By Sam. This article was first published on Vote Pact.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders and others need to be looking for a path to meaningful social and political change in the likely event that he does not win the Democratic Party nomination.
I believe that my proposal — VotePact.org — whereby “disenchanted Democrats” and “disenchanted Republicans” pair up and both vote for the third party or independent candidates of their choice is the best strategy for them.
Simply backing Hillary Clinton — no matter how hard you hold your nose — will not do: Voting for Clinton solidifies the notion that no matter how regressive a figure the Democratic Party nominates, progressives and others will vote for them. This mindset turns voters into serfs. While Clinton stresses what she allegedly has in common with Sanders supporters, her current rhetoric to the contrary, she is entrenched with the establishment in her ties to Wall Street, corporate power and hawkish U.S. foreign policy. There is every indication that a Clinton presidency would be a major boost to corporate and Wall Street control over the U.S. and the world — as well as a major boost to perpetual U.S. wars into the coming decades with quite certain devastating results. Voters need to have “somewhere to go” or they will continue to be a plaything of the elites.
Simply voting third party can backfire: Third party candidates have not forthrightly dealt with the real threat that their candidacies, given the way our election system is structured, may in effect help the establishment candidate a voter least likes. That is, if a present day Sanders supporters votes for Green candidate Jill Stein in the general election while they prefer Clinton to the Republican nominee, they could in effect be helping that Republican nominee, the dreaded “spoiler” problem.
This is a real problem and VotePact solves this problem because it does not change the balance between the establishment Democratic and Republican candidates — it in effect siphons off votes in pairs. This way, two friends don’t cancel out each others votes — one voting Republican and one voting Democrat. Instead, they build up independent candidates and send a real signal to the establishment by both voting for candidates that more closely reflect their beliefs — if done enough, it upends the political order. This requires work, the present day Sanders supporters will have to work with a would-be Republican voter they know and trust. But now is the time to do that. They can use their critique of Clinton to do that, instead of going down a path that may lead them to becoming a defacto Clinton apologist.
Not using VotePact could lead to further schisms, polarization and marginalization: That is, if progressives don’t adopt VotePact, there will be greater animosity between them and Clinton supporters, potentially further marginalizing them. If more progressives do adopt VotePact, it could be a path toward millions of people who had never considered voting for third party candidates to do so. That is, as VotePact pair ups happen, they become more likely to spread. If Green and other third party candidates on the other hand continue to follow their past models, they will likely remain in low single digits (though given the nature of this election, a third party candidate could take off). This despite the fact that many people who are not considering voting for them actually agree with them on the issues. In fact, many people who agree with them strongly on some issues end up becoming their greatest opponents, because they view them as a threat to a Republican becoming president.
There is a great imperative to use elections creatively: Whoever the Republican nominee is, there will likely be mass discontent on the Republican side. Would-be Republican voters will be searching for an alternative to being surfs themselves. The political establishment is banking on keeping voters locked into the two parties. They do this by feeding off of fear and hate. Progressives are endlessly told to hate the Republicans and conservatives and constantly told to hate Democrats. The negatives of Clinton and any likely Republican nominee show that people are going to be trapped into voting against candidates, not for them.
In this context, it is critical for Sanders supporters and other progressives and leftists to reach out to would be Republican voters they know — in their family, workplace, school, etc. VotePact is not just a voting strategy, it’s a method of political outreach — to the people you might disagree with most. Such political outreach, if the U.S. is going to genuinely become a better country, can be revolutionary in the most personal sense and is desperately needed. This leads to the would-be Democratic voter and would-be Republican voter together actually voting for third party or independent candidates they can meaningfully identify with.
VotePact helps movements: Many say there’s too much emphasis on elections. Fine. The objective condition is that the presidential election is happening and the mass of the public is engaged in that at some level. This is obviously not to say other forms of activism stop, but rather: Instead of cursing how the election is a distraction, how do we use it to reach people with a serious critique of establishment politics? How to we build towards a politics that can seriously challenge elites and their oligarchical instruments of economic repression and continuous wars? How do we get past an establishment with Clinton posing as progressive and then colluding with establishment Republicans against the interests of the majority? Part of the answer is we talk to would-be Republican voters in our lives — including the possibility of both dealing a blow to establishment politics by using VotePact.org.