Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory

by Mark A. Lause, Green Party of Ohio and North Star editorial board on December 3, 2016

stein-clinton-trump-701x394

Here we are, weeks after the 2016 election and Green candidate Jill Stein and her campaign committee are looming larger in the news than they ever did during the presidential race itself.   Her efforts to raise money for a formal recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have gained regular national attention and involves much more money than the campaign itself had raised.  Proponents insist that this drive to win a recount in three pivotal states that turned the election against Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with cozying up to the Democrats and is about nothing less than the integrity of the electoral process itself.

However, much of the Green Party itself has thus far remained aloof, and prominent party figures have declared themselves against the effort.  (See Daniel Marans, “Jill Stein’s Recount Campaign Is Winning Her New Fame — And Losing Her The Green Party,” Huffington Post, December 1, 2016.)  Brandy Baker has drawn stark conclusions about it in “The Stein Campaign and the Fight for Green Party Independence,” Counterpunch, November 28, 2016.  Stein’s vice presidential running mate, Ajamu Baraka called the recount “a potentially dangerous move” that gave the public the impression that the Greens were “carrying the water for the Democrats.” (Eli Watkins, “Jill Stein’s running mate: ‘I’m not in favor of the recount'” CNN, November 30, 2016.)  Discerning conservatives have been delighted to see the candidate go one way and the party the other.  (Warner Todd Huston, “Green Party releases statement distancing itself from Jill Stein,” Bizpac Review, December 1, 2016.)  Nevertheless, the Democrats generally seem to follow the lead of President-elect Donald J. Trump in describing the recount project as the work of the Green Party.

Some backstory on this might be helpful.

The Origins

According to published accounts, the recount project began with John Bonifaz, a Boston attorney who has founded and/or officered a series of organizations around voting rights.   Although he reportedly voted Green once, he is a registered Democrat and has run for statewide office as a Democrat. (See his bio on Wiki  or on his Free Speech for People site.)  Almost as soon as the 2016 election was over, he raised the concerns of what he calls “the electoral integrity community” about the integrity of the elections based on what some cited as statistically anomalous “indicators” in the three states that Clinton had hoped to win but lost to Trump.  Bonifaz dutifully took those concerns to his party.  (See Gabriel Shermen, “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States,” Daily Intelligencer, reposted New York Magazine.)

The Clinton campaign, however, decided that they would have none of it.  Perhaps they recalled that cringe-worthy Republican spoof of the Gore-Lieberman bumper stickers that read “Sore Loserman.”

sore_loserman Perhaps some Democrats remembered how this sort of thing so unnerved them that they failed to mount an effective legal case to recount Florida, which they had actually won–which would have made Al Gore president.  Whatever the specifics, though, Clinton and her team just weren’t interested.

At this point, Bonifaz  turned to the Stein campaign and the Green Party.  (Jon Swaine and Mona Chalabi, “US election recount: how it began – and what effect it could have,’ The Guardian, November 28, 2016.) He had voted for Nader in 2000, for which his fellow Democrats had him in sackcloth and ashes for years.  More accurately, though, Bonifaz is one of a number of figures inclined to favor cooperation between the Greens and the Democrats.

The Interface

This has always been the nature of efforts to build a political party independent from the twin parties that promote the interests of those with wealth and power.  In the past, the more strength Greenbackers, Populists, Socialists, or Progressives demonstrated, the more one or another of the well-heeled parties paid them attention.  This was not, as usually asserted, because these insurgents brought new ideas to the national debate, though they certainly did.  The big parties simply wanted to get their votes . . . preferably as uncontaminated by those new ideas as possible.

The more people inclined to vote independently, the more determined the Republicans–but especially the Democrats–sought to win those votes . . . or prevent the casting or counting of those they could not win.  At the same time, the problem is complicated by the simple fact that individuals involved in such insurgencies begin to see the possibilities of getting greater change more quickly if they cooperate with the Democrats.  And they increasingly tended to think of themselves as power-brokers.

This is simply in the nature of the beast.  For years, when adherents of various self-described socialist currents would complain about this among the Greens, I pointed out that it was actually a function of their success.  It’s a simple question of gravity.  If a simon pure party of hyper-radicals started wracking up big vote totals, the Democrats would get interested.  And the more interested the Democrats would become, and the more likely it would be that individuals in the Revolutionary Anti-Gluten Bolshevik Party would start trying to make arrangements with them.

If you want to build a serious independent electoral movement in this particular two-party system, it’s going to happen if you start winning votes.  In fact, such people have always had an important role in a mass insurgency, and their exclusion is no solution at all.  Simply put, if you try to make a go of it without them, the circumstances will simply generate more of them . . . unless your vote totals fall through the floor and the Democrats lose all interest.  While this has never been peculiar to the Greens, what has been is the unwillingness to do as had their predecessors and to take measures to contain the effects of this problem.

As a result, the leadership has always presented a mad tangle of schemes and schemers, often united only in their opposition to anything that would create a democratically run, membership driven political party.

Stein’s campaign manager, David Cobb remains associated with the biggest schemes in the party’s history, “the safe state strategy” he implemented when he himself had the Green presidential nomination back in 2004.

cobbd

The “safe state” scheme represented a Green response to the faux outrage of Democratic officialdom to losing the 2000 election (which they actually won).  Almost as soon as the Democrats fumbled and lost their victory to the Republicans, they blamed their self-invented defeat on Ralph Nader and the Greens–something that also saw service in frightening disgruntled Democratic voters from turning to alternative parties in the succeeding elections.   (See Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, “Don’t Fall for It: The Nader Myth and Your 2016 Vote,” Truthdig, August 2, 2016.)  In fact, the Democratic phone banks in Ohio used this in 2016 when calling Green voters.

In fact, the results in 2000 cheered and emboldened legions of Green voters.  They understood that Nader had gotten the largest number of votes nationally for any independent progressive campaign since that of Henry Wallace in 1948.  Undismayed by the hostility of the Democratic machines, they hoped to build on Nader’s numbers in 2004.  Those closest to the party’s functioning also introduced a proposed reorganization to make it into a democratic membership body with proportional representation, encouraging its involvement in ongoing social movements.

Nevertheless, others saw the party’s function as less that of a political party or a movement than that of an NGO.  They saw victory coming through court cases, and lobbying to influence Democratic officeholders.  They felt the sting of Democratic disapproval much more deeply than those of us uninterested in fantasies of a convergence of the Democratic party with Green values.  And the peculiarly undemocratic structure of the GPUS left their views grossly overepresented.

Except for a few states, the Greens are not a membership party and there are no national standard of what membership entails.  It describes itself as an alliance of autonomous state parties, an organizational structure that represents a kind of synthesis of the ideology of John C. Calhoun with impulses of a particularly flakey and apolitical New Age libertarianism.  Some states have organizations of tens of thousands of members and others consisting of handfuls of people whom get to represent their entire state.   Although often no more than paper parties, the latter can do anything pretty much anything it wants, including a decision to not run in elections at all and even to support Democrats that seem acceptable for one reason or another.  As far as that goes, the same applies to local groups.  This has permitted the party in my city and state to endorse Democrats with depressing regularity while regularly running no more than a handful of Greens statewide.

The people who dominate this kind of structured anarchy closed ranks against nominating Nader or anyone like him in 2004.  One of them, Ben Manski–who later served as the campaign manager for Stein’s first run for the White House in 2012 assured CNN that the Greens wouldn’t run Nader again.  Indeed, he said, the party may very well decide “not to run a national candidate in 2004” because it might injure the Democrats.  (See John Mercurio, “Nader’s Raiders-turned-Haters?” The Morning Grind, February 23, 2004.) This perspective found deep support among the paper parties that existed and functioned without real membership bodies.

manskib

With Nader out of the picture and strong support from the paper parties in many states, the Green leadership arranged the nomination of Cobb for president, leaving the more militant voters to follow Nader into a completely independent campaign.  (See Carol Miller, “How David Cobb Became the Green Nominee Even Though He Only Got 12 Percent of the Votes,” Counterpunch, August 7, 2004.)   These increased as Cobb began to follow the “safe state strategy,’ which promised to avoid campaigning in states where the Greens might get enough votes to tip the election against the Democrats.  This decision to foster the interests of the Greens by minimizing the number of votes the party would get represented a strategy centered entirely on minimizing the number of Democratic officials who might get upset.

This rolled on to secure its control over the party.  As one account of the 2005 convention described it, they repudicated an effort “to ensure proportional representation inside the party, national delegates accountable to the expressed will of the membership, and political independence from the two corporate parties.”  (Ashley Smith, Cat Woods, James Marc Leas, and Steve Greenfield, “Which Way Forward for the Green Party?” Counterpunch, September 22, 2005.) In short, those “democratic values” the party claimed to uphold were to have no place in a successful effort to coax the Democrats ever leftward.

Their association with the Democrats became increasingly pronounced.  In the aftermath of Cobb’s campaign for president as a Green, he became associated with the newly formed Progressive Democrats of America, the purpose of which was quite explicitly to reform the Democratic Party.  (Progressive Democrats of America National Conference Bringing Activist Leaders to Cleveland.)   He saw no contradiction between his position as a Green and efforts to make the Democrats a kinder, gentler party.

And he was far from alone in this.

Given this, we can hardly be surprised at the response when Bonifaz–a Democrat interested in using the Greens to nudge his party to the left–came to the Stein campaign with his proposal to initiate a recount.  Without making any claim to any inside information, her current campaign manager, Cobb would have seen this as right up his alley.  Maybe they’d have consulted Manski, her previous campaign manager.

We need to understand these would-be power brokers rather than villainize them.  A broad, mass insurgency is going to generate its trimmers, and this crop is probably no worse than what would sprout up among us anyway.  On one level, their presence demonstrates that we are showing enough electoral strength to unsettle the powers-that-be.

However, we will never build a mass independent party by blindly following people who want no such thing at all.

By 2008, this was really really beginning to sink in.  in that year, Nader waged his second entirely independent political campaign, while Lance Selfa’s The Democrats: A Critical History used the developments among the Greens as a recent case in point about how that old party of slavery and segregation destroyed independent party movements. Shortly before his death, the California Green leader and Nader’s vice presidential candidate Peter Camejo–a brilliant speaker whose strategic skills were never fully appreciated–told me that he thought the Greens had probably contributed everything they would to independent politics and that we should start thinking about moving on.

camejo

The next few years, however, saw the emergence of Dr. Jill Stein as a candidate.  She was a brilliant and aggressive national campaigner.  Thousands of us found hope that growth, new people, different experiences might enable the Green  Party to transcend its difficulties.

The Motives for the Recount

In the recent presidential election, Stein got 1.4 million votes, falling short by 4-5 million of the 5% we needed to get Federal matching funds.  She ran a fantastic campaign and I have no doubt that she did the best she could with what we had.  Still, nobody thinks that the recount is going to find enough miscast ballots to get her up to 5% of the national total.

It is only slightly more conceivable that the recount would tip the election to Clinton.  For this to happen, it would have to shift all three of the states in question from Trump to Clinton.  While such a result would be unprecedented, of course, so much about this election has been.  Let’s call it, at best, a very long shot.

But the reasons given for taking the burden of a recount on ourselves simply make no sense.

Is there any reason to think that the 2016 is particularly more fraught with error and fraud than other elections in recent times?  Certainly, some statisticians and computer experts find something suspicious in the unusually high number of absentee votes cast.  Maybe, but every election has seen a greater push by all parties, including the Greens, to get people to cast their ballots as early as possible.  Still, let’s assume there are a lot of However, the only way to identify absentee ballots as fraudulent would be for the state authorities go back and individually ask those casting absentee ballots whether they had actually done so.  As I understand it, a quickly done recount of a state’s votes won’t do this.  It will simply count any fraudulent ballots over again.

In a campaign without any genuine debate over real ideas, the Republicans and Democrats made their bid for office by maximizing what fears they could generate among voters about the other party.  As part of this, the Democrats raised the old Russian canard.  (To those of us who remember the Cold War vividly, this seemed to be part and parcel of the Reaganization of the Democratic party.)  The Democrats who have been harder about prosecuting whistleblowers (and immigrants) than their predecessors linked those subversive-minded techies in Wikileaks to those perennial American bad guys, the Ruskies.  I’ve actually heard supporters of the recount echo this, asking “how do we know that they didn’t hack into our computers and fiddle with our numbers?”  How indeed.

In fact, there are scads of people in numerous government agencies with money bins of resources more than the recount fund-raising goals looking for exactly this sort of thing 24/7.  Does anybody think that they’d find such a thing and keep a lid on it to be nice to the Russians?  And they are competing to find exactly this sort of thing.  So, does anybody think that one of these agencies might find evidence for this and cover it up knowing that a competitor would be following the same chain of evidence?  But does anyone seriously think that the recount will uncover what no part of that massive national security apparatus has not?

Frankly, if anyone seriously thinks that 2016 represents some major departure from the standard of electoral integrity (or lack thereof) characteristic of contemporary voting, they’ve simply not been paying attention.

Finally, how is one recount going to ensure free and fair elections in America?  Nothing ever has.  There are no guarantees, no perpetual fixes . . .  Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

But the most outrageous claim is that we need to take on this recount effort for the good of the system.  As Cobb puts it, the project is “about securing confidence in our election system.”  (Harold Michael Harvey, “Why Is Jill Stein Challenging Election Results?” The Hill, November 27, 2016.)  This concerns directly echo those the Clinton campaign have been expressing repeatedly in response to Trump’s whining that the election was “rigged.”  Confidence in the system is essential to maintaining the duopoly and deflecting serious independent movements for change.

graveyardofmovements550w

American elections are never really about staffing a representative government.  The process starts by making money the real arbiter of a candidate’s seriousness.  The media, which profits directly by increasing viewership has been the most important factor in trivializes real issues, inventing phony ones, extending the length of campaigns, etc.  Campaign costs have skyrocketed and this has been the primary mechanism for electing people who happily preside over the greatest polarization of wealth in any country, anywhere, at any time.  This is not to say that all the other major institutions in the society haven’t gone along with this very happily . . . right down to ritual mystification of the process through the schools.

Then, too, American politics has always involved a cutthroat competition in which rivals systemically use institutionalized racism to exclude voters you think are not likely to vote for your candidate.  Generations of Democrats kept the polls safe from large sections of the African-American population, which now faced disenfranchisement by new Republican “reforms.”  Too, beneath pious whining about lines of aliens parading through the polling places voting without identification lurks the desire to exclude Hispanics.

In the end, vote fraud is superfluous to ensuring an unrepresentative outcome, but that ethos of cutthroat competition leaves plenty of room for it.  The problem Robert Fitrakis and other grass roots activists have demonstrated this repeatedly in their investigations of state and local elections.  Here in Ohio, he and his team investigated the 2004 returns to demonstrate that also involve the tolerance that ran right up into the circles of national power.  (See Bob Fitrakis, “New Court Filing Reveals How the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Was Hacked,” Truthout, July 25, 2011.)

But that’s a far cry from the comic book universe in which elections are “rigged” by some centralized national management. . . . . And it is only in that universe that someone can seriously believe that one recount aimed at fixing that one problem is going to eguarantee the honesty of future elections that will put Greens into office.

That fact is that all the efforts of the Democratic Party, combined with those of the Republican Party–and of all the courtrooms and legislative bodies in the country–have failed to restore confidence in the system, and I don’t think that that any party that can’t get 5% of the vote has the power to do so.

More basically, though, we shouldn’t.

That election system here is grounded in the two-party system established by slaveholders to maintain slavery.  It’s a winner-takes-all structure in which almost each and every officeholder in the U.S. has to be in one or the other of those parties.  The only two countries on the planet that have something similar are Jamaica, an island of three million and Malta with under half a million.  And we are told that this is the best of all possible political system for a complex superpower with 325,000,000 radically diverse peoples spread across an entire continent.  Worse, one of the two parties available on each of those islands—the People’s National Party in Jamaica and the Partit Laburista on Malta—are social democratic formations with an actual membership base of citizens, while neither of the U.S. parties are.   Here, any kind of citizen participation is recent, limited and tightly managed from on high.

So when we try to participate in that with an excellent candidate running a laudatory national campaign, that “election system” excludes our candidate from the debates and keeps her as far off the radar as possible.  This is the system in which we want to secure confidence?

The polls indicate that confidence in the system is declining, particularly among the young.  There are lots of reasons for this, dramatically shown in the way the Democratic National Committee nudged the primaries quietly against Bernie Sanders.   The decline in that confidence as both well-merited and promising.

Rather than to reverse the disaffection, we should organize it and build it into something capable of changing a world that very badly needs changing.

May I suggest an independent political party grounded in democratic values as a practical guide to action.

 

 

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Manuel Barrera, PhD December 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Well done, Mark. However, I wonder to whom you are really speaking? The article is overlong for a relatively small issue using allusions to historical references. For example, I doubt that “everybody” in the Green Party “understood that Nader had gotten the largest number of votes nationally for any independent progressive campaign since that of Henry Wallace in 1948.” More important, the people in the Green Party representing any true future for independent politics are likely much younger activists with no knowledge, or caring, about the Wallace campaign or John C. Calhoun (and, what the … is a “New Age libertarianism”?).

I get that perhaps some of the audience here reflects in part some of the doddering fools on Marxmail and among the sectarian left. I appreciated much of the article and did resonate with your attempts. But in the future, I think it might be more useful to take some cues from Peter Camejo and find, perhaps not his style, but his strategic intuition to speak to activists, youth, and newly emerging radicalized people. Malcolm was also very good at that as well. We are none of us likely to be “them”, but I do believe that there coming young folks with excellent instincts with whom we should ally, not to “tell them how to do it”, but to tell them we are here to help.

Reply

NJDave December 4, 2016 at 9:53 am

“but I do believe that there coming young folks with excellent instincts with whom we should ally, not to “tell them how to do it”, but to tell them we are here to help.”

Me, too.

Reply

thom prentice December 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm

So. What dya do when they DON’T?

Reply

Jana December 3, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Excellent Mark Lause. Been wondering about this recount, given its expense and stated intent, which hardly inspires enthusiasm.

Reply

Brian Wiles December 3, 2016 at 8:18 pm

This is really excellent. A sorely needed historical overview of Green Party collaboration with the Dems, and how that plays into the current Stein/Cobb/Manski recount.

Reply

Deran December 3, 2016 at 10:35 pm

David Cobb is/was Stein’s campaign manager. That explains a lot right there. Specifically why the ecosocialist amendment during the recent Green Party national convention was completely ignored by the Stein campaign.

Reply

Brandy Baker December 4, 2016 at 12:07 am

To be fair, it was ignored before Cobb came into the scene.

It passed the GNC in June. It was ratified at convention in early August.

Cobb came on board the Stein campaign September 1.

Reply

Andy Gonzalez December 4, 2016 at 11:32 pm

Where had Cobb been lurking all that time?

Reply

Jeanette January 18, 2017 at 9:06 am

vedi Berlusconi … forse voleva dire &#u2o0;C3munq8e un divorziato che ha un rapporto di coppia stabile fatto di rispetto è certamente meglio di un divorziato libertino che organizza festini hard in maschera con ragazze fresche fresche (si fa per dire) maggiorenni …

Reply

Andy Gonzalez December 3, 2016 at 11:15 pm

As an outsider I believed that he the 2000 election was great step forward for the Green Party . One would think that with Nader getting 3 million votes. What I didn’t know was the guilt feelings of many Greens that had bowed down to Democratic propaganda about costing Gore the election. This culminated in the safe state strategy and the nomination of David Cobb in 2004. Right after I saw Cobb and Peter Camejo debating on Democracy Now, Cobb sounded like John Kerry. I decided then I wanted to have nothing to do with the Greens , Came back around with the 2012 and saw some positive things only to have this happen in 2016 with Cobb back in the picture. Is it guilt again? Some people have said that Jill cost Hillary the election. I’m curious. Is there an underlying reason for all this effort for a recount? Just saw Jill “fireside chat” on Facebook , a lot of the comments are vicious and nasty not sure where they are coming from.Appear organized.I’m totally opposed to the recount, but I really feel sorry for her.Why did she do this?

Reply

Don Rucknagel December 3, 2016 at 11:50 pm

Mark:
You missed one player in the recount saga: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=alex+halderman

Reply

Mark Lause December 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

True enough, Don. The computer expert who made the most noise about those statistical oddities in the returns. It would be odd if this were really striking and more of them hadn’t said something. However, the bottom line is that Halderman now says that the election probably wasn’t hacked. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/election-results-hacked-new-york-magazine-231796. It’s terribly interesting how all these people who lured Stein into this have since been backing away.

Reply

Reza December 4, 2016 at 12:13 am

The news is that Jill Stein raised more than six million dollars for this recount effort.

Mark Lause correctly suggested (in another online forum) that half of that money could have been used to build the initial infrastructure for a due-paying, representative party — of activists who have membership rights and have internal democratic structures — across the country, or at least in most states.

I would add that with the other half, the activists/members of the Green Party US could have mobilized thousands of people to join the Standing Rock Sioux’s heroic stance against North Dakota Access Pipeline; the effort could mobilize not just people acting in solidarity, but also truck loads of food and supplies (including heating equipment and fuel) to be delivered to the camps.

Instead, this exercise in futility.

Reply

Myles Hoenig December 4, 2016 at 10:43 am

Mark,
Very good article. To the comment above about you suggesting that that money could be used to build the GP, keep in mind that Jill Stein had no intention of building the party with this money. It was solicited for the purpose of overturning the election, by bringing ‘integrity’ back to the system, not that there ever was any.
If she were to have raised the money for the purpose of supporting grass-roots activism or the party, the amount raised would be as minimal as the percent she got overall.
This is a Stein/Cobb initiative, not from the GP. Thankfully so.
Myles H

Reply

Reza December 4, 2016 at 1:52 pm

“If she were to have raised the money for the purpose of supporting grass-roots activism or the party, the amount raised would be as minimal as the percent she got overall.”

Must concur one hundred percent. The money must have come from fat cats who donate to the Dems, and who didn’t want to have Clinton involved directly, so they got Jill Stein to do their work for them.

Even within the realm of legalistic maneuvers that could have been pursued, they chose a dead horse. How about launching a legal challenge to the fact that the voting mechanisms have been outsourced to private companies that claim their machines’ codes are intellectual property, and therefore not open to public scrutiny?

Reply

Kevin Zeese January 18, 2017 at 10:31 am

The money seems to have come from an aggressive fundraising campaign by the Democratic Party political committee, MoveOn. They sent out repeated mailings to fund the recount. Howard Dean, the former DLC Chair, also sent out mailings through his group, Democracy for America. We have not seen who the larger donors were, but the recount was mainly funded by smaller donations from ardent Democrats. I would be surprised if 10% of this money came from Greens.

Reply

David McDonald December 4, 2016 at 10:46 am

I think Jill Stein was a TERRIBLE candidate. I could not stand to watch her speak. She generated absolutely zero enthusiasm. But since I have you here, a serious question: has there ever been an insurgent party, such as the Greens were in 2000, whose rise was followed by a steep decline, that then re-surged to once again become a serious force? I don’t know of one, but you’re the historian. It strikes me as totally unlikely on the face of it. And that says nothing about the carefully constructed apparatus to keep the Greens out of anyone’s hands but Cobb’s and his pals, which you have just elaborated.

I hope you meant the final paragraph of this article are are done with this worthless diversion. Camejo was right 8 years ago. A really, really dead parrot.

Reply

Mark Lause December 4, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Peter also used to say–very correctly–that these things are part of a process. I have never had much confidence in the organization–which was designed to fail as a third party, but it makes sense to go where the masses are, right? Two years ago, the Greens got 104,000 votes in this state and, in 2016, they got 3500 in the city. And this was with minimal organized effort and zero follow-through. There has never been an independent political party that hasn’t had a membership. This has always been a swallow reflex for a party’s survival. The little hope I had in reversing the hold of the would-be power-brokers is pretty much gone, but it doesn’t answer the question of what we have to do from this point on.

Reply

David McDonald December 4, 2016 at 10:48 am

Also, expert to expert, your article is full of dangling participles and other grammatical mistakes that actually make certain sentences unintelligible. Get a proof reader.

Reply

SocraticGadfly December 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

I disagree that that’s why the two-party system was established. It was founded for many reasons. Besides, parties already existed at the time of the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention, no matter the spin of the founding fathers.

But the rest of this is spot-on.

My thoughts on some of this are at this post on my blog. I’ll be doing another in-depth update, incorporating this piece, in a couple of days.

http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2016/11/recount2016-green-party-split-calling.html

Reply

Kevin Zeese December 9, 2016 at 12:15 am

Whether is was designed to protect slavery or not, the Democratic Party — the oldest party in the United States — was the slave plantation owners party and dominated the presidency in the nation’s early years. They and the Whigs, northern industrialists who profited from slavery, ensured that that abolition was kept out of Congress. It was not until abolitionists formed a series of independent parties that the issue of abolition came to a head.

Reply

Mark Lause December 29, 2016 at 6:14 am

The modern political party appeared with mass suffrage, which wasn’t until after 1820. What existed earlier were more like gentlemen’s clubs that didn’t have to do a lot of persuading of the voters.

Reply

SocraticGadfly December 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

On the broad constitutional issues Mark mentions, Daniel Lazare’s “The Frozen Republic” is a great read. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/437559920

Reply

Reza December 4, 2016 at 3:46 pm

The main takeaway, IMHO, from this article is this:
This whole recount effort is not only a diversionary move (to distract and obfuscate about the real problems with a privatized voting system), but one that attempts to co-opt the Greens into an appendage of the Democrats, as pointed out in the article, and as observed by others.

Why else would a bunch of Democrat ‘big-time’ donors, who know pretty well that the recount isn’t going to change anything, donate millions to Jill Stein to launch a futile campaign? The sad part is that she fell for it.

I am glad that serious party-builders are voicing their opposition. Some house cleaning first, if serious about reclaiming the party, before you can build an independent REAL political party (as opposed to a vote-getting machinery)!

Reply

Reza December 4, 2016 at 6:59 pm

There is a flip side to the fact that the Democrats are trying to co-opt the Greens: the fact is the Greens can pose a REAL and realistic mass challenge from the left, in the long term trajectory.

So, Green Party activists and those trying to build a real political party should take heart. As Hegel explained, the first step in the development of the ‘spirit’ (for us here, the ‘spirit’ is the independent party of the majority’s natural inclinations) is the transition from Nothing to Something.

Green Party, as it stands now, is the ‘Something’. So, the Democratic party apparatus knows instinctively that they must return this ‘something’ back to ‘nothing’.

Green party activists must take heart and double down on their efforts to, first, eject Cobb/Stein faction, and then reclaim the party and re-route it along a better path.

Reply

kate gallion December 5, 2016 at 4:56 am

Did anyone reading this thread actually observe how Bernie Sanders funded HIS challenge to the Democratic Party establishment? He did it with small donors not “fat cats” from the Dem machine. Those of you who hold that Jill Stein’s crowd funded challenge to the results of the election- was an intrigue by/for and of Dems have lost sight of that enormous potential source of funding- in a scant month!? Political ADHD. I monitored this election from five streams of info: MSM, social media,GOP, DNC and Green. On the strength of personal integrity, Jill Stein mobilized her own campaign funding using the Sanders model, which she “capitalized” on again while the iron was still hot- to fund her recount effort. This blind spot to her political instincts is troubling, when a simple tacit allowance on the part of the party, a “watch what happens” minute, would have shown a modicum of loyalty and support at a critical public moment- when the klieg lights of media attention were still blazing. What appalls me, is the self-defeating persistence of not-so-friendly fire from within the ranks of the infantile Green organization. The money she raised “could have been used” for this other purpose, or that other purpose? That possibility is utterly negated by the ongoing Green failure to raise money by itself. At any given moment while Sander’s formula was working for him- the Green party “could have” launched it’s own fundraising effort- before Stein started her campaign in ernest, making her own media, extending a hand to Sander’s millennials- moves that Green insiders abhorred and denounced at the time. But you didn’t. Because you lack any political talent or simple campaign intelligence. It’s always amateur hour in Green campaigns. So here we have Stein – a charismatic, legitimate feminist campaigner, with the courage of her convictions, and her team of Cobb and Manski- for my money- the ONLY political talent in the pool- being again eviscerated by the cadre-while still walking the death march. By the way, Mark- to your question of “what has Cobb been doing” whilst?- he has been working with “Move to Amend”, the campaign to overturn Citizen United- SCOTUS decision. We brought him to Cincinnati to speak on this effort in 2012. He travelled the country in the wake of Occupy, dedicated to that struggle, and since-he has lent his considerable talent to Stein. I, for one will thank him for the success they have achieved in 2016. This effort was unsupported by the party itself, which appears incapable of interpreting raw momentum as anything other than a challenge to the “grassroots” organization. This wee thought about the sacred grassroots structure: You know what is never a structurally reliable building material? Grass. Left to grow, it falls over @ 4 ft- and supports nothing, not even it’s own weight. No one to harvest, craft it- weave it into a useful form, basket, fence, roof, skirt… nothing but brush fire fuel every four years. I wonder how many more challenges Jill Stein will launch before being spiritually, physically, financially depleted by the assassins in the cloak room? Let’s imagine for a moment- a candidate who believes that, at it’s most vulnerable and fraught election-and in the face of facist regime change- she might launch a challenge to the legitimacy of that election. Someone with a legitimate position of being on (most) of the 50 state ballots, seeing 1000 problems with the electoral system, vote insecurity, vote tampering, threats of hacking, even the antiquated “fail safe” of the electoral college itself being subverted against the popular vote count– someone of personal integrity should be CELEBRATED for her political courage. No, what she gets is sabotage by1000 cuts from her frenemies with their needle point tweezers of exceptions and points of ideological sanctimonious procedural objections. A pox and no vaccine against it’s own bilious virulence! What kind of left party would rather undercut the last hope of any challenge to this abomination of Trump, than to see a potential gain in Clinton votes as a result? Not a party worthy of the trust of democratically (small d) and/or left-ishly inclined voters. “We didn’t get Stein (whom we disdain), we’ll take Trump instead”.

Reply

Mark Lause December 9, 2016 at 7:40 pm

Although you have had every opportunity to discuss politics with me in person, you prefer not to do so and to ignore what I’ve actually argued here in order to respond to things I didn’t discuss. A lot of you who earlier supported Bernie and personalized your hopes for a political salvation with him scoffed at those of us who were rejected the Democrats and contributed everything we could to the success of Stein. Since his very predicable and predicted defeat, a lot of you have now flipped your quests for a personalized savior to Stein. And now those of us who advocated her case and that of political independence for so long in spite of your attacks, are slandered for having some personal animosity to her. I find it so inexorably depressing and disappointing. But I suppose we can’t be surprised if we let the level of discussion among the corporate parties set that among us.

Reply

Kaydence January 18, 2017 at 11:57 am

I ca871n2#&;t see a problem since there is no actual combustion going on. No different than somebody chewing nicotine gum. Probably best to ask the airline before travelling to be sure though.

Reply

Kevin Zeese January 18, 2017 at 10:35 am

You must have missed the efforts of Democratic groups to fundraise for the recount.

The money seems to have come from an aggressive fundraising campaign by the Democratic Party political committee, MoveOn. They sent out repeated mailings to fund the recount. Howard Dean, the former DLC Chair, also sent out mailings through his group, Democracy for America. We have not seen who the larger donors were, but the recount was mainly funded by smaller donations from ardent Democrats.

Stein did not have the grassroots funding base to raise this kind of money. She did an excellent job fundraising for a Green candidate but I would be surprised if 10% of this money came from Greens. Why would Greens give double the amount of money to a recount than they gave to an entire campaign. It is just fantasy to think this was not funded by Dems who hoped to see Hillary become president.

Reply

Hetro December 5, 2016 at 12:18 pm

First, Mark, I do appreciate your effort here on this puzzling move by Jill Stein but would like to suggest a careful re-reading of what you have lengthily attempted to expose. Time and again breakdowns in the prose not only (for me) irritated but slowed your thinking badly. It seems proofreading for internet material is now a matter of the antiquated past. Second, for my money Jill Stein was the only candidate worth support, and here as with all the other hysteria over Trump’s victory we have a sour grapes do-in of her, echoed by your chorus in the commenters. It seems much more complex to me than all this over-simplification, which is added to by your closing, in its airy call for “an independent political party grounded in democratic values” instead of what we, in your view, regrettably had. Also, the way the DNC did in Sanders, I think, deserves more powerful language than you have applied here on his being “nudged” aside. Nudged? Come on. The DNC and Clinton knew damn well they had to overthrow him and he, unfortunately, inexplicably caved. I don’t buy all this blame to Stein and will seek further as to how she has been hoodwinked, as you imply.

Reply

thom prentice December 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm

My received information is that the three recounts were primarily based on outcomes not matching exit polls which I am also informed over years as being the most accurate for a number of reasons including happening after a voter has taken an action rather than expressed an opinion no matter how sliced and iced the sample. I am also recall how corporate media have been trashing exit polls and even more recently consolidating their inferential pre-election polls.

Having noted that, I am grateful for the total backstory on David Cobb and I am here to say that, while not ON the TX State Executive Cmte at the moment, he exercises continuing influence with this nasty gang of schemers and Stalinistas always conducting purge trials and avoiding anything actually reeking of democracy or membership rights at all.

Reply

Kevin Zeese December 9, 2016 at 12:28 am

Thanks for this accurate description of what happened in 2004 and the links provided for more details. It is important for Greens not to forget this history as 2020 is a potential repeat. Trump will very likely be running for re-election and the Democrats will put up another Wall Street and war Democrat.

Thank you also for including Ben Manski in the narrative. He is often unmentioned and he tried to pretend to have no view in 2004 as a co-chair of the Green Party. Ben’s way is to work behind the scenes and leave no fingerprints. Thanks for telling the full story.

Reply

Bob Marston December 9, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Kevin Zeese : “this accurate description of what happened in 2004 and the links provided for more details.”

Kevin, While the description is indeed accurate it is far from complete. It would take pages to explain what happened in those heady days and just as important what happened in the 8 preceding years to convey a clear picture of what actually happened. It was critically important to the viability of Green Party to maintain momentum coming out of 2000. And a self selected handful of operatives took it upon themselves to spike the Green Party Convention in order to protect the Democrat Party. Half of all registered Greens in the country voted to endorse Nader and put him on their ballot during the 2004 Primary Season. Nader demolished the field including David Cobb. But thanks to Lynn Serpe, Media Benjamin and Pat LaMarche Nader was denied the Green Party Ballot. The process of the 2004 Green Party Convention was sickening. And Jill Stein has the nerve to lecture other people about Electoral Integrity ? Jill Stein can KMA ! Cobbs 2004 run for the Greens was a sick joke ! 110,000 votes. A complete and utter collapse ! It showed who was actually running the Campaign in 2000. The Greens then snookered Cynthia McKinney in 2008 which turned out to be another debacle. Stein’s vote total is less than half that of Nader’s 16 years after the fact. The economy today is a shell of what is was in 2000 which demonstrates the Party’s loss of credibility, momentum and direction. Once a new political party emerges and establishes momentum it becomes imperative that it maintains momentum and continues to grow. With the attack that was leveled on Nader in 2004 there is no doubt the vote total for the Greens would have been down even if they had nominated Nader. I figure it would have been 1.8 to 2.4 million votes. It would not have been good but it would not have been blood bath like the Cobb Campaign. The Green Party collapse of 2004 was so total and so complete there is little hope the Party will ever recover.

Reply

CALynn December 9, 2016 at 12:34 pm

I consider myself as someone who is progressive along the lines of radical (chopping at the root instead of the branches), and I’ve read and (mostly) understand this critique/history of Green Party politics, written from the white male perapective. Until and unless the Greens are ready to denounce the root of our problems in America, that is the economic system of Capitalism, with its top down dictate and winner take all results (hence the top one tenth of one percent gather the riches), we will not be able to plot out, connect the dots for those who need an economically sustainable and equitable way forward. The corporate owned and controlled media, despite the availability of other resources, maintains a stranglehold on the influence of Americans to the point of brainwashing. Americans need to SEE that the System is rigged against them. And any tool necessary to bring that about – whether it is poking at ballot access irregularities, voter suppression, questioning results from machines designed and produced by mega corporations – I understand and look forward to the results. We need to poke at this System from evey angle…and never give up.

Reply

logansafi February 14, 2017 at 3:50 am

The Green Party has never ever really been anything other than a satellite of the Democratic Party. I’m not sure why Lause continues to think of it as anything other than a capitalist supporting party? Why should Leftists even bother to support supposed so called ‘Labor Parties’, like the one that Tony Blair belongs too? The Green Party is certainly not much better than Blair. It doesn’t even have any real union connections.

Reply

logansafi February 14, 2017 at 3:55 am

The US is not even close to being close to being much anything a democracy. Mark Lause doesn’t seem to relize that though.

Reply

logansafi February 14, 2017 at 3:57 am

The US is not even close to being close to being much anything a democracy. Mark Lause doesn’t seem to realize that though.

Reply

Kevin Zeese February 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm

You should be aware the Green Party passed an anti-capitalist pro-ecosocialist and worker owning businesses resolution in 2016.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: