THE BLOG
07/27/2016 07:12 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2017

Moratorium Days, 2016: November 7 & 8

By Jerry Lembcke and Jeremy Kuzmarov

With the collapse of the Sanders' campaign and WikiLeaks revelations that DNC operatives worked behind the scenes to undermine it, the only efficacious vote for progressives in this election is NOTA, None Of The Above, a vote against the electoral system as it stands. As Chris Hedges has pointed out, liberals are replicating the GOP in promoting a politics of fear to try and get people to vote for Hillary Clinton as the anti-Trump. However, we are not under any illusions that she represents anything but a perpetuation of the neoliberal and militaristic policies which have bred disaster for our country and fueled the rise of anger and disillusionment underlying Trump's neo-fascism. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-kuzmarov/democratic-platform-atroc_b_11154002.html)

The Jill Stein campaign has offered a set of sound alternative principles to continue with Bernie's political revolution; however, a much bigger grass-roots mobilization is needed before these principles can be fulfilled. At this time a vote for her may do nothing to challenge entrenched corporate-power and what Sheldon Wolin has called the system of inverted totalitarianism that has gripped the United States since the Bush administration. (see Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Princeton University Press 2012 https://www.amazon.ca/Democracy-Incorporated-Managed-Inverted-Totalitarianism/dp/069114589X).

Under this system dissent is increasingly marginalized or repressed and the populace is lulled into acquiescence with neoliberal economic and militaristic policies through a media entertainment complex that renders them immune to the human suffering going on all around them.

The election extravaganza this year has already cost probably billions of dollars - money that could have been invested in our communities - and the outcome is the nomination of two of the most unpopular and morally tainted candidates in American history. A simple call to stay home from the polls is too passive to produce real change and would face the objection that it is "too negative." What could the NOTA strategy combine with to present a reasonable and promising alternative to voting?

What we need is a "Moratorium Days 2016" that turns November 7 and 8 into days of mass participation in teach-ins and rallies for reform of the electoral system (including the thorough renovation of the political parties). Like for the Moratorium Days of October and November 1969 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moratorium_to_End_the_War_in_Vietnam) that brought business as usual to a halt while a broad swath of Americans protested the war in Vietnam and spent those days contemplating the ways and means by which the war could be brought to an end, students, workers, and citizens can once again be mobilized--this time for a massive withdrawal of political energy from the electoral system while they bring focused attention to the depth of the national crisis, together with concentrated engagement with the issues of strategies and tactics for change, and consideration of the alternatives at hand.

Today, the massive disaffection with the system cuts across the left-right spectrum. For weeks, political pundits have speculated about the lure of Trump-campaign rhetoric to working class democrats, and the appeal of Sanders' "political revolution" to republicans disgusted with the shenanigans of their own party. With Sanders' capitulation, millions of Americans are now politically adrift and vulnerable to the TINA appeal of the Democratic Party (There Is No Alternative), the comfort in the do-nothing political apathy that is all-too familiar, and the siren-song of Republican Party revanchism (http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/03/gop-eve-destruction); (http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/category/3).

With the embers of the Bernie "bern" still aglow, the troops recruited for Sanders' political revolution should stay the course and Jill Stein should lend her inspiration, popularity, and media presence to the New Moratorium Days campaign that sends the same kind of message to the political establishment in November 2016 that was brought to the military establishment in 1969 and led to the ending of the Vietnam War. Atop the Moratorium docket, and for planning in the weeks between now and November, can be the question of how far down the ballot the NOTA declaration should be enforced, with consideration given to local and regional contests. But organizers should be clear that Moratorium Days, 2016 is not a jut a threat--we're out!

Out of school, out of work, and out of the voting booths on November 7 and 8! It's time for students, workers, and a broad-based citizenry to report for civic duty at their coffee shops, union halls, and city centers for political engagement. "No work, No School, No Vote"--the iron is hot, it's time to strike.

*Jerry Lembcke is Associate Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA. He can be reached at jlembcke@holycross.edu. Jeremy Kuzmarov teaches at the University of Tulsa, is author of two books on U.S. foreign policy and can be reached at jerkuz@yahoo.com.