Voting Progressive in the California Presidential Primary

By Yezdyar “Yez” Kaoosji

By the time this newspaper is distributed readers will have barely a week left to vote for a truly progressive candidate in the California Presidential Primary.

So, where have we been and where are we headed? Over the past three decades the once-progressive Democratic Party has incrementally adopted a Neo-Liberal platform … and much like a frog in a slowly boiling pot of water progressives in the party have accepted this transformation as a norm.

During this Presidential election process, we have reached a stage where three candidates have emerged. The GOP nomination has been locked in by Mr. Donald J. Trump. Now the shaken GOP is vacillating between ousting him and taming him. In the Democratic Party, while the process of selection is far from over, the party machine continues to do everything possible to hand the nomination to Mrs. Clinton.

Thirteen months ago when Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to a groundswell of citizen activism and agreed to seek the Democratic Party nomination for President, his progressive candidacy was dismissed as a “fringe movement”. However, since day one of his campaign we have seen an unprecedented national surge of support, despite a system designed to diffuse any opposition to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nomination, which at that time was being styled as her “coronation”!

Sen. Sanders’ strong issues driven campaign adopted a platform based on his consistent four decade record of public, political and legislative service. He has based his campaign on issues and has consistently rebuffed efforts by the corporate media to be dragged into name-calling and commenting on his opponent’s personal problems. He launched an issues oriented political campaign, never before witnessed in US history, and has assembled a broad and enthusiastic following.

It is interesting to note that during the past year Mrs. Clinton has incrementally segued to the left to mirror Sen. Sanders’ campaign platform. Cleverly worded speeches and debate rhetoric have camouflaged her actual positions. She claims that she is a progressive and stands for everything Sen. Sanders supports.

For the past few months the Clinton campaign has been attempting to win over Sen. Sanders’ supporters by complimenting the Senator for “moving her to the left”. Mrs. Clinton is not a piece of furniture to be moved around to match the decor of the day, nor is Sen. Sanders running in the race to position her as a progressive! The record is clear that Mrs. Clinton is not and has never been a progressive.

Consider these differences as you assess progressive credentials of these two Democratic candidates:

When she was Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton promoted the Trans Pacific Partnership, as “the gold standard” for trade. Then, before the first debate she reversed her position stating she had now studied the details of the pact! This begs the question: What judgment can be attributed to her when she swings across the world to promote the TPP that she now claims she had not studied, and changes her position to sound like Sen. Sanders? The Senator has consistently opposed the pact and similar trade policies over the years, because they outsourced jobs to low-wage countries and impacted domestic employment.

Sen. Sanders’ campaign is unique in that it does not accept large private, corporate and Super PAC funds. Mrs. Clinton is the recipient of campaign funds and speech-making fees from corporations, lobbyists, Super PACs, billionaires and Wall Street interests. This raises questions about the influence her donors have had on her actions in the past (TPP support, for example?) and will have on her actions in future.

Mrs. Clinton claims she supports raising the federal minimum wage. But in fine print her plan increases it to $12 while Sen. Sanders is proposing $15.

Mrs. Clinton says she also supports education reform, yet uses a phrase conservative’s love – she is against giving away anything free. Sen. Sanders’ education proposal to provide free public education for everyone, from K-to-16 is funded through a new Wall Street transaction tax, and includes other proposals like debt reduction and lowering interest for future student loans.

Mrs. Clinton’s healthcare program is an incremental change in the Affordable Care Act, and opposes Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All. She prefers to tweak Obamacare which will continue to work with profit-making insurance companies as part of her plan. A status quo! The Sanders plan eliminates insurance company profits and all related premiums, co-payments and deductibles, replacing the cost of operation and company profits, with a smaller increase in taxes that will provide free healthcare to all Americans.

These outrageous claims from the Clinton campaign have incensed the Senator’s supporters.

They have also seen the impact of election rules imposed by the Democratic Party. Super Delegates to counter Pledged Delegate votes. Closed primaries that disenfranchise Independent voters. Arbitrary removing names of thousands of voters from targeted precincts and boroughs. Tampering with election results. When Sen. Sanders’ supporters object and agitate against such unfair practices at state conventions and polling places, they are accused of being violent.

Such complaints against Sanders supporters from the Democratic Party machine, remind me of the tale of a little bully who comes home from school with a bleeding nose and complains to his mother. When mom asks what happened, he says, “It all started when Johnny hit me back!”

These distractions move the attention away from the election. Our voting decisions need to focus on why America needs a consistently committed bold and unwavering progressive in the White House, irrespective of the label by which we choose to identify ourselves – Democratic Socialist, Liberal, Moderate, Center-Left, whatever!

In April 2016 Gallup reported that USA has 25% voters registered as Republicans, 31% registered as Democrats and 49% registered as Independent with no party preference. Of these independents 41% lean to vote Republican, 49% lean to vote Democratic and 10% remain uncommitted. Numbers that demonstrate clearly why Mrs. Clinton who does not attract Independents, is less likely to win against Mr. Trump than Sen. Sanders, who will have a much broader national following than her in November.

Finally, Sen. Sanders is running more than a Presidential campaign. It is an American revolution that will continue during and beyond his presidency, and with the support of the millions of followers he is committed to build a progressive agenda for the nation, hopefully within the Democratic Party.

To conclude, here is a quote from the Senator’s recent speech at a rally in Carson, California:

“The Democratic Party has a choice. It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change – people who are willing to take on Wall Street, corporate greed and a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet. Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Carson, CA – May 17, 2016

*****

Yezdyar “Yez” Kaoosji is a progressive activist who writes an occasional column “Progressive Voice”, for the Community Alliance. You may contact him at: yezdyk@comcast.net

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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