New Orleans Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has now taken 16 states while Clinton has taken 20, including what would normally in politics be called a landslide in Wisconsin by 56.5 to 43.2 besting Hillary Clinton in all but a couple of counties in the state. Everyone who is anyone seems to know that Sanders campaign is a loser, yet he keeps winning, and in March he raised $44 million from mostly small donors compared to Clinton’s $29.5 million for the same month, as she was in the process of being anointed. The delegate count is close now after Wisconsin as well. Clinton has a significant lead at 1279 to 1027, and has to be favored to win, but the Democratic elite also has a big, fat foot on the scale with 469 super delegates from the party bigwigs and electeds compared to Sanders teeny little 31 supers. Grassroots Democrats are voting with both their dollars and their feet, but rather than the Democratic elite wringing their hands and pretending they are learning something, the way we see on the Republican side, they seem to be just hiding and hunkering down.
Progressives, the young, and a bunch of others are still stubbornly pulling the lever for Sanders and digging deep because they are trying to be heard, rather than ignored. Sure Clinton has had to make some adjustments. She’s crawfishing on trade and the TPP, though it is hard to believe her heart is in it. She’s claimed she would really make it hard on frackers, while Sanders says that he would just say no. The chattering class claims it will get better for Clinton in coming elections in New York, but common sense says that California could be a climb for her.
Nonetheless, despite Sanders calls for a revolution, if, and when, Clinton is the nominee, that cry becomes a whine, because from the coronation at the convention onward Clinton knows the only option progressives will have to continue the protest against the elite, Washington consensus will be to stay home. Looking at Trump, Cruz, or Kasich, she and her advisers have to believe they can yell, “Supreme Court!” and “Look over there!” enough to scare most progressive folks to soldier over and vote.
Progressives get taken advantage of time and time again, because we have no exit strategy. We have not been willing to embrace a new party and step up with the discipline and commitment it takes to prove we could win with a multi-year election strategy to insert a progressive alternative into political equation. Liberals claim we are afraid to “waste” our votes, but the lessons from multi-party contests around the globe is the opposite: progressive parties do force change even from conservative forces, especially if they build a solid local base. Building an alternative party is a progressive strategy of investing our votes in the future, rather than wasting them now.
The Working Family Party floated a creative strategy some time ago arguing that in a number of states, despite fusion being banned, it was likely legal to fuse on an alternative party line on the presidential ballot. If that strategy were implemented widely and survived politically and legally, it would allow alternative parties to rise at both the state and federal level, either separately or amalgamating state formations, while still “protecting” federal votes during the building process.
The Sanders’ campaign proves that our voters and our votes are there and ready. What are we waiting for? It’s time to do the work, rather than just voting our protests.