Progressives and the left face the same problem every four years. The established order of the Democratic Party nominates a plutocratic shill and dares us to let the Republican win, confident that we’re good people and in the end, we’ll fall in line because the Republican will be somewhat worse. They depend on us to prioritize harm reduction over our agenda, so they don’t have to pay any attention to us or our agenda. The established order has been playing this game since at least 1992. We are good people, and the Republican generally is worse, so they have confidence we’ll vote for their plutocratic shill. The left needs to break this cycle and push our agenda. One way to break this cycle is for progressives to take over the Democratic Party. Another way to break the cycle is to create a viable third party. There’s a third way, that creates greater opportunity for the first two. We have to shake their confidence to its core and make Democrats across the country afraid of losing.
What we need is leverage. To have maximum leverage over the established order we need to shake their confidence in winning each election as much as possible. Not just this election – every election. Their confidence is built on the three-legged stool of (1) a culture of shaming and intimidation, (2) media pre-election polls, and (3) an election system that strongly discourages third party voting. We can’t do anything about the election system until we win real power. The culture of shaming and the pre-election polls we can sabotage by telling everyone we’re #Undecided.
In the general election, everyone on the left should answer #Undecided to any question about how we’ll vote. We should be #Undecided to pollsters, social media, and people generally. Any other answer is giving the established order valuable information, and getting nothing in return. Why would we do that? We exercise no leverage, gain no power, get no concessions. If we say we’re voting for their candidate, they don’t need to care about our vote anymore, we lose leverage and power. If we say we’re not going to vote “blue no matter who” they try to shame and intimidate us. Answering the question any other way, at best we get indifference – at worst, abuse. Unless you’re supporting a candidate strongly enough to actively advocate for them, there’s no upside to telling anyone how you’re going to vote, only downside.
If you’re actively advocating for a candidate, saying you’re going to vote for them is an advantage to you – it gives you advocacy authenticity. That’s great. If you’re supporting a candidate enough to actively advocate for them, by all means, tell anyone who’ll listen how you’re going to vote – except pollsters. There’s nothing to be gained by feeding good data to the established order’s propaganda machine. The left should make #Undecided a badge of honor, and ask everyone who stands against the established order to join us in solidarity.
Imagine if everyone on the left was doing this already right now. The polls would show “undecided” way up. Biden would be losing to Trump, badly. The left and the Democratic vote would be split between Biden and undecided. Maybe as much as 30% to 70%, maybe more. Imagine the panic in the Democratic Party going into November with Biden trailing Trump by five points, instead of the other way around, with undecided in the twenties or higher. That would show up very telegenically in every poll, with “undecided” in its own color on every graph. In effect, “undecided” becomes a virtual third party that the established order needs to court to have any confidence in winning. The more people join #Undecided, the less confident they can be. Maybe we won’t hit a critical point this cycle – but maybe we will.
It’s not enough for a few people on the left to do this. We need to make it an important feature of progressive and left culture, something as core to our movement as Medicare for All or the Green New Deal. Progressive and leftists organizations should endorse the #Undecided virtual third party in the general, until and unless the blue candidate makes serious concessions in policy and personnel. By endorsing #Undecided, organizations can establish themselves as negotiators representing constituencies the established order needs to bring along in order to win. Like the Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, and others who sent a detailed list of demands to the Biden campaign, groups should make a statement of their demands publicly available, making it clear what is on the table and inviting the establishment to negotiate for their support. This would be a major shift in the balance of power across the ideological spectrum, moving the center of power closer to the left.
Even if we don’t get enough people to join the #Undecided virtual third party this cycle, we’ve begun building the #Undecided movement to break the “blue no matter who” trainwreck we have now. We don’t want to find ourselves in the same position four years from now. The sooner we start organizing across the divides in the left coalition the better. Progressives, the broad left, and other anti-establishment groups should stand in solidarity and say #Undecided this election – and every election. We should make #Undecided the new normal for our culture. It’s the only way, outside a total collapse of the Democratic Party, to break the back of “blue no matter who.”
Please show your support for Michigan Progressive by supporting us on Patreon, joining our YouTube channel, liking and following our Facebook page, or subscribing to our podcast, State of the Revolution: RSS | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Pocket Casts | Patreon. Any of these really help us reach more people and produce more content. If you’re interested in writing, audio/visual production, or would like to help out in some other way, get in touch directly: Liano at michiganprogressive.com.
We win this fight together, or not at all.