FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Left’s Missing Ingredient

by JOHN FARLEY

Jeffrey St. Clair is right to deplore the current low level of activity of the US left in his article, “The Silent Death of the American Left

St. Clair’s article omits the recent Occupy Movement, whose sudden and spontaneous emergence  shows the potential for unrest lurking below the surface. But without an organization  or a strategy, Occupy has disappeared. The potential is still there, because the profound problems that plague most Americans have not been solved or even ameliorated.

What  is missing? A left electoral presence. To most Americans, politics means elections. But the Left lacks electoral representation.

There are a few exceptions: Bernie Sanders is a US Senator, while Dennis Kucinich served honorably for sixteen years in the House.  But someone may object, what good does it do to have a Senator on our side?

Not long ago, Bernie Sanders took the floor of the Senate to read a list of  dozens of big corporations who paid no income tax, and some even got tax credits. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t do that, nor would Mitch McConnell. Instead of debating whether taxes are too high or not high enough, the Left ought to point out who pays taxes – and who doesn’t. “Only little people pay taxes,” proclaimed real-estate queen Leona Helmsley, and she was right.

Sanders and Kucinich got elected without any organized Left to help. If the Left that took seriously the task of building a left electoral presence, that would entail examining every Congressional District in the country, weighing the electorate, the incumbent, the prospects for recruiting a left candidate, and the prospects for winning. It would entail teaching ourselves to explain the left perspectives to the electorate.

What we’ve been doing just does not work in building a left electoral presence:

(1) Instead of recruiting our own candidates, we wait until the usual cast of opportunists and careerists get themselves nominated, then hold our noses and work for the lesser of the two evils,

(2) We focus on the race for the White House, not Congress or Senator or state legislator

(3) A third party doesn’t work. The system is rigged against third parties. It costs a lot of effort just getting on the ballot. Then as election day approaches, voters realize that voting for the third party will help the Republican candidate win, and the third party fails.

Instead, I propose, in  Democratic districts, to recruit and run our own candidate in the Democratic primary. That’s a strategy that actually aims at winning.

The formation of the Tea Party has helped to push the Republicans to the Right. If the Left had an electoral presence, it could push the Democrats to the Left, at least rhetorically. For example, in 1988 when Jesse Jackson got into the Presidential race, nearly all the other Democratic candidates suddenly became populists (except Bruce Babbitt).

As a platform for  the Left, I recommend an 11-point program  proposed in Monthly Review by Fred Magdoff and Michael Yates back in 2009.  Here are the 11 points, which a generation ago were called “Immediate demands.”

(1) Adequate food for everyone,

(2) decent housing,

(3) universal healthcare,

(4) full employment/good jobs,

(5) quality education for all

(6) adequate income in old age,

(7)  enhanced public transportation,

(8) a commitment to a sustainable environment

(9) progressive taxation

(10) a non-imperialist government,  and

(11) labor- and environmentally friendly trade.

There’s nothing sacred about this list. I’m sure many CounterPunchers would come up with a similar list. The whole Yates/Magdoff article is well worth reading.

Remember: for most Americans, politics means elections. If the Left has no electoral presence, we’re not in the game.

John W. Farley writes from Henderson NV.

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and Henry the First: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail