Next week, as a celebration of the anniversary of its publication, and as a gift to all the great people I’ve met this year as part of this peaceful political revolution, Double Happiness will be free in all formats: e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.
(While supplies last of course, and there will be a nominal shipping cost for the paperback and hardcover since those will be physically mailed to you).
Double Happiness is my life-changing story of teaching and traveling in China, of exploring a foreign world and discovering my own heart and mind. The messages are adventure, international understanding, and personal discovery. My hope is that this story and these message will be useful and welcome for you or those in your community as we move on from this troubling election season and into the work that we need to do to create a world of peace and prosperity for all.
Logistics on getting the book will be straightforward, and I’ll post details next week here, on my blog, on facebook, and on twitter.
Consider this a small token of my appreciation.
If you’re taking part in the Peaceful Revolution here in the United States and around the world, thank you for your beautiful work this year, for inspiring me to do more, and for the promise of what we can do together.
It has been a crazy election year: dramatic at times, ridiculous, and often infuriating. It has been a year in which millions have been extraordinarily inspired and utterly betrayed. We’ve had unexpected, refreshing moments of political truth-telling, and we’ve witnessed unexpected, mind-numbing lies in the corporate media.
So. Here we are, rolling into November, time for decisions. Below are my voting suggestions for this election, with local endorsements for the Bay Area, California. There are actually quite a few inspiring things to vote on here in the Golden State this year, and I’ve researched many of them.
In a separate piece today, I’ve summarized some of the explosive Wikileaks emails and shared independent media articles covering what the leaked emails tell us and why they’re important.
President of the United States. Yes, there’s this election. Maybe you’ve heard about it. I won’t write a ton more here. Suffice it to say, there is no reason for an informed, rational progressive to vote for anyone other than Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. Jill Stein is a courageous, intelligent, and principled person who would make our country and planet better places. And since our flawed electoral system essentially disenfranchises us Californians from electing the president anyway, the logical thing to do is to send the message you want to send. For hard-headed strategists, there are Four Reasons Pragmatic Progressives are Supporting Jill Stein. For idealists considering the long game, This Election is the Perfect Storm for a Party: Jill Stein and the Green Party. And after all the Wikileaks, election fraud, and the corrupt behavior in Philadelphia (which I personally witnessed), we know that Nixonian Corruption in the DNC Makes It Time to Build a New Party. At the end of the day, you get to choose what your vote — your one most sacred message — communicates to this troubled democracy. You can send the message that you approve of a rigged primary and expansive collusion with the media and Wall Street banks. Or you can send a message that you want to expand world peace not war, call for genuine democracy rather than approve election fraud, urge aggressive action on climate change rather than build more pipelines, demand fair global trade rather than accept corporate rule via the TPP, and take a stand for racial and class justice down to the local level. I’m communicating with this troubled democracy by voting for Jill Stein.
State Measure 51 — State School Bond. Yes. This is a massive bond issue that will, as bond measures generally do, give tons of taxpayer money to big banks and generally cost the people way more than necessary for the services it provides. This measure also is written in a way that gives way too much to real estate developers who increase suburban sprawl. There’s actually a lot wrong with this one, and it’s a close call. But all things considered, given that it will provide up to $8 billion to K-12 and community college construction and modernization, it’s worth supporting.
State Measure 52 — MediCal. Hospital fees to fund MediCal. Yes. This measure continues funneling funds to MediCal from some fees paid by HMOs and large hospitals, and it raises the requirement to a two-thirds vote for the legislature to change it. It’s unusual to attempt to legislature-proof something like this, via ballot measure, but this is certainly worthwhile on balance.
State Measure 53 — Revenue Bonds. Require voter approval for revenue bonds. No. Poorly worded measure here that attempts to prevent the state from issuing more bonds without voter approval. Nearly everyone in state government opposes this, as it would hinder future state initiatives.
Measure 54 — Text of Bills Online. Require publication of bills online before passage. Yes. This requires laws in Sacramento to be online and open for public consultation for at least 72 hours being passed. While there is some concern this 72 hour period will enable more corporate lobbying time for important, emergency legislation, the benefits to deeper democracy far outweigh the potential costs.
Measure 55 — Health & Schools. Extend tax on the rich for better education and healthcare. Yes. This is structured better than Measure 51, in that this directly uses small fees and progressive taxes to redistribute enormous corporate profits or personal income to help society as a whole. Everyone — rich and poor alike — benefit when society as a whole is fairer and when all people are healthier and better educated.
Measure 56 — Cigarettes. Tax cigarettes to fund healthcare. Yes. This has worked everywhere it’s been tried to reduce social and personal harm from tobacco products. California’s tax on cigarettes is actually relatively low. Raising it and using proceeds for harm reduction is not just the right idea here, this should be the model we use for all harmful (but popular) substances.
Measure 57 — More parole. Allow parole for nonviolent offenders, juvenile sentencing for juveniles. Yes. This is sensible reform to laws that too aggressively try juveniles as adults, and that are too restrictive on parole for nonviolent offenders. State prisons are mandated to cut populations, and this does it in a sane and relatively fair way.
Measure 58 — English in Schools. Multilingual learning as well as English proficiency. Yes. While there are some studies that show benefits to fluency that come from more interaction between speakers and learners of English in schools, there are more significant benefits to allowing children to have some culture-specific education.
Measure 59 — Overturn Citizens Utd. State to urge amendment to overturn. YES! Anyone paying attention to politics in 2016 knows that we badly need to reduce corporate money in politics. This measure, while partly symbolic, helps us get there. Perhaps the dominant political issue of our time is the power corporations wield over our society. Starting with an obscure 1888 Supreme Court ruling that deemed corporations “persons” for the sake of constitutional protection, right up to today with rulings like Citizens Utd equating money with political speech, corporations have utilized the formidable power our democracy grants to people without having the real concerns that actual people have, like raising children, going on vacations, serving on juries, going to jail if they break the law, needing clean water to drink and air to breathe, etc. The beauty of this measure is that it doesn’t only petition a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens Utd; it also declares corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech. They aren’t, and it isn’t. Democracy is priceless. Vote yes.
Measure 60 — Condoms in porn. Require prophylactic use in adult film. No. This is the bizarre one on the ballot. There’s always one. On the surface it sounds like a good idea — common sense — to require condoms. But it turns out no one really wants this change. The industry, studios, and actors all oppose this as they suggest the industry will be forced underground and to other states and countries, when now only two states — California and New Hampshire — have legal, regulated adult film industries.
Measure 61 — Medication Costs. State to pay less for prescription drugs. YES! Keep your eye on this gem. An obvious idea: Prevent the state from paying more for prescription drugs than paid by the Dept of Veteran Affairs — a federal office known for negotiating prices. This has Bernie Sanders written all over it. Not only is it something he would think of, but he has supported it passionately. He chaired the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is very familiar with how they negotiate drug prices. This will help patients throughout the state pay less for drugs; this will help the state itself pay less for drugs; and this will set a precedent for the rest of the country. Of course it will be loudly, loudly opposed by the big pharmaceutical corporations, so watch out for giant colorful smear posters to arrive in your mailbox regularly. Vote Yes.
Measure 62 — End death penalty. Replace with life without parole. YES! There are so many reasons to abolish the death penalty: logical, financial, philosophical, and spiritual reasons. For me, for the sake of this voting guide, it comes down to one single belief: our government shouldn’t be in the business of killing people. All problems flow from that. This is a rare chance to vote for something truly meaningful. Vote Yes.
Measure 63 — Ammunition. Forbid large ammunition magazines. No. This sounds like a good idea — no one needs large ammunition magazines or assault weapons in today’s America — and the country would be better if they didn’t exist. But this prohibition was already signed into law as SB 1446, and this new measure has a huge loophole — active and retired law enforcement officers are exempted, even for their personal weapons. Why do retired police need large magazines or assault weapons any more than anyone else? In a year in which police have repeatedly abused their license to kill, where black and brown people have been callously shot with impunity by trigger-happy police, we need to send a message that #BlackLivesMatter, that police do not get some special lifetime right to outgun and kill. Vote in solidarity: No.
Measure 64 — Pot. Legalize marijuana for people over 21. YES. Prohibition doesn’t work. The time has come to end the insanity and allow adult recreational use of marijuana. Much as with Meas. 56, above, the right way to deal with social harm that comes from the use of popular (but harmful) substances is to regulate and tax, and use tax proceeds to reduce harm. Study after study, of course, finds abuse of marijuana is generally less harmful than abuse of alcohol or tobacco, but in all cases the truth remains: regulate rather than prohibit. Additional benefits will be a significant reduction in organized crime, gang activity, and Mexican cartel power, as there will be one less thing for criminals to control and fight over.
Measure 65 — Bags #1. Charge for carryout bags at groceries to benefit organizations. No. This is a crafty and deceitful one. The language sounds good — sell carryout bags in groceries and send the proceeds to government organizations and environmental nonprofits. But the real intent here of the Plastic corporations who bankrolled this is to get groceries to oppose the plastic bag bans, such as Measure 67 (below). By forcing groceries to sell bags but then send every cent of proceeds to the government, the Plastic corporations think they can get us back to the bad old days of millions of plastic bags flooding our lands and waterways.
Measure 66 — Prevent Death Sentence Appeals. Rework and accelerate death row. NO. Most people on death row weren’t able to afford attorneys and had to rely on overworked court-appointed defenders. The appeal process is about the only recourse that wrongly-convicted people have to attempt to avoid being wrongly killed by the government. It would be “cruel and unusual” to eliminate or restrict the right to appeal. Vote for Meas. 62, above, to end the death penalty, then there’s no need to even listen to sponsors of this abhorrent “Kill Em Quicker” bill, as we save the most money and time by simply doing the right thing and not carrying out capital punishment at all.
Measure 67 — Bags #2. Ban single-use plastic bags. Yes. Studies show these bans work where they’ve been implemented, which is now in many parts of the Bay Area. The East Bay Times, for instance, found that San Jose saw trash go down by 59% on city streets, 89% in storm drains, and 60% in creeks. Reduce, reuse, recycle. We don’t need plastic single-use bags anymore, and we certainly don’t need the millions of them piling up and polluting our streets, rivers, and oceans. Vote yes on 67, no on 65.
US Senator Loretta Sanchez (D) v Kamala Harris (D) — Because of the undemocratic Prop 14, passed in 2010, we now have top-two elections, and we have races like this, where you have to choose between two members of the same party. Could this be a further power grab by the DNC? Could be, my friend, could be. At any rate, we have Sanchez and Harris, both fairly typical Democrats in overall policy. They both sound a bit more progressive than they are. I’ve personally watched Kamala Harris climb from SF District Attorney up to Attorney General, making many deals with people I don’t trust, and I don’t trust her much either, but she’s the better alternative here, slightly better on genuine progressive issues. Vote Kamala Harris.
Prop A1 — Affordable Housing. Alameda County. This will help somewhat with nearly intractable issue of housing for homeless, veterans, seniors, and disabled. Yes.
Prop B1 — Schools. Alameda City. Continue $.32/sqft tax, not to exceed $8k. This shouldn’t have the maximum, as that’s a regressive flaw that disproportionately taxes small properties and homeowners more than giant big box retailers, etc. But I’ll be voting Yes.
Prop C1 — AC Transit Tax. Keep taking $8/parcel in a tax for AC transit. AC Transit needs to break through to a new level of service and infrastructure. This isn’t much, but helps. Vote Yes.
Prop RR — BART Bond. New $3.5B BART bond, to replace cars and tracks and increase (slightly) service. Yes.
State Senate (9th Dist) — Nancy Skinner (D) vs Sandre Swanson (D) Another top two contest here between two Democrats jockeying for position in our (nearly) one-party state. This one’s a tossup, as both are reasonably liberal but neither is a true progressive. Swanson brings more labor experience and more experience with urban issues facing Oakland, and he would be the first African American elected to the State Senate from Northern California in decades. Skinner brings more energy to education, climate change, and renewable energy, and is, on balance, a bit more progressive across the board. I’m giving a slight edge here to her. Vote Nancy Skinner.
State Sen (11th) — Jane Kim (D) vs Scott Wiener (D) Along withwith State Measure 61 (above), the other thing Bernie Sanders has been campaigning for in the Bay Area this month is Jane Kim, a genuine progressive and a civil rights attorney seeking her first election to the state office. She’s taking on an establishment candidate in Scott Wiener, and she absolutely deserves your vote and support and perhaps even a donation. Vote for the great Jane Kim.
State Assembly (15th) — Tony Thurmond (D) vs Claire Chiara (R) Not much to say here. Thurmond is the incumbent and isn’t facing much competition from Chiara here.Tony Thurmond.
State Assembly (18th) — Rob Bonta (D) vs Slonsky Breault (R) I spent ten hot minutes with Rob Bonta, as he’s my State Rep, at a coffeehouse during his “cafe time,” and found him to be intelligent and articulate, but not nearly progressive enough (yet) to represent fairly this area of Oakland and Alameda. He didn’t endorse Sanders and wasn’t particularly clear why, vaguely mentioning guns without really knowing Sanders position on gun reform. He’s made a few strides in the right direction during his term, however, and he’s better than Breault, so vote Rob Bonta.
US Representative (12th) — Preston Picus (D) vs Nancy Pelosi (D) In order for this democracy of ours to work (if it ever will), we need true progressives to represent the few truly progressive districts of our country. Picus is a true Sanders-style Progressive who deserves everyone’s support. Pelosi is no progressive — she passes for a lukewarm liberal in comparison to Congress of course — but if it weren’t for her deeply entrenched family connections she would have lost this seat years ago and someone much more progressive would be representing the great city by the bay. Vote for democracy and for sustainability and for the 99%, vote for Preston Picus.
US Rep (14th) — Jackie Speier (D) vs Angel Cardenas (R) Not much of a contest here. The decent Speier is in a safe seat. Trivia fact: She actually survived the Jonestown massacre in Guyana. No doubt she’ll be fine with or without your vote.
US Rep (13th) — Sue Caro (R) vs Barbara Lee (D) Well, Barbara Lee. She’s my representative in Congress and out there in the wilds of Washington DC, she passes just fine as a progressive. If I weren’t watching her so closely, I’d probably like her a lot. I was a big fan of her lone, courageous vote against the war in Afghanistan. I won’t get into the reasons I’m not her biggest fan, but I do question her role in the progressive movement if she didn’t have the courage to endorse Bernie. Nonetheless, I will vote for Barbara Lee.
That’s the big stuff. The following is some important littler stuff, a selection of local city offices and measures that I’m watching. I‘ll just mention them briefly.
OAKLAND / ALAMEDA CITY
Alameda School Board — Pick 3: Williams, Dailey, Hettich, Harris, Popalardo, Mckereghan. I’m voting for Dailey, McKereghan, and Williams.
Alameda City Council — Pick 2: Vella, Daysog, Roloff, Ashcraft, Tam. You’d think we’d have some great candidates here, but I don’t see anyone amazing, so I’m voting for the newbies, Roloff and Vella, to give some new energy a chance on the board.
Alameda Auditor — Kearney vs. Mcmahon Close one here, but I’m staying with the incumbent, Kearney.
Alameda Treasurer — Kennedy vs. Bratzler Not significant competition here. I’m voting for Kennedy.
K1 — AMP Money Transfer to City. Keep taking $3.7M from AMP & giving to city. No. While this has been a great agreement for the city for years, at this point AMP has a better record of moving to renewable energy than does the city council, and I would prefer AMP gets to keep their money and use it to build a sustainable microgrid for the island and encourage more solar and wind energy in the city.
L1 — City-written Rent Control This is “Less” Rent Control. No. M1 — Tenant-written Rent Control This is “More” Rent Control. Yes. A very contentious local issue, as rampant rent hikes have been decimating longtime city residents, sending them by the hundreds packing for other parts of the Bay Area or farther away. As new homeowners, and potential landlords someday, my wife and I had to think about this carefully. The city-written version has quite a few concessions to large landlords and doesn’t do enough really to preserve current tenants. The tenant-written version almost goes too far, as it regulates single home rentals nearly the same as massive profit-driven 25-unit apartment buildings, and contains muscular eviction protections. I would have preferred a few more exemptions to M1 for small landlords, but on balance, M1 is the legislation that will better preserve Alameda’s hometown character while also providing affordable housing in the dynamic (and sometimes insane) Bay Area housing world.
Judge, Office #1 — Barbara Thomas vs Scott Jackson Vote for the smarter and better-qualified Scott Jackson.
AC Transit Director (At Large) — Chris Peeples vs Dollene Jones Peeples has been around a long time, doesn’t own a car, and rides the bus everyday. He’s decent. But we need new blood at AC Transit, we need to move more swiftly to electric buses and improve scheduling and bunching. Jones is a 26-year AC Transit driver and has shown passion and interest in reform. Dollene Jones.
East Bay Parks Director (Ward 2) Here I recommend going with Dee Rosario.
East Bay Parks Director (Ward 4) I’m going with the young Daniel Chesmore, who brings youth, energy, and perspective as an LGBT person of color, to the parks commission.
SAN FRANCISCO CITY
A — New Schools. Yes B — City College $20 parcel tax. Yes C — Affordable Housing. Yes D — Special Elections for vacant seats Yes E — City streets, sidewalks, and trees Yes F — 16yo vote in city elections! Yes G — Police oversight already Yes H — Office of public advocate Yes I — Help seniors and adults w disabilities Yes J — Homelessness & Transit plan No This gives the mayor too much power over homelessness and other social service budgets. K — Sales tax for special interests No Connected to J (above) and won’t be any good. L — Supes oversee SFMTA YES It’s about time. M — Housing and Development commission for supes Yes Mayor is too conservative for this role N — Noncitizen parents to vote in schoolboard races Yes This is fair if they’re parents with children in the schools. O — Candlestick and Hunters Pt redevelopment No Why not more recreational or public benefit development here? Seems like a land grab. P — Competitive bidding for Affordable Housing No Won’t help and poorly written. Q — Prohibit tents on sidewalks No Criminalizes homelessness. R — Neighborhood crime gestapo No S — Hotels and food taxes for Moscone Ctr Yes T — Restrict campaign contributions YES U — Real estate developers define ‘affordable’ No V — Put tax on sugar beverages Yes W — Tax properties over $5M Yes X — Preserve industrial arts, biz, and community spaces in soma Yes D1 Supervisor — Sandra Lee Fewer D3 Supervisor — Aaron Peskin D5 Supervisor — Dean Preston D7 Supervisor — Norman Yee D9 Supervisor — Hillary Ronen D11 Supervisor — Rank: #1 Francisco Herrera, #2 Kim Alvarenga School Board — Mark Sanchez and Matt Haney College Board — Rafael Mandelman, Tom Temprano, Shanell Williams Superior Court Judge — Victor Hwang
============ MONTEREY COUNTY Just giving a random shout out to: Measure Z — Ban Fracking YES! Despite the two corporate presidential candidates’ head-in-the-sand positions, we do need to end fracking, shale gas extraction, and burning of coal now, this year, to get on track to fight climate change. There is a movement sweeping the country to ban fracking, and it’s important. Fracking pollutes vast quantities of water, causes earthquakes, and releases methane and other greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Join the movement if you’re in Monterey Co.
Well, that’s what I’ve got. Those are my suggestions. Vote how you see fit. It remains crucial to vote, despite evidence of fraud in many states. If your vote is counted fairly, you’re helping elect progressive candidates and issues; if your vote isn’t counted fairly, you’re providing another piece of evidence.
And regardless of how you vote — and who wins — we all need to do more than vote. Envision the world you want for all of us, think globally, and act locally. That is the peaceful revolution.
Yes, I’ll be watching Bernie’s kickoff speech for #OurRevolution tonight. You can watch it streaming online or at one of over 2,000 watch parties around the country.
Below is a video to inspire us for tonight.
When I watch Bernie’s speech, I’ll be listening for these policy principles, which I believe we all must stand for as American human beings at this point:
immediate transition to 100% renewable energy
no TPP (world corporate supremacy ‘treaty’)
fair elections with paper ballots and open source counting software
racial justice, including community policing
universal single-payer healthcare
tuition-free public university and cancelling student debt
an end to for-profit aggressive wars
overturning Citizens United
Jill Stein stands for all of these things, so I will be pleased if he mentions her name.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t stand for any of these things, so it will be disappointing if he mentions either of their names. Neither of these candidates should be anywhere near something called Our Revolution, as the peaceful revolution from its outset has been about a world not ruled by their corporate/fascist agendas.
The most important race happening right now is probably Tim Canova taking on Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in Florida. Many of us have been supporting Canova passionately. Certainly Bernie must mention Canova and call for us to help him displace the corrupt Wasserman-Schultz.
This tortoise-and-hare Democratic Primary would be even closer if it weren’t for election suppression and fraud.
While the majority of the pledged delegates during the first half of the Democratic Primary went to Hillary Clinton, here in the second half of the primary Bernie Sanders has won the majority of the delegates. The Sanders campaign has actually been winning for two months now, and it is his campaign that is seen now as building momentum towards the Democratic Convention and the general election.
There’s an important difference between “winning” and “being ahead.” Long distance runners know this well. In the proverbial animal marathon that featured a tortoise and a hare, one competitor was ahead for most of the race, but it was the other runner who was winning as the race went into its final stretch. We all know who won that race.
Long distance runners will tell you, winning doesn’t require being in the lead at all times. Winning requires executing a winning strategy and running faster than your opponent at key times.
Bernie Sanders is running faster than Hillary Clinton right now, winning more delegates, and gaining more in popularity, in the polls, and in public perception. He recently won the Indiana and West Virginia primaries, too, and in coming days and weeks he could win Oregon, New Jersey, and California, as well.
Pervasive Election Irregularities Slowing One Candidate Down
As has been documented widely, this Democratic Primary has been plagued with more voter suppression and outright fraud than any in recent memory. Whether that’s because there really is more election crime going on in 2016, or if it’s simply because we have more cases documented by microbloggers, independent websites, and alternative media — I don’t know.
What I do know is that election crime has been far more prevalent on the Democratic side than on the Republican side, and it has almost always negatively impacted the Sanders campaign.
While the corporate media (CNN, New York Times, Fox, MSNBC, etc.) tend to report on election crime immediately after a given primary, these news sources tend to go silent within a few days and not stay with the story. They typically surrender their headlines to something about Donald Trump. Many alternative sources, on the other hand, understand that this is a crucial story. What could be more important than improper administration of the elections themselves? For instance, Redacted Tonight, a news-comedy show in the tradition of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, has been brilliant, funny, and brutally honest about election crime this time around. In this clip, host Lee Camp calls out both New York and Chicago elections boards for crimes and incompetence (apologies for salty language):
According to some analyses, if we had had completely fair elections in New York and Arizona — let alone in Missouri, Alabama, Maryland, and Illinois — we might be talking about a tied delegate race right now, or even a slight lead for Sanders if you consider how momentum and media perceptions shift after victories. Bernie might not only be running faster today, he might also be ahead.
Who Has the Winning Strategy?
However, we don’t know whether New York— or any of the other states under investigation — will count their provisional ballots or address the countless election crimes. So we’re left with the delegate count as it is today: 1,440 for Sanders and 1,713 for Clinton.
Clinton clearly is the preferred candidate among elite members of the Democratic National Committee — the politicians and lobbyists who write the rules for the televised debates (and who seem to have fixed the Nevada state convention this past weekend). The corporate media also has shown a marked preference for the Clinton campaign, giving it far more detailed and positive coverage than the Sanders campaign, sometimes even calling her the “presumptive nominee.”
Nevertheless, by most other measures, her campaign is losing momentum right now. She is liked by fewer and fewer voters with each passing month and is considered untrustworthy by majorities in many state primaries, according to exit polls. Her rallies are sparsely attended in comparison to Bernie’s and even to Trump’s. Worse still, by not calling out the voter suppression and fraud that she has benefited from, she has alienated many — perhaps most — Sanders supporters. She could follow through on her stated intention to ‘unite the party’ by calling for every caucus, primary, and convention to be fair and free of suppression, but she remains remarkably silent on the matter. Her campaign couldn’t single-handedly remedy all election issues, of course, but by speaking out about it she could remedy some of the issues, join with the Sanders campaign to rectify others, and reestablish trust with everyday Democratic voters by simply trying.
But she hasn’t done this, and it’s moved beyond a curiosity to a genuine problem exacerbating a perception that she is untrustworthy. Going into the general election without the Democratic base behind you is certainly not a “winning strategy,” regardless of whether you start that race slightly ahead or slightly behind on the track.
Is Bernie Sanders a ‘Dark Horse’?
Meanwhile, the momentum Bernie Sanders has built in the Democratic Primary will translate directly into momentum in the general election.
Sanders still is packing rallies with thousands and thousands of supporters — and not just in enthusiastic states like California, where 27,000 came out on little notice to fill a Sacramento stadium, but even in supposedly apathetic states like Indiana and longtime red states like North Dakota.
Poll after poll finds Sanders far ahead of Trump, while Hillary Clinton is in a statistical dead heat with Trump in many polls. Indeed, when independents are allowed to vote — and independents now nearly constitute the majority of American voters — Bernie not only outpolls Clinton and Trump in head-to-head contests, but he wins putative three-way races as well. His approval numbers are also better than President Obama’s.
Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the country right now.
He’s “winning,” but can he pull ahead?
Neither Bernie nor Hillary Will Cross the Finish Line
Even if you’re running faster than your opponent at the end of the race, you lose if your opponent crosses the finish line first. Does Bernie Sanders have enough of the race left to catch Hillary Clinton after her hare-like big early wins in the south, back before Sanders was well known?
It’s hard to say. Both candidates need 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination. That’s the finish line. Neither of them is likely to reach this number before the race ends. That’s right — it’s essentially impossible for either Sanders or Clinton to reach 2,383 delegates by the time the race ends on June 14 in the final primary in Washington, D.C.
I’ll repeat: neither candidate is going to cross the finish line.
It will be the other delegates—the “superdelegates” — who determine the winner of this race, and the superdelegates don’t vote until July 25. Thus the winner will not be determined during the race but rather six weeks after the race ends. One of the runners will be crowned, not on their own merits, but rather by preference of special members of the DNC who get a vote at the convention.
Which Candidate is Executing a Winning Strategy?
When the superdelegates weigh the options, who’s “ahead” at the time of the convention might be less important than who’s “winning.” If Clinton starts winning most of the primaries again, if she can establish a solid lead over Trump in the polls, if she can survive the intensifying FBI investigation over divulging classified documents, and if she can somehow become more likeable and electable to independents, she will likely be given the nomination, particularly given her deep connections with the Democratic Party elite.
On the other hand, if Clinton has been losing for several months, as is the case today, and if Bernie is still packing his rallies like a rock star, raising money by the millions, and holding double-digit leads over Donald Trump in the polls — as he does today — he could be named the winner of the race.
At the end of the day — and at the end of this preliminary race — the DNC isn’t stupid. They want to win in November. If the candidate with the momentum, the money, the record, the approval ratings, and the grassroots movement behind him remains slightly “behind” in pledged delegates but really just seems to have run out of race track, many superdelegates will choose him as the nominee.
Bernie Sanders is certainly running faster right now. He also just might be the one executing a winning strategy.
Historical perspective on Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
Who is the real Democrat — Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton? Why are fringe candidates getting all of the attention this year? Who are the moderates?
These questions can all be answered by understanding something that has been unfolding for forty years: The center of American politics has shifted steadily to the right. Today neither party is even remotely similar to what it was when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, for example, first entered politics.
In the late 1970s, as large corporations turned into transnational giants, they pumped huge amounts of cash into the political system. This largesse lured, first, the Republican Party, in the 80s, followed by the Democratic Party in the 90s, and precipitated a rightward political shift as both parties rewrote their policies to compete for the same corporate contributions.
Before this, from 1932–1976, the Democratic Party as a whole was far more progressive. The issues and approaches advocated today by Bernie Sanders were considered mainstream Democratic ideas by Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, and even many moderate Republicans. It was common to support strict financial regulation, liberal immigration, social services for the poor, and progressive tax policies.
Hillary Clinton’s stances, while fluid during this election cycle, are historically most in tune with classical Republican ideas, as advocated by Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and others. As a young woman, she volunteered for the conservative Barry Goldwater, and while today she’s become liberal on some social issues, she’s generally at home with moderate conservative ideas, such as a hawkish military, strict immigration laws, reduced welfare, laissez-faire rules for Wall Street, and international business treaties that favor large corporations. One group started a petition this year asking Clinton to run as a Republican, suggesting that while she is “liberal on some issues, on a wide range of important issues she lands squarely as a moderate conservative.”
As for the Republican candidates still running in the primary this year — Donald Trump, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz — they are all to the right of Goldwater, and they would have been considered unelectable extremists and distant outliers on the spectrum before 1996.
The Rise of Bernie Sanders
Without Bernie Sanders, we would have the political spectrum above. Hillary Clinton and the conservative wing of the Democratic Party have moved rightward into a corporate centrist (neoliberal) position. This position has a certain amount of flexibility on social issues but adheres strictly to unregulated capitalism and favors international trade deals that benefit large corporations rather than domestic jobs, the environment, or fair wage or labor standards. The Republican Party has shifted to the right too, towards policies that benefit no one but the ultra-wealthy and the largest transnational corporations; they cloak their goals in racist or evangelical language to appeal to voters, but their regressive policies generally aim to restrict or even cancel laws and rights won by the working classes in earlier eras.
This rightward drift has pushed the “center” to a spot between Hillary Clinton and John Kasich. This “center” is to the right of even Social Security, abortion rights, labor unions, and quality public high schools. With that “center,” Republicans who wish to be considered “strong conservatives” compete for ground far out to the right, where little civic sanity is left. With that “center,” true progressive issues are never even discussed.
The arrival of Bernie Sanders heralds a potential rebalancing of the spectrum:
Bernie’s policies appear to us to be radical and unusual only because the Democratic Party has moved so far to the right since he entered politics. In 1970, universal healthcare, peace, and a livable minimum wage were bread-and-butter down-the-middle planks of the Democratic Party platform.
What We Are Voting On
Therefore in 2016 we are voting not just for a candidate, but for the very political debate we want to have over the next two decades. I support Bernie Sanders not only because he’s right on the issues I care most about — climate change, campaign finance, income inequality, racial justice, and militarism — but because electing him will reestablish the left in our political discourse for a generation.
Resetting the spectrum will restart an American political discourse where the left and right are more balanced representations of classical liberal and conservative thinking, and where racist reactionaries are no longer considered American thought leaders. This will enable action on pressing issues like the environment, campaign finance, and livable wages.
If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, her victory will push our political center further right and normalize a crazy cadre of right-wingers as the holders of modern American conservatism.
If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, his victory will be a genuine win for the American political left, but more importantly it will reset our political discourse and pave the way for sensible debate on the most important issues of our time.