As this nation has been reeling from the most surreal election season in my lifetime, I’ve been involved in numerous discussions – both on and off the air – about election integrity. I was included on a small email list of EI activists in a discussion about the way forward. 

As my regular listeners know, I’m very conflicted. I can’t fathom ever pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton, but the thought of a Donald Trump presidency scares me to my core. After seeing the early reverberations of Brexit, I’m even more nervous about what such an American mistake would portend.


Mimi Kennedy, activist.

Mimi Kennedy is known to millions of fans as an actress and author, but to those of us in the Progressive political world, we know she’s been a board member of Progressive Democrats of America and is one of our movement’s most dedicated activists.

Her response to this email list moved me to write to thank her for her words, and to invite her on the show.

To my delight, she said she was a fan, and said she’d love to. So, Mimi Kennedy will be my guest this afternoon at 3:20 Eastern/ 12:20 Pacific. Before she joins me, I thought you might like to read her note.

With her permission…


By Mimi Kennedy  June 22, 2016

Naiveté is a threat to progressives. It is destructive, so guard against it and avoid it.

So speaks my experience.

Birds in flight, fish in schools, move with the wind and waves. Progressives have wind and waves coming at us at the convention.  I don’t know how fish and birds surf these forces without argument, but they do. Does evolution prepare for revolution – literally, for turning together?

Bernie brought us the revolution while we’re still evolving.  Do we have to move as a whole group? if we don’t, what power do we lose or gain? What’s the distance between Inside and Outside? In formation, the birds and fish feel the forces differently, depending on where they are, and turn differently, depending on position.

I’ve worked for 12 years – a blip in history – to make the Democratic party more progressive.

Bernie worked a lifetime serving in various elected offices; surviving in a notoriously two-party Congress and doing so longer than most with their proud party affiliations; serving weekly as an hour-long co-host with Thom Hartmann answering any question offered for the public record. He cohered a Movement from groups and individuals unaffiliated with groups.

This has actually happened fast. It really might have been – should have and could have – a Sanders candidacy for a Sanders Administration.

It probably won’t – and we’re left to deal with that.

I think it’s necessary to realize that the “better angels of our nature” – (is that Lincoln? This rhetorical term so favored by politicians makes me queasy when it is invoked to placate public fury about corruption, perpetual war and election theft) – don’t rule hard-fought elections. That realm belongs to the demons of absolute power and blood sport competition, because at the ballot box, winner takes all. So the ballot box has been invaded by the demons.

So the horse-race is only part, for now. Bernie, not being naive, is modeling what to do when you “Place”. That’s still a pay-off.  You start managing governance, because that takes more than one horse.

He helped his supporters take over the infrastructure of the Democratic Party in many states and much of the nation.

To have expected triumph with no push-back, is naive. (Though of course I hoped for triumph.) Obama triumphed and was mired in push-back for eight years.

mimi2Tim Carpenter, who started Progressive Democrats of America in 2004, a group that remained small but occasionally mighty despite absolute blackout in the media, which preferred to lavish coverage on the well-funded astro-turf offered angry bigots by the GOP’s billionaire donors, said push back was the proof that a group was effective.

So here comes the push-back, the wind and the waves.

To mix the metaphor, but I don’t know a better way to put it, naiveté is a noose. It’s offered to the principled by the corrupt, and it’s made to look lovely – a necklace of honor and incorruptibility. But put it on and all your adversary has to do is snap the levers they do control and you’re out of it. Inspect the noose. Don’t put it on.

Party leaders are vulnerable without people supporting them. They can’t tear down the structure; it’s too big. They can only get the hell out and go elsewhere.  We can take over the structure. The leaders of the GOP are finding this out. They “won” their dishonest “elections” without real support – just media coverage of minority anger – and their implosion couldn’t happen to a more deserving party.

There’s no time nor any need for progressives to build a new structure. We can have the Democratic party.  The last problem was the money and Bernie proved it’s there, in a majority of small contributions.  Meanwhile, we can make money less important – it’s not speech.

But the push-back against the majority was ugly, when it came from the Democratic party’s public shrug about suppression of voters.

The suppression happened in myriad ways in small jurisdictions. Election integrity activists have been trying to trace official accountability for years – and have been successful in some cases. But it’s the Democratic party’s shrug that is so damning.

Still – to depend on powerful people to champion their own replacement is naive. People who honor and recognize the beauty of human development in politics are, unfortunately, rare. They prefer obedient operatives.

This planet needs us to be wily and wise. Americans are relatively free – as compared, in this historic moment, to Sudanese or Syrians -to turn fury and disgust into creative political action. In July, we can demand progressive governance replace special interests’ lobbying — and fixing elections – for perpetual war, racist economies, and Darwinian foreign policies that align with cruel power.

We can get – and maybe even get the media to cover! – cooperative governance instead of the addicts’ drama of endless campaigns among celebrity personalities.

We can start that narrative at the Convention. What might help is for those on the Outside to keep faith with those on the Inside, who burrowed in early, and for insiders to cut slack for those Outside who are waiting for the stench to subside before they enter, or the effect would suffocate their nascent hope.

In order to do this, it’s good to not be naive about motives to divide us. I don’t know how you differentiate principled fury from false manipulation, but a good guide is usually to ask if the fury results in an opening or closing for progressives during the next four years of governance. You have to push hard to get anything; but there’s a radar to knowing when Help is Hindrance. Perhaps it comes from being mutually sensitive about individual positions against wind and wave, but willingness to turn together to get where we need to go in the time we’ve got.

bernieAfter ten years of working on citizen activism for election integrity at the LA Registrar’s office, I was thrilled to see, when I went to observe the counting of provisional votes yesterday (a hundred thousand remain) groups of citizen observers. I observed with three women ignited, educated, and activated through the Bernie campaign. When I started citizen oversight with a handful of people (Dr. Judy Alter led the canvass observation) watching the vote-count wasn’t on the radar as an issue. In fact, your Democratic state and county officials were happily being led to all-electronic voting courtesy of Diebold. Then Registrar Conny McCormack appeared on the cover of a Diebold sales pamphlet, touting their wares. A handful of us alarmed by Florida 2000, then Ohio 2004, joined the Community Voter Outreach Committee and cried foul. CA Secretaries of State Kevin Shelly and Debra Bowen, both Democrats, helped preserve the paper ballot in our state. Yet when they fell to cruel smears by the right-wing, the Democratic party failed to defend them.  It was horrible; they are unsung heroes and one day we will praise them like we should, to paraphrase the song.

This convention will be a historic moment. There will be drama and fury, inside and out, and thrilling moments captured for future generations to see over and over. And I’m sure there will be adversaries planted to smear progressives; don’t let naivete enable them beyond their own stupid efforts.