Reversing The Spoiler Effect: Don’t Let The Dems Split The Progressive Vote

The political revolution ignited by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary has been carried out of the two-party system by the Draft Bernie campaign. The campaign seeks to build a grassroots-funded, progressive political party to represent and win the votes of American Independents and Democrats. And this week they want you to create an event on Facebook to lure your friends to sign the Draft Bernie petition.

The petition calls on Bernie Sanders and other progressives to build a new party, “funded by the people, not special interests, and to continue the political revolution to make government work for all”. The call reflects the sentiment many Independents, third-party voters, and dissatisfied Democrats felt during Bernie’s campaign. There was cognitive dissonance between the people-first messaging of the Sander’s campaign and the corporate Democratic shell that would have been its vehicle. In 2008 the Obama campaign had baited voters with a populist message only to deliver the switch in expanded wars, continued wealth concentration, and an inadequate, PR-based climate policy. Many Sandernistas doubted the Democrats’ ability to change. They were proven correct by the revelation of the DNC’s partiality for Clinton in the primaries, and Clinton’s right-facing rhetoric in the general election.  

Civically engaged Americans are starkly divided on third parties. Every voter has an argument in their dialectical holster on how and why a third party was or was not responsible for an establishment candidate’s loss. These discussions tend to get heated. And understandably so, establishment voters blame third-party voters for their candidates’ losses and their establishment oppositions’ ventures. Third-party voters blame establishment voters for enabling the duplicity and inevitable betrayals that define the two corporate parties. The establishment argument is generally called the Spoiler Effect, but the Draft Bernie crowd plan to reverse it in the 2018 and 2020 elections.  

Draft Bernie organizer Nick Brana told me, in conversation at a party, that American history holds several examples of third parties being formed to influence elections. The idea of drafting a well-known political figure into a third party seeking social change connects the now-monolithic Republican Party to the fledgling party being birthed in the Draft Bernie campaign. Abraham Lincoln, poached from the Whig Party, won the Presidency as a Republican in 1860. The Republican presidential victory came six years after the party was founded. Outside parties in America have banned slavery, fought for labor rights, instituted regulations on industry, and won countless protections for the American people. Their victories came from either taking power in the case of the Grand Ol’ Party, or using electoral and social pressure to pull the establishment parties to the left.

When pressed to give a potential name for the party Brana told me he has considered calling it a People’s Party. This would be the second People’s Party in US history. Two populist parties combined to found a People’s Party in the early-1890’s. It represented rural interests and through The Omaha Platform they proposed populist policies, which were eventually adopted, such as the graduated income tax and the eight-hour workday. 

Draft Bernie organizers have prepared their electoral strategies and rhetoric. Their platform is still to be developed through a drafting convention and a public comment period. And they recently released a 15-page document titled From Resistance To Revolution: The Case For A People’s Party. The electoral strategy begins in 2018 by challenging incumbents in areas that are sympathetic to the message of the political revolution, before challenging both parties in the 2020 Presidential election relying on a Progressive message, well-known candidates, and votes from Independents, and defectors from the Democrats.

According to Gallup polling 40% of the country are Independents. That is significantly more than the percentages that either corporate party register. Their polls also found the 57% of Americans wanted a major third-party candidate on the ballot in 2016. The Draft Bernie supporters, with or without their muse, could potentially ride a populist wave into legislatures across the country and create truly Democratic government. Electorally they believe that they can pull more than half of Independents and then parrot the Democrats’ line back to them to poach more of their voters. Vote with us for a Progressive candidate, or the Left will lose and the Republicans will maintain control. Stop being a spoiler. If you split the vote, then our loss would be your fault. It is a legitimate possibility but it is also a longshot in the face of a system designed to crush non-corporate perspectives.

The Draft Bernie plan requires that the party is founded in the late summer to get ballot access in the 2018 mid-terms. It is a volunteer-led effort and there is a lot of work to do. Get involved to take part in the growth of a potentially world-changing political party. Keep the political revolution, ignited by Bernie Sanders, burning.

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