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:
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail