by Danny Haiphong
Even as the Democrats and Republicans put forward the two least popular politicians in the country, the U.S. Left “is mired in confusion as to what political direction should be taken.” Many of those who claim to be leftists supported the wars against Libya and Syria. But the Green Party has “consistently stood up against endless war, austerity, and racist state repression and for universal healthcare, education, and peace.”
A Materialist Analysis of Why I am Voting Green, and Why the Left Should Do the Same
by Danny Haiphong
“The Green Party is the only choice that possesses a truly social democratic agenda.”
I consider myself a Marxist. However, the term "Marxist" is merely a label. Those who ascribe to the tenets of Marxist thought must place their political affiliations within the context of the current historical moment. Anti-communism and imperialist hegemony have set back the struggle for a classless society to the point where much of the US left is mired in confusion as to what political direction should be taken to confront the challenges before us. One of these challenges is the 2016 elections. The radical left should plan on voting Green this November and building a mass movement around the demands put forward by the Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka campaign.
But the corporate assault on the left's collective consciousness has indeed made it difficult for the Green Party to grab the attention of the masses in the midst of the two-party capitalist circus. I myself argued two summers ago that the left in the United States should not bother with engaging the charade and instead take up a boycott of the Presidential elections. At that point, no movement had emerged to challenge the hegemony of the Democratic Party. The 2016 elections changed this dynamic. Suddenly, the forces in front of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Black Lives Matter movement agreed that both corporate candidates were unworthy of support.
“Hillary Clinton has drawn the entire ruling class into the Democratic Party tent.”
The energy of these movements was channeled into the Bernie Sanders campaign. Sanders ran as a Democrat. His domestic positions on education, healthcare, and income inequality were supported by masses of young voters. Sanders eventually betrayed his base in typical Democratic Party fashion, but not before it was revealed that the Democratic National Committee had worked diligently to undermine Sanders' ability to win the nomination. The majority of Sanders supporters and sympathizers have since indicated that they will not vote for Clinton when election day arrives.
So why vote for the Green Party in particular? The Green Party is the only choice that possesses a truly social democratic agenda. The Green Party is no Marxist vehicle and it doesn't attempt to be. What the Green Party does possess are dedicated, principled forces whose positions on war and peace, healthcare, and predatory capitalism threaten the US imperialist apparatus. That is why the two-party corporate duopoly finances its own corporation to bar the Green Party from entrance into the Presidential debates every four years.
In the 2016 elections in particular, a real chance was present to organize the 15 percent of pollsters necessary for the Green Party to participate in the corporately controlled debates. The opportunity was squandered by a left that remains weak and fractured. In the past, attempts to organize an election boycott campaign or support a communist party's Presidential nomination would have sufficed as election strategies to steer the disillusioned populace toward movement politics. However, the 2016 Presidential election is a watershed moment in US imperial history. Hillary Clinton has drawn the entire ruling class into the Democratic Party tent. This has occurred in the midst of the greatest crisis of legitimacy the US imperial state has ever faced.
“Both corporate media and capitalist enterprise supported Clinton's bid to steer the election in her favor.”
Sanders and Trump shook the foundation of the two-party corporate duopoly. The rise of Sanders and Trump made the Clinton option desirable only to the ruling class and its minions. Both corporate media and capitalist enterprise supported Clinton's bid to steer the election in her favor. Not only did the ruling class help her take out Sanders, but it also assisted Clinton in a cover up of the recent WikiLeaks email dump. In emails written by her campaign chair John Podesta, it was revealed that the Clinton campaign planned to use the Trump campaign as right-wing cannon fodder to present Clinton as more electable. Furthermore, the emails also uncovered how Clinton holds a "public" and "private" position on matters of Social Security and free trade. If left up to Clinton, Social Security retirement benefits and federal regulations of corporate activity would be swept into the dustbin of history.
Additionally, the corporate media and the Democratic Party have attempted to frame Donald Trump as a racist, misogynistic pig. According to the Democratic Party, Trump represents the "Worst of America." The slander of Trump has been an easy job. Trump himself provides all of the ammo. However, the condemnation of Trump is little more than a convenient distraction when it comes from the corporate Democrats. From Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, the Democratic Party has waged endless war, austerity, and racist state repression on behalf of its corporate masters. Hillary Clinton must resort to fear-mongering around Trump because neither her party nor her class has anything to offer the majority of the US electorate.
Conditions are thus ripe for an alternative political party to make a strong showing in this and future Presidential elections. The Green Party's success could inspire the millions of people disillusioned with both choices and show that a mass sentiment against the two-party corporate duopoly does indeed exist. It is the task of communists, radicals, and revolutionaries to organize the disaffected into a class conscious organization capable of stripping power from the ruling class. No such organization exists at the moment. The Green Party doesn't profess to be this organization, but its demands and platform are surely helpful if utilized to create the conditions required for such an organization to emerge.
“If left up to Clinton, Social Security retirement benefits and federal regulations of corporate activity would be swept into the dustbin of history.”
So when self-identified leftists make the claim that the left deserves better than Jill Stein, the urgent need for self-criticism becomes clear. One only needs to examine conditions in the US briefly to see that oppressed and working class people deserve better than the left. Of course, the left's current state is a reflection of the conditions from which it exists and the deep imperialist assault on the consciousness of the oppressed. However, the left has made critical errors in recent years. Many so-called revolutionary organizations have, for example, supported imperialist war in Libya and promoted the notion of lesser evil voting as cover for the Democratic Party. Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka have consistently stood up against endless war, austerity, and racist state repression and for universal healthcare, education, and peace. Yet there are some who want to claim that such a platform is not adequate or "revolutionary" enough.
It is time to shed this sectarian way of thinking. Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the US. She will inherit the eight years of Obama rule which have further weakened the left. But the 2016 elections have revealed that the deep crisis of the imperialist system is beginning to intersect with popular opposition to its policy manifestations. So don't fear Trump or organize resistance in a manner that gives the people a choice of either revolution or nothing at all. There is nothing counterrevolutionary about voting Green this November and organizing the movement on the streets around its core demands. As BAR’s Bruce Dixon noted last week, a five percent showing by the Green Party will put much needed federal funds into the control of movement organizers. A revolution is not a moment, it is a process. The crisis of imperialism will present many more moments to develop the revolutionary potential of the masses. The current opportunity to do so should not be allowed to dissipate, as the next moment could occur alongside a Hillary Clinton-led world war.
Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at [email protected]