Third parties have been effecting United States presidential elections since 1992. Ross Perot, the 1992 Reform Party candidate, won 18.91% of the vote. This helped to depress the vote for both major party candidates, when William Jefferson Clinton was elected with only 43.01% of the national popular vote. We all remember how Ralph Nader cost Vice President Al Gore the 2000 election by a mere 537 votes in Florida. Many believe that Secretary Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election because of votes that went to Gary Johnson and to Jill Stein, the Libertarian and Green Party candidates. Now, the new People’s Party wants Bernie, because there just are not enough third parties taking away votes from Democratic candidates. And if Liberals and Progressives don’t wake up, there will likely be even more Republican domination of our politics in the immediate future.
DraftBernie.org for The People’s Party is the latest idea to lure voters away from the Democratic Party, by using the failed attempt to nominate the independent Socialist Senator from Vermont as the 2016 presidential nominee. The organization says that,
The refusal by Sanders to self-identify as a Democrat, along with the questions he has about where the Democratic Party stands, and how the Democratic Party goes about its business, appears to have emboldened former Sanders 2016 presidential campaign staffers and supporters. Draft Bernie for The People’s Party, was,
“Founded by Nick Brana, the former National Political Outreach Coordinator for Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Brana was one of several Sanders staffers that resigned from Our Revolution, after Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver was placed in charge of the organization and opened it up to anonymous donations from billionaires.”
This is a group that broke away from Our Revolution apparently because that organization isn’t radical enough in their promotion of “Progressive” candidates including those mounting primary challenges to sitting elected Democrats. Our Revolution will be explored later down the Democratic Road. Mr. Brana believes that drafting Bernie for The Peoples Party would,
“Unite the voting groups that Sen. Bernie Sanders brought together during the presidential primary, groups that are practically begging to be assembled into a permanent working class party.
The organization says that,
“We’re a team of former Bernie Sanders staffers, delegates and supervolunteers working to draft Bernie to a new people’s party.”
While it may be true that both major political parties currently have favorability problems, the Republican party is still viewed less favorably, 36.8%, than the Democratic Party, which currently has a 52.2.% favorability rating. And while is is true that the Bernie is very popular with a current 55.7% nationwide favorability rating, that popularity likely comes more from Independents and Republicans, than from Democrats.
Nick Brana relies upon the fact that there are more Independent voters than either Democrats or Republicans as a basis for needing yet another Progressive party, but his reasoning is flawed. Voters who self-identify as an Independent voter are simply choosing not to affiliate with a political party, yet the majority still lean towards a political party. According to a July 5, 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 48% of Independents lean Democratic and 39% lean Republican. Harry Etten of Nate Silver’s 538 Blog, says that,
“Americans aren’t becoming more politically Independent, they just like saying they are.”
According to Etten,
“87 percent of Americans prefer one party over the other, which is about on par with data since 1991.”
As noted by Dan Hopkins for Nate Silver’s 538 Blog, Sanders did best during the 2016 primaries in open primaries where Independents were able to participate. Hopkins noted that Independents voting for Sanders in those Democratic primaries did not do so because they were signing onto his Progressive agenda, but,
“It appears to be driven not by their ideology so much as their dislike of partisan politics.”
Perhaps Republicans, and Independents in name only leaning Republicans embrace Sanders, because he hurts Democrats by refusing to embrace the party that he sought to lead in 2016. Take note that after the 2016 Democratic primaries had concluded, according to a July 26, 2016 tweet from USA Today’s Susan Page,
“Bernie Sanders tells @bpolitics breakfast w/reporters he’ll return to the Senate as an Independent, not a Dem: ‘I was elected as an Ind.”
Consider the fact that even after being named by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) to the newly created post as Chairman of the outreach effort for Senate Democrats, when asked if the Democratic Party knew what it stood for, Senator Sanders said,
“You’re asking a good question, and I can’t give you a definitive answer.”
Sanders also told CNN that,
“We need to fundamentally change the way the Democratic Party does business.”
Nick Brana, the former Sanders campaign staffer also admits that,
“Bernie is already an independent and he plans on remaining one. All we need now is for other congressional progressives to switch their party affiliation in unison….Now that the election is over, he’s free to form a truly progressive party and make permanent his working class majority.”
Mr. Brana hopes that DraftBernie.org for The People’s Party, will,
“Challenge Republicans in districts where Bernie’s message resonates but Democrats have been incapable of making gains. We challenge establishment Democrats in safe blue districts that voted for Sanders in the primaries this year.”
The short term goal clearly is to unseat elected Democrats which would surely result in the consolidation of Republican power in Congress. The long term goal is as follows,
“In 2020, we run a presidential candidate. Our overwhelming majority on the left leads any remaining Democratic voters to join us in the general election. Our progressive populism demolishes the Republicans after four years of Trump, and sweeps in our down-ballot candidates in Congress and statehouses.”
There definitely is a long game being played by the supporters of Sanders to the peril of the Democratic Party, as his supporters are focused on,
“Taking over the Democratic Party one county office at a time.”
The idea that the Vermont Senator, who did not win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is now so wildly popular appears to be supported by a Fox News poll completed on March 14, 2017. The Fox poll had the never before and not now Democrat from Vermont at a 61% favorability rating, leading Democrats such as Senator Elizabeth Warren at 39%, House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, at 33%, and Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, at 26%. The sample included 45% self-identified as Democrats, 36% self-identified as Republicans, and 18% self-identified as Independents but the poll did not break down the responses by party identification.
There is also the fact that a December 13, 2016 PPP poll found only 8% of Democrats would support a 2020 presidential candidate aged 70 or older. In that same poll, 74 year old Joe Biden topped the 75 year old Vermont Senator as the 2020 choice, 31% to 24%, probably because the poll also showed those two were the most well known, with high favorability ratings, 79% for the two term Vice President to 78% for the Independent Socialist. Clearly, when we are some two years away from anyone declaring an intent to run for President in 2020, reliance on these polls at this time as demonstrative of any voter intent in 2020, would be of no real value.
Most troubling, but not unexpected, is that the Draft Bernie for The People’s Party movement is being promoted by sources with direct and circumstantial ties to the new President, and from the Russian actors who are believed to have assisted the 2016 Republican candidate’s campaign.
Take, for example, Observer.com, a blog that routinely publishes anti Hillary Clinton and DNC hate pieces, listing Joseph Meyer as publisher. Mr. Meyer is the current publisher of The New York Observer. The President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, recently placed his ownership interest into a family trust, giving up his role as publisher in favor of his new roles inside the current administration.
One of the Observer.com writers, Michael Sainato, has recently promoted Draft Bernie for The People’s Party. Sainto, a 2012 college graduate with a BA in English Literature, is a freelancer writing for right wing media such as Jared Kushner’s New York Observer, Fox News, The Daily Caller, and Real Clear Politics, along with far left platforms such as AlterNet and Counter Punch.
Here is a sample of a lede by Mr. Sainato from an observer.com piece on February 26, 2016,
“If Sanders Loses, Bernie Believers Will Take the DNC Down”
The Russian promotion of the Draft Bernie for The People’s Party movement comes from RT, the Russian government funded cable broadcasting channel bringing North Americans English language Russian propaganda since 2009. Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp, is RT America’s first comedy show, and according to RT,
“Every week Redacted Tonight will provide comedy news with a punch. This weekly satire show tackles all the real news stories the mainstream media failed to mention and provides new angles on the ones they do.”
Nick Brana was interviewed by Lee Camp on Redacted Tonight, which aired February 10, 2017. In addition to discussing Draft Bernie for The People’s Party,
“Lee also asks Brana why Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton instead of joining the Green Party ticket, as well as the rampant election fraud and voter suppression that has resulted in the administration we have today.”
Note the continued promotion of the new Republican President’s insistence on the existence of voter fraud that operated to his detriment. Note, too, the implied denial of Russian intervention.
Lee Camp openly admits that his twice weekly show is funded by the Russian government, and when asked during a July 14, 2016 interview for the Washington Post Magazine, Camp said,
“I think it’s not fair. Even if this election is accurate, who in their right mind thinks we should have a computer system you can never check? These elections should be fully accountable. Yeah, I don’t like Hillary Clinton and I don’t like Donald Trump, but I want it to be fair.”
While Camp also believes that the 2016 general election was rigged, he said on his December 16, 2016 show that,
“No, there’s no proof it was Russians.”
Nick Brana announced the intent to form the new People’s Party with Bernie out front in a Huffington Post blog article he authored on November 20, 2016, declaring that,
Mr. Brana seems to have little grasp on history. He also appears to believe that the Democratic Party is dead, citing a poll taken a few days before the November 8, 2016 election which showed that if Sanders had been the 2016 Democratic nominee, he would have trounced the Republican candidate by 12 points. The evidence of this came from a Gravis Marketing “survey” dated November 6, 2016 and was provided to the Huffington Post and published after the election on November 11, 2016.
“The survey, commissioned by a Sanders supporter, backs a theory popular among the Vermont senator’s fans.”
In addition to suspected bias, there were other problems associated with the survey. One problem is that the Gravis survey did not break down results by state; therefore, it could not be concluded if any state results would have been changed in a hypothetical race between Sanders and the Republican candidate.
Also, the timing of the survey has surely distorted its significance. The Princeton Election Consortium has concluded that following the release of the Comey letter of October 31, 2016,
“Opinion swung toward Trump by 4 percentage points, and about half of this was a lasting change. This was larger than the victory margin in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin. “
Nate Silver’s 538 Blog makes similar conclusions, finding a Clinton drop of about 3 points as a result of the Comey letter. It seems clear that commissioning the Gravis survey after the Comey letter announcing that Clinton was once again under scrutiny, and completing the survey before the Comey letter of November 6, 2016, clearing Clinton again, would necessarily skew the results of that survey to the point of irrelevance.
Further, Progressives’ claims, that if only Democrats would nominate candidates with more Progressive agendas, that these kinds of Democrats would win, also lack evidentiary support. This appears to have been proven wrong in the Florida Senate race where the Bernie backed leftist, Alan Grayson, was trounced by Congressman Patrick Murphy for the Democratic nomination. Tim Canova, could not take down Florida Congresswoman and former DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, despite the endorsement from Sanders and the money that poured in from his base. This was notwithstanding the turning of Wasserman Schutz into the poster girl for claimed DNC misdeeds, with the help of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
This Democrats would win if they moved further left strategy also failed to work for candidate Clinton, who ran on a Democratic Party platform that was the most progressive ever. The long and extensive campaign mounted by the Russian backed Republicans to defeat the Democratic Party nominee obviously helped to defeat Hillary Clinton. There is every reason to believe that had Sanders been the 2016 Democratic nominee, or a nominee in 2020 under any party label, the results would be the same.
Further evidence that Mr. Brana is wrong can be found in the primary election for the replacement of Xavier Bacerra, the former Congressman in California’s 34th District, held on April 4, 2017. This district had voted for Bernie over Clinton in last year’s Democratic primary. The Progressive Democratic and the Green Party candidates performed miserably, as three “Berniecrat” candidates failed to make it into either of the top two vote getters required to move on to the general election.
According to their website,
“The Draft Bernie for a People’s Party campaign is an initiative of the legal entity People for a Working Democracy.”
If you go to their site, People for a Working Democracy doesn’t appear to be much of anything other than a blog waiting to be loaded and launched. There’s little to nothing of substance there at this time.
The Draft Bernie site does say that his supporters can,
“Make a conditional donation to our new people’s party that will only go through if Bernie creates it.”
There is also a Crowdpac funding site supporting Sanders that says,
“We just need Bernie to lead this party to success. Luckily, he has rebuffed Democratic pressure and kept the door open to starting a new party! Now he just needs a little motivation. A pledge today would show Bernie that we’re serious about this, and give the final push he needs to form this party and lead us to a land of peace and prosperity. Don’t worry about your donation, for you will only be charged if Bernie decides to start the party.”
Yes, it does seem that the Independent Socialist Senator from Vermont has no intention of ever becoming a Democrat. While the organization waits for Senator Sanders to join up, coffee mugs and tee-shirts are currently for sale, mugs go for just $12.99 and t-shirts go for $25.
The former Sanders staffer promoting the movement to draft Sanders for the People’s Party has no evidence to support his claims that American voters are thirsting for another Progressive party that will rise up to defeat the Republican Party. There is also no evidence to support the conclusion that the Democratic Party is simply the Republican Party light, enabling the Republicans to victimize the American working class. This is a slogan without substance that blames the victims for the damage done by Republicans. The evidence does suggest that the new People’s Party, wants Bernie in order to create another third party taking votes from Democratic candidates. Liberals and Progressives need to wake up and resist this new effort, which seems to be part of the effort to continue the Republican domination of our politics.