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What, Then, Shall We Do? (15 Jul 2020)

america is at a crossroads of sorts. widespread dissatisfaction with how governments at all levels handled the COVID-19 pandemic, decades of police brutality overwhelmingly targeting POC, two presidential candidates nobody (or at least nobody worth a damn) really likes. we (by which i mean the american left, broadly speaking) see these futures unfold before us, and ask ourselves “what, then, shall we do?” i’m just some random dipshit, i’m not qualified to give an answer, but i can think about what we shall do specifically when it comes to the upcoming presidential election.

the very marginally lesser of two evils

obviously voting for donald trump is inexcusable. he’s a deranged senile incestuous racist rapist whose occasional halfhearted gestures towards the working class are transparently borne of a desire for self-preservation rather than any actual good will. he may occasionally claim to be an ally for queer people, or people of color, or women, but his record stands in contrast to any of these claims - he has done more material harm to these groups than he has even bothered to acknowledge - and so only profound gullibility could lead anyone to believe this. even the most negligible support of him is also a tacit acceptance of the entire political system that allowed him to gain what power he already has, and trusting that system to hold him in check is foolish.

oh shit did i say donald trump there? i meant joe biden. and also donald trump.

the least of a dozen evils

so joe biden sucks, and we cannot start ridin with biden. the democratic primary was what could generously be described as a mess, with the maybe-depending-on-who-you-ask winner of the first primary dropping out early to try to donate his momentum to an even more useless, even more racist moderate. the party establishment threatened to punish states that postponed their primaries in light of an ongoing pandemic that made it unsafe to vote, contributing to widespread voter suppression. clearly the democratic party is no friend to the left, and cannot be trusted. so what other parties can we support?

well, about that. let’s look at the third parties that were around in 2016. the libertarian party is - setting aside the libsoc caucus, who are probably cool but wasting their time - just for conservatives who want to smoke weed, and the constitution party is for religious conservatives who are too cool for the republican party, so neither of those is worth a damn. we can also ignore the tiny parties that only exist in like three states. that leaves us with like two third parties that could conceivably be worth caring about.

most notably, we’ve got the green party. on the ballot almost everywhere, which is nice. they got like 2.5% of national votes back in 2000, and they cleared 1% in 2016. their 2020 nominee is Howie Hawkins, who apparently worked with Murray Bookchin for a while, and as a communalist myself i gotta say that’s pretty epic. however. according to somebody who was running in the green primary and lost, there were some party-level shenanigans pulled to swing the process towards hawkins - local parties officially hosting hawkins’ campaign events before the primary was held, party officials also being hawkins campaign staff, etc. considering that a lot of ppl are mad at the democratic party for pulling the same shit, that’s not great. and also hawkins has been kinda both sidesy abt antivaxx stuff, which is cringe. you’re allowed to not care if you want, but i’m not sure “get the greens past the 5% threshold so they get federal funding in 2024” is really a capital-S Solution.

in the other corner we have the Party for Socialism and Liberation. socialism and liberation are both cool things to have. also their vice presidential candidate is Leonard Peltier, a political prisoner allegedly involved in the murder of two FBI agents, so that’s pretty based. however, they were only on the ballot in a handful of states in 2016, so they may or may not even have enough reach to be worth caring about even if they nominated Marx and Engels themselves. also even in the states where they exist they haven’t managed to achieve any meaningful electoral results. and one of their most prominent members, Michael Prysner, is a military intelligence war crimes doer; transformative justice is a cool thing and all but for fuck’s sake assume military intelligence dudes are compromised six ways from sunday and don’t let them have major influence in your vanguard. again, feel free to not care, but i do.

there are non-political-party organizations like the DSA, which i’m a dues-paying member of, but i don’t think pivoting one of them into a political party or spinning up something new would really help either. ballot access is key to making a case for having a chance to win despite being a third party, and even the DSA couldn’t get that in most states on a shorter than several years scale.

so. the green party is recreating the favoritism that was part of why we’re pissed off at the democratic party, and the PSL is hanging out with war criminals while being missing or useless everywhere, and anything else will take eons to get off the ground and so doesn’t give us anything to do in the meantime. what, then, shall we do?

no fate but what we make for ourselves

maybe electoralism is a waste of energy. maybe voting is a waste of time. when we vote, we don’t get shit. when we take to the streets and burn shit down, we are heard.

politicians already don’t feel obligated to try to earn your vote. make them earn peace. they should be afraid of us, them and the cops and everyone who works to defend and prop up the indefensible on a daily basis. there are more of us than there are of them. violence is bad but complacency is worse. in the 60s it was the ballot or the bullet, and comrades, i don’t think the ballot has done what it needed to.