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I was asked by the blog, State of Nature, and its editors, Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes, to answer their "One Question" monthly roundtable, "Should the Left support Bernie Sanders for President" in 400 words, an exercise in getting to the point. I, along with other respondents, thought that was a good question but not the right one with which to start. So here is my response to the "One Question?"

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My answer.

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib for President!"

My perspective begins with a primary strategic assumption—I see the U.S. as a racist, imperialist bully built on a genocidal white settler state. So I begin my hopes for any presidential election with what I hope for—a candidate vehemently opposes the racist and imperialist actions of our government.

I will work in the general election to support any Democratic candidate to defeat Trump. But the Movement can also play a role in making demands on the presidential candidates.

Now, in that the Democratic Party is a party of imperialism I still I accept the urgency of a united front against the racist and proto-fascist Donald Trump. I will work in the general election to support any Democratic candidate to defeat Trump. But the Movement can also play a role in making demands on the presidential candidates. Demands that should frame the Democratic primaries include Open Borders for all immigrants, free the 1 million Black and 500,000 Latino prisoners, end the Israeli Blockade of Palestine, stop U.S. intervention in Venezuela, and cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of 1990 levels by 2025.

I will follow the lead of three dynamic and courageous young women, new members of Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from the Puerto Rican community, has opposed ICE and called for the tearing down the U.S. wall with Mexico and is willing to be point on the great debates. Ilhan Omar, from Somalia, has supported Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, opposed Elliot Abrams and the U.S. efforts to bring down Maduro as they did Allende, and has already been attacked by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party machine. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, strongly supports BDS, calls for the "right of return" of all Palestinians, and the impeachment of Donald Trump, aka "the mf."

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By contrast, Bernie Sanders "socialism" is little more than "imperialism with benefits." Sanders one-note focus on "strengthening Social Security" and "Medicare for all" is a conscious strategy to pacify the rabid white racist Trump voters instead of supporting Black and Latino demands, confronting white imperialist gentrification of Black communities, and aggressively challenging Democratic Party imperialism in Venezuela.

His statement, as he announced his candidacy, “We have got to look at candidates, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age" is an attack on every woman and Black Democratic candidate and reflects his obdurate white and male chauvinism. From a human rights perspective, his support for a video on the humanity of the people of Gaza and his criticisms, if not sufficient, of Israeli policy, is commendable. His sponsorship, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for a“responsible and expedient” end to what it calls the “forever war”—U.S. military action that’s been ongoing since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in 2001—is his best move yet. But again, most of the time, he reverts to a hollow economic populism that is far to the right of what is needed.

With regards to the constantly expanding group of other Democratic Party presidential candidates, each one requires greater study. But at first view, Kamala Harris was a brutal Attorney General who prosecuted Black and Latino kids and adults and opposed the anti-prison movement. She is now moving to the left and towards the Black community but her programmatic focus is evasive and weak. If she wins the primary I fear that in the general election she will tell white voters she is "tough on crime." Cory Booker gives opportunism a bad name and his attacks on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sactions movement for Palestinian liberation are deplorable. Elizabeth Warren has many redeeming qualities, but her appropriation of a false Native American identity for personal gain will continue into the primaries and for me is a major moral failing. Her leadership on the Forever War abolition is her greatest achievement so far.

In the Democratic primaries, I will follow the lead of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Whither they goest I will go.

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Eric Mann

Eric Mann is a veteran of the Congress of Racial Equality, the Newark Community Union Project, Students for a Democratic Society, the United Auto Workers New Directions Movement, and the League of Revolutionary Struggle. His 10 books include Playbook for Progressives: the 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. He is the host of Voices from the Frontlines—Your National Movement-Building Show on KPFK Pacifica in Los Angeles. He has worked, along with Channing Martinez, with Dick Price and Sharon Kyle on the first two Left Coast Forum events and plans to continue in 2019. He welcomes comments at eric@voicesfromthefrontlines.com

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