C-FAR to Political Renewal
2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for political revolution. While his efforts were stymied by a rigged superdelegate process, a corporate media aligned with Secretary Clinton and, rigged ballot results that did not correspond with the exit polls in many counties around the country, he began a process Citizens Against Plutocracy (CAP) intends to advance with a leverage strategy we call C-FAR or Lose in November (“See FAR or Lose” for short). C-FAR is an acronym for Contract For American Renewal.
Leverage is a simple idea. We will provide guidance for mini-movements in congressional districts (the House) and across states (the Senate) of voters pledged to vote for a contract-signing candidate. If the Democratic Party candidate loses his or her primary, then the pledged voters will either vote for a third party candidate on the ballot or (the last option where permitted) write in a C-FAR-signing candidate thereby aiding the defeat of neo-liberal Democrats who won’t sign a version of the Contract For American Renewal. That is what #C-FARorLose means. The more pledges leverage activists can gather on a blog or a website, the more leverage the C-FAR-signing candidate will have during the primaries. This strategy involves low-cost grassroots, online activism and operates completely independently from any candidate’s campaign.
Pledged voters have drawn a line in the sand with a demand for political renewal in the United States and intend to use the contracts to determine which candidates are worthy of their support. If Democrats want to win the general elections in 2018, they need to elect C-FAR candidates in their primaries. The spoiler option “or Lose” intends to send the message of rejection for all neo-liberal candidates. The C-FAR demands assure voters far better than mere campaign promises the candidate will do what he says he will. C-FARs are weapons to use against non-contract signers for candidates; they are indicators to progressives of sincerity. Demanding C-FAR candidates or else pledged voters will vote third party or write-in where permitted is a tool to foist the renewal, reformation or revolution (depending upon a candidate’s context) into Democratic primaries.
Renewal, reformation or revolution? We use renewal in the contract because a voter pledge movement works best when more people commit themselves to the specific set of popular issue positions listed in the contract, but individual candidates will make the decision as to what the “R” in C-FAR stands for. It’s a signature on a contract with voters based on the one available for viewing on our C-FAR page that matters to the C-FAR-pledged voters.
Neo-liberal economics has been the ruling paradigm in the U.S. since the mid 1970’s. For anyone new to the label “neo-liberal,” think of it as an economic order which is by and for large, often multi-national corporations. NAFTA was a Wall Street-backed, neo-liberal trade agreement; and it advanced the neo-liberal project called “globalization” considerably. Part of that agreement created a tribunal system where foreign-based corporations operating in the U.S. could sue to either overturn U.S. law, violating national self-government, or collect large sums of money from the government because people’s representatives passed regulations on foreign-based corporations in violation of NAFTA. The government cannot sue large corporations in that “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” system. Using “trade agreements” corporate elites are slowly imposing ever-greater corporate control on society and government. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would have gone much further, and it was an existential threat to national or democratic self-government because neo-liberal’s collaboration with corporate self-government is a threat to our institutions of government.
The United States has come under corporate control. The current President is literally a corporation. A C-FAR-inspired revival is a rejection of government budget austerity and the rest of the neo-liberal agenda. We hope C-FAR candidates will articulate a rejection of corporate order and lead a renewal of democratic order in part by overturning the illegitimate and plutocratic Supreme Court decisions Buckley (1976), Citizens United (2010) and McCutcheon (2014) with a constitutional amendment. Consider the C-FARs to be Declarations of Independence from Neo-Liberal Order or a populist revolt against the campaign finance anarchy put in place because the Court made a series of illegitimate decisions. The listed issue positions in the contract are populist demands for, among other things, popular control of American public policy. Ultimately, the people need to renew the regulation of elections, including campaign finance, by returning the power back to Congress and the states as the Framers intended under Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution if the nation is to function in a democratic manner. Money shapes the manner of holding elections, and the Constitution-authorized regulations can determine whether the United States functions as a democratic republic or a plutocratic, corporate-state. If the Framers had intended money to be protected as a right in the First Amendment, it would have been in the list of key, First Amendment rights for a free society.
Democratic orders ideally manifest political equality for all citizens including, not just one person–one vote, but financial equality for campaign, party and Political Action Committees donations from all participating citizens. That goal would abolish plutocracy in the United States and renew the project of reshaping an elitist, racist and sexist Constitution into a more perfect union by amending it again, this time to overturn illegitimate Court decisions. Money is not speech!
Pundits and political elites deemed the United States to be suffering from an “excess of democracy” during the 1960’s and early 70’s. Because of the three Supreme Court decisions treating the spending and as of 2014 the giving of money as a speech right, we now have a dearth of democracy. We have a oligarchy (plutocracy on steroids), a government by and for the wealthiest Americans which resembles Russia. Many Americans have lost hope and/or interest in the political order of loud and deceitful campaign ads. Millions of other Americans have lost hope and/or interest in the Democratic Party. Numerically, those two groups could lead a revival clarified by a simple idea: See FAR or lose their general election in November. No one has to start a new party, but in many states, Democrats and Green Party require membership to vote in their primaries. Effective leverage requires voters to party jump or a willingness by Democrat candidates to run as a write-in candidate where permitted should they lose their primary. That’s how a candidate can provide his/her own leverage with or without signing a C-FAR.
We must demolish the crippling misconception that this C-FAR or Lose strategy is the same thing as the candidate’s campaign. The revival is not really his or hers at all. It’s the people’s, grassroots revival and dangerously overdue. The popular demands in the negotiable C-FARs simply provide an ideal springboard for launching a democratic revival.
Movements Break Eggs; Progressive Democrats Must Walk on Them
You’ve probably heard the familiar revolutionary slogan “To make an omelet, you’ve got to break some eggs.” In the vivid contrast between “breaking eggs” and “walking on eggs”—the latter expression implying a torturous effort to avoid cracking the shells one is forced to tiptoe among.
In a political system that’s now a hollow shell of representative government, our eggshell metaphor couldn’t be better chosen. Where virtually the sole real purpose of government is to shove the will of plutocrats—whether Wall Street, fossil fuel, Big Ag, Big Pharma, or military-industrial-surveillance complex plutocrats—down the sane majority’s throats (to the planet-threatening detriment of the common good), the chief purpose of most political campaigns is to maintain the trompe-l’oeil solid appearance of representation’s hollow shell. In other words, most campaigns amount to propaganda touting the lie that our existing political system is still serving us. It’s clearly not—to the extent that even such a sold-out tool as today’s Democratic Party must allow more radical voices bent on serving the common good, like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, within its ranks to maintain the faintest illusion of legitimacy.
Given the extreme betrayals of faux-progressive presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, political leftists have earned an incontestable right to distrust: above all, to distrust of soaring campaign rhetoric high on promise and devoid of detail. Considering the global catastrophe for economy, democracy, and peace that was George W. Bush’s presidency, Obama’s betrayal of urgently needed progressive reform is especially unfortunate. But amidst its well-earned distrust, the left makes a serious mistake by tarring the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren with the same incriminating brush as Obama and the Clintons, punishing them for their mere association with Democrats. As regards the treachery of Democrats’ party leadership and its favored minions like Clinton, the left is incontestably right, as the analysis of honest veteran operative Bill Curry or a little research into the sleazy trickery of its corporatist leadership should make clear.
Lesser-Evilism: The Con Game of Misplaced Guilt
We don’t plan to walk on eggs; leverage activists will be encouraged to smash the eggshell of phony legitimacy in the congressional districts where they live. But phony legitimacy is exactly what today’s Democratic leadership seek and Hillary Clinton sought: legitimacy without fundamental reform. As fundamental reform is what Bernie’s political revolution sought—why the hell else start a revolution?—the Democratic Party leadership, Hillary Clinton, and her neo-liberal allies, who clearly intend to go on forever feeding like pigs at the plutocrat trough, must remain squarely in our crosshairs as our revival’s determined enemies.
Which brings us to Democrat’s sleazy “lesser-evil” con game. Now, what should be clear is that both major parties serve roughly the same corporate puppet masters. What differs is that Republicans serve somewhat more evil ones, and serve them with greater unanimity and stronger fealty; it’s as if that the party had made taking Voldemort’s Dark Mark a litmus test for membership. While neo-liberal Democrats certainly are somewhat different, they’re certainly not different enough—different enough, that is, for responsive, responsible governance meeting the grave emergencies of our society and planet.
Not only do corporatist Democrats differ little from evil, bought-off Republicans; they’re actually criminally culpable for condoning and perpetuating Republican evil. Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in Obama’s failure to investigate and prosecute major war criminal George W. Bush and his henchmen. Considering Democrats’ obvious self-interest in using that label—it would be the instant death blow for Jeb’s campaign—their refusal to apply it proves just how much Democrats are part of the same evil game. For applying it would raise embarrassing, unanswerable questions for Democrats, like why Bill Clinton imposed genocidal sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s innocent people, why Democrats overwhelmingly joined the bandwagon for Bush’s wildly imprudent criminal war, or why Barack Obama decided to continue Bush’s universal spying and even expand his unending ill-advised war on terror (albeit in proxy form). But perhaps the worst instance of Democrats and Republicans playing the same evil game is Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s criminally irresponsible “gentleman’s agreement” never to mention climate change—a life-or-death issue for humanity, but politically inconvenient for both—throughout their series of 2012 presidential debates.
All of which convincingly proves that Democrats’ “lesser-evil” argument, blaming reform-minded voters for enabling Republican evil when in fact no one deserves blame for enabling it more than the Democratic Party itself, is a sleazy con game. CounterPunch writer Andrew Levine has insightfully argued that “lesser-evilism” is a political race to the bottom, but he didn’t go far enough in explaining its sleazy dynamic. In fact, it’s rather simple: both Democrat and Republican teams playing for the same plutocrat owners, both operate under severe constraints controlling what they may say and do. Ditto for consolidated mainstream media, owned by an ever smaller number of corporate media giants. So among the three “parties” (Democrats, Republicans, and media), there’s a common conspiracy—that Republicans’ worst misdeeds—generally embarrassing to Democrats and media, since they’re complicit—should disappear down the memory hole. Their worst misdeeds never properly denounced, Republicans are emboldened for ever-worse coups against the common good.
A Democratic Party not complicit, and holding the moral high ground to denounce Republican evil, could have stopped the GOP’s worst misdeeds long ago. With Democrats, so deeply to blame for Republican evil, no reform-minded voters should be duped by the sleazy blame-shifting con of voting for Democrats as the lesser evil. In fact, Democrats simply hide beneath the ground cover of Republican evil to perpetuate their own plutocrat donors’ preferred brand. What voters should in fact feel guilty for is enabling that. The C-FAR Candidate Pledge is a mechanism of populist revolt against the con game once enough voters take it. C-FAR or Lose is a national strategy that must be deployed at the local level.
C-FAR or Lose in November
Sorry if we’ve been long in stating our case, but since we, unlike our enemies, believe that rational persuasion is the essence of democracy, we took pains to be clear and well-documented. While our revival’s justification was somewhat long, its strategy is short and sweet. It can be summarized in the slogan “C-FAR or Lose.”
Instead, what we plan to do is rigorously apply our slogan, pronounced “See FAR or Lose,” to the whole pack of 2018 congressional candidates. Plutocrats’ purchase of our government is the root of all our political evils, and as the only major-party candidate who’s called for a political revolution against plutocrat money, Bernie Sanders was the only adult in the room, the only candidate utterly free from the influence of that money, and the only one with a viable platform for ridding us of it. If a C-FAR candidate doesn’t win the Democratic nomination—and if they fail to, it will be due simply to party propaganda we aim vigorously to counteract—we will advise C-FAR pledged voters to find third party C-FAR candidates on the ballot. In states where write-in votes are allowed, C-FAR-pledged voters can write-in any C-FAR-signing candidate. In the states where there is no write-in line on the ballot, C-FAR-pledged voters can figure out how best to carry out the “or lose” portion of the pledge we will hope they make.
Our Nickname Should Be “Sheep No More”
As the political revolution Bernie called for but couldn’t as a Democratic candidate lead—and never disavowed—we broke with Bernie when he played “sheepdog” with his legion of supporters. We aren’t sheep, and we refuse to support a neo-liberal of any stripe. For those who felt the Bern so strongly its sparks could ignite revolution, please consider joining the C-FAR movement as a candidate or a voter. By refusing the con of lesser-evilism, you’ll show CAP’s renewal movement truly deserves the nickname “Sheep No More.”
Post it with pride: #SheepNoMore #SeeFARorLose #WeAreNotAfraid #SeeFARInNovember We do.