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Are You Ready for President Paul Ryan? Why Democrats Desperately Need a Plan C

Harvey Wasserman
Contributor
Harvey is a life-long activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, history, drug war, election protection and grassroots politics. Wasserman simulaniously teaches history and…
Harvey Wasserman

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The Democratic party is teetering on the brink. The green/peace/social justice community needs a Plan C. The Republicans have one. The Democrats don’t. The impact could be catastrophic.

Consider:

  • Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have serious handicaps for reaching the presidency.
  • By her own admission, Hillary is an ineffective campaigner, with serious negatives among young activists and the general voting population.
  • Long considered an “ace in the hole” for her campaign, Bill’s presence on the stump has been problematic at best.
  • There are continual rumors of a pending Clinton indictment. About what remains unclear. But such an event could seriously impede or destroy a Clinton candidacy.
  • Bernie has catalyzed an amazing outpouring of activist energy, mostly young, but with a remarkably broad base that reflects the serious problems our nation faces.
  • But it’s unclear the Sanders campaign has been effectively focussed on organizing this energy into a long-term plus for social change beyond the election. If he doesn’t win the presidency, and this grassroots uprising is allowed to dissipate after November, the Sanders campaign must ultimately be judged a failure.
  • Bernie also has electoral negatives, most importantly his age. At 74, his stamina has been astounding. But he’s still five years older than Ronald Reagan was when Reagan became our oldest president. Even Trump, at 69, could make that an issue.
  • After a long stretch of welcome civility, the contest between Clinton and Sanders is on the brink of degenerating into deep negativity, which could seriously damage either candidate’s ability to win the White House in the fall.
  • Should both candidates be overwhelmed by their negatives, the Democrats have nobody waiting in the wings to pick up the torch.

    On the other side:

  • The GOP clown car has trickled down to three contested candidates – Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich – all with serious negatives for a presidential campaign.
  • But it now appears likely that Trump will fall short of an outright majority at the Cleveland Convention, making the nomination a jump ball.
  • In contrast to the Democrats, the GOP DOES have a backup – Paul Ryan. The Koch Brothers, who may be the only GOP voters who really count, are now saying Ryan will be the nominee.
  • Though an apparent long shot, Ryan did emerge from a crazed Congressional food fight to become Speaker of the House. As such, he’s right behind Joe Biden in the line of White House succession. He says he doesn’t want the presidency, but he also said he didn’t want the Speaker’s job.
  • Despite his outward appearance of civility, Ryan is a vicious corporate reactionary, an Ayn Rand fanatic with a brutal far-right agenda that includes (though he denies it) destroying Social Security, Medicare, labor unions, environmental protections and much more. A Ryan presidency would be a global catastrophe on more fronts that can be listed here.
  • Ryan has plenty of negatives as a candidate. And the Kochs earlier pushed Scott Walker, who failed miserably. But at 46, Ryan is more than two decades younger than Hillary. He has a family, speaks reasonably well and comes off as deceptively sane. With unlimited dark billions at his disposal, a well-calibrated running mate could make Paul Ryan hard to beat.
  • The idea that a GOP denial of the Trump or Cruz candidacies will shatter the party’s ability to win the fall election has meaning only if the Democrats are unified behind a viable candidate, or if the Kochs and their cohorts suddenly lose the billions they could spend to patch up the problem. The same is true if Trump or Cruz or Kasich actually do emerge as the nominee.
  • With ploys like Voter ID and other modernized Jim Crow disenfranchisement techniques, the GOP has effectively stripped the Democratic base of – literally – millions of likely voters. Written with Bob Fitrakis, our upcoming STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016 provides the detail, as does the ongoing research of Greg Palast, Bev Harris, Brad Friedman, Mimi Kennedy, Mark Crispin Miller, Lori Grace, Jon Simon, Richard Charnin and others. (There’s an hour-long radio discussion of this with Mimi, Bob Koehler and John Brakey at prn.fm’s Solartopia Show.)
  • In Wisconsin, significantly more votes were counted in the GOP primary than for Bernie and Hillary. The New York Times and others have estimated the number of Wisconsin citizens stripped of their right to vote at 300,000, comprising a margin easily large enough to deny the Democrats a victory in the fall.
  • Bob Fitrakis, Greg Palast and others have calculated the number of voters already stripped in Ohio in the hundreds of thousands, more than enough to cover this fall’s likely margin of victory in this crucial swing state.
  • Tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters were denied their ballot due to long lines in Arizona, which were set up with the stripping of precincts in urban areas and the denial of sufficient voting machines (and back-up ballots). As we did in Florida 2000, Ohio 2004 and elsewhere ever since, we can expect more of the same primarily in black, Hispanic and college town precincts throughout the country this coming fall.
  • Bernie spoke angrily about this after the Arizona primary, and Hillary has also mentioned these Jim Crow assaults – but nothing concrete has been done to blunt the massive disenfranchisement that is now defining the fall election.
  • Well over half the nation’s votes this fall will be cast on electronic voting machines that date back a decade and can be easily flipped. In key swing states like Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona among others, GOP governors could have a free hand to shape the vote count with a few keystrokes in the deep night after the votes are cast. There is no accountability.
  • Those who consider this “conspiracy theory” must face one simple question: “How will the electronic vote count in the fall 2016 election be verified.” Right now there is only one answer: “It can’t be.”
  • Since the thefts of the 2000 and 2004 elections, the Democrats have been deafeningly silent about the specter of another presidential election being stolen. Numerous US Senate and House seats, governors’ mansions and statehouses have been lost in the interim. The usual Democrat dodge is that they don’t want to discourage voter turnout. But, as above, that is already being guaranteed by the new GOP Jim Crow laws.

    The Democrats’ abject failure to deal with the stripping of the voter rolls and the flipping of the electronic vote count could doom their chances this fall, no matter who their presidential nominee. With that loss will go control of the Congress, governorships, state legislatures and countless other elective offices at all levels.

    But in the interim, the Democrats’ hopes for winning the White House now rest on two candidates with serious handicaps that could cost either of them any reasonable chance for victory in the fall, especially amidst the dark tsunami of Koch cash.

    The time to start at least considering potential backup alternatives is very much now.

    Likewise the need to guarantee that the immense grassroots energies ignited by Bernie Sanders become an organized, tangible force for long-term change.

    And – 16 years after the stolen election of 2000 – we at long last must confront the strip and flip “selectoral” realities that have turned our government into an utterly corrupt, globally lethal corporate subsidiary.

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