By Mike Gravel , July 6, 2016
At this point Bernie’s has several options. One: He could hang in there, as it currently appears, and press for changes in Democratic Party rules and in the party platform at the convention in Philadelphia. The latter is a futile exercise since convention platforms have little or no effect on policy decisions in Congress.
Two: Assuming Bernie is intent on the presidency (I hope he is) and cannot persuade a sufficient number of super delegates to flip and secure the Democratic nomination (a fair assumption), he should join Jill Stein of the Green Party, who has already reached out to Bernie. There is a real possibility that as the Green Party standard bearer, a Sanders/Stein Green Party ticket could very well win the presidency in view of Trumps self-destruct tendency and Clinton’s criminality. As an added benefit it would break up the two party monopoly. I sincerely hope Bernie pursues this option rather than getting his supporters all worked up over the Democratic platform. Fighting for planks on the national Democratic platform is a placebo –– comfort therapy. Members of Congress don’t read platforms, much less, follow them. Remember: “ all politics is local” not national.
Adding to the mix this fall is the candidacy of Gary Johnson, former two-term governor of New Mexico, on the Libertarian ticket with his vice presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor William Weld. If it weren’t for their radical agenda, a ticket of two Republicans with executive experience from two Democratic states might have some appeal to a disillusioned electorate.
The key to the success of these third-party candidates is their inclusion in the Presidential debates. From the getgo the Sanders/Stein ticket would poll more than the 15% threshold for their inclusion. The debates would permit Sanders to be more hard-hitting rather repeat his failures in the primaries. Stein’s toughness and detailed knowledge of the issues would bring a breath of fresh air to the contest. Trump and Clinton will drown in their negatives.
Three: Bernie could succumb to the pressures from party elites, President Obama (who has been supporting Hillary all along), and mainstream media to endorse Hillary and remain supportive of her candidacy through the general election. This might give Bernie hope that if, before Election Day, she is struck down by her criminal negligence over her emails and the Clinton foundation, that he would be the obvious choice to replace her, having been the runner-up in the primaries. The only problem with this scenario is that the Obama/Clinton Democratic Party is adamantly opposed to Bernie and his agenda. Remember who really controls the Democratic Party –– the 1%. In the event of a Clinton departure from the race after the convention and before the November election date (a distinct possibility) back-room party leaders and Obama are discussing plans to push Joe Biden or John Kerry to replace Hillary not Sanders.
Likely as not, the House will remain Republican and possibly the Senate, since conservative funders are pouring money into down-ballot candidates to insulate themselves from a Trump or Clinton presidential administration. If Hillary is elected president, her administration will spend its initial political capital fighting off impeachment. A couple of House Republicans committee staffs are already investigating both her emails and the Clinton Foundation money laundering activities, and will now be able to capitalize on the opening FBI Director James Comey has laid bare.
If Bernie succumbs to the pressure and votes for or worse endorses Hillary, he will be ruined politically with his young supporters and come off as just another political opportunist more interested in his Senate career. Regardless of his decision, a Clinton administration and the Democratic Party it controls will marginalize Bernie after the election. However, if Bernie decides to choose a more independent course by going Green he can easily make the case that he was cheated out of the nomination by the Democratic Clinton machine thereby voiding any statement he may have made about supporting the Democratic nominee
Four: Even if Bernie goes Green and wins the Presidency he will need this option more than ever if he hopes to see any part of his agenda enacted into law. However, this option is complicated by the fact that Bernie and his immediate advisors don’t have a viable plan to enact his agenda into law –– other than suggesting that a protest movement of his supporters would force the Congress to enact his agenda. In light of the history of protest movements, no one really accepts the plausibility of that suggestion other than the politically naïve.
Some would point out the success of the civil rights movement and the fight for women’s suffrage. Yes, but it took 80 years to get to a civil war decision and another 100 years of Jim-Crowism, and we are still cursed with racism. Yes, women’s suffrage finally succeeded after more than 150 years, but only because more than 20 states gave women the right to vote as a result of state initiative and referendum elections. This forced President Wilson’s wife and the Congress to act in 1920. Unfortunately, even the women’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) movement failed to enact a constitutional amendment with a 52% demographic advantage.
Remember the nuclear freeze movement in the early 1980s? It was one of the largest popular ground swells in the nation’s history, generating more votes by state and local elected bodies and by the people directly than had ever been seen. The House of Representatives passed the freeze resolution unanimously. When President Ronald Reagan ignored the resolution, the movement dissipated, ultimately creating a generation of cynics. The freeze resolution was just an expression of the People’s will. It lacked the force of law, which is the generic flaw of most movements. For the People’s will to prevail, it must be enacted as law –– not mere protests or party platforms.
Recent movements like Move On and Howard Dean’s Democracy for America have dissipated themselves over time and act as little more than lobbying efforts for good causes that never seem to get enacted into law. The Occupy Wall Street Movement, after polite tolerance by government, was snuffed out like a candle by the government’s police power. Political, social and economic protest movements demonstrate one thing: not that democracy is broken, but that it doesn’t exist.
Bernie Sanders has suggested a plethora of meaningful social, economic and political justice issues, energizing the righteous dreams of his youthful supporters for change. What he has not explained is how these issues would be enacted into law. It is not sufficient to say the People’s protest will make the Congress enact laws. That is unrealistic in view of a conservative majority –– Republican and Democratic –– in Congress “
The How Bernie’s agenda and that of his supporters will be enacted into law is the essence of the political revolution he calls for and our country needs!
There are only two venues to bring about real change –– the government and the People. The elite 1% who finance the politicians who run the government, not only controls the Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary, but also control these same institutions at the state and local levels of government. The 1% will never initiate or abide any change that dilutes their power.
The other venue for change is the People. However, under our system of representative government, the only power the People have is the power to vote –– in essence giving their power away on Election Day. (Mark Twain said it best: if voting could change anything, they wouldn’t let us do it.)
The dysfunction of representative government is due in no small part to the fact that the Congress has a monopoly on making the laws that govern the nation. The central power of government is lawmaking outlined in the first section of the Constitution. Lawmaking is superior to presidential and judicial power. Fortunately, lawmaking is the only avenue through which the People can most easily participate in their own governance as citizen legislators.
This same solution was successfully addressed by an earlier generation of American Progressives at the turn of the 20th century. They copied the direct democracy system of Switzerland, where the people participate in the power of government as lawmakers, using initiatives drafted by ordinary citizens and presented to the entire electorate for decision. (Freedom is participating in power as Marcus Cicero defined 2000 years ago.)
Unfortunately, the Swiss model has a major flaw that was copied by Americans: the initiative legislative process is integrated into the structure of representative government. This permits representatives to continually sabotage the People’s initiative lawmaking process since they rightly view it as diluting their power.
Even in the face of an inadequate initiative process, Americans have over 100 years of legislative experience at the state and local levels of government, where citizens in 23 states have been enacting laws by initiative. Obviously, the solution to the flaw imported from Switzerland would be to make the citizen lawmaking process independent of representative government.
Clearly, if American citizens are qualified and able to make laws at the state and local levels of government, they are equally qualified to make laws at the national level, where federal laws are superior and take precedence over state and local laws.
A recent survey, conducted by the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, reported that a full 90 percent of voters lack confidence in the country’s political system. There has never been a better time to enact legislation empowering Americans citizens to initiate and enact laws at the federal level of government. The government will never do this. Therefore the people must do it by going around the government.
The authority for voters to go around the government to directly enact legislation nationally that empowers American citizens to henceforth enact laws by initiative rests on the immutable premise that there is no authority superior to the People –– neither the Constitution nor the government it created. Our Constitution begins with “We the People … do ordain …” According to our Founding Fathers, the People can make changes to the Constitution they deem necessary to their happiness. In their own words:
“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” — George Washington, 1787
“The people were, in fact, the fountain of all power. … They could alter constitutions as they pleased.”— James Madison, 1787
“Each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes is promotive of its happiness.”–– Thomas Jefferson, 1812
“All power is originally in the People and should be exercised by them in person, if that could be done with convenience, or even little difficulty. — James Wilson 1789
Unfortunately, the Constitutional Framers failed to provide procedures in the Constitution for the People to amend the Constitution as they did for elected representatives in Article V. The Framers established slavery in perpetuity in the Constitution, and they rightly feared the people would remove slavery if the People were provided procedures to amend the Constitution.
Lacking procedures to amend the Constitution and realizing the Congress would never act on such a matter, the only recourse People have is to take direct amending action in a national election conducted by a nonprofit entity with transparent electoral procedures better than any government election in our history. Taking this direct electoral action is the only hope the People have to ever overcome and end the controlling power of the elite 1% short of a violent revolution. This electoral process is legal in that it follows the same electoral process established in Article 7 of the Constitution, which created our government. Bernie has the organization and financial wherewith all to undertake this national election.
Over the last couple decades, colleagues and I have drafted a legislative package, the Citizens Amendment to the Constitution and a Citizens Legislative Procedures Act, incorporating the same legislative procedures that govern the U.S. Senate and most legislative bodies. We have also thought through the tactics to circumvent the government to bring about its enactment as the law of the land.
The heart of our efforts is the six sections of the Citizens Amendment to the Constitution of the United States herein summarized:
Section 1. Asserts the authority of the people to establish an independent Legislature of the People with the power to enact, repeal and amend public policies, laws, charters and constitutions; Section 2. Sanctions the national election and the enactment standard for the ratification of the Citizens Amendment and the enactment of the Citizens Legislative Procedures Act; Section 3. Establishes a Citizens Trust with a board of Trustees and a director to conduct initiatives elections and administer legislative procedures on behalf of the People; Section 4. Defines the standards to henceforth amend constitutions and charters, and the standards for enacting laws; Section 5. Only natural persons can introduce initiatives and contribute funds for their enactment or defeat; and Section 6. Establishes the power to enforce the Citizens Amendment in the Citizens Legislative Procedures Act and additional appropriate legislation.
The Sanders campaign organization is uniquely positioned to take control of the national electoral process for the enactment of the National Citizens Initiative. This will necessarily generate the cohesive grist needed to keep the Sanders movement from dissipating and will actually empower his supporters and all American citizens as legislators able to enact their social, economic and political agenda themselves. The cohesive force created by this undertaking will continue to impact governance policy long into the future to the horror of the 1%.
All that is required to buy into direct democracy is unreserved faith in the People, which most politicians and elites have little of. Or unreserved faith in the 1%
The decision is now Bernie’s and his supporters to make.