FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Left Third Parties in 2013

by JOHN HALLE

The 2013 municipal election contained mixed results for left third party advocates.

The two most high profile and exciting candidacies, those of Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant in Seattle and Ty Moore in Minneapolis, appear to have gone down to defeat. But the margins were small – a few percentage points – and both are young and have already committed to rematches in two years with a strong likelihood of success.Furthermore, even if these two candidates had won, they would have amounted to no more than two small points of light.  Municipal office and the opportunities it presents for building power have yet to be recognized by the left whose anarchist tinged distaste for “electoralism” on the one side and abusive spouse relationship with the Democrats on the other have prevented any widespread recognition of this potential from emerging.Sawant and Moore have shown that such campaigns can be run cheaply, effectively and competitively most notably in the numerous cities where Democratic machines have dominated for generations. Their campaigns may have woken up many leftists to follow suit and it is not impossible that 2015 could see a wave of municipal candidacies on Moore and Sawant’s Socialist Alternative line, from a reinvigorated Green party and other independent left formations, such as the Vermont Progressive Party.While leftists might not yet be fully aware of this potential, it seems certain that the Democrats, whose history of compromise and capitulation to big money – “pond scum” compared to the Republicans dog poo, as a recent Daily Show segment pegged them – are aware that they are ripe for the picking by the left.

WFP, WTF?

A good indication occurred in Syracuse, NY where long time Green activist Howie Hawkins, whose previous campaign against an machine Democrat failed by 94 votes, this time went down by a slightly larger margin.  The difference did not reflect a lack of support but rather the presence of the Working Families Party, which, as the Syracuse Post Standard reported “hired paid canvassers and coordinated an intensive get-out-the-vote effort on (Hawkins’s opponent’s) behalf during the past few weeks.”

This is only the most recent chapter in the long and increasingly sordid history of the WFP which during the last gubernatorial election, showed its true colors as a pawn of Democratic Party leadership by supporting the union busting “Governor 1%” Andrew Cuomo.Increasingly true to form, rather than aiding numerous Democrats against Republican competition, (for example, here) the WFP turned its fire against the left, supporting a bland, corporate centrist in Syracuse.  Their rationale for doing so was pithily summarized by one of the paid WFP out-of-town “organizers”  who declared on social media that “A victory for Hawkins tomorrow would be worse for the progressive cause than any other victory for a Right Winger.”

It was due to Hawkins strong challenge that the combination of crackpot logic and cynicism which is at the core of WFP much vaunted “strategy” has been finally revealed for all to see, provoking this petition which has attracted the support of noted left intellectuals such as Barbara Garson, Rick Wolff, Margaret Kimberly, Doug Henwood, Steve Early and 200 others.

Rather than being coddled, the WFP should be widely repudiated, most notably by the Nation magazine, which has repeatedly championed it, to the exclusion of other left parties, for years.

The Left Wins When it Loses

More positively, strong Third Party challenges, have shown, as did Occupy Wall Street a two years ago, that they can force a shift in the political agenda, requiring Democrats to get on board or expose themselves as the servants of capital which their business model requires them to be.  A case in point was Sawant’s signature issue of a $15 an hour minimum wave quickly adopted by all leading Democratic candidates least they show themselves as out of touch with the anti-corporate mood which formed the backdrop to this electoral cycle.

These are only two indications of how, as was reported by the Seattle NPR affiliate, the left wins even when it loses serious, well organized and viable campaigns.

Let’s hope 2013 is a preview of many more to come.

JOHN HALLE is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College. He can be reached at: halle@bard.edu.

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes. He tweets at: jghalle.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail