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Progressive Hammer: We'd Rather Be a Hammer than Hillary's Nail

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Are you a peace activist, disgusted with the endless war on terror? A fighter for economic justice, alarmed by accelerating economic inequality? A climate hawk or anti-fracker, pressing for dangerously overdue climate action? An enemy of mass incarceration, and of racial disparity in applying the law? An opponent of universal spying, police militarization, and detainment without due process? An advocate for saner drug policy? Or an opponent of money in politics, knowing big-dollar interests bar the way to solving all the urgent social crises just listed?

From flickr.com/photos/51035815526@N01/2455875843/: .If all you have is a hammer....Hillary's view of progressives. Time to reverse roles.
.If all you have is a hammer....Hillary's view of progressives. Time to reverse roles.
(Image by danja.)
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If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, you are clearly a progressive-- and have we got a proposition for you! And even if you care about only one of two of these crises, you may find your force for action multiplied by joining a coalition of progressives uniting to address them all.

You'll notice one important thing: our definition of being a progressive had nothing to do with being a Democrat. Today's Democrats have shamelessly exploited the fact that the Democratic Party was once the home for most progressives by unjustly appropriating for themselves an honorable name today's party scarcely deserves. In fact, applying the word progressive to 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton amounts to outright blasphemy. Which brings us to our main point.

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As this Truth-out article--a good recent summary among many possible ones--clearly indicates, there's almost nothing progressive about Hillary Clinton. Then, what the hell business does she have being the foremost presidential candidate--indeed, virtually the uncontested presidential candidate--of a party that dares call itself progressive? With Hillary as Democrats' uncontested standard bearer, shouldn't we instead suspect that Democrats no longer have any place for progressives at all? Indeed, it's very telling that the most visible progressive offer to oppose Hillary has come not from any top-name progressive Democrat, but from independent Bernie Sanders--not a Democrat at all-- who would run as a Democrat only as a strategic necessity, in a corrupt two-party system, of being a viable presidential candidate. Which makes us strongly suspect that Democrat's vaunted "Warren wing"--the only thing holding progressives' interest in the party at all--is a hapless paper tiger. And we as progressives have a life-or-death interest in finding out.

But here's the good news: in our deep skepticism lies our strength. For if we, like the hard-core Left, had simply written Democrats off, they, with no prospect of obtaining our votes, would have no motive to please us. But instead--provided we unite in loudly advertising our skepticism--Democrats find themselves with plenty. For, though a minority among potential Democratic voters, we certainly have the numbers to cost them elections. And if we put the Warren wing to the test and it fails, we can amplify our power to cost Democrats elections by using social media--a thing we're quite adept at--to advertise that failure to the voting public.

See, the question facing us as progressives is whether we can elect anyone to office who'll represent us. Now, if you're a true progressive, someone who could answer yes to all the questions starting this article, you understand the life-or-death importance of that question. For not only do all progressive positions hang together by an inner logic of their own--that progressives view progress as making a decent life possible for all human beings--but the climate-change emergency has made fulfilling the progressive agenda more urgent for humanity ever. As Naomi Klein argues--convincingly and attractively--in This Changes Everything, there's an extremely sunny side to tackling our dire climate crisis: that the actions needed to meet our climate emergency automatically entail fulfilling some of progressives' fondest dreams for humanity. For without a world of peace, global cooperation, and widespread human empowerment (which entails vastly greater economic justice and equality), it will be simply impossible for humanity to meet its climate crisis. Which means that we urgently need people sharing the climate justice vision--which is essentially the progressive one--dominating global government. For humanity now faces its most radical fork in the road: a peaceful, vastly more progressive world or a Mad Max descent into climate Armageddon.

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With so much at stake, we can no longer tolerate a U.S. two-party system that doesn't represent progressives at all. Which is precisely what we get with today's hopelessly corporatist Republican Party and a Democratic Party dominated by Hillary Clinton and her oligarch donors. Democrats' Warren wing, in humanity's urgent crisis, offers the only prospect of progressives seizing control of the world's most powerful government anytime soon. And fortunately, both Warren and Bernie Sanders understand it will take a movement to forward their progressive agenda among Democrats. Unfortunately, they don't seem to understand how radical such a movement has to be.

That's where the Progressive Hammer campaign comes in. As Warren's and Sanders' potential best supporters, we must warn them in no uncertain terms that we see zero hope of progressives being represented under a Clinton presidency. And that therefore, we categorically refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. As the politicians with the most stake in building a powerful progressive movement, we leave it to Warren and Sanders what to do from there.

Probably the best result would be Warren running for president with Sanders' full support--a result easy to foresee, based on Sanders' own statements, if Warren agrees to run. Next best--though less likely to result in a progressive as president--would be Sanders (or some well-known progressive Democrat) running for president with Warren's full support. What is utterly unacceptable is that Warren both refuses to run and refuses to drop her support for Clinton in favor of Sanders or some progressive Democrat. In that case, we must warn Warren and Sanders we see only the prospect of a hideous bait-and-switch: Sanders running, losing the primaries without Warren's support, and throwing his support to an utterly unreformed and unrepentant Hillary Clinton, who will pick up undeserved legitimacy for her regressive agenda from both Sanders' support and her two-faced use of his rhetoric. We trust in the intelligence of Hillary's oligarch donors (even more, their long-established speed-dial coziness with "Hill and Bill") to guarantee her use of Sanders' rhetoric will be for betrayal--proving the Warren wing the "paper tiger" we'd warned it would be.

Given the hapless, unelectable status of America's third parties, the Warren wing and Sanders remain progressives' best hope. Warren and Sanders have correctly grasped that they need a popular movement behind them to gain the progressive agenda traction among deeply compromised Democrats. What they perhaps fail to grasp is that they need a movement fiercer and more radical than themselves--a threatening movement fully ready to cost Hillary Clinton an election--if they are not to prove progressive "paper tigers," useful idiots for a victorious (and regressive) Clinton. As more radical supporters, we could put some real ferocity in Warren's and Sanders' tiger--enough, one hopes, to bring Hillary and her donors to their knees.

That's the purpose of the Progressive Hammer campaign, an initiative of the Pitchforks Against Plutocracy movement. The campaign has a very simple purpose: to petition for a meeting between representatives of various progressive causes (like the ones mentioned in this article's opening paragraph) and both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, in order to warn them of our deep distrust--indeed, our repudiation--of Hillary Clinton. To warn them, in fact, that we see a Democratic Party with Hillary as its presidential candidate as deeply contemptuous of progressives, and that we intend to return the compliment by taking our votes elsewhere.

This might all seem shocking to those who've never seen progressives stand up to Democrats in such fashion, who've tolerated an insane amount of evil--like endless war, unconstitutional universal surveillance, and deadly climate foot-dragging--from "lesser of two evil" Democrats, all for fear of "those crazy Republicans." We frankly see today's Democrats as Republicans' enablers, who, by their own Deep State and corporate-sponsored evil, utterly lack the sane, principled moral "high ground" to challenge Republican evil. How can you loudly denounce behavior you wish to engage in yourself? Obama's refusal to prosecute the Bush war criminals--while continuing their unjustifiable "global war on terror" by sneakier means--is probably the most telling case in point. We have zero reason to expect better from war hawk Hillary Clinton.

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Humanity simply has too much at stake for progressives to tolerate any longer the levels of regressive evil we've seen from Democrats. We--whose actual policies the world needs most--have been burned too many times to take flattering rhetoric at face value and not look at actual record and oligarch donor ties. In these regards, Hillary Clinton is simply an "epic fail."

Progressives must now grow hard, like the forged steel of an industrial-strength hammer. For if we don't, we're sure to become Hillary Clinton's nail. If you grasp the stake humanity now has in no longer letting centrist Democrats pound us into place like a nail, please like our Facebook page, thereby indicating your support for our urgent campaign. And above all, sign our MoveOn petition to Warren and Sanders. In adding your signature, you help forge the "Progressive Hammer."

(Article changed on February 16, 2015 at 16:45)

(Article changed on February 16, 2015 at 18:52)

 

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Patrick Walker is co-founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy (RAP) and the Bernie or Bust movement it spawned. Before that, he cut his activist teeth with the anti-fracking and Occupy Scranton PA movements. No longer with RAP, he actively seeks (more...)
 

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