Should the Left Care About “Russiagate”?


If the left is serious about resisting not just Donald Trump, but the entire racist, misogynist, nativist, capitalist system that spawned him in the first place, then we must move beyond the narrow, unsubstantiated, and increasingly hysterical confines of “Russiagate.”

I am referring here, of course, to the corporate media’s ceaseless (and highly dubious) allegations that the Russian government covertly meddled in the 2016 presidential election in a coordinated effort to sway the election to Trump.

The “Russiagate” drama continued to unfold over the weekend, when special prosecutor and former FBI director, Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian officials on charges of “interfering” with the presidential election — with, like, Facebook ads, or something …

Meanwhile, the U.S. intelligence agencies primarily responsible for perpetuating the “Russiagate” claims — the CIA, FBI, and NSA — are warning that Russia is already targeting state races in November’s midterm elections.

What should socialists make of “Russiagate”? Could the scandal be the key to removing Trump from office? Or is it merely the left’s version of “Benghazi”?

For the record, there is still no substantive, compelling evidence that Russia “stole” the election for Trump. Nor, for that matter, has it been determined that the Russian government or an agent acting within Russia is responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) private email account (the so-called “Podesta emails”), and passing the contents on to WikiLeaks, which made the emails public.

Those emails contained incriminating accounts of the behind-the-scenes dealings between the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. They outlined plans to undermine Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, by painting him as sexist (“Bernie Bros”), unrealistic, and even proposed using anti-Semitic attacks against him. The DNC emails provide further evidence that the Democratic primary campaign was rigged against Sanders.

The U.S. intelligence community’s Russia allegations consist entirely of speculation, suspicion, and classified information from anonymous sources — a practice journalist, Glenn Greenwald, considers “shoddy” and “unreliable.”

It is worth taking a closer look at the “deep state” sources behind these accusations.

The CIA, in particular, is the same institution that used lies and fabricated intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction” to sell us the Iraq war, in 2003. The National Security Agency (NSA), likewise, continues its widespread, “Big Brother”-style surveillance of American citizens. Readers may recall then-NSA director, James Clapper, blatantly lied to a Senate intelligence committee about the program’s existence, shortly after Edward Snowden exposed the warrantless surveillance program, in 2013.

And the FBI has a long, sordid history of spying on, infiltrating, harassing, beating, and blackmailing anti-war protesters, socialists, anti-racists, and other left-wing activists. The organization kept extensive files on leaders of the Black Panther Party, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Howard Zinn. The FBI even went so far as to attempt to blackmail King into committing suicide.

Indeed, given the FBI’s history of antagonism toward the left, liberals’ newfound support for the organization according to recent polls, is not only bizarre, but unnerving. Liberals and conservatives have basically swapped places in their views on the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies, with a majority of liberals, for the first time in decades, viewing them more favorably than conservatives.

These state institutions are comprised of “professional, systematic liars,” as Greenwald wrote in The Intercept, shortly after the CIA released its initial claims of Russian hacking. “[T]hey lie constantly, by design, and with great skill, and have for many decades …”

But the lack of evidence aside, the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking are also deeply hypocritical. The United States, which has done more to undermine, subvert, sabotage, ignore or violently overturn the election results of democratic nations throughout the world when their citizens voted the “wrong way,” is shocked — shocked! — at the remote possibility that another country may have undermined the “sanctity” of our own vaunted “democracy.”

Noam Chomsky calls this double-standard approach to international law the reigning “single standard,” which views international law and treatises as “private contractual rules,” which the U.S. is “free to apply or disregard as it sees fit.”

Karma, as my brother likes to say, is a bitch.

Perhaps most importantly, “Russiagate” obscures the fact that the presidential election was stolen — not by the Russians, but by the slave-owning Founding Fathers’ archaic Electoral College.

Hillary Clinton received three million more votes than Trump. Yet, for the second time in the last 16 years, the democracy-blunting Electoral College allowed the loser to serve as president. This tangible, objective fact of Trump’s illegitimacy — not some farfetched notion of Trump as a real-life “Manchurian Candidate” — should be our starting point when debating with leftists who fully buy into the Russia narrative.

In the absence of convincing evidence, “Russiagate” comes off as yet another desperate, pathetic attempt by the Democratic Party to blame anyone and everyone for its electoral loss. Anyone that is except for, you know … themselves.

To wit, the Democrats’ rogue’s gallery of “People Responsible for Hillary Clinton’s Loss” includes Jill Stein, James Comey, Susan Sarandon, Facebook, WikiLeaks, “fake news,” Bernie Sanders, “Bernie Bros,” Julian Assange, sexism, the media, and the racist, ignorant, “deplorable” voters themselves. Now we can add Russian hackers to the list.

The truth is the Democratic Party will never be a vehicle for working-class struggle. Leftists’ attempts to “take over” or “take back” the Democratic Party are, as history has demonstrated time and again, a doomed endeavor. Workers need their own party independent of the Wall Street-captured Democrats.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to see the Cheetos-skinned, Tweeter-in-Chief defenestrated from office just as much as anyone. (Though I am frankly unsure how the appointment of Mike Pence to the presidency would necessarily constitute an improvement…)

It is quite likely Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have shady business deals with the Russians which they simply do not want to come to light. And it is clear Trump’s sons attempted to meet with Russian officials during the campaign in an effort to dig up dirt on Clinton.

But it seems unlikely the “scandal” extends much beyond that. Even Fire and Fury author, Michael Wolff, calls the notion of the tragically inept Trump campaign colluding with Russia (or really, anybody, for that matter) “implausible if not farcical.”

In sum, “Russiagate” is not a viable path to defeating both Trump and Trumpism. Indeed, the longer the left remains myopically mired in this 21st century Red Scare, the greater the danger that it further emboldens Trump’s elite minority of supporters, thus ensuring he is re-elected in 2020.

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Adam Marletta can be reached at

Thanks for reading!



Small Business Owners — Not the Working Class — Elected Trump President

Trump Supporters

The narrative that has emerged in the months since Donald Trump’s seemingly improbable election last November—that of a “Rust Best revolt” among disaffected, white working-class voters—has been, in the words of left-wing writer, Paul Street, “badly oversold.”

It is not, in truth, an accurate, nor an especially insightful, lens through which to view Trump’s election.

If the left is to mount an effective campaign against Trump’s xenophobic, misogynist, racist, bourgeois policies—a campaign that can win real victories for the working class—it is imperative that we understand how the Predator-in-Chief and his cabinet of swamp monsters oozed their way to the White House, in the first place. And in order to do that, we must push back against this rather misleading narrative that white working-class voters are responsible for Trump’s victory.

Trump basically received the same amount of support as Mitt Romney did in 2012. His election should not be taken as evidence that the nation’s proverbial political pendulum has swung suddenly to the right. Trump’s victory is due less to Republicans gaining support among working-class voters as it is to Democrats losing that support.

As CounterPunch’s Anthony DiMaggio observes, the 2016 presidential election result was “more about growing working class and white voter disgust with the Democratic status quo than it was about being enamored with the Trump candidacy.”

He adds,

“If the Democratic Party had fielded a real progressive candidate who had a meaningful history of seeking to help the working class—Bernie Sanders, for example—the outcome of the election may have been very different.”

Then again, Sanders had the option of challenging Clinton and the Democratic machine as an independent. Likewise, the Green Party’s Jill Stein extended numerous invitations to Sanders to join her presidential campaign. She even offered to take a back seat on the ticket, as Sanders’ vice president.

But Stein’s calls to Sanders’ campaign went unanswered. Sanders, with his history in third-party politics, knew full well what he was getting into when he signed on to run as a Democrat. And no—I do not believe that Sanders would have had “no chance in hell” of winning as an independent. Voter disgust with both capitalist parties is at a record high.

But DiMaggio’s point is well taken.

Hillary Clinton proved utterly tone-deaf to the legitimate economic concerns of working-class voters—many of whom turned out in droves (twice) for the considerably more charismatic, Barack Obama.

Clinton’s empty response to Trump’s inane campaign slogan, “Make America Great, Again,” was that America is “already great.” Not only did this rebuttal fail to clearly differentiate Clinton’s brand of technocratic neoliberalism from Trump’s faux-populist nationalism, but it rang completely false to the hundreds of laid-off workers whose jobs had been shipped overseas, largely as a result of her husband’s policies.

Faced with the “choice” of two bourgeois, corporatist candidates, nearly half of eligible voters (46.9 percent) opted to stay home on Election Day. Indeed, both candidates registered record low approval ratings, even before emerging as their respective party’s nominee.

As embattled WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange put it, choosing between Clinton and Trump is like picking between “cholera and gonorrhea.”

“Personally, I would prefer neither,” Assange acidly told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman.

And several million voters—primarily people of color or those with disabilities–were prohibited from voting due to onerous voter ID laws, incarceration or felony status, ridiculously strict voter registration deadlines, or GOP gerrymandering of voting districts. Those most affected by these punitive laws—which essentially amount to a modern day poll tax—are traditionally more inclined to vote for Democrats.

Yet, despite the depressed turnout and Clinton’s inability to excite the traditional Democratic base, she still won the popular vote by a significant margin—nearly three million votes. This makes Clinton the recipient of more votes than any other losing presidential candidate in American history, according to CNN.

It was the Electoral College–an antiquated relic of the slave-owning Founding Fathers, designed to artificially boost the influence of slave-states in elections–that ultimately handed Trump the presidency.

Trump, despite what he and his spokespeople may claim, has no popular mandate. Only three months into his presidency, Trump’s approval rating is already well below 50 percent. And his recent failure to “close the deal” on Congress’s repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, throws many of his other legislative promises into question.

So, if it was not the “white working class” that elected Trump, as the capitalist media claim, then who did?

With most of the capitalist class throwing its weight behind the more experienced, reliable Clinton, Trump drew his support largely from middle-managers, self-employed workers, and small business owners. According to the Socialist Worker‘s Lance Selfa, Trump’s supporters have a median household income of over $50,000, while Clinton generally drew from voters with less than $50,000. In keeping with the Republican Party’s general makeup, Trump voters are primarily middle-aged, white, middle-upper class, and do not have a college degree.

In other words, Trump’s support came from what Marx and Engels called the “petit bourgois,” (“petty” or “small” bourgeois; the term was intended as something of an epithet). These right-leaning small business owners and middle managers generally hate taxes and subsidies (hence their dislike of “Obamacare”), higher minimum wage laws, and government regulation of any kind.

And many of these voters were receptive to Trump’s racist, xenophobic rhetoric, which blames their economic struggles on immigrants, Muslims, and African Americans. Indeed, a CBS-New York Times post-election exit poll found an alarming 84 percent of Trump voters support deporting undocumented immigrants from the United States. Eighty-six percent, likewise, support building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, a similar post-election poll by the Pew Research Center reveals only seven percent of Trump supporters view sexism as a “very serious problem,” just 21 percent said the same about racism, and a mere 14 percent view climate change is a “very serious problem.”

This is not to suggest Trump voters were not at all motivated by legitimate economic grievances, including the adverse affects of global “free-trade” deals. Many of them certainly were. Nor should we dismiss them outright as irredeemable racist, sexist, ignorant “deplorables.” As Jacobin‘s Adaner Usmani aptly puts it, “All Klansmen are Trump supports, but not all Trump supporters are Klansmen.” Rather than writing these voters off (or worse, mocking them for “getting what they deserve”), the left’s goal should be to hold out an alternative vision of organizing society, one rooted in economic and social justice, that is worth fighting for.

That said, as the findings clearly show, most Trump supporters are not truly hurting economically. Many of them are doing quite well, thank you very much. As such, the media’s narrative of a “white working class uprising” at the ballot box, begins to fall apart upon closer scrutiny.

“The fact of the matter is that Trump supporters represent a perverse fusion of economic discontent and hateful, right-wing bigotry and nationalism,” DiMaggio writes. “We ignore the latter part of Trump’s support at our own peril.”

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Thanks for reading!



Protesters at the Women’s March on Washington, Jan. 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Photo from the Dallas Morning News.

“For a hundred years or more the world, our world, has been dying,” wrote Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer. “And not one man, in these last hundred years or so, has been crazy enough to put a bomb up the asshole of creation and set it off. The world is rotting away, dying piecemeal. But it needs the coup de grace, it needs to be blown to smithereens.”

Will President Donald Trump be that crazed suicide bomber? It is, no doubt, a frightening prospect. But as I write this on the date of Trump’s official swearing-in as President of the United States, Miller’s nihilistic quote seems the only logical way to process this once unfathomable scenario.

There is no question all working class Americans are going to suffer in the months and years to come. Some of us, to be certain, will suffer more than others—Muslims, women, immigrants, African Americans, people with disabilities, and journalists, in particular. But suddenly such misguided games of so-called “Oppression Olympics,” seem highly counterproductive, if not altogether childish.

The stark truth is we are all “deplorables,” now. The era of Trump has officially begun. It is time to resist with everything we have got.

Activists kicked off Trump’s first day and half as president with two massive protests: The “Not My President” rally on Friday, Jan. 20 interrupted the bourgeois pomp and circumstance of Trump’s inauguration, while the “Women’s March on Washington” the following day proved even larger, with more than half a million participants.

Protesters who could not make it to D.C. held local sister rallies in Chicago, Boston, Oakland, CA, New York, and Portland, Maine. And the protests spilled overseas, in cities like London, Mexico City, Toronto, Paris, and Barcelona.

Both actions sought to remind Trump that, despite his claims to the contrary, he has no mandate. Hillary Clinton received three million more total votes than Trump, yet lost the election due to the antiquated Electoral College—a relic of the slave-holding Founding Fathers. And some seven million voters (I among them) did not cast a ballot for either Trump or Clinton, opting instead for a third-party candidate, like the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

Indeed, both Clinton and Trump registered record low favorability ratings since they emerged as their respective party’s nominee. What does that say about the self-appointed “World’s Greatest Democracy” when it offers voters two lousy candidates to choose from? No wonder so many Americans just skip the process, entirely.

Furthermore, the corporate media’s narrative of a “Rust Belt revolt” propelling Trump to victory has been, in the words of left-wing writer, Paul Street, “badly oversold.”

Trump basically received the same amount of support as Mitt Romney did in 2012. His election should not be taken as a sign that the nation’s proverbial political pendulum has suddenly swung to the right. Trump’s victory is due less to Republicans gaining support among working class voters as it is to Democrats losing that support.

As Counterpunch’s Anthony DiMaggio observes, the 2016 presidential election result was “more about growing working class and white voter disgust with the Democratic status quo than it was about being enamored with the Trump candidacy.”

He adds,

“If the Democratic Party had fielded a real progressive candidate who had a meaningful history of seeking to help the working class—Bernie Sanders for example—the outcome of the election may have been very different.”

The point is that you and I are not alone. We are the majority. And, as one of the marchers’ chants puts it, “We do not consent!/Trump is not our president!”

This fact was hammered home by the massive number of women (and men) at Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. In fact, the crowd was so unwieldy protest organizers scrapped their original marching plans at the last minute, opting for just the star-studded rally. But defiant attendees marched anyway, getting as far as the Washington Monument before security stopped them.

The contingent of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which I am a dues-paying member of, proved one of the most vocal and galvanizing forces at the march.

Even before the official proceedings began, we fenced ourselves in to a visible spot and began chanting loudly. Dozens of passerby jubilantly joined in—many of whom likely do not even consider themselves socialists or may have negative associations with the term.

This is, I hope, one step in slowly changing people’s minds.

Many attendees wore Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama pins. Others held signs proclaiming Trump is “Putin’s Puppet,” referencing the highly dubious, yet nonetheless widely accepted, belief that Russia covertly influenced the election results. And, of course, the anti-Trump slogan, “Love Trumps Hate,” was ubiquitous.

These sentiments of lesser-evilism illustrate the ideological limitations which continue to plague the left–limitations we must overcome if we are to defeat the newly empowered radical right.

The fact is Obama spent his two terms pursuing neoliberal, corporatist, and imperialist policies that were utterly devastating for the working class. And Clinton–whose husband gutted the federal welfare program, repealed Glass Steagall, and passed NAFTA–made it abundantly clear that she intended to deliver more of the same.

The left cannot continue to invest its hopes in a Democratic Party that cares nothing for working class Americans. It is for good reason that former Republican strategist, Kevin Phillips once called the Democrats, “history’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.” The unfortunate truth is the working class has no political representation under capitalism. Supporting the supposed “lesser evil” candidate every four years merely paves the way for the “greater evil”–in this case, President Trump.

To simply throw up your hands and insist the Democrats are “all we’ve got,” or that Obama “did the best he could,” is not a viable political strategy for advancing working class struggle. It is an admission of defeat.

This argument tends to be a difficult one to make to the mostly liberal activists who attended the Women’s March. But the rousing embrace the ISO received, coupled with the growing interest in socialism particularly among young people, demonstrates there is an audience for our ideas. We must seek out people in that audience and be willing to patiently but steadfastly try to win them over to socialist ideas.

Let the historical record show that the majority of Americans had no interest in “giving Trump a chance” to enact his sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist campaign of bourgeois hate. Trump’s first day and a half as president already generated the single largest protest in U.S. history.

One protester’s sign perhaps best summed up the weekend’s mass mobilizations: “Respeta mi existencia o espera resistencia.” Translated, it reads, “Respect my existence, or expect my resistance.”

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any Word Press-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

Reclaiming Feminism

The members of dance-punk/post-punk band, Le Tigre (JD Samson, Kathleen Hanna, and Johanna Fateman, left to right) don pantsuits in the video for their recently released, pro-Hillary Clinton song, “I’m With Her.” 

Much as I love Kathleen Hanna, I’m still not “With Her.”

I love feminist dance-punk band, Le Tigre, and was initially excited to hear that the group, which has been inactive since 2011, was releasing new music this year. Once I learned the song, titled, “I’m With Her,” is little more than a glorified pep-rally commercial for Hillary Clinton, however, my enthusiasm dropped considerably.

While it is hardly surprising that Le Tigre frontwoman, Kathleen Hanna (a pioneering force in the punk/post-punk sub-genre known as “riot grrrl,” with bands like Bikini Kill and the Julie Ruin) is supporting Clinton over the overtly misogynist, Donald Trump in the presidential election, the song’s easy sloganeering and questionable equation of Clinton with feminism is nonetheless, disappointing.

I learned long ago to tune out when my favorite bands or musicians—even the more avant-garde ones—started telling listeners how to vote, as it almost always entails voting for Democrats.

But, for a musician like Hanna, long known for her lyrical themes of feminism and radical politics, the endorsement of the corporatist Clinton-Kaine ticket is an especially bitter pill to swallow. Indeed, punk-rock was always anti-establishment, and anti-corporatist in nature.

Perhaps the Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra was correct when he declared, back on 1986’s “Chickenshit Conformist,” “Punk’s not dead, it just deserves to die/When it becomes another stale cartoon.”

The fact that, musically, “I’m With Her” is trite and uninspiring hardly helps matters. The song kicks off with a “one-two-three” count-off so requisite of Le Tigre’s earlier work. “Who do we want?” the rhyming verse continues. “We want HRC!”

Later, the band makes its corporate-ladder inspired “feminism” blatant:

“I’m with her/To the top/She [Clinton] is with us/We won’t stop.”

Not only are the lyrics uncharacteristically lazy, but the line suggesting the bourgeois Clinton is “with us” also causes me to question just how financially successful Le Tigre was in its initial run. (When I listened to the band during college, most of my peers and roommates had never heard of them.) The point being, for working-class people, the coveted Goldman Sachs speaker and former Wal-Mart director is most certainly not “with us.”

(To be fair, the three members of Le Tigre likely have more in common, economically, with small business owners, which Marx classified as “petite bourgeois.” These typically self-employed workers often straddle the line between working-class and bourgeoisie–though they usually own at least some of the means of production.)

I point to Le Tigre’s pro-Clinton song because in many ways it stands as “Exhibit A” in the slow, agonizing subversion of feminism from a genuine cultural grassroots movement for gender equality and working-class women’s empowerment, into another empty marketing scheme for the elite.

Feminism as it currently exists is little more than an appeal to the corporate state for inclusion. Millionaires like Sheryl Sandberg and General Motors CEO Mary Barra claim to speak for all women by co-opting the language and spirit of feminism. They disingenuously insist they can relate to the plight of the average working-class woman. And, through books like Sandberg’s self-help bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, they claim to offer women the “expert advice” and “skills” necessary to “have it all.”

For the corporate media the ascension of a few privileged women like Sandberg into corporate offices, reinforces their perpetual narrative that we now live in a “post-feminist” society, where the major work of feminism is basically complete. This claim, incidentally, is no different from the equally fatuous narrative of the “post-racial” society, as evidenced by the election of Barack Obama.

If only either concept were true.

Certainly, Clinton’s (now seemingly inevitable) election as the first female president will represent a significant mark of progress for some women–specifically, the wealthy bourgeoisie.

As for working-class women (and men)…? They will almost certainly continue to struggle economically in a system that essentially enslaves working-class people who have nothing to sell but their labor power.

“The truth is that Hillary Clinton does represent women’s interests—but only some women,”  Elizabeth Schulte wrote back in February in the Socialist Worker.

Women like Madeline Albright who reached one of the most powerful rungs in the U.S. government by helping to engineer starvation and destitution for the women and children of Iraq. Women like Facebook COO and Lean In guru Sheryl Sandberg, who claims that the only thing standing in the way of women winning equal pay is asking for it. Or women like Gloria Steinem, who began her career exposing the rampant sexism in U.S. society, only to conclude that personal economic enrichment was the key to equality.

Now many young women are beginning to confuse the capitalist class’ brand of pseudo-feminism with the real thing.

This is where leftists bump up against the limits of identity politics, which substitute the politics of representation with an actual program for eradicating sexism–and all forms of oppression–entirely. In the absence of a sharp, clear political framework for combating oppression and fighting for socialism, the left is stuck with the empty multiculturalism of identity politics, and its obnoxious, holier-than-thou practices of “privilege-checking,” and “call-out” culture.

These adolescent practices–which amount to little more than a circular firing-squad–are rapidly becoming the raison d’être of the left.

“Women have discovered that they cannot rely on men’s chivalry to give them justice,” Helen Keller wrote in 1916.

Keller–who was far more radical than your history teacher led you to believe–was an early crusader in the fight for women’s suffrage in the early part of the 20th century. While Keller was universally praised for overcoming her physical disabilities, her outspoken socialist, feminist, and anti-war views were met with cold reception and bitter denouncement.

Indeed, many early feminists like Keller saw a direct, inextricable link between the goals of feminism and socialism.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, for example, was a labor activist, IWW leader, and a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“A domestic life and possibly a large family had no attraction for me,” Flynn wrote in her autobiography, The Rebel Girl. “…  I wanted to speak and write, to travel, to meet people, to see places, to organize the I.W.W. I saw no reason why I, as a woman, should give up my work for this…”

Those of us in the left need to rediscover the language of Flynn and Keller. We need to understand that overthrowing capitalism and ending women’s oppression (indeed, ending all forms of oppression) are not mutually exclusive goals. They are one and the same.

None of this is to ignore or downplay Donald Trump’s abhorrent sexist remarks and history of harassment toward women. The man is repugnant and his misogynistic views should be unequivocally repudiated.

But voting for Clinton is not the way to defeat Trump or advance the cause of working-class women.

Indeed, there is very little about Clinton’s campaign that can accurately be described as “feminist.” As First Lady, Clinton supported her husband’s efforts to eliminate the federal welfare program, including Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1996, replacing it with the highly restrictive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Likewise, during her term as secretary of state Clinton helped block efforts to raise the minimum wage in poverty-stricken Haiti.

It is, therefore, unfortunate the members of Le Tigre are not advocating a vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Politically, she is far closer to Hanna and her bandmates’ progressive views.

Stein told The Young Turks‘ Cenk Uygur back in June that she considers the assumption that Clinton is a “feminist” simply because she is a woman, “an offense to the concept of feminism.”

“Feminism is much more than [gender],” said Stein. “It’s about peace. It’s about justice. It’s about rights for women as caretakers and caregivers. … I think it’s an offense to the concept of feminism to say that Hillary Clinton and her advocacy for war, for Wall Street, and for the Wal-Mart economy, represents feminism. By no means.”

The Folly of Lesser Evilism: The Socialist Case for Jill Stein

DEM 2016 Philadelphia
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, speaks at a rally in Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, during the second day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

by Adam Marletta

The electoral strategy of “lesser evilism,” advanced by op-ed columnist, Wells Lyons in the Portland, Maine monthly, the West End News, has been the left’s default strategy for the last 30 years. And it has proved an abysmal failure every time.

Every four years, the left collectively throws its weight behind the supposed “lesser evil” candidate (i.e. the Democrat), arguing that conditions under the “greater evil” Republican would be “so much … WORSE!

But this simplistic distinction of “lesser” vs. “greater” forms of evil is rather misleading. It is, perhaps, more instructive to view the Republican and Democratic parties—both parties of capitalism—as two different kinds of evil.

Sure, the Republicans are more up-front in their absolute disregard for women, African Americans, immigrants, and the working class. Indeed, the modern incarnation of the GOP has long been quite unapologetic in its subservient role to big business and corporations.

The Democrats, on the other hand, at least offer the pretense of being on the side of working Americans (or, more precisely, on the side of some nebulous group they refer to as the “middle-class”). Since the years of FDR and LBJ, the Dems have positioned themselves as the natural ally of minorities, labor, and oppressed groups.

But, once in office, the Democrats inevitably pursue the very same corporatist, “neoliberal” policies as the Republicans, albeit with a more professional demeanor.

In fact, as Thomas Frank argues in his latest book, Listen, Liberal, Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have proven more adept at corralling bipartisan support for egregious corporatist bills like Wall Street deregulation, welfare eradication, the passage of “free-trade” deals like NAFTA, and the codification of drone strikes, targeted assassinations, and endless war which their Republican counterparts could only dream of enacting.

These programs have utterly decimated the working class. No wonder so many white working class voters (some of them former Democrats) are flocking to self-styled populist champions like Donald Trump.

As such, it is more instructive to view the Democratic Party not as the “lesser evil,” but as Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford puts it, the “more effective evil.”

“When they tell us … to get out of the way because we are standing in the way of the ‘lesser evil,’” said Dr. Jill Stein, upon accepting the Green Party’s presidential nomination on August 6 in Houston, “… the answer to that is that the politics of fear, which we have been told to bow down to, has only delivered everything we were afraid of.”

I will be voting for Stein on November 8, partly as a “protest vote”—a “None-of-the-above” option, if you will. But mostly I am voting for Stein because her progressive platform—which includes eradicating student debt, tackling climate change with a robust “Green jobs” program, ending wars for empire, and instituting universal, single-payer health care—comes the closest to my own socialist views.

I am not so naïve as to believe Stein can win the election. That said, there is a peculiar, self-fulfilling logic to Lyons’ claim that third-party candidates like Stein are destined to “lose badly.” If everyone who routinely tells me they “agree with everything Stein stands for,” was to take that agreement to its next logical step and cast a vote for her, she would not “spoil” the election. She would win it.

Even if Stein receives just five percent of the vote, the Green Party will be eligible for millions of dollars in federal funding. This would go a long way toward building the Greens into a formidable working class party that poses a serious challenge to the two Wall Street parties.

The Green Party is admittedly weak on both the national and local level–though some branches are, obviously, better organized than others. Here in Maine, the Greens have been crippled by a virulent combination of anarcho-liberalism and anti-communism. (The latter best exemplified by Green Party co-founder and retired Bowdoin College professor, John Rensenbrink.) And don’t even get me started on the three elected Greens on the Portland School Board who cannot even be relied on to support their own party’s candidates.

Nonetheless, we cannot hope to build a viable left-wing movement to challenge the racist, misogynist right by tying ourselves to the capitalist Democratic Party every four years. For evidence of how flawed a strategy this is, we need only reflect on how disappointing the last eight years under Obama have been.

As the radical historian, Howard Zinn writes in his classic treatise, A People’s History of the United States, “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but ‘who is sitting-in’—and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”

While it is easy to see why Hillary Clinton looks like the sane, rational, “lesser evil” choice compared to the absurdly inept, sickeningly vile Trump, we have just as much to fear—indeed, perhaps even more—from a Clinton presidency.

Clinton—who is no friend of working class Americans—is the epitome of the Establishment, “Billionaire Class” Bernie Sanders railed against in his insurgent campaign. The list of Clinton’s “flaws” as Lyons dismissively calls them is exhaustive.

There is, of course, her vote for the 2003 invasion of Iraq (which, contrary to popular belief, Al Gore also supported).

As Secretary of State, Clinton oversaw the 2009 coup in Honduras which deposed democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, as well as the violent overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. (Clinton later boasted of Gaddafi’s death, “We came. We saw. He died.”)

Additionally, she played a key role in the destabilization of Syria and Yemen and is perhaps a greater Zionist ally of Israel than Obama.

Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy illustrates why it is so crucial the left reconstitute the anemic anti-war movement, which has all but folded under President Obama. It did the same thing back in 2004 when the left abandoned Ralph Nader’s independent campaign for the bellicose, John “Reporting for Duty” Kerry.

Things do not look much better on the domestic front, either.

Clinton’s alleged shift in position on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Stein has characterized as “NAFTA on steroids,” should be taken with a grain of salt. For Clinton’s true intentions regarding TPP, one need look no further than her selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate, whose political career is largely characterized by staunch opposition to unions, labor, and workers’ rights.

Yet, despite Clinton’s unyielding track record of imperialist, neoliberal policies, Lyons insists she would not represent an “existential threat” to the nation. Even assuming this claim to be true, it overlooks the fact that a Clinton presidency would almost certainly represent an “existential threat” to other nations—most assuredly in the Middle East. Yet it is those of us supporting the only genuine anti-war candidate in the race that are reprimanded for casting supposedly self-centered votes based on “privilege.” Indeed, the majority of the victims of U.S. military aggression are women, children, and people of color.

None of this is to diminish the very real danger Trump presents to the country and the world. I absolutely share Lyons’ concerns about this petulant man-child.

But, as of this writing, the Trump campaign is in full crisis mode, struggling to recover from the recent disclosure of a video of Trump caught making repugnant, misogynistic comments about women on a “hot-mic.” Polls have favored Clinton from the start of the general election, but now her victory is almost certainly assured.

Given this scenario, voters should be under no pressure to comprise their vote for the “lesser evil.” You may as well vote for a candidate you actually want.

Are there differences between these two highly unpopular candidates? Sure. But as Stein told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh commenting on the October 9 presidential “debate,” those differences are “not enough to save your life, to save your job, and to save the planet.”

As my comrade, Todd Chretien writes in the latest issue of the Socialist Worker:

The left can’t afford to surrender our organizations and ideas to the Democratic Party every four years in order to support the lesser evil–when it has been proven many times over by history that when you support the lesser evil to stop the greater evil, you usually end up with a combination of both evils.