Time for a Progressive Third Party

Millions of Americans are unhappy with their choices for president in this year’s election. According to Real Clear Politics’ average of all the latest polls, Donald Trump has an unfavorable rating of just over 60%, with 33.8% favorable. Hillary Clinton doesn’t fair that much better with an unfavorable rating of 53.1% and 43% favorable.

While those numbers will likely change before November, the fact that the country’s election process could result in such unpopular candidates receiving the nominations of our two major parties is a sad statement on the health of our democracy. Meanwhile, the candidate with the highest favorable ratings, Bernie Sanders (50% positive and only 36.8% unfavorable), has been eliminated from the race. One could reasonably expect that in a democracy with an open and fair electoral process the candidate with the highest favorable rating would still be running with a good chance of winning. Then again, many have questioned the fairness of the Democratic primary process which awarded the nomination to Sec. Clinton.

Nevertheless, despite being the most popular candidate, Sanders has endorsed Clinton rather than run on a third party ticket. His primary reason is his belief that we must do everything we can to defeat the very dangerous Trump candidacy. A third-party run by Sanders could result in a Trump presidency. Understandably, Sanders is not willing to take that chance.

But what if there were an already viable third party with an established structure in every state? Would a Sanders run make more sense then? Aren’t there more than two major political viewpoints in this country that deserve the voters’ consideration on election day?

After all, who do Trump and Clinton really represent? Trump’s supporters are the base of the Republican Party, mostly male, white working class, social conservatives. Some of the Establishment Republican businesspeople, on the other hand, have deserted Trump for Clinton or Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Clinton’s support comes mainly from the Establishment wing of the Democratic Party along with minority voters and some aforementioned professional Republicans who cannot stomach Trump. Meanwhile, progressives and many younger voters believe they have been robbed of any real choice since their candidate, Sanders, has left the race.

At the same time, many Independents, a great number of whom supported Sanders in the primaries, also feel they have no viable choice. When Independents could vote in this year’s Democratic primaries and caucuses, Sanders beat Clinton, often by large margins. Therefore, it is a reasonable possibility that Sanders could beat Clinton and Trump in a three-way race. The combination of progressives, the youth, new voters, a sizable portion of the Democratic base and many Independents could put Sanders over the top, assuming the elections were run fairly.

As Clinton solicits Big Money donations and disaffected Republicans’ votes, it seems highly unlikely that her policies, assuming she wins the presidency, will meet the progressive standards set forth by the Sanders campaign. Consequently, Sanders is preparing to launch Our Revolution to advance his proposals for a better future for all Americans. To create that future, a broad-based movement to establish a viable third party must begin now.

Bruce Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America: Working Together To Revive Our Democracy. For more information, go to breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.

 

 

 

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The Trust Issue: Hillary and the TPP

First she was for it as Sec. of State. In fact, Sec. Clinton was a strong proponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But then, candidate Clinton came out against the TPP. She reversed her position when she observed how her primary campaign rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, had generated a great deal of support due to his opposition to the TPP and other free trade pacts that harmed American workers.

While Clinton still maintains she is against the TPP, her surrogates on the Democratic Party platform committee just blocked an amendment to the platform that would have stated formal opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These are people Clinton appointed to the committee. It appears that either Clinton cannot control her own appointees, which does not seem likely; or, she is not willing to fight for own position on the TPP, which indicates her opposition is weak in contrast to her public statements. In either case, is this the kind of leadership we want in our president?

To be blunt about it: Can we trust Hillary Clinton when she takes a stand on issues important to America’s workforce?

Clinton knows that the majority of Democrats, in Congress and around the country, oppose the TPP. Moreover, she understands that her party’s failure to strongly reject it will hand the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who opposes the deal, a political advantage with working Americans who the Democrats claim to represent. As Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) argued recently, “If Clinton’s representatives on the full, 187-member platform committee in Orlando once again keep the Democratic Party from opposing the TPP, her responsibility for that outcome will be clear….”

 

A Big Boost for Sanders and a Huge Blow to Clinton

In case you missed it, a few days ago 170 of America’s leading economists endorsed Sen. Sanders’ plan to reform Wall Street. Here’s some of what they said:

In our view, Sanders’ plan for comprehensive financial reform is critical for avoiding another ‘too-big-to-fail’ financial crisis. The Senator is correct that the biggest banks must be broken up and that a new 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking, must be enacted….The only way to contain Wall Street’s excesses is with reforms sufficiently bold and public they can’t be watered down. That’s why we support Senator Sanders’s plans for busting up the biggest banks and resurrecting a modernized version of Glass-Steagall.

In addition, these leading economists noted: Secretary Hillary Clinton’s more modest proposals do not go far enough. They call for a bit more oversight and a few new charges on shadow banking activity, but they leave intact the titanic financial conglomerates that practice most shadow banking. As a result, her plan does not adequately reduce the serious risks our financial system poses to the American economy and to individual Americans. Given the size and political power of Wall Street, her proposals would only invite more dilution and finagle. (See http://www.politicususa.com/2016/01/14/170-economists-bernie-sanders-plan-reform-wall-st-rein-greed.html)

These economists couldn’t be more clear. If Americans do not want to risk another financial crisis like the 2008 meltdown, the candidate that will provide the best protection against such a calamity is Sen. Sanders. And the reason is quite obvious. Unlike Secretary Clinton, Sen. Sanders is not tied to Wall Street. Many of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors are investment bankers. She cannot both satisfy their interests and safeguard the American people at the same time. When a future President Clinton is dealing with critical financial issues facing our nation, can we trust her to make decisions that are in the public’s best interests over those that favor the Big Money that helped her get elected, and she will need for her re-election?

We all know the answer to that question. Hillary Clinton is part of the Establishment that uses its money and influence to get what it wants from Washington at the expense of the American people. Her Wall Street reform proposals don’t go far enough because she cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds her. But, we, the people, cannot afford more establishment politics that serve Big Money and provide little benefit for the rest of us. We need the strong leadership that Sen. Sanders offers on this and many other issues. And, we will only get that leadership if we all go out and work to ensure his election.

For more on the problem of Big Money in politics, visit http://www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com and read Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 – This is Our Time

It’s a new year with so much on the horizon. And, so much uncertainty. Who will win the Republican presidential nomination? As the actual nominating process is about to begin in earnest, it seems five or six candidates are still viable contenders. In fact, we may not know until their national convention next summer who will actually be the Republican standard bearer.

While the media and the Democratic establishment believe Hillary Clinton has the  nomination all but wrapped up, Bernie Sanders’ campaign continues to build momentum and support. So, it’s quite possible Sanders could pull a populist upset and not only win the nomination, but also be our next president. (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/bernie-sanders-will-be-sworn-in-as-americas-45th-president_b_8909356.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592.)

I think, however, the bigger question is: What will you and I do to help determine the outcome of this pivotal election? Over our lifetime, whether you are 18 or 80, the prevailing trend in American electoral politics has been that fewer and fewer people participate in the process of selecting the leaders of our government, the people who control our lives and our country in very significant, even critical, ways.

Of course, we have many good reasons for not participating. Our political system is corrupt. Our votes don’t matter. It’s a waste of time and energy. It’s fixed. The establishment always wins. Why bother?

I must admit: It’s hard to argue with someone who holds that point of view. But this year just could be different. The anti-establishment contingent may be so big in 2016 that the old order finally gets thrown out. Trump and Cruz appear to have captured the majority of Republican primary voters. And, the Sanders campaign claims to have more individual financial supporters, over than 2.5 million, than anyone in the history of American politics. The voters are very upset.

Since I came of age in the early Sixties, we have witnessed one American tragedy after another. From the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations to the catastrophic blunders of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. As if that wasn’t enough, millions of people lost their jobs and/or their homes in the Great Recession of 2008 due to Wall Street fraud and irregularities. And, if that wasn’t enough, our government bailed the big bankers out with out tax money. Still, if that wasn’t enough, we stood by and let them get away with it. Today, those bankers are doing better than ever while most Americans have a difficult time just holding their own. The voters are very, very angry.

I saw “The Big Short” the other day. I highly recommend it. The movie clearly lays out exactly how Wall Street and the big mortgage lenders knowingly and fraudulently created a housing bubble that had to burst. Their greed and disregard for their fellow Americans threw the country into the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. “The Big Short” should be required viewing for all Americans.

But, perhaps the greatest tragedy is we, the American people, did not demand that those fraudulent bankers be prosecuted and held responsible. Just like we did not demand that the Bush Administration be held to account for the lies that got our country into the costly, needless Iraq War.

What is wrong with us? Are we Americans so weak, helpless or apathetic that we will allow Big Money to overrun our government and do anything it damn well pleases regardless of the consequences for our country and the rest of us? Are we too afraid? Do we have no self-respect?

Yes, Big Money is a powerful force to overcome. But are we going to succumb to serving its interests to the great harm of most Americans without a fight for what we know is right? Millions of Americans have fought and died since our country was born so that, as Lincoln vowed at Gettysburg, “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

This is Our Time. We cannot allow a plutocracy by and for the very wealthy to destroy democracy during our watch. Working together we can revive democracy in America. Read Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America and visit http://www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com for how you can help.

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Can Sanders Beat Hillary?

If you depend on the nightly network news for information about the 2016 presidential campaign, you might not even know that Bernie Sanders is running for president. For the first nine months of 2015, Hillary Clinton received 80% of the time while Sanders got 6% of the evening news devoted to the Democratic race.

According to a recent study, Donald Trump received 234 minutes of coverage on the three network, evening news shows compared to 10 minutes for Sanders. ABC, for example, had 261 minutes devoted to election campaigns this year. Sanders received less than one minute of that time.

Clearly, corporate America is working for the Clinton campaign and against Sanders. The pundits say that Sanders can’t win. But, by and large, they also work for corporate America, who doesn’t want to see Sanders in the White House. This is just another glaring example of why we need to break Big Money’s grip on America. (Visit breakingbigmoneysgrip.com for what you can do to take control away from Big Money.)

Nevertheless, in the last seven months or so, Sanders has gone from 1% to 32% support among non-white voters. He leads Clinton in New Hampshire by 14%, while Hillary leads in Iowa by only 5% according to a recent CBS survey. In South Carolina, on the other hand, Clinton’s lead is more than 30 percentage points. Consequently, Sanders still has an uphill road to the Democratic nomination.

However, there is a bright light ahead for Sanders. Western Illinois University has been conducting a mock election one year before the national election ever since 1975. They have chosen the winning candidate every time, including people who were still very dark horses at the time like Jimmy Carter (for the 1976 election) and Barack Obama (for the 2008 election).

In fact, in 2007 when they held their mock election, Hillary Clinton was beating Obama in the polls by as much, if not more, than she is now ahead of Bernie Sanders. Yet, Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Obama just as the Western Illinois mock election had predicted a year earlier.

The university held its mock election for next year last month. But even though Clinton is now leading Sanders in the polls, she didn’t win the mock election. The next president, according to the mock election, will be Bernie Sanders.

 

May the Force Be with Us!

Most everyone is probably aware that the new Star Wars movie opened last weekend to record crowds. What many may not know yet is that at the same time, the US Rebel Alliance also entered the American landscape.

Utilizing the Star Wars theme, the US Rebel Alliance is taking on the Evil Empire, that is, Big Money in politics. Google it and see for yourself. This is very exciting news. We now have one of the most popular cultural icons on the side of breaking Big Money’s grip on America. The Force is with us!

Here’s what the US Rebel Alliance is all about:
“We’re a non-partisan network of Americans harnessing the cultural energy surrounding Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens to fight for our Republic by helping to loosen big money’s tightly-held grip over politics. The next installment of the most popular piece of American pop culture in the last 40 years is the perfect opportunity to fight political inequality by rising up against the Empire of Big Money.
Through the power of the two biggest blockbusters in the United States—Star Wars and the 2016 Election—the #maytheforcebewithUS campaign is building a Rebel Alliance of pro-democracy activists, Star Wars fans, non-profit groups, and celebrities to fight the threat of Big Money to the Republic.
We are dedicated to the proposition that every person’s voice in our Republic is of equal value. We envision a nation where those most connected to their communities become our public officials—not a small group of professional politicians who are beholden to a few super wealthy donors. We must restore balance to the Force of our Democracy.”

I hope you will go to the Alliance’s website and take the Jedi Pledge to work to restore balance to our Democracy. Then, get a copy of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America for strategies on how we can work together to revive democracy in our nation.

Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America Book Launch

Tomorrow is the big day. I’m launching my book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, at 3 p.m. at the Santa Fe downtown library, 145 Washington Ave.  I’ll be reading some excerpts, leading a discussion and signing books.

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While writing and publishing my first book is a major milestone in my life, I have mixed emotions. Of course, I’m excited. But, I’m also afraid that the difficult part of this journey is just beginning. It seems that writing a book is easy compared to marketing and selling it.

I’m trying to be non-attached from it all. But that’s not easy either. Afterall, I did spend the better part of the last two and half years on this project. Moreover, I’m not just trying to sell a book. In fact, my primary objective is to motivate people to join in building a movement to revive democracy in America. My book is just a vehicle for that greater goal.

So, I am invested in the outcome. The more people who read the book, the more potential for building a successful Democracy Movement and the greater possibility of our taking control of the country away from Big Money and putting it in the hands of a truly representative government.

The book makes the case for why a mass movement involving a broad alliance of people and civic organizations from across the political spectrum is urgently needed to save the United States from becoming a plutocracy, a country run by, and for the benefit of, the very wealthy. At the same time, it provides a viable strategy for achieving this mission.

While my book delivers this message, it is up to all of us to rise up and make it happen. As I note in Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, this is a monumental task. However, if you examine our country’s history, you will see that mass movements have played a very major role in making social progress in America. From the abolitionists and women suffragettes to the labor unionists and gay and lesbian rights activists, mass movements have greatly changed the American landscape.

Now it is our turn to make history and build a better future for all Americans. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Hope you’ll join me on Sunday at the Santa Fe main library at 3 p.m.

If you can’t make it, be sure to visit my website: breakingbigmoneysgrip.com for more information and how to order the book.