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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 11/1/15

To Understand the Presidential Primaries, Recognize the Impact of Movements

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Reprinted from Smirking Chimp

Co-written by Margaret Flowers

Republicans Vs Democrats
Republicans Vs Democrats
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Movements on the right and left are changing the political culture. Their impact can be seen in the Democratic and Republican primaries, but the corporate media does not report it.

Confusion reigns in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Huffington Post political reporters write, "It's Time to Admit: Nobody Knows Anything about the 2016 Campaign," now that "the old 'rules' of presidential politics no longer seem to apply."

Why the confusion? Media pundits have not given credit to the popular movements on both the right and left. This election cycle is showing the impact of social movements on the primary campaigns -- both in the polling results and in the candidates' rhetoric.

Tea Party and Occupy change the political culture

On the Republican side, Tea Party anger is showing itself. Republicans co-opted this movement, but its members are dissatisfied with elected Republicans and are turning to non-politicians. Why are they angry? Because the core of Washington politics continues: crony capitalism, wherein government writes the rules and doles out the cash for their big business donors.

One example of many was giving President Barack Obama fast-track trade authority to negotiate deals that undermine our democracy, economy, and sovereignty. Voters know that these crony capitalist trade deals, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is larger and farther-reaching than NAFTA, have been bad for the U.S. economy. Speaker John Boehner was forced to resign because of his heavy handedness in insisting Republicans support fast track for Obama and punishing those who led opposition to it.

The role of corporate Democrats has been evident in the Democratic Party for a long time. The Democratic Leadership Council, founded by Bill Clinton, Al Gore and others, was successful at destroying Howard Dean, an insurgent, but definitely not a radical one. The DLC has evolved into the Third Way Democrats, whose donors are funding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and will seek to ensure the defeat of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Democratic Party needs a complete overhaul away from its pro-corporate, "Third Way" stance if it wants to be in synch with the grassroots. The Occupy movement and its offshoots -- Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, OUR Walmart, Strike Debt, and United We Dream, among others -- hold views opposite from corporate Democrats.

Occupiers were never part of the Democratic Party because the Democrats are in bed with Wall Street, while Occupy saw Wall Street as a root of corruption. The Sanders campaign could not have existed without Occupy changing the corporate political culture. Clinton has had to mould her rhetoric to fit the new political reality. Again, the TPP is one example of many where the "gold standard" TPP has now become unacceptable to the former Secretary of State. Why? The movement that has developed against it is so broad that the TPP is "Toxic Political Poison."

More revolts are coming as Washington continues on the same corrupt path.

Movements and electoral politics

Mass movements need an electoral arm, one that comes out of the movement with candidates who are accountable to the movement. In fact, to help achieve that, Margaret Flowers, co-director of Popular Resistance, will be taking a leave of absence as she seeks the Green Party nomination for the U.S. Senate in Maryland.

The movement needs to build an alternative to challenge the United States' mirage elections and pro-corporate parties. U.S. elections consist of two corporate candidates running against each other. The two political parties rig the system to prevent insurgent challenges inside the duopoly and to stop third alternatives outside the duopoly.

Movements have a lot of work to do to create real democracy; basics include universal voter registration, uniform ballot access, verifiable voting systems and public funding of public elections. Much more needs to be done to create a representative democratic system that allows for minority parties to have a voice in the legislature, i.e., proportional representation, as well as a break from monopoly voting districts to protect the duopoly. We also need to build more direct democracy like voter initiatives and participatory budgeting. These are a few examples of how the U.S. badly needs to update its electoral system to catch up with world experience.

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Kevin Zeese is co-chair of Come Home America, www.ComeHomeAmerica.US which seeks to end U.S. militarism and empire. He is also co-director of Its Our Economy, www.ItsOurEconomy.US which seeks to democratize the economy and give people greater (more...)
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