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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Martha Durkee-Neuman
Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail