Sunday, November 20, 2016

Yeah, You Did This: A Reflection on the Supporters of Hillary Clinton

Let’s be clear about something.

Nominating Hillary Clinton was never pragmatic. It was never strategic, rational, or more “grown up.”

It was the opposite of all those things.

Several months ago, the polls were clear: Bernie Sanders was vastly outperforming Clinton in match-ups against Trump.


For months and months during the primary cycle we knew this.

A real pragmatist would have looked at that situation and said, “Bernie Sanders is clearly a safer bet against Donald Trump.”

But that’s not all.

We also knew, for months, that much of Bernie’s base was being drawn out of the proverbial woodwork. I’m talking about young people—and people in general—who might normally vote Green or not vote at all. These particular voters, who supported Bernie Sanders in large numbers, were not quiet about their disdain for Hillary Clinton. They told us they wouldn’t be Trump-scared into voting squarely against their values, principles, and political interests for a candidate—a party—that does not represent them. Say what you will about the ethics of that position, you knew the Democratic Party would lose those voters with Hillary Clinton as the nominee.

A real rational mind would have looked at that situation and said, “Wow, with Bernie, the Democratic Party will have these independent voters in November. With Hillary, the party will not.”

And oh, right, Hillary Clinton has been under investigation by the FBI for almost the entirety of our election cycle.

A real “grown up,” maybe would have looked at that matter and said, “What a huge liability.”

And let’s not forget that demanding way less than what you actually want is not an effective political strategy in the US. The US conservative movement has been running the show for decades because they understand how the system works. You fight for exactly what you want, tooth-and-nail. You don’t make concessions before reaching the bargaining table. You don’t reach across the aisle.

A real strategist would have looked at our political system and said, “This isn’t a fucking Kumbaya campfire singalong. You don’t embrace half-measures like Hillary Clinton.” (And really, she wasn't even a half-measure; she was just a right-wing candidate running as a Democrat.)

The punchline: Hillary Clinton supporters paved the way for a Trump presidency, yes—but for what?

Taking a gamble during the primary cycle might have been justified with someone like Bernie Sanders. He was talking a big game about serious change, about undertaking an overhaul of our society and political system. That, understandably, might lure someone to play the odds a bit.

But Hillary? She is the establishment, the status-quo. She is corporate governance, drone wars, military coups, for-profit health care, human rights violations, and growing wealth inequality incarnate.

So, why? Why the risk?

Was it worth it?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Playtime's Almost Over: What's the Plan if Bernie Gets Cheated Out of the Democratic Nomination?

Playtime is just about over.
Bernie Sanders’s campaign is not long for this world, I imagine. 

Whether we’re talking
 manipulative debate scheduling, bogus corporate media coverage, suspicious coin tosses, or straight-up fraud, one thing should be entirely clear: the US establishment is fed up with Bernie Sanders, and his campaign will be stopped. 

The corporate system's maneuvers are becoming increasingly grave for Sanders and his supporters. The most recent example—a flagrant delegate short-changing in New Hampshire—has set a grim stage for the coming primaries. The openly counter-democratic Superdelegate system is
 effectively a loophole for raw election jockeying on the part of the DNC—and it’s perfectly legal, according to the fine print of our political system. 

Pay attention.

You’re about to get a real-time master class in
 Election Rigging and Phony Democracy as the electoral process advances.

So, what next?




First of all, if you’re passionate about Bernie’s campaign, what he stands for,
 definitely go out and vote for him. Securing popular vote victories for Sanders would be an excellent start point for what follows.

Next, as some have already done, let’s note that the growing movement behind Sanders’s campaign is, in some ways, a coalescence of various people’s movements that preceded it: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the
 US immigrant rights movement, the Fight for $15, and the Baltimore Uprising, among others. Comparatively watered-down as it may be, Sanders’s bid for the Presidency owes its existence, in part, to some of recent history’s most potent social movements. As his campaign is gradually erased by the political establishment, we’ll need to tap back into those roots.


Because after it’s over—after Sanders is boxed out of the Democratic nomination by our corrupt and money-flush system of corporate rule—it won’t be Sanders leading the charge for redress. That responsibility is going to fall on your shoulders. On
 our shoulders. Bernie Sanders is, after all, a US Senator. He is a part of the system he seeks to change. This will limit his ability to meaningfully challenge the state once the shit really hits the electoral fan.

So, what is the contingency strategy? What is Plan B?

This is a conversation we need to start having right now, before we’re caught off guard by the very likely outcome of a crushing, fraud-induced end to the Sanders campaign.

Beyond that, I have no clear answers to offer. I do, however, think we should all be closely reviewing the successes and failures of social movements old and new. Now is a good time to study the Black Panther Party (BeyoncĂ©’s got the right idea), the Baltimore Uprising, the US Anti-War Movement, Occupy Wall Street, whatever—any and all people’s movements that have operated with at least some degree of success outside the realm of rigged official channels. Go international even. Read up on the Zapatistas, the Arab Spring, African anti-colonial movements. Check out the works of thinkers like Frantz Fanon, Arundhati Roy, Peter Gelderloos, Francis Fox Piven, John Holloway, David Graeber, and others who’ve dedicated their lives to studying collective action for the ends of real democracy and social justice.

Now is the time.

And whatever we do, let’s refuse to allow our corrupt political system to silence our voices—to kill our aspirations and rob us of our futures. Let's be firm when we say that the end of the Bernie Sanders's campaign
 will not be the end of our outrage and our desire for real, meaningful change. The stakes couldn’t be any higher. 

I don’t need to tell you that we can’t endure even another four years of social and economic decline under malignant corporate rule. We can’t any longer endure our system of vicious racial apartheid. We can’t endure more poisoned drinking water and the continued use of our tax dollars for mass murder abroad. We just can’t. The moment to draw the line is right now, with or without Bernie Sanders. We're closer to stopping this madness than we've been in a long, long time. Let's see it through.

And remember, the system isn’t actually scared of Bernie Sanders. The people in charge, those who make up the corporate-political establishment, they know they’ll ultimately suppress Bernie. They know they’ll soon derail his campaign for the presidency. They’re not scared of Bernie Sanders, but they are scared of
 you, the mass movement of angry, righteous people behind his campaign. They're scared of what you might do if you dare to take seriously your commitments to social justice, to authentic democracy, and to building a better world.

Keep that in mind.

Andrew Stefan is a journalist in Washington, DC. He can be reached via email at

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hundreds Rally in DC in Support of Immigrant Rights

“We are here because you are there,” hundreds chanted in front of the White House on Saturday afternoon. The phrase, a grim reminder of the United States government’s legacy of violent interventions abroad, called attention to the root causes of migration from Latin America and other parts of the world.

“We are here because you are there.”

The chant followed a lengthy overview of US foreign policies that have, over several decades, left societies around the world unstable, economically devastated, and, in some cases, literally in ruins. Millions of people dead, displaced, and suffering.

“From 1980 to 1992,” an activist read into a microphone, “during the Salvadoran Civil War, the US gave financial support to successive military governments. The war caused 75,000 deaths and saw 8,000 people disappeared.”

After another activist took the microphone.

“Since 2001, in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, the War on Terror has resulted in the slaughter of at least 2 million individuals andcounting. The War on Terror continues to destabilize countries, prop military puppet regimes and monarchies that are friendly toward American empire.”

This segment of the rally included a somber memorial for the world’s victims of US imperialism. Participants placed colorful flowers atop a map of the United States.


The rally was held amid renewed federal efforts to raid and deport undocumented immigrants on a mass scale. Just over a week ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents deported 131 Guatemalans after a series of raids. The Department of Homeland security is currently planning similar operations, though on a much larger scale.

It was in response to these aggressive policies that immigrant rights activists gathered in Washington, DC on Saturday. While the activists’ various demands, read aloud through a PA system, extended to issues such as Palestinian rights and ending police violence in Black communities, the central focus was immigration. Those at the rally repeatedly called for an “immediate end” to raids and deportations. Colorful signs and banners reiterated the demand and addressed the grievous impact that raids and deportations have on families and communities across the country.

The event, which lasted about two hours, concluded with one activist leading the rally in a Lakota prayer for peace.