What Would Sanity Do? How We Can Choose the Greater Good on Election Day

“You can count on Donald Trump to be unaccountable to anyone.” — Swami Beyondananda

When Trudy and I lived in a small town in the Texas Hill Country for eight years, the currency of connection with the locals at the post office was humor. Since jokes had to be clean and Baptist-appropriate, Aggie jokes were popular. Aggies, for you non-Texans, were the Texas A&M agricultural students who had a reputation for being “clue-deficient.”

In considering our current political shituation, an Aggie joke comes to mind.

An Aggie comes home unexpectedly and finds his wife in bed with his best friend. He goes to the bureau drawer, pulls out a gun and points it at his own head. The wife and friend laugh. The Aggie says, “What are you laughing at? YOU’RE NEXT!”

And my point?

Those angry Bernie supporters who are so turned off by Hillary that they plan to vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or even Darn Old Trump may be shooting themselves — and indeed the entire body politic — in the head.

First of all, I’ve been a “tie-dyed-in-the-wool” Bernie supporter throughout the campaign, and I still am. And I recognize Bernie’s deeper strategic purpose behind his presidential bid: to launch and empower a people’s movement to address the unchecked, unbalanced and unmitigated power of money in politics. In addressing this fundamental corruption, we address every other issue where the power of money has “trumped” (pun intended) common sense, common values and the wellbeing of the commonwealth.

Fracking … GMOs … The unquestioned power of the military industrial complex and the war machine … Climate change and the clear and present dangers of global warming … The promotion of fossil fuels and repression of renewables … An unhealthy, uncaring “health care” system where drug companies rule, and the Martin Shkreli’s and Mylan’s of the world can boast, “We upped our profits — up yours!” Sociopathic institutions like Wells Fargo punishing their employees for not being sociopaths …

All of this institutional insanity can only be overgrown through a grassroots movement like Our Revolution, the one Bernie launched in August. Ralph Nader didn’t turn his presidential campaign into a movement in 2000, and Obama failed to enroll millions of already-mobilized supporters in 2008. Nor have Jill Stein and the Green Party done much to ignite and sustain a movement.

Thanks to Bernie, there is such a movement now, one that will only grow in influence, and will give America not so much a new third party but a new FIRST party.

And here is the catch.

There is a simple first step in activating this plan that will build upon our political will for a just, fair, transparent and functional government … electing Hillary Clinton president.

Once elected, Hillary will be accountable to the Bernie faction, PARTICULARLY if they mobilize in great numbers as they “vote past” her for the greater good of all. Trump — as should be apparent by now — is accountable to no one. A Trump presidency will be disruptive, but NOT in the way that those who wish to confront the corporate state hope. It will foment toxic chaos, hatred, misunderstanding, and disinformation, as it already has. It will sweep into power the detritus of racism, sexism, and backwardism of all varieties. It will be a hole that may be too deep to dig out of. Trump has the potential and “poisonality” to make himself dictator. He mistakes temper for temperament, and his “demeanor” is … da meanest.

And if he is impeached? Then we will have President Mike Pence. And as the old camp song goes, jolly, jolly no pence, is pence enough for me.

It is time for rightfully disappointed and upset Bernie voters to think and act strategically so that we have a sustainable movement that begins with the advantage of having someone in office who is standing on a platform that supports our values and programs. This is the winning combination. A burgeoning movement of awakening voters, and a politician who REQUIRES their support for re-election.

And here is something else that progressive voters need to appreciate: We are in the majority.

There’s a very interesting interview with conservative political scientist Samuel Goldman  who says that hard-core Trump supporters comprise about 30% to 40% of the electorate who are enraged because they think they should be the majority — but they are not.

This explains the Republican obstructionism over the past 8 years, and why the Republican establishment had to choose Sarah Palin as VP in 2008. Of course, anyone who has seen Donald Trump in action, recognizes that he makes Sarah Palin look like Eleanor Roosevelt.

No wonder Gary Johnson now polls at 9%, where Jill Stein is at 3%. It’s as if the collective subconsciously realizes what a dangerous wild card Trump really is. Those smart Republicans I know who have been talking about voting for Trump — well, maybe after the first debate they are slinking or even running away. (I noticed that the Republicans trying to rationalize supporting Trump at the convention sounded a lot like battered wives covering for their husbands.)

So now is the time to dump Trumpism over the cliff so we can move on once and for all. Now is the time for we Berniecrats to vote our conscience and take responsibility as the MAJORITY. No, voting our conscience isn’t registering a “protest” vote for a candidate that cannot and will not win. It is looking beyond the frustration and disappointment, using what we have to work with — a binary, this-or-that vote — to choose the open door to positive possibilities. The Bernie revolution — the prize we need to keep our eye on — will only succeed if we take this small (yet great) strategic step now, so that we create the greater good in the future.

To those who ask, “Should I hold my nose and vote for Hillary?” I say, “Yes. Hold your nose, and open your eyes.”

A physician would recognize that when confronted with an acute condition and a chronic one, you address the acute one first … because if you don’t, you might not get a chance to deal with the chronic one. Donald Trump represents the acute danger of fascism, racism and divisiveness. Hillary represents the chronic condition of a corporate state beholden to the power of money. Let’s take on the first danger first, and we will have the strength and momentum to face the more entrenched one.

Let’s begin with a WIN, take credit for the win, and move ahead from there.

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Hillary’s Problem Isn’t Bernie – It’s Hillary

“The Republicans have sold their soul to the devil. The Democrats would never do anything like that. They’ve rented theirs instead.” — Swami Beyondananda

It used to be that elections in America were dismissed as popularity contests and beauty pageants. Not anymore. Should Trump and Hillary face off in November, the opposite would be true. We would have an unpopularity contest, and an ugly pageant.

And while the Hillary folks are complaining about the unreasonable “Bernie or Bust” people, the bare truth of the matter is that Hillary’s most formidable opponent is her own record. This isn’t even about her personality, or about her being a woman or any of that. It’s about what she has stood for over the past 20+ years, and what the Democratic Partyelectionbutton copy has become under the influence of the Clintons — undemocratic. It has abandoned blue-collar workers, and the economic wellbeing of the underclasses, and has become the party of a small, out-of-touch liberal elite. It has focused almost completely on “identity” issues — the symbolic rights of women, gays and minorities — while conveniently ignoring the “identical” issues we face, like clean air, water and soil, and an economy that works for all.

With the notable exception of the nuclear deal with Iran, neo-liberals like Hillary and Obama have largely continued the neocon foreign policy of Bush and Cheney. And if we move from the Middle East to our own “neighborhood”, the Americas, their record is even more disturbing. Shortly before she was assassinated, Honduran indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres called out Hillary for helping to install the regime that ended up killing her.

And while Hillary now says she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that would essentially allow multinational corporations to overrule the wishes and rights of American citizens, she has always been a supporter of such deals.

No wonder she wants to focus on that upstart Bernie raining on her party. Except “her” party is really OUR party …

The Democratic Central Committee’s lament that insurgents from the left will put Donald Trump into the oval office is reminiscent of blaming Ralph Nader for the Gore-Bush fiasco sixteen years ago. As their narrative goes, that pesky devil Nader insinuated himself into the election and took votes from Al Gore, putting Bush in the White House. This notion conveniently ignores three factors:

  1. Gore’s biggest obstacle in 2000 was having to run against not just George W. Bush, but Bill Clinton, whose narcissism and duplicity completely occupied and ruined the final four years of his presidency.
  2. The main reason why Nader was in the campaign in the first place — the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the “Battle in Seattle”, where more than 40,000 protestors showed up to oppose the World Trade Organization and globalization.  More than anything else, the Clinton administration’s response to the protests and their whole-hearted support for globalization (what Swami calls “gobble-ization”) set them apart from their constituency and led to the Nader candidacy in 2000.
  3. The Democrats’ own unwillingness to stand up to Republican bullies in Florida and demand a full and complete recount of all precincts.

All of these add up to what Hillary is up against now. She represents — whether she likes it or not — the Democrats’ complicity in the corrupt plutocracy that has replaced rule of, by and for the people. Instead of being able to represent working folks against the excesses of capitalism, she is having to fancy dance her own support for the “rule of gold” over the Golden Rule. While Trump can fully embracing being a narcissistic asshole and use it to his advantage, Hillary has to pretend she isn’t the poster child for the status quo — the same status quo that so many Americans have come to despise.

With Trump gaining on Hillary every day and Sanders beating him by ten points, maybe it’s Hillary who needs to step aside.

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How “Pravda” Reported Bernie’s Win in Michigan

“Mainstream media is a brainwashing machine stuck on spin.”

— Swami Beyondananda

Those of you who are old enough probably remember that the “official” Soviet press was called Pravda, which in Russian means “truth”. We Americans always had a good chuckle out of that obviously Orwellian term. Of course what we didn’t know was that inside the Soviet Union, one of their jokes was:

  1. What’s the difference between Pravda and the American press?
  2. The Soviet citizens know they are being lied to.

Ha-ha.bernie-sanders-portrait-03

Fortunately, there is an upwising afoot and more and more Americans recognize the sad truth that our press is more interested in crowd control than truth. And the crowd is getting harder to control. Consider that the energy this election cycle is around the two candidates that have NOT been handpicked by the power structure, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Yes, Trump — or as I prefer to call him T-Rump — is to me the last gasp of the dominate-or-be-dominated paradigm. He is the past. He is the invitation to “look back” and be turned into a pillar of assault. He is scary to the Republicans not only because he could destroy that entire party, not just because they recognize him as a fascist menace, but also as a wild card he could say anything, and that “anything” might be disruptive to the carefully-manufactured consent that passes for “democracy” in our sadly isolated country.

Bernie — as I have been saying all along — is the future. His worldview is about relatedness, not separation, about authenticity and congruence. Hillary — like Bill — is the “Clintessential” politics as usual. The power structure — the military industrial complex, the neoliberal neocons, agribusiness, etc., etc. — loves Hillary. Bernie? He can bern as far as they’re concerned.

Maybe that’s why the Washington Post ran 16 anti-Bernie articles in 16 hours, kind of like Pravda might have.

So from here on in, I will refer to the mainstream American press as “Pravda”.

To clarify, I am not being cynical here. Quite the opposite. In order to hold the space of “upwising”, to moving forward in awareness, functionality and a world of thrival for all, we must open ourselves to the truth, even the unpleasant parts. I was amazed — but not surprised — a few months ago when a well-meaning progressive said to me, “Well, if 911 were an inside job I would have heard about it on NPR.”

If we turn our noses up at the “ignoranuses” voting for T-Rump, then surely we should hold ourselves to a higher standard as well — in recognizing some of the inconvenient truths about the mainstream press. For this self-education, I recommend two sources that both get high “marks” in my book. First, the courageous journalist Mark Crispin Miller (http://markcrispinmiller.com/) who stood alone in reporting the stolen election in 2004 in his book Fooled Again.

The other Mark is Mark Robinowitz, whose website Peak Choice (http://www.peakchoice.org/) offers some key new distinctions in how to discern the difference between good information, disinformation, misinformation and missing information. Check out his website, and you’ll understand how partial truths are allowed to “hang out there” while the deepest truths are hidden.

Again, this not about cynicism. It’s about awakening!

And finally, how DID Pravda spin Bernie’s victory in Michigan?

Here is the New York Times lead line after announcing Sanders’ victory: “Mr. Sanders’s upset in Michigan threatened to prolong the Democratic campaign.”

Imagine that. The extent of the Sanders “threat” is to prolong the campaign.

The only thing they can extract from that victory to feed the intelligentsia who read the Times is that his victory is a temporary, minor inconvenience on the way to Hillary’s “let them eat cake-walk” to the nomination. Why don’t they just confess that voters themselves are minor inconveniences, a necessary evil in a “democracy”?

Bernie’s victory in Michigan is perhaps his most important one yet. It’s a shift of momentum and it’s about a key blue state. With the unions and the well-established Democratic Party infrastructure, they could have gone for Hillary. A short while ago, Hillary was ahead by 25 points.

And while there may have been some Harry Reid hanky-panky in Nevada, and some truly disturbing interference in Massachusetts (See this and this) it is going to take more than lying and cheating to stop the Sanders express.

Get ready for a wild ride.

_______________________

Support Bernie’s campaign here: https://go.berniesanders.com/page/content/splash

And … go ahead. PATRONIZE ME!

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