Was #BernieOrBust Created By Republican Campaign Strategists?

The “Bernie Or Bust” movement purports to “Revolt against plutocracy” by writing Bernie in on your ballot in the general election in the event that Bernie doesn’t succeed in becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

Before anyone gets the idea here that I am pushing them to vote for Hillary Clinton in the event that she takes the nomination, I am NOT. There IS a better alternative than writing in Bernie should Hillary be nominated. I will go into what that alternative is, and why writing in Bernie if he is not the Democratic nominee is pointless and something the Republicans and Plutocrats would love. I will state here that I myself cannot stomach the idea of voting for another Corporatist, and that is exactly what I see Hillary as.

Now that we have that out of the way, I will discuss why I suspect that “Bernie or BUST” is an idea created by Republican trollsters.

I was an elected Democratic Precinct Committeeman in York Township precinct 112, DuPage county, Illinois for three years. (2011-2014) I did this for several reasons:

  1. DuPage county, IL was dominated by Republicans in-office.
  2. I had no idea how local politics, or State-level politics in IL actually worked and wanted to learn.
  3. I wanted to help get Progressives elected in Illinois.

*NOTE: Terminology of the office “Precinct Committeeman” is written in Illinois State law, and not some sexism on my part. A woman would’ve had the same title, and quite a few did.

Prior to taking on getting elected as a PC, I was involved with the Illinois Dennis Kucinich campaign of 2004 in writing letters to the editors of  local newspapers. When Dennis failed to be nominated by the Democratic party, the remnants of his campaign formed a grass-roots organization called Progressive Democrats of America. (The link to the left is the article on PDA at Wikipedia. PDA’s site is at http://www.pdamerica.org/ )

This organization (PDA) is NOT affiliated with the Democratic party. It attempts to get Progressives elected as Democrats because getting candidates on the ballot as either a Democrat or a Republican requires far less voter signatures on ballot petitions than most States require of any other party.

Getting a candidate’s name on the ballot can be as different as needing notarized petition signatures from 5,000 voters for a Democrat or Republican vs. 50,000 notarized signatures for ANY other party. Also, those signatures must come from registered voters, not just anyone. On top of that, party officials from any opposing party have a habit of legally challenging any petition signatures with the Election Commission, so if the requirement is 5,000 signatures, you want to get 10,000 so you can defeat any opponent’s petition challenge. If the rquirement is 50,000 – get 100,000 or your candidate may not even appear on the ballot. (Note: The base number of petition signatures required varies by office. Since a Precinct Committeeman was only slightly higher than dog poop in the party, and not paid one cent, the base requirement was I believe 20 signatures, so I tried for 40. The numbers above would be something like a US House seat.)

Granted, the numbers I am referencing above are governed by State law, and are for the State of Illinois, but it’s not so different in most other States. When you see that, it tells you a lot about how the game is rigged in favor of the status quo at all levels.

The two main points there are that A) I learned about this kind of thing from becoming the most basic officer a party has in Illinois – Precinct Committeeman – and B) PDA is NOT an arm or the Democratic party, they just realize they face less futility by trying to change it from inside the rigged rules.

I also served as the leader of a smaller group of grass-roots activists called Progressive Democrats of Illinois, who were a fantastic bunch of folk that I still count as friends, and that brought me around to becoming a PC. I did that from 2004-2012 and didn’t get too awful far.

One of the things that I learned by being a Precinct Committeeman was that in order for a write-in vote to count, the person whose name is being written in MUST file with the Election Commission in each county, and by the legal deadline, with all the required NON-MAJOR-PARTY registered voter petition signatures, to be a valid write-in candidate. Their name wouldn’t be on the ballot, a blank would. However, if you write in Mickey Mouse, ha ha, it doesn’t count. Only writing in the name of a candidate who has met all the legal requirements to be a valid write-in candidate is counted as a vote. Any other write-in is counted as a “no-vote” for that particular office on the voter’s ballot. (Also known as an “undervote,” like they missed checking off anything for that particular office.)

Granted, the rules for write-in candidates are governed by State law, and in some cases a State may even leave it to a County, but the number of jusrisdictions where a vote for an un-filed write-in candidate is counted as valid in a national election such as the Presidency (Or Congress) of the USA is probably the equivalent of a toddler pissing in an olympic-sized swimming pool.

The point here is that, if you write in Bernie’s name in the event of a Hillary nomination, you are in about the same position of that toddler peeing in the pool, unless Bernie and his campaign do all the filing work NATIONALLY to get him registered as a write-in candidate. If you don’t believe me, feel free to check the election laws in your particular State.

Now, I realize that if you’ve read this far, the subject likely matters to you, and you’re not going to be voting for Hillary if Bernie’s not the nominee, regardless of what anyone says. Guess what? I’m right there with you. I wouldn’t either. So here is where that alternative I mentioned comes in.

I am proposing that, in the event Hillary is nominated, (An I think I’m wasting my time writing this, ’cause Bernie gonna win!!) we turn around and vote for the likely Green party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. I am calling this strategy #BernieOrGreen2016.

A Green Party USA platform would be so close to Bernie’s that most of you won’t find major differences. A vote for the Green nominee would actually count. It would also count towards making it easier for highly-Progressive Greens to get on the ballot nationally. You see, if you get enough of a percentage of the vote in one election, many States elevate your party to major party status in the next election. In that case, you have the same petition requirements as the Dems or Repubs. If you want to do a protest vote that reflects your Progressive values and will actually stick a needle in the butts of the “major party” corporatists, #BernieOrGreen2016 would actually matter.

If enough people adhered to that strategy, very, very loudly, you might pull those holding their noses and looking at HRC into putting their intention toward something they can be proud of.

Wasting God-knows-how-many votes that wouldn’t count vs. helping more Progressives get access to the ballot or even actually getting one elected. Hmm. Let me chew on that one…

#BernieOrBust seems to me designed to siphon off Progressive votes like piss down the toilet if Hillary is nominated, thereby helping hand the Presidency to the Republican candidate. (*Shudder*) #BernieOrGreen2016 would actually do something for Progressives. It’s still a big risk, but a lot better one than wasting votes altogether, or not voting.

But first, I AM VOTING FOR BERNIE in the Democratic primaries this time. Because #Bernie GonnaWin – and I will have just wasted an hour writing this blog post, and be happy as a progressive clam.

Peace, Love, and Bernie, and to quote the Summer of Love generation that came before me, can you dig it?

Dan Stafford

Peace, Love, & Bernie: Was #BernieOrBust Created By Republican Campaign Strategists?