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A Manifesto Of Principles For Covering The 2016 Election

Random thoughts and musings on the Democratic race, as well as the entire 2016 Election and U.S. media coverage:

—Tribalism has no place in what we do here. We do not care about what candidate you support in the presidential election. What we care about is the policies and positions, which movements for social justice must advance. We deeply value those readers, who are willing to engage in discussion about how to build power to achieve the radical change that we need.

—Hillary Clinton could lose to Donald Trump, and we are not going to act like petulant children toward readers, who have digested polls or followed news and come to the conclusion that there is something about Trump the Democratic Party may not be able to defeat in November. Or, we will not bellow at you for righteously believing that Bernie Sanders may stand the best chance of beating Trump in November.

—We reject the drums of inevitability, which media organizations, including progressive media organizations, have been beating since the middle of last year. This conversation about inevitability—or electability—is trivial in comparison to the important discussions we should be having on where candidates stand on the issues. It also is intended to discourage voters from voting their conscience.

—We will not mindlessly cheerlead Democratic candidates’ speeches in order to make statements about Republican politicians and their actions in the election. The criticism of GOP politics is not a tacit encouragement to turn around and excuse the actions or records of Democratic Party politicians. Condemning the racism and bigotry of the GOP does not automatically mean the Democrats are our least worst hope. Plus, we will not fuel apocalyptic or hyperbolic predictions about Trump or any other Republican candidate in order to control criticism of the Democratic Party.

—Our definitions of racism is not the limited definition, which Hillary Clinton and most of the Democratic Party establishment employ to win over voters who are people of color. We agree with Kevin Alexander Gray that discussion of black politics should not be limited to criminal justice issues and prisons. Like Gray said, “Black voters want the same thing that white voters want. They want to be able to pay their house payments, to pay their mortgages, to pay their rent, to pay their utility bills, to pay their taxes, to educate their kids. And when you think that the whole foundation of black politics is just about talking about criminal justice and crime, well, that’s playing a stereotype in and of itself.” And so, pushes for universal healthcare, free college education, a living wage, reining in Wall Street, etc, are unquestionably linked to struggles against institutional racism.

—Likewise, our definition of feminism is much broader than the limited definition promoted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the wider Democratic Party establishment. We’re hiring a new writer, Roqayah Chamseddine, who will help us challenge the narrow concept of feminism that is pushed and how it omits so many other important issues which are just as important to women too.

—We punch up, not down, and fact is, Bernie Sanders’ campaign has wildly exceeded all expectations. A review of media coverage proves that unquestionably. Everyone doubted that he would formidably oppose Clinton. He has drawn from the energy of the few grassroots organizations, which are not wedded to the Democratic Party establishment, in order to raise the expectations of voters and promote a vision contrary that stands in sharp contrast to the dull “Anybody But a Republican” politics of the status quo foisted upon citizens every four years.

—Bernie Sanders has not trashed President Barack Obama. That is a dishonest claim promoted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to impugn Sanders’ character and make him unappealing to black voters. Just look at this post from one of our editors and columnists, Brian Sonenstein, about how Sanders has been incredibly loyal to the Democratic Party and why that raises dilemmas for those seeking to build a movement. So, heads of media organizations, which promote this propaganda, deserve to be held accountable for spreading Clinton campaign talking points instead of the truth.

—There’s nothing wrong with talking about a revolution, especially if it raises expectations. Have Latinos had enough of revolutions? El Salvador and other Latin American countries were places where right-wing death squads, backed by the CIA, brutally squashed social movements. Most recently, the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported a coup in Honduras. Is anyone afraid the U.S. government will align with right-wing groups to destroy efforts toward social justice? Maybe people who are glib about their disdain of radical change should acknowledge how they allow themselves to be ruled by fear.

—If any citizens want to pledge to not vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in November, we are not going to belittle and demonize them for making a choice as voters to vote the way they choose in the election. Likewise, if any citizens wish to support a third-party candidate like the Green Party’s Jill Stein, those people will not be singled-out and ostracized by us. We also will refrain from pinning blame on any voters who support Stein or do not vote for Clinton if Trump wins in November. The fact is, if Trump wins, he will win because the Democratic Party ran a poor campaign and failed to defeat Donald Trump. He will win because the Democratic Party pinned all their hopes on maintaining control over the White House on Hillary Clinton and that gamble backfired.

—It also is ridiculous to harp on those who want Sanders to stay in it for the long haul until June. There is nothing divisive about prolonging the primary. Anyone who holds this view because it delays the unification behind a particular candidate who needs to focus on beating Trump is behaving more like a Democratic Party operative who has close ties to a Super PAC than someone who you should appreciate, as they share insights on the election.

—Access to establishment media most definitely still matters. What we do here at Shadowproof and what others tapped into the grassroots at other sites do still does not go as far as the messages on CNN or MSNBC. Younger generations are more tapped into social media, and get their news that way. That is not enough to constitute evidence that voters bypass the gatekeeper media. I mean, why is Hillary Clinton so invested in having pundits covertly spread her message if cable news doesn’t matter anymore.

—If Bernie Sanders completely defies media expectations to become the Democratic Party’s nominee and then wins in November, a key concern will be what happens to the grassroots network that mobilized around his candidacy. They must immediately return to mobilizing around issues of social justice irrespective of the Democratic Party and separate from Sanders. If they are folded into the Democratic Party like Obama for America was integrated into the Democratic Party, it will be the death knell of any movements, which gravitate toward Sanders.

—The Democratic Party has a history of containing social movements or populist rebellions. Hillary Clinton, if she is the nominee, will have the task serving the interests of the top 1% and the financial institutions on Wall Street by absorbing the energy and momentum created by Sanders. Campaign donors will look to Clinton to lower and manage expectations to an even greater degree than she is now. She will be acting in the tradition of the party, which contained the agrarian populist rebellions of the 1890s, the workers’ movements of the 1930s and 1940s, and the civil rights, anti-poverty, environmental, feminist and environmental movements of the 1960s and early 1970s.

—We believe there should be more voices, and more choices in our elections. Let’s further democratize the system. Let’s have open debates for all candidates who are on a majority of ballots in November. Let’s discuss reforms that go beyond Citizens United. What about instant run-off voting?

—We welcome all of our readers with open arms, especially the ones who refuse to be the shock troops for the Democratic Party and are committed to engaging in activism independently of the two-party system. No, we won’t tell you to go the fuck away if you want to pursue a higher vision of democracy, like some other grassroots media outlets.

We won’t bash you for daring to wonder what it would take to dismantle oppressive systems, which impact poor, working class, and middle class Americans greatly, especially those of color. We are not dialing for Hillary Clinton campaign advertising dollars. Therefore, we will lovingly embrace you and thank you for joining our community.

If you support our vision for fearless independent journalism from a movement perspective, please donate to Shadowproof today.
Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."