By Dave Lindorff
A Sanders-Stein Green dream ticket or just a dream? Activists working to make it happen
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Philadelphia -- Bernie Sanders, to the consternation of critics in the Democratic Party, pundits in the corporate media, and purists on the hard left, has accomplished an amazing thing. Up against Hillary Clinton, surely the biggest, best-funded corporate-backed candidate the Democratic leadership has run since Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan in 1984 over three decades ago, the once obscure independent Vermont senator has battled Clinton to almost a draw, down by only some 319 delegates with nearly 900 to go (not counting the corrupt "super delegates" chosen for their fealty to party leaders, not by primary or caucus voting.)
By doing this well, as a proudly declared "democratic socialist" who on the stump has been denouncing the corruption of both the US political and economic systems, and as a candidate who has refused to take corporate money or money from big, powerful donors, instead successfully funding his campaign with only small two and three-digit donations from his supporters, Sanders has exposed not just his opponent, Hillary Clinton, but the entire Democratic Party leadership and most of its elected officials as nothing but hired corporate tools posing as progressive advocates of the people.
But now Sanders faces a truly momentous choice. Defeated by the combined assault of a pro-corporate mass media and by the machinations of the Democratic Party leadership -- machinations both long-established with the intent of defeating upstarts and outsiders, like front-loading conservative southern states in the primary schedule, and current, like scheduling only a few early candidate debates and then slotting them at times (like opposite the Super Bowl) when few would be watching them -- Sanders knows that barring some major surprise like a federal indictment of Clinton, a market collapse, or perhaps a leak of the transcripts of Clinton's highly-paid but still secret speeches to some of the nation's biggest banks, he is not going to win the Democratic nomination.
So does he, after spending months hammering home the reality that Clinton is the bought-and-paid candidate of the the banks, the arms industry, the oil industry and the medical-industrial complex, and after enduring endless lies about his own record spouted by Clinton and her surrogates, go ahead and endorse her as the party's standard bearer for the general election? Does he walk away and return quietly to Vermont? Or does he instead continue to fight for his "political revolution" by another route?
The first and even the second option would mean the demise of his so-called "political revolution." A Sanders endorsement of Clinton at this point would be a pathetic betrayal of all the energy and money that his fired-up backers have poured into this extraordinary campaign, and it would send a message that fighting against the nation's ruling elite is impossible, at least through the ballot box. It would also be pointless. Some 25-30 percent of Sanders backers, according to pollsters, have made it clear that they will not support Clinton no matter what -- including if Sanders were to endorse her. That in itself could be enough to doom her candidacy. Furthermore, after all his well-grounded attacks on the corrupt funding of her campaign, and of her horrific record as senator and secretary of state, any endorsement he made would be seen as a joke. He would spend the next three and a half months of the general election running from reporters asking him if he "takes back" the things he had said about her earlier -- her crooked speech fees from Goldman Sachs and other big banks, her default advocacy of disastrous wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, etc. Most seriously, endorsing Hillary after all that earnest, heartfelt campaigning, would be a huge blow to his millions of backers and his "movement."
Just shutting up and going home, with no endorsement for Clinton, would be almost as bad, leaving his movement leaderless and thoroughly demoralized, and he'd still be besieged by journalists seeking to have him either diss or endorse Clinton.
The third option Sanders has though, is to continue his run for president, but not as a Democrat. And that option could be explosive and even revolutionary this election year, depending on how he did it.