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Why Bernie Sanders Should Stay in the Race -- and How He Can Win

By Patrick Walker and Kevin Zeese
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Patrick Walker and Kevin Zeese

    A Bernie Sanders supporter holds a sign at a campaign rally. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Make no mistake: Settling for Hillary Clinton means abandoning the political revolution that Bernie Sanders has inspired. It means unconditional surrender after overcoming many obstacles in a rigged primary. That’s why the revolution must continue through November and beyond, and the Vermont senator’s supporters must urge him to keep fighting.

The West Virginia primary on Tuesday illustrates why. After his victory there, Sanders wrote: “There is nothing I would like more than to take on and defeat Donald Trump, someone who must never become president of this country.”

Unfortunately, he is unlikely to get that opportunity from the Democratic Party. If Sanders does not remain in the race until the end, he will very likely be helping the Republican candidate. Why? Because nearly half of his voters in West Virginia said they would switch their vote to Trump in November. In fact, we will explain why the best way to prevent Trump from taking the Oval Office would be for Sanders to run on a ticket with Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate.

Sanders’ current plan is to get some of his policies into the unenforceable Democratic Party platform and then simply endorse Clinton for president. But because that platform is unenforceable, it will have little value and is belied by the reality that the Democrats serve big business.

Clinton has a long history of representing Wall Street, Wal-Mart, weapons makers and insurance companies. She is in many ways the opposite of Bernie Sanders. The CEOs on Wall Street — and even the Koch oil barons — want her as the nation’s chief executive because her vision and political views align so perfectly with their own. The global 1 percent will be relieved if, when the revolution ends, they are still in charge and the oligarchy lives on. We can’t let it end that way.

The Corrupt and Unfair Democratic Primaries

Sanders was an independent for more than three decades until joining the Democratic Party last year, and he knew going into the primaries that he would be fighting establishment Democrats who are closely tied to everything he opposes. No insurgent has won a Democratic primary since the current system of superdelegates was put in place in 1982 to stop them.

This year, that anti-insurgent system also included a plan to have a limited number of debates (and independent and third-party candidates are blocked from participating in them). The number of debates dropped from 25 in 2008 to less than half that number this election season — and many were scheduled at times when few voters would be able to watch them. Clinton gave in to pressure for more debates when she thought it was in her interest. Ironically, in each of those face-offs, Sanders at least argued Clinton to a draw, and many saw him as the victor. Thus, the debates did not stop his revolution; in many ways, they grew it.

Another part of the establishment’s anti-insurgent plan is to front-load the primaries and caucuses by having 39 states and territories vote all in the month of March. This strategy usually destroys insurgents because they do not have the money to compete with well-funded, big-business establishment candidates. The Sanders revolt overcame that obstacle by raising millions in small donations.

Closed primaries are also a feature of that anti-insurgent plan, disenfranchising millions of voters who don’t want to join the Democratic or Republican parties. More than 6 million people were deprived of such a vote in New York and Florida alone.

In addition to these anti-democratic tactics, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, was the national co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Such an in-the-face conflict of interest shows audacious hubris, and the Democrats clearly thought that they could get away with anything to nominate Clinton. Wasserman Schultz has been consistently biased in Clinton’s favor, as indicated by her action to deny Sanders’ campaign access to the voter database just before the Iowa primary.

In August 2015, Clinton set up an agreement with 33 state Democratic parties for a joint fundraising agreement with the Hillary Victory Fund. This was before the first primary in a contested nomination. Not only was the DNC headed by a Clinton operative, but state parties were tied to Clinton’s fundraising, creating an unbreakable bond between her and the party. This allowed Clinton’s wealthy donors to multiply their donations astronomically. “A single donor, as Margot Kidder wrote at Counterpunch, “by giving $10,000 a year to each signatory state could legally give an extra $330,000 a year for two years to the Hillary Victory Fund.

“For each donor, this raised their individual legal cap on the Presidential campaign to $660,000 if given in both 2015 and 2016,” Kidder said. “And to one million, three hundred and 20 thousand dollars if an equal amount were also donated in their spouse’s name.”

Clinton’s superdelegates are chairs of key standing committees as well.

Sanders has complained to the DNC that the way these funds have been used violates federal election laws. He also wrote a letter to Wasserman Schultz, saying that she is tipping the scales for Clinton’s benefit.

Throughout the primary process, there have been voting irregularities. There are too many to review in this article, but they involved the erasing of voter registrations, an insufficient number of polling places, polls that opened late, and so on. In New York and Arizona where some of the worst problems were reported, investigations are ongoing.

Now, Sanders is heading into a Democratic Convention that is rigged against him, and he has more than enough reason to reconsider his previous plan to endorse Hillary Clinton. The 2016 election is historically unique and presents a perfect storm for an independent candidate. As a third-party candidate, Sanders could win the popular vote as well as the 270 electoral votes necessary to take the presidency — and his campaign would actually hurt, not help, Donald Trump.

Jill Stein of the Green Party has indicated that she is open to discussing how she can work with Sanders. By choosing her as his vice presidential running mate and becoming the Green Party nominee, Sanders could get on enough ballots to pose a solid independent challenge to two of the most unpopular major-party candidates in recent memory. It is a historic opportunity that should not be missed.

A General Election More Favorable to an Independent Than Ever Before

Sanders, the longest-serving independent in U.S. history, is well-positioned for a general election campaign because, for the first time, independents make up the largest group of voters. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 50 percent of Americans consider themselves independent, and fewer than 30 percent align with either major party. Only 21 percent identified as Republicans and 29 percent as Democrats. A 2015 Gallup poll similarly found that a record high number of Americans — 43 percent — consider themselves to be independents.

Since 2008, many more Americans have come to reject the two-party system because voters recognize that both the Democratic and Republican parties represent the interests of big-business donors. Gallup also reports that 60 percent believe a third party is needed “because the Republican and Democratic parties ‘do such a poor job’ of representing the American people.”

In addition, Sanders’ views on the corruption of the American economy and other issues have become the national consensus. A 2015 poll found 83 percent agree and nearly 60 percent “strongly” agree that “the rules of the economy matter and the top 1 percent have used their influence to shape the rules of the economy to their advantage.”

Americans agree that policies enacted since the economic collapse have benefited Wall Street, big corporations and the wealthy — but not the poor and middle class. By a factor of 2-to-1, people in the United States oppose corporate trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and, by a factor of 3-to-1, believe that such deals destroy more jobs than they create.

Three-quarters of Republicans favor a steep rise in the minimum wage. Four out of five voters, including three-quarters of Republicans, want to expand Social Security benefits. On Sanders’ top issues — Wall Street regulation — pollster Celinda Lake reported that 91 percent of those asked agree that financial services and products must be regulated to ensure fairness for consumers. Lake also found that 79 percent agree that financial companies should be held accountable with tougher rules and enforcement for the practices that caused the financial crisis.

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