I have a dream, that one day (particularly around July 13th) people will decide they’ve had enough, and they will flock to Milwaukee to put their discontent into action, just as they did in another city on the western banks of Lake Michigan 52 years ago. We’re over due, and they didn’t finish the job back then. This may be wishful thinking, given how apathetic and distracted the American people are, but what do we have without dreams?
Anti-war demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago chanted, “The whole world is watching” as they were beaten and engulfed in tear gas. The world was watching indeed, and it didn’t respond kindly. The optics weren’t good for the Democratic Party who went into the election season expected to win. Their nominee, Hubert Humphrey, would go on to lose in the general election to Richard Nixon.
Just four months earlier, in the Pennsylvania primary, anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy beat the then president Lyndon Johnson 71% to 4%. Soon after that beat down, the incumbent dropped out of the race and threw his weight behind his more-likable VP, Hubert Humphrey. “How did we get from that to a Humphrey victory?” you might ask. The truth is that the Democratic party was even less democratic then than it is now, if such a thing can be imagined. In fact, the entire presidential system was. Only 13 states even had primaries. The other 37 were chosen completely by party insiders.
The people must have sensed that shenanigans were in the wings, because even though Humphrey wasn’t chosen until the convention, tens of thousands of protesters and rioters showed up in Chicago.
They were also disturbed by the recent assassination of Robert Kennedy, who had quickly been becoming the front-runner. While he was celebrating his primary victory in California, the win was nullified by a bullet.
This left only two serious contenders: the anti-war McCarthy and the status-quo Humphrey. And choosing the status-quo candidate isn’t always a winning strategy. That only works in the best of times, not in war times or during weak economies.
The same party still effectively has those same party insiders choosing their nominees. They will do whatever it takes to prevent a Sanders nomination. In the likely event that they succeed, Americans who value democracy need to descend on Milwaukee by car, plane, bus and train. If the people really care to get involved this time, we can take this party down.
I mean that. We can end this party if we mobilize and act. They could go the way of the Whigs. The democratization of information via social media has the establishment on its heels. The true, authoritarian nature of the Democratic Party will be transmitted to everyone’s screens. Many TV watchers will bury their heads in the sand, but TV news is a dying industry as well; it will hardly outlast the Democrats.
Principled lefties need to make a statement: “Bernie or bust.” We need to show the Democrats that, unless they nominate a populist, they’re never going to win another election. The “Vote blue no matter who” mentality is a cancer on the body politic. It’s a surrender to the oligarchs, a public admission that whoever they choose is good enough for us plebeians, as if we the people don’t deserve to have a say. It also completely misses the point that we should have learned by now: Trump is not the problem. He’s a symptom of the problem. Neo-liberalism is the problem. The Democrats are not entitled to our votes. They have to earn them.
As AOC recently said: “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party.” She couldn’t be more right. There is already a niche for a new party to form. It already has a large, and rapidly growing, grassroots voter base. Once formed, it would inevitably overtake the Democratic Party. They may even call themselves “Democrats” but it would effectively be a new party.
We’re living in a populist, anti-corruption era, where things we previously though were impossible are now within reach. Add to that the newly expanded availability of information, and we could have a revolution on our hands. No one can say. The situation is without precedent.
I’m not particularly optimistic. It’s just a dream.