broadly there are two kinds of contributors to the Democratic party. The biggest bucks come from the one-percenters, from Wall Street, military contractors, Silicon Valley, Big Ag, Big Insurance, Big Real Estate and so on. These players drop five, six and seven figures at time in individual and bundled contributions to candidates, PACs, leadership funds and the Democratic party. The other category of contributors to Democratic campaigns are small donor networks marshaled and managed by outfits like DailyKos and MoveOn.Org,, where individuals kick in $10, $20, $50 at a time or even $100 in multiple installments over a single election cycle.
Sometimes these two classes of Democratic donors go in opposite directions. It was the small donors who provided the bulk of donations to the Bernie Sanders campaign, and they seem to account for the $7 million the Stein campaign is raising and spending in the recount effort. The Stein campaign claims that the average contribution to the recount effort is $47, spread across roughly 150,000 donors, most of whom have not given to Green candidates or had any meaningful contact with Greens before this.
When Boeing, Google, Raytheon drop half a million in your lap they let you know precisely what they expect for their investment. But the dynamic is rather different with a small donor network. Though they were referred to Stein and the Greens by liberal Democrats, once they donate we have the opportunity to cultivate our own relationships with these people. If Bernie Sanders’ message was powerful simply because it was permitted to go out over corporate media, we have to imagine ours is persuasive enough to convert a lot of liberals, provided we can only talk to them through channels not controlled by corporate power, namely email, direct mail and meatspace. We can’t be afraid to talk to liberals. We’ll never have a revolution if we can’t flip a lot of these.
The Green Party’s national steering committee opposed the recount. Doesn’t this mean the Stein campaign is going rogue, is not being responsible to the party which gave it birth?
This is partly true. The Stein campaign consulted the Green Party’s national steering committee before embarking on the recount. When the steering committee in a split decision declined to endorse it they went ahead anyway. But the “going rogue” metaphor implies there is some formal structure or agreement or chain of command between the Green Party and the campaigns which carry its name and endorsement. Sadly there isn’t. Green campaigns in the US, just like those of Republicans and Democrats are not directly or formally responsible to the state or national parties which endorse them and whose names they carry.
What’s more, the Stein campaign’s meager $3.5 million budget is at least 15 times what the national Green Party and all the state parties together raised in the same period. So it’s not like the state and national Green parties are actually conducting a whole lot of local activity across the country and carrying the Stein campaign on their backs. It’s closer to being the other way around.
The problem is the way the Green party is currently organized. It’s a national federation of state parties that doesn’t really require much of its state level affiliates. There is no common definition of who party members are, and consequently party officers, however highly motivated they might be, are not accountable to any significant base of members. In most cases there is no stable source of party funding like membership dues to fund offices, organizers or any of the activities which you’d expect to see in a bona fide party of the left.
There are a number of Greens around the country (I’m one of them) intent on transforming their party into a dues-paying membership based organization with a more explicitly socialist bent which can fund offices, organizers and carry on some of the social movement activities which US leftists have been accustomed to leaving in the hands of nonprofits funded by the one percent. But this is for the months to come. Right now, it’s difficult to argue that the Green national steering committee has a whole lot more small d democratic legitimacy than the Stein campaign.
If this is a movement and we’re building a real party we have to get used to handling disagreements without pronouncing anathema on one another.
Didn’t Jill Stein’s initial recount filing in Wisconsin include the indefensible Democratic trope about “foreign actors” intervening in the US election?
Language about “foreign operators” appeared in two places in the Wisconsin filing, and in the affadavit of one or more of the the expert witnesses summoned in support of the recount petition.
The fact that Stein and her campaign have not explicitly repudiated this nonsense coming from their expert witnesses, and that it appears in the original filing does give the appearance that Jill and the Greens are willing to spread the self-serving lies of the Democratic party who’ve blamed the Russians for every leaked DNC email, for Edward Snowden, and for their failure to win the election just past.
This impression has significantly damaged the reputations of the Green party and Jill’s campaign among many principled activists. Jill and her team absolutely know the electoral fixers are on this side of the water. The lie about foreign influence does not appear on the Michigan and Pennsylvania recount filings.
For the sake of the movement and the party Jill and her team need to make absolutely clear that they do not subscribe to any theory that places the blame for electoral fraud on the other side of the water. BAR contacted Jill Stein, who affirmed that clear language affirming this will appear on her web site some time tonight, along with an acknowledgement that inclusion of the “foreign operators” trope in the original Wisconsin petition was an error committed in haste that does not reflect the position of the Green Party or the Stein campaign.
There are a lot of Greens and others who don’t support this recount. Will this cause a split or massive walkout in the Green Party?
Let’s hope not. The Green party at this point isn’t big enough for a really massive anything. Substantial maybe, but not massive. Those of us who currently identify as party activists need to embrace what Jodi Dean has called the spirit of party, in which we can vehemently disagree with one another, and still work together to accomplish the movement’s goals in a network of mutual accountability. This is an obligation that individual left activists don’t necessarily have.
Individual activists can in good conscience just throw rocks. They can sketch out at great length what they think is wrong, who they imagine is responsible, maybe call a few choice names and their job is over. I’ve thrown a few rocks in my time. I don’t mean to say many of the criticisms are dishonest or even incorrect, just to say that fixing the problem, bringing a new kind of party into existence is way more complicated than merely cataloging the inevitable false starts and errors. Building a new kind of left political party will be a daunting challenge. We are indebted to those who call attention to errors, lapses, mistakes and inconsistencies, and even more so to those who’ll roll up their sleeves to help correct the mistakes and get it right.