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A General Look at the Systemic Suppression Inherent with America’s Two Party System ( Chapter 1 from 7% Difference a Revolution Makes)

We didn't vote because it won't make a difference.

We didn’t vote because it won’t make a difference.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – A General Look at the Systemic Suppression Inherent with America’s Two Party System
    • The confluence of 3 Historical Movements
    • Dumbing Down of America
    • Progressives not having a Voice and Third Party Suppression
    • Media Suppression of Third Party Voices
    • Intraparty Collusion to Suppress Minority Voices
    • Third Party Suppression by the Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) and the Presidential Debate
    • 7% Difference in Voting between Hillary and Bernie, order but the Candidates Could Not Be More Different
    • Lack of Representation of the wide range of views of Americans
  • Chapter 2 – A Closer Look at the Other Systemic Issues with Our Electoral System (forthcoming)
  • Chapter 3 – Electoral Corruption and Collusion with Hillary 2016 (forthcoming)
  • Chapter 4 – My thoughts for Electoral Reform
    • Introduction
    • Constitutional Amendments
    • Financing of Elections
    • News and Media Reform
    • Voting Reform
    • Supporting Electoral Reform
    • An inclusive America
  • Chapter 5 – In Closing (forthcoming)

Introduction

I will cover here a many of the issues with the two party system and the suppression that is inherent in it. I will also give some specific examples.

What follows is nowhere near as well written, medicine organized, supported or researched as I would like and this is because of limited time. My time is  limited not only because the elections coming up soon, but also because I have a life outside of politics and my blog, so I needed to get this out there sooner than later. Please forgive me. Some of the ideas I cover below in this first chapter I will cover in more detail in the next few chapters (assuming I am able to get them written).

The Historical Movement of the Republican and Democratic Parties to the Right

The Confluence of Three Historical Movements

Historically, in the United States, the Democrats and Republicans year after year, decade after decade, have had a trend of moving more and more to the right. There are a three dominant movements that I will cover here so you will have an idea as to the confluence of which events starting in the 70s that have brought us to the bizarre place we find ourselves:

  • The Republicans have always had a slow and steady move to the right, but in recent years the Republican Party has been subverted by the Tea Party which is, at its core, a Libertarian movement that has been infected with the worst of Ayn Randian conservatism and the worst of the fundamentalist religious right and has had the party zag to the far, far lunatic fringe right. For all intents and purposes, the Republican Party no longer exists and is being held hostage by this horrific Koch brothers supported corruption known as the Tea Party.
  • Then we have the rise of the Christian right’s televangelists who started working together in the late 70’s and early 80’s the train their followers to run for office to impose their fundamentalist ideologies on the rest of the country through the legislative branch. This has affected the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party since the Republican Party tends to boast being conservative and religious, but the pernicious effect of religion and fear from them has also pulled the Democratic party to the right a bit too, since religious people, a large voting and donating block, become a prime demographic to pander to for votes and money.
  • Lastly, we have the Military Industrial Complex’s and the Oil Company’s money and influence through lobbying for arms deals and more war having spent more than $200 million combined last year lobbying the government. Together they are one of the most powerful lobbying groups in America. These two industries and their lobbyists affect the the Democratic Party greatly because they control a tremendous amount of money for reelection campaigns for both parties and hence why we see so many wars for oil, laws against alternative energy, continued support for fossil fuels, and the continuous gutting of the education system. =(

The Dumbing Down of Americans

A powerful result of the confluence of these movements in our government over the past few decades is the eroding of freedoms and our education system by systemically and continuously gutting the education system sliver by sliver. By gutting the education system you create a populace that is easier to control and deceive for they are not trained or educated enough to see through it, nor do they have the education or drive to ask questions that challenge the status quo. People who are not well educated well tend to be conservative, religious, and xenophobic all of which benefit and swell the ranks of support for the above three movements – conservatism, religion, and war. If you have not watched the movie Idiocracy then please do, since this movie may really give you an idea about the pervasive and insidious effects that gutting the education system has on our country now and far into the future. Universities in the United States used to be almost free prior to the Vietnam War protests of the 70s. Can you guess why that has changed? =(

Let me take you down the road of how the effect of gutting of the education system compounds and has affected our political arena over last 40 years. With the religion, conservatism, and the military industrial complex/oil companies gutting the American education system sliver by sliver:

  1. They are creating an electorate who are less educated and less capable of seeing through deceptions or capable of critical thinking.
  2. People who are less educated tend to be conservative, religious, and xenophobic (ie bigoted, racist, anti-immigrant and having no problem with engaging in armed conflict to destroy nameless humans labeled as enemies)
  3. Conservative people tend to join religious communities and conservative movements and organizations.
  4. Conservative people tend to be easier to control due to lower levels of education and, by virtue of conservative psychology, are more trusting of authority and do what they are told without really questioning, especially when the rhetoric of each movement is fear based which is a powerful motivator that overrides compassion, reason, logic and thought in general.
  5. Conservative voters tend to vote more due to being pushed by fear based rhetoric by their conservative leaders and the media. This effect is especially powerful during midterm elections which results in more conservative than liberal governors and politicians in office, who are responsible for making laws, which is why midterm elections are super important for the progressive movement.
  6. Conservatives, who tend to be religious, also tend to have a lot of children which further swells the ranks of those who support these fear based and authority-laden institutions.Because there is an indirect correlation between education level and the number of children per family those who have lower levels of education tend to have move children.
  7. With parents who have already been drawn into conservatism and conservative religion they tend to pass on such values to their children through authoritarian parenting and religious indoctrination through their church. These children tend to join the ranks of their family’s religion and view and the cycle continues on to their multiple children.

It is a powerful and autocatalytic cycle and the conservative institutions know this well to which they are more than happy to exploit. There is a quote from Aristotle which speaks of the power of indoctrinating children early in order to keep them under control and within this cycle:

“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”

Aristotle

Organizing liberals, on the other hand, tends to be like herding cats since authority and fear are not prime motivators for this demographic. Getting them organized and out to vote in midterms is horribly challenging and this is a powerful place where the American people lose since the liberal voice is not heard. Well educated people tend to be liberal and, as such, are also more easily disaffected because they tend to understand what is happening and may feel hopeless to do anything about it because the conservative voting block is so effective and consistent. Because studies show that there is an indirect correlation between education and number children liberals have fewer children too, which means that the ratio of children raised in conservative families has quickly dwarfed the number of children raised in liberal families.

With the consistency of conservative voters who are easy to sway and control by their authority figures and the lack of voting and organization from liberals, the conservative movements tend to dominate government and public policy. Unfortunately, it takes an incredible amount of horrific things to happen in order to rouse liberal movements and voters to action and this is where the American people lose and the voice of nearly 50% of the electorate gets consistently lost and loses ground year after year as the number of conservatives grow in proportion to the number of liberals especially when it comes to votes. With increasingly fewer children being raised in liberal homes since there are fewer liberal people the trend of society and hence its vocalized values and politics moves to the right as well with no direct method to balance it out until the breaking point is reached, which is somewhere near where we find ourselves now.

However, I have noticed a mitigating factor to the Idiocracy Effect: today’s youth tend to be better informed because of consistent access to the Internet which can expose them to the wider world, different viewpoints, and have instant access to knowledge which can increase their worldview and therefore, hopefully, decrease their fearful and conservative outlooks creating a more tolerant and educated youth. This may be our only hope and a powerful force in the Revolution and the transformation of the future with the hope of returning democracy and peace to the people.

I have written an entire article on Morality vs Religion which is based on an analysis of conservative vs liberal psychology. Please take a gander at this to get a better understanding of its effects on decision making.

Money in Politics and Moving the Democratic Party to the Center

The factor that has drastically affected the Democratic Party the most directly is the power of corporate money, especially with the horrible Citizens United Supreme Court decision which effectively has allowed unlimited personal and private spending in elections because the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations, which are run and operated by people, shall be considered a legal persons with respect to elections, and limiting how much they can spend to influence an election is a violation of the corporate-person’s rights to free speech. Our electoral system runs on corporate money to fund their reelection campaigns so corporate donors and their large cash reserves have a powerful effect on our politicians and their policies – ie no money from corporations or the rich then no reelection for them. There was even a long term Princeton study that stated that  our representatives do not care about public opinion unless you are rich (The Young Turk’s coverage). Here it is shown, plain as day, the subversive results of money in politics resulting in the suppression of the will of the people. With unlimited money able to be spent in elections by corporations effectively giving them more of a voice than you or I since we can only cast one vote to have our voice hear, while they may spend millions on lobbying congress and on commercials to influence the public for their candidate.

Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

Progressives not having a Voice and Third Party Suppression

Over the past 40+ years the Democratic Party has steadily moved towards the center due to corporate influence and the dumbing down of the electorate, especially with the effect of the policies and positions of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton who are strong corporatist (and not populist like Bernie Sanders or the Green Party) candidates, so that now there is no real left leaning party like there are in many European countries. The Democratic Party is effectively a centrist party which is ‘infected’ with true liberals and progressives that silently scream against the indifference and corruption, and many are complacent and just shrug their shoulders in response when it all is pointed out feeling like they are just another cog in the corrupt system and that they are helpless to effectuate any real change, to make any real progress. Doing otherwise may mean that lose their job or the party may turn on them.

If we attempt to compensate for the historical rightward movement of our two political parties then Hillary Clinton and the current Democratic Party effectively represents what the Republican Party or conservative movement should be today and Bernie Sanders, The Green Party and the progressive movements represents what the Democratic Party should be in a horribly flawed two-party system – a real left and right, but that is not what we have. We have the far right lunatic fringe with the Tea Party controlled Republican Party and a right-of-center through the Democratic Party with the true left and liberals trying to rage against the two corrupt corporate controlled parties by working within the broken system. As a progressive, when I listen to Romney’s positions from the 90s I think that he may be someone that I might vote for. He seems borderline reasonable, especially when compared to today’s Republican Party and some establishment Democrats. That should show you have far our parties have been pushed to the right when I potentially consider Romney from the 90s as a reasonable candidate in today’s hazardous electoral climate.

For decades the true progressive movement has felt like they do not have a voice, that they are disenfranchised and unheard in the political arena. Bernie’s fiery rise from national obscurity and being catapulted into a real competition with what is perhaps the most powerful political organization in the country, the Clintons, has awakened a powerful longing and raging progressive voice that has us finally feeling like we truly have and deserve a voice, that we must demand a voice, that we must be heard. This awakening that his candidacy has brought has truly stoked a fire in progressives, awakening us from our torpor and has made us realize that we were sleeping and that we must act if we want change. The sleeping dragon of progressive politics has been awakened which means that the political arena will never be the same (until we inevitably grow complacent and have to repeat this horrible cycle after decades of conservative dominance) and that is for the better for our democracy and freedoms must be reclaimed from our corporatist masters found in the Republicans and Democrats.

The Green Party movement has languished in relative obscurity due to suppressive laws making it hard to get on ballots, get access to funding, get access to the debate stage, or hard to have the media to take them seriously. In Europe, which is far more progressive and so very far ahead of us in many, many ways, Bernie and the Green Party are good examples of what a standard liberal or Democratic Party is there and neither are seen as at all radical. The establishment Democratic Party is effectively what the Republican Party should be. The current Republican Party, which has been infected by the far-right lunatic fringe via the terminal festering rot of the Tea Party, should be completely immolated so we can have some level of reason and sanity return to our politics and to our country and to compensate for the insidious effect of the dumbing down of our country of which that party is an abject example of.

Poltical Compass map of 2016 Candidates

Poltical Compass map of 2016 Candidates

Map showing the relative positions of the various candidates on the left-right sprectrum

Map showing the relative positions of the various candidates on the left-right spectrum

With all of this being said it may become somewhat apparent that many, many people might feel somewhat disaffected, voiceless, or disenfranchised with our government and our political process. During this election season, you did not see protests or marches in support of either Hillary or Trump. Many rallies, marches, and protests were formed against them or were for Bernie and the various progressive movements because of the progressive monster that Bernie has awakened and because we realize that we have a real chance to have someone in government who finally speaks for us and represents us. I will modify a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Protests are the language of the unheard. and that is completely correct. Approximately 40% or more of America has been voiceless and not represented in our government for a very, very long time. The tides have turned and the movement has started and we will demand representation not only in our politicians but also in our laws and policies. There are very many good reasons as to why the majority of the populace do not vote and this is one of the powerful reasons. They do not feel they are represented and they feel the system is corrupt to which this election season is showing through the Democratic Party without shame. It is now time for progressives to reclaim our voice and to claim our place at the political table, to finally be heard.

Let’s Call Establishment Democrats – Republicans

Noam Chomsky – Today’s Democrats are Moderate Republicans So, let’s move on to other things since this fact provides a great segue way into the rest of what challenges our country.

So, let’s move on to other things since this fact provides a great segue way into the rest of what challenges our country.

Media Suppression of Third Party Voices

A powerful factor and effect of the two-party system is the media’s collusion in maintaining the two party narrative by relegating third parties and other dissident movements such as independents, the Green Party, Libertarians, anti-TPP, anti-war, anti-GMO and other grassroots movements to barely footnotes in their coverage. Why would they do this? Because it would hurt their corporate sponsors’ bottom line, of course. The insidious effect of this collusion between the corporations and the media results in the suppression of third parties views and keeps them from the eyes of the American people so that they cannot really take them seriously or even consider voting for them even if this third party more accurately represents their views. Most people do not know about third parties because they do not get anywhere near proportional media coverage which is where most Americans get their electoral and issue information. The people cannot vote for a party that they do not really know about and they cannot be concerned about issues that they do not know about because they are hidden by the media. The media does a great job at marginalizing the voices of third parties, their supporters, and other grassroots movements. The people find it hard to trust a party that the media will not cover because they incorrectly assume that the media must not be biased which is a sad mistake. Sadly, that law was repealed under Reagan. Our news has never been the same and is the primary reason that FOX news is a thing.

As an example: in my specific case, I found out about the Green Party through randomly taking the I side With test which had me saying to myself ‘Who the hell are these people and why did I not know about them?’ which is a crime and had me waste my previous votes to vote for the candidate that really did not represent my views.

Minority voices through third parties are not given anywhere near equal time or consideration in the news, debates, policy considerations, or by the people because these third parties are not controlled by the corporations that own our politicians and, in many cases, are actually responsible for directly writing many bills that go to Congress. There was even a long term Princeton study that stated that our representatives do not care about public opinion unless you are rich (The Young Turk’s coverage). For the corporations, it is far easier and cheaper to control two parties and suppress others through the media than it is to give people a real choice and spend a whole bunch of money trying to mitigate the voices of the many disparate parties who may oppose their agenda. This is how they perpetrate to the people the illusion of choice and being informed.

I will show you two cases from this election so you get the picture:

Bernie Sanders, a lifelong independent had to run as a Democrat to even have a chance to run for the presidency, because in America, if you do not carry one of the two acceptable political labels (Democrat or Republican) then you will never have a chance to win or even have your voice heard, or you will be seen, incorrectly, as a spoiler.

The Green Party and the Libertarian Party have been fighting for years and years to get recognition in media, into the presidential debates, and to get on the state ballots for the general election. Because of the media bias against them they do not have the funds to effectively and properly compete against the corporate sponsored and controlled parties. People who do not know about these third parties or those that think that a vote for them will not count will not consider sending them money even if it is the party that most closely represents their views. Both the Libertarian and Green Parties have even had to file lawsuits (jointly and separately) against states due to overly onerous laws which keeps them from getting on ballots just to have the chance for people have the option to vote for them even if they do not know of them yet. The exclusion of third parties from media representation and from getting on state ballots makes it really difficult for the people to take them seriously, suppresses their political voice, and suppresses people’s votes by denying them an educated and informed vote.

Ralph Nader: Why Bernie Ssanders was right to run as a Democrat

Intra-party Collusion to Suppress Minority Voices

Because there are only really two viable parties that have a chance at winning an election, those candidates whose views may not be directly aligned with either the Republicans or Democrats may have to run within either party just to have a chance to have their voice heard or to even have a chance to win. A poignant case, as mentioned above, is Bernie Sanders, a life-long independent, choosing to run as a Democrat where the party has actively colluded within the party and with the media against him when at all possible. When candidates have to run a campaign within a party that is somewhat closely aligned to their values this can result in the party ignoring them or punishing them for posing views that are different from the party’s mainstream values. Because the person was attempting to work within a party which did not closely align with their values to even have a ‘fair’ chance to compete then their views get lost in the conflict which results in their voice and the voice of the Americans that voted for them or that support them being suppressed. As another very powerful example of this: in the end, Bernie Sanders was blackmailed by threatening to remove him from his valued position on the Congressional Veterans Committee in order to neuter his campaign and to get him to endorse Hillary thereby ending, in all practical terms, his campaign and putting and end to the voice he provided to the progressive movement and those who support him.

How many other times has this happened in history where a candidate has chosen to run within one of the two major parties only to suffer because they were a squeaky wheel that threatened their party’s values and their corporate owners’ control? What happened to Bernie Sanders was not the first time it has ever happened, I can guarantee you that. It will not be the last, either until we fix our horribly broken electoral system.

How different would this election have turned out if Bernie had a mainstream party that he could run with and not have to deal with the suppression and collusion by the Democratic Party or by the media? What if we had at least three mainstream parties running – Democrats, Republicans, and Social-Democrats where each party had somewhat equal economic support, coverage via the media, the public had equal historical knowledge of each party, and they had equal ballot access? How different would this election have been with a three-way race – Trump, Hillary, and Bernie? Unfortunately, we the people have been denied this by the corporations and will never know.

Third Party Suppression by the Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) and the Presidential Debates

Let us also add in the fact that the Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) which controls who is able to appear in the final set of debates between the parties’ chosen presidential nominees is also run by the corporate controlled Democratic and Republican Parties and their lobbyists which arranges the debates with requirements so as to make it very difficult for third parties to gain access further suppressing the voice of Americans, especially when you take into account the pernicious effect of media collusion against them.

Please also consider the following few points: In 2012 the Green Party’s presidential candidate, Jill Stein, was arrested for trying to gain access to the presidential debates in protest for the silencing of third party voices. When was the last time that you saw a candidate from a party other than the Democrats and Republicans participate in an official general election presidential debate? The last time we saw a third party on the presidential debate stage was 24 years ago with Ross Perot in 1992, which was the year I graduated high school and went off to basic training for the Navy.

Most Americans are politically ignorant, bitter, or are just trying to get their bills paid and, for many, their first look into the presidential race is the general election debates, and this is where many will get most of their information and make their choice about who to vote for president. To deny third parties access to this most powerful stage in front of the American people is to suppress their voice, to limit their choices, and being inherently undemocratic.

For your information here is the historical list of the presidential debates as pulled from Wikipedia.

Election # debates Dem Rep Other
Election # debates Dem Rep Other
1960 4 John F. Kennedy Richard Nixon
1964
1968
1972
1976 3 Jimmy Carter Gerald Ford
1980 3 Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan John B. Anderson
1984 2 Walter Mondale Ronald Reagan
1988 2 Michael Dukakis George H. W. Bush
1992 3 Bill Clinton George H. W. Bush Ross Perot
1996 2 Bill Clinton Bob Dole
2000 3 Al Gore George W. Bush
2004 3 John Kerry George W. Bush
2008 3 Barack Obama John McCain
2012 3 Barack Obama Mitt Romney

In light of much of what I have said from above, I hope we all understand how misplaced is the rage felt for Ross Perot and Ralph Nader for being ‘spoilers’, right? Spoiler rage is the language of the ignorant. Third party candidates are not the problem. The systemic corruption which works to suppress and vilify third parties and the voices of their constituents is the problem. How are the voices for the disparate people of our country represented here with only two corporate controlled parties? How can this in any way be considered a democracy? How can it be said that the people have a real choice or a voice with just these two parties, when others exist but they are pushed out of the American’s eye and denied the ability to take part in such an important conversation?

If I remember correctly, the CPD also has a clause that says that a candidate may not participate in a debate outside theirs or be barred from further debates further restricting a candidate’s ability to debate others and for them to have access to debate third party candidates even if they wanted to. Because of the exclusion of the third parties from the presidential debates in most years and, with the power and ubiquity of the Internet, the third parties have created their own presidential debate forum through the Free and Equal which was also carried by the independent online news channel named Democracy Now, which, of course, has received basically no media coverage and the American people have no idea that this is even a thing unless you happen to follow independent media. Sadly, this should not have to happen. There should not be a separate forum for third party candidates. They and their current and potential constituents should have a chair at the table of the presidential debates for all to hear, consider, and vote for.

7% Difference in Voting between Hillary and Bernie?

Part of what is interesting between Hillary’s and Bernie’s voting record is that most often (93% of the time) they voted together. Bernie, even though he is a lifelong independent, even caucuses with the Democrats and is a member of the Progressive Democratic Caucus. What is telling here are those 7% of votes where they differ. Perhaps it is this 7% difference that makes the difference between a corporatist candidate and a populist candidate, which seems like a really fine line to split if that really is the case. Perhaps this number also poses a way that may determine how many different mainstream political parties we should have – 1 for every 7% to try to cover the breadth and depth of the views of the American people. Using that math this makes for 15 (14.28) different parties.

How many of you honestly think that the two parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – honestly and accurately represent the breadth and depth of the views of most Americans – the socialists, anarchists, republicans, democrats, libertarians, communists, pirates, greens, etc? We are definitely doing something wrong if we only really have two carefully controlled corporate choices with other voices being suppressed to not even have real chance to have their voices heard. For these third parties and their constituents to not have their voices heard is to suppress their voice and means that there are many, many Americans who do really have a voice in our government and that is a horrific shame for a country that prides itself on its freedom and its “democracy”. The illusions of democracy and electoral choice are powerful charades perpetuated by the media in collusion with the corporations due to their financial control of our electoral system and the laws that govern it.

31 Senate Bills Where Hillary and Bernie Voted Differently

Let’s take a look at the number of political parties found in some European countries to see how we compare:

Number of Major Political Parties
USA 2
Norway 8
Denmark 8
Sweden 9
Belgium 11
Switzerland 13
Germany 14
UK 16
Netherlands 17

Now, I will not say that having more parties is going to be perfect and solve all of our problems, because it will not, but it will be much, much closer to a truly representative democracy, and better than the oppressive system we have now where the majority of Americans do not have a chair at the table of democracy. This will be a start if we can ever get there.

Lack of Representation of the wide range of Americans’ views

With the historical movement of our two corporate and media supported parties moving to the right due to cutting education, money controlling politics, and very active conservative and religious movements resulting in two parties which represent the center-right and far-right while leaving everyone else without a voice in our government, and then we combine that with media’s suppression of third party candidates and third party suppression in the presidential debates, the result is a government and policy which does not in any way represent the breadth and depth of the views of the American people and is horribly undemocratic. Very few people know about or even would consider third parties which range from Socialist, Green, Libertarian, Communist, Pirate and so on. Currently, the entire left and moderate conservatives do not really have a voice which ends up in suppressing the voices of nearly 60% or more of the population. There is nothing democratic or free about this and it needs to change.

An advantage of a political system which has more than 2 parties, beyond more equal representation which is of the utmost importance in a “democratic” society, is that it requires the various disparate parties to work with each other by forming alliances and issue voting blocks to get things done. It is not just one party and its opposite thwarting each other every chance it gets like we have it now. The two party dynamic has set us back socially, politically and economically many years and has cost us many lives and billions of dollars. Requiring a collection of various disparate parties and viewpoints to work together to promote issues in common should be a fundamental part of a democracy, but it cannot be done with only two parties which are center-right and far, far right corporatist parties. We need more parties. We need more voices. We need a government which more accurately represents the American people not only in values, but in gender, race, sexuality, education, life employment and history. In no way can our two corporate owned parties, which consists of mostly rich white people, accurately represent the breadth and depth of the views of the American people and this is fundamentally undemocratic because the voice of the people is not fairly represented in government and in decision making.

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. ”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do we get there? That is a good question. Towards the end of this massive series of articles, I will list a bunch of reforms that I will suggest to tackle this issue and many more regarding our electoral system. We must demand an end to the two party system so that everyone in our country has a party that they believe, at least on some substantial level, represents them or speaks for them. We need to demand that this changes so that we the people may be heard. The corporations and politicians who control the two party setup will not just grow a conscience, say they were wrong, and just hand over the government to the people. We need fight for it and to demand it otherwise, nothing will change. Returning the government to the people is what this Revolution is really about and voting for the people who represent the problem will not get us change so we must vote for the candidates that represent our values and the change we want to see. Anything other than that and we are condoning the oppression by our oppressors.

My Experience at the Democratic National Convention Protests in Philadelphia 2016

We will not yield!

We will not yield!

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

Martin Luther King Jr.

First I would like to thank 2 people for really making this happen – my wife, asthma Tatsiana, prostate and our friend, bronchi Betsy Bowers. Without their support, I would be a really sad panda. Thank you for being part of the team which assisted me in taking part in a historic moment!

This rather large post will not be so exciting due to a few factors which will be listed below, but I will talk through my experience here for my own benefit and for posterity.  Factors:

  • I arranged this trip quickly so I did not plan and research things as well as I could have
  • I am quite shy so talking to random strangers, even ones that I will most likely have a lot in common with when attending a protest, is not my thing
  • Cabs are really expensive to get around in
  • It was really hot and humid out there. I mean yikes!!
    It burns us! It chokes us!
  • I had limited time

I really, really wish I had a computer to sit down and write my thoughts, a notepad to take notes in, and a camera to take pictures with so I can organize a post like this with more detail. =(  Well, to be honest, an assistant would be even better! Let me know if you would like to volunteer for my next crazy adventure. =) Maybe next time.  I will really get to my thoughts on things in an upcoming post about the Bernie or Bust movement and why it matters, and why it is the only answer towards an actual solution. I think with the fraudulent coronation of Queen Hillary that things have come into a much clearer perspective.

Arranging the Trip and the Trip There

A week or so before the convention I had originally been looking at attending the whole protests from Monday through Friday, but as I was looking at flights on whichever site I was, it appeared as if the 1-way flights were $500-600 each which would be over $1,000 total for airfare which is ridiculous. We could not afford that and everything else that goes into a trip, especially the costs of hotels, so with a deep sadness in my heart I had to say that I could not go. Most likely, I was misreading it, but I looked several times to make sure, because these prices seemed crazy. Albeit, I  only checked that one site, so this would be my fault for not searching for alternatives to verify the seemingly crazy prices.

So, the Monday of the Convention, with a heavy yet wistful hope in my heart, I longingly did a little research on airfare again and found that they were $500-$600 round trip which is what I was expecting price wise. I contacted the wife and I received the OK for the second time. I had already previously made most of the arrangements I needed for babysitting, so I just verified those and then bought the tickets. That night was a mad night of some shopping for things (backpack, camelback, and other small items) and packing. I finished up preparing the next morning and we left at around 11pm for my flight leaving from Madison to Chicago to Philadelphia @ about 1:19pm.

I had only 2 carry-ons – a new backpack and a small roller suitcase, although they checked both into baggage on one flight and one in for the other flight, which had never happened before as far as I can remember and I have flown a lot (over 30 times), so that was confusing. When I arrived at both locations I had no idea where to pick up my bags. It apparently wasn’t the baggage claim. =( Apparently, they were going to be brought out near the gate, so that was stressful and a lot of missed time, and a lot of sweat and running. Although one airport lady was kind enough on first time to try to meet me to bring my baggage to me so I would not miss my next flight. =) The flights to Philadelphia went well other than my baggage confusion.

Arriving in Philadelphia

Tuesday, July 26 with 91 degrees and 62% humidity

While I was confused about my baggage situation I arrived in the Philadelphia baggage claim as the TV mounted over the silver baggage carousel announced that Bernie Sanders said let’s have the vote @ ~6:55pm local time. I took a picture of that screen and posted to Facebook the following message: “We just witnessed the death of democracy.” My stomach was a mess for the rest of the night. I can only imagine how horrible it was for Bernie to say those words out loud. It is bad enough to think them, but to actually have to say them and be part of the coronation of the person who orchestrated election fraud, voter suppression, money laundering and collusion to steal the election from him and the people. I do not think he will ever be able to recover from this. Only time will tell. Fortunately, Bernie’s superdelegates staged a walkout in protest to the stolen election, which is no real consolation, but we do have that moment.  =) =(

We have just witnessed the death of Democracy

We have just witnessed the death of Democracy

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153775356118354

First Night in Protest Area

Tuesday, July 26 with 91 degrees and 62% humidity

After that I called a cab and arrived at the 20th and Pattinson (I think these were the street names)  at one of the entrances to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Park where the “Free Speech” zone was  =(  I could see the black fencing that was around the Wells Fargo Center where the convention was being held from here and the wall of police behind it. There were officers everywhere inside and outside of the Democratic National Convention (DNC)  area. Many streets were blocked off to control and restrict traffic, even parts of the interstate were limited too.  At the entrance on the road were city garbage trucks or other large similar trucks which were blocking the road to prevent traffic from passing through. Democracy? Where the voice of the people was so far away from those that needed to hear it, so far from the area of those who were supposed to “represent” us. =( Democracy? That word, I do not think it means what it is they think it means. =( Free speech is everywhere in the country just not behind a fence where our voices and concerns cannot be heard.

Outside the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

Outside the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

I wandered around and there were a lot of people talking and singing, and had signs protesting various things from the TPP, GMOs, War, electoral fraud, the drug war, and some that were pro-Bernie, anti-Hillary, or were various shades of Bernie or Bust, or pro-Jill Stein. I was at home here. I was with my people and it felt good, reassuring, heartwarming that I was really not alone. I was with those who understood me and I understood them. This was a strange yet comforting feeling, although I still felt quite alone since I knew no one here and was a bit too shy to start a conversation. Introversion is a mixed blessing. This is not one of those times when it  a blessing, unfortunately.

I wandered around to see what I could see and eventually made my way towards the very back depths of the Free Speech area at a rally with a black stage. Up there was a black rapper who was rapping some political stuff for us and also performed something political that he was working on. After that Debbie Lusignan, The Sane Progressive (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter) talked for a little bit and then introduced several people like her fellow YouTuber Tim Black (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), activist YahNe Ndgo (Facebook, Twitter), and 2 Bernie superdelegates, one of which was Tim Friend (if I remember correctly) who is also running for office somewhere and seems to be doing well. He is taking Bernie’s path to try to reform the Democratic Party from within and that is great, although Debbie was all #DemExit.

 Debbie Lusignan, The Sane Progressive @ a rally in Philadelphia protests

Debbie Lusignan, The Sane Progressive @ a rally in Philadelphia protests

I respect and value both methods of reform. I am #DemExit and #BernieOrBust which is easy for me since I have been a member of the Green Party for 3 years or so,  but we really need to attack the problem from both ends if we are going to see change. Not everyone could stomach, especially after this election, working inside the corrupt Democratic Party and not everyone is comfortable working outside the party. It is up to each person to contribute to the revolution in a way that plays to their strengths.

As I finished the night I walked towards the park exit to start walking to where I could get a cab. I walked near the fence to see what was going on and there were people there with signs and were singing ‘We are in this together’. I followed them for a little while on the right side  of the group and then decided it was time to call it a night. This video is of the group I was with  towards the front right, although I think I had left by the time this video was taken.

Now keep in mind I said that I arranged this trip quickly, which also means that I did not arrange for a place to stay. I was sort of hoping to talk to some people and see if I could crash with them. A lot of people were camping, but I could not do that because I would not be able to sleep in the horrible heat and humidity. I would die like that. Well, being that I am as shy as I am I did not talk to anyone, but I was able to get a room @ Motel 6 North East which, strangely, given its rather labyrinthine layout had no elevators and no signs pointing to the lobby. This was very annoying and meant I had to leave the building to figure out how to walk to the front to find the lobby without getting continuously lost. I showered to get all of the stink and sweat off and then went to bed to prepare for a long day tomorrow.

Only Full Day

Wednesday, July 27 with 95 degrees and 74% humidity

My Ukrainian Cabbie

In the morning (~ 11:00 am) I was taken to the FDR Park by a Ukranian cab driver, named Marcus. We had a good talk and he gave me his personal card and arranged for me to call him when I needed to go back to the motel that evening. We talked about politics, the convention, him coming to America with his family, life in Russia before he came here in the late ’80s and early 90s, and his life here since he came to America.

My Ukranian Cabbie named Marcus in Philadelphia

My Ukranian Cabbie named Marcus in Philadelphia

The Young Turks and Jimmy Dore

Shortly after I arrive in the sweltering humidity I came upon a few people standing around – 2 of which wore black The Young Turks (TYT) (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) t-shirts and one had a TYT microphone. My jaw dropped in shock at the possibilities. I was hoping to see them while they were here, because TYT rocks. They rock enough that I threw money at them this year to support their truly progressive news channel. I stood near and listened and after a little bit I was invited to join their circle. Three of them were TYT supporters and two of the three were prolific tweeters to TYT during their show. The guy holding the TYT microphone was TYT staff and the other was a local cameraman hired to work with them. They talked for a little while and I listened as they were trying to plan their day and talking about TYT stuff. It was just great to see them and know they were here. After a while, Jimmy Dore (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter) came with one of their producers. I was able to shake Jimmy’s hand! Squee!  Once Jimmy went to work interviewing people I shadowed them until they decided to call it quits for lunch and air conditioning. While I shadowed them and watched Jimmy Dore interview various people I was able to have some interesting conversations with the presence of TYT here acting as a catalyst for conversation. TYT, bringing people together!

Jimmy Dore of The Young Turks at the DNC Protests in Philadelphia

Jimmy Dore of The Young Turks at the DNC Protests in Philadelphia

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153776847843354

Conversation with a Libertarian

My first conversation was with a Libertarian while Jimmy was interviewing some Libertarians who were camped out in the park and congregating. A Libertarian who was very unhappy with Jimmy  ended up growling while he passed and sprayed some pamphlets at him.

I talked Middle Eastern Foreign Policy with him, although he did not have too many answers or any answers that were better than mine, but my thoughts revolve around the following ideas:

  • An incredibly aggressive 5-year plan to shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy (most likely end up being a 10-year plan, but we can start with 5 years and see what happens). This would work on the national security issues of climate change, energy independence and getting us out of the Middle East. Oil is one of the only reasons we are there. Once we dump fossil fuels and remove the leverage that the OPEC nations have over us then their economy will start to tank which will drastically change the balance of power.
  • Arms embargo to all nations in the area including Israel. Hell, almost all of the weapons there are American made and provided since we trained and funded all of the terrorist organizations there. An arms embargo would starve the region of weapons. Hell if we really wanted to sock it to ’em, when our troops leave we should confiscate as many weapons and ammo as possible too.
  • Have Saudi Arabia (and other regional Islamic countries) provide the front-line soldiers in the war against the Jihadists and ISIL with NATO and the US providing ancillary support
  • We cannot defeat a religion because it is a concept, an idea, and henceforth can never die, so the next step would be a guerilla education program to drop educational materials, radio programs and TV programs into the fundamentalist Arabic countries to reduce the control of religion against the imposed ignorances of their religious practices

These are just my modest thoughts on this horribly complicated issue.

Conversation with Michael Pellagatti of Occupy Wall Street

Next, I talked with Michael Pellagatti (Facebook, Twitter), the man who is known as the Occupy Wall Street Tour Guide and he seemed to have some anarchist leanings. He had no problem with people destroying other people’s property and said that he was a pragmatist. I said that promoting that ‘it is not good to destroy other people’s stuff’ was the most pragmatic thing and to only care about property destruction when people were destroying your stuff was very Republican or Libertarian mode of thought – as in – you do not care about others and their plight until it affects me, then I care. Uggghhh! But, the rest of the conversation was interesting enough, especially to have met a person who was one of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Michael Pellagatti, The Occupy Wall Street Tour Guide a the DNC protests in Philadelphia

Michael Pellagatti, The Occupy Wall Street Tour Guide a the DNC protests in Philadelphia

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153776953353354

edit: An interesting analogy he left me with was about climate change – global warming is analogous to our fevers. Earth has been infected with a virulent strain of humans who are poisoning and destroying the Earth’s form. In an effort to combat this infection, Earth’s defenses are starting a fever (global warming) in order to create an environment  hostile to the infection in hopes of destroying it to restore balance to its biological systems. I am sure others have heard this before. I am sure I have too, but I have definitely forgotten it. He brought this up in our conversation and it was refreshed anew in my mind and for that I am thankful. This metaphor really gets to the heart of it. We are the disease, the problem, and we have the power to fix it all. We, the people of Earth, need to stop being a virulent an infection and need to make a radical attempt to restore balance to Earth’s ecosystems and environment or this “fever” will destroy us all. It has happened before and it will happen again. Earth will remain but we humans will be wiped from existence since we are heading for an extinction level event. Our willful ignorance and unwillingness to stop the problem when we definitely can will be our undoing. Our hubris will destroy us as is typical of most decadent societies unwilling to face its corruptions.

Conversation with a Veteran

I talked with a Navy vet who was interviewed by Jimmy Dore and who was a part of anti-narcotics ship based off the east coast. He has handled a big gun in the process of his work and a moment in time that inspired his diligence was what the horrible tragedy that happened to the USS Cole. We praised the Young Turks, thanked each other for our service, and consoled each other on the state of things, especially the stealing of the election.

David Cobb, The Move to Amend Guy

The very last interview they did that morning was with David Cobb, the man who started to Move to Amend movement (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) which is about amending the constitution to overturn the Citizens United to remove money from politics. He was great. Jimmy let him just run with it and he did his very well-practiced spiel until he was done. He has definitely done this a few times. Yea!

David Cobb, the man who started to Move to Amend movement at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

David Cobb, the man who started to Move to Amend movement at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153776990213354

3.6 Mile March to Philly Town Hall with Just Us Riders

Following the TYT’s last interview with David Cobb I wandered around a little bit and found a man with an alpaca named Shae… an alpaca in the middle of Philadelphia. Naturally, I was curious about this. The man’s name is Ethan Abbot (I think)  and he started JustUsRiders.org (Facebook, Twitter). He goes from town to town staying at various farms with his menagerie of animals – something like 2 alpacas, 2 sheep, 2 pigs , and 4 chickens, I think.  He has taken that alpaca right into the middle of a boardroom or town hall meeting to bring attention to the issues. An animal is a good gimmick to attract attention.

Ethan Abbot of JustusRiders.org and his alpaca, Shae, at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

Ethan Abbot of JustusRiders.org and his alpaca, Shae, at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

With Shae in tow he marched about 8 of us from the FDR Park protest grounds through town to the city center at the Town Hall with him occasionally saying through his  megaphone something like:

“Yes ma’am, this is an alpaca!

Are You fed up?  Time to take back:

…our farms,

…our families,

…our food

…our freedoms,

from the corporations.

Get off your couches, turn off your TV’s and do something about it.

Come Join Us.”

There was a little more to his megaphone spiel, but this is all I can remember. He really enjoyed the megaphone and watching people’s responses and their attraction to the alpaca. He said that the day before he made that 3.6 mile trip many, many times over a period of 12 hours. I am glad he was there, but that is a crazy level of dedication especially in that heat and humidity.

We arrived in the center of town, where Black Men for Bernie (Facebook) were holding a rally. I was tired, hungry, sweaty as hell, my knees were burning and my camelback had run out of water for the first time. With another person from the march (the green shirt carrying water in the picture) we went to the bathroom, got water, and ate at Subway. Normally, I do not order a foot long, but after that 3.6 mile march through the heat and humidity,I ordered and summarily devoured a foot-long tuna sub. Once we rested a little bit and finished our subs we then took the subway back towards the FDR Park and returned to the “Free Speech” protest area.

Black Men For Bernie rally at Philadelphia town hall

Black Men For Bernie rally at Philadelphia town hall

Jez Coulson, Photojournalist for the Sunday Times

After we returned to FDR Park I spent some time near the tent that was providing free food to protestors so I could rest my feet and knees and to listen. Among the nearby tents and people talking I was a bit surprised to find many people were smoking normal cancerous cigarettes and some were smoking pot too. I rested, sat, and listened for a while and then walked over and sat on the only bench I have noticed in the park.  Eventually, I made my way back towards the tents, people, and the food tent and saw this thoroughly British looking guy dressed all in black (shirt and pants) with a camera or two and some equipment strapped to him so I thought I would hear his story.

He is a very well known British photojournalist named Jez Coulson (Facebook, Twitter) who works for the Sunday Times. He has traveled all over the world even into some war zones to get pictures. He was mostly based in the US, but still did a lot of traveling for work. We talked about the election and how the British saw Trump and the stealing of our election. He saw parallels between the elections and our sad pair of candidates and the Brexit movement, both of which are sadly very bad for all involved. After a little while, he moved on to get more pictures of the event.

Rally Speeches

I had considered not staying for any of the rally speakers that night, but I tried to endure for as long as I could. I was here, so let’s do it! I heard some speakers talk about the Monsanto and other GMO corps poisoning Hawaii and their kids. I heard a speaker from the Organic Consumers Association talk about bioremediation of soiled lands. I heard some other speakers on a few other important topics that I cannot remember as of this writing. I really needed to bring a notepad and pencil on this trip. I am an idiot for not packing one. =( To take advantage of what little time I had here in Philadelphia I stayed as long as I could to listen to as much as I could.

I was so tired and exhausted from the heat and the humidity and the march earlier that day that I decided to call it quits near 8:00 pm. I felt bad since there was so much more going to happen later in the night, but I just could not take it anymore, or perhaps I am just getting old. If there was an easy place to sit down out of the heat and humidity, or even take a shower I might have endured late into the night, but these were not to be found, so I called Marcus, my Russian cabbie, and, sadly, I made my way to the motel to retire for the night.

Last Partial Day

Thursday, July 28 with 95 degrees and 74% humidity

Wandering the Park

Marcus, my wonderful Russian Cabbie, brought me to the FDR Park @ 8:00am, nice and early, so I could still check things out before I had to leave. I expected that there would still be a bunch of people there since there was one more full day left of the convention, but as I was walking through the park it was empty, a ghost town, like no one had been there before, as if nothing had happened. The only signs that there were protestors here over the last few days were  the portapotties off in the distance and the occasional orange and white barriers which still had been not returned to their homes with the city’s street department. Even though cars are now able to drive through the park and joggers were jogging the park paths, the spirit of the protest still lingered. You could still feel the spirit of anger, rage, defeat, hope, and an emotional viscosity still palpable in the air. I did not see any tents or signs or any sort of gathering. It was quiet with just a few people lingering.  It was as if the corruption that spawned such protests and anger had consumed it again, like it was a natural part of the cycle.

Slowly I walked further into the park with my backpack and camelback on which soaked my back with sweat while my carry-on suitcase rumbled behind me. I came upon a large open pavilion near the lake with 4 people talking. A man named Michael ,who traveled here with his tribe and was here in support of Shailene Woodley’s (actress from Divergent series) organization and their work here at the convention, was talking with 3 people and was telling them that he and his crew were arranging a live streamed healing ceremony @ 2:00pm for people to be heard as to why they are angry or why they are protesting in a hope to diffuse their anger. Feeling like we are being heard can be powerful. I sat there and just listened as he courted a few more passers-by with his event.

Another person came up who seemed to know him, perhaps from his tribe in one way or the other. Michael seemed to have a unique skill set – perhaps he was trained as non-violent communication facilitator or experience in tantric communication. I asked him a few times what his training was in but he would not divulge. =) He worked with this friend who had made his way here and had no money at all for the ride back or for his family back home, but he was here to be a part of history and to try to make a difference. Michael used his skills to negotiate helping him with his financial situation and to help him get a ride back home, hoping that some of his tribe would be able to get him some of the way home when their tribe started their migration home. I eagerly threw in my cash as soon as he said something even before the negotiation had begun. I was thankful for the experience and to have witnessed and to have been allowed to help out what little I can.

On my way further into the park in I picked up a few pieces of plastic garbage, stuff that would normally just be there due to careless park-goers, but I knew that it was here because of the protests, lingering here as the city finished its clean-up, the last remaining vestiges of the people gathered to protest the widespread corruption and fraud in our government and in our political parties. As I traveled deeper into the bowels of the FDR Park near the tennis courts I saw there was still a bit of life left in the park – a bottled water tent  was still open and a few tents with people here who were still here conversing, sharing, perhaps even mourning the death of democracy, and celebrating their time here. This group was all hidden away from prying eyes with no indication that they were here for a protest, that perhaps they were here just for camping  for the week.

Leaving the Revolution

I left a little early to go to the edge of the park to rest my feet and wait for Marcus to come pick me up. I sat on one of the few large rock there at the edge of the park entrance and waited for to Marcus pick me up near 12:00pm so I could go to the airport and begin my return from the Revolution. In our talks we made arrangements to go to Bells Market which are a series of grocery stores which are owned by a group of Russians and sell a lot of international food in the Philadelphia area. He was excited to show me this and to take me there. It was pretty big and had an incredible amount of international food. I bought some sweets for my sweet back home in hopes that these would help to assuage any of her annoyances with my trip. Happy wife, happy life, right? I knew she would like this. I bought for her something Russian called Zephyr which are like our pinwheels, and a few other sweet things. I arrived at the airport two hours early and was whisked through security with a crap load of time to wait for my flight.

The Philly airport and Philidelphia itself, what little I saw of it, was really clean. My flight was delayed by at least an hour because of rain. I had an almost a two-hour layover in Charlotte, NC so I was not worried too much.  By the time we arrived in Charlotte there was just enough time to get to my gate in time to board. I was freaking out while trying to run through the crowds of people. With a heavy breath, I stopped one of those airport cart people and he agreed to take me all the way to my gate which was quite a bit away. The glorious black man’s name was Jason. He was my hero. Although I did arrive there right at the time when they were supposed to be boarding, it turns out that there was a delay in the flight because the first officer’s flight was delayed and had not arrived yet. We waited almost an hour before we could board. I did all of that running and worrying for nothing. =(

In closing

On my drive home with the wife and kid, while thinking to myself while they slept, I kinda also wished that I had approached this as an opportunity to as research for a blog post and not just a post about being there as a part of history and for the experience. This would have me paying more attention to picture opportunities, having a camera with me, actually knowing what is going on and when, and so on. It would have made the trip even more productive.  I also wish it had not been so hot and humid. I wish I had been more prepared. I wish that I was not confused by the airfare screens. I wish I was not so shy. =(

I can say that I was there, that I tried to do my part. I have a post titled What did I do to Help Bernie? and spreadsheet to prove it. =) I can not add this to the list the ways I participated in the Revolution. I can tell my daughter and my grandkids that I tried to do my part and to explain it to them. I will have the satisfaction that we did not go down without a fight and, hopefully, my daughter and eventual grandchildren will remember this example that I have set so they will not be so complacent when it comes to politics and to try to be politically aware so when the moment comes they can lend their voices and make a difference.  This whole movement is not about Bernie. It is about us, our children, and the future of the human race.

Viva la revolution!

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

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