The most recent election was a bad day for progressives. Most people are wetting themselves over the Democratic victories, including DSA members, even when they support US militarism! Look who won. Not just the fact that they were Democrats, but there was a Marine veteran proud of his military service to the empire as well as one who boasted of voting for Bush Jr twice. Are these the ones to lead the opposition, the Resistance, for ‘progressives’?
The problem with their victory is that they are seen as the Resistance. But to what? Trumpism? Trump is a personality, a character, and a caricature. But Trumpism is 100% Republican economics. What are the Democrats saying? “That’s wrong”? Good for them. But what is their alternative plan?
Let’s start with Sanders who led the way for progressives during the primaries. Was he against militarism? No. He just didn’t want Americans to get their shoes bloodied. He wanted the Saudis to lead the military way out of the mess in the Middle East created by the Saudis, Israelis, and Americans. He’s been awfully silent about the bloodshed and genocide going on in Yemen. Sanders also received more military related funding for his campaign than any of the Republicans (according to Politico Magazine) and only somewhat shy of Clinton overall.
Sanders wants to break up the banks. Sounds great. They’re evil. They’re predatory. They’re the new Great Satan. Tell me how breaking up Ma Bell has worked since 1982. Phone rates gone down any in the last 35 years? Real progressives, real leftists would say nationalize the banks.
Even as long ago as 1919 the State Bank of North Dakota has served the people of ND, not the corporate shills of Wall Street. So this idea of nationalizing should not come as if it’s a radically new, revolutionary approach to banking, but certainly one even a progressive Democrat wouldn’t consider.
The Democratic Party is only marginally less respected nationwide than the Republicans. 58% of registered voters voted in the 2016 presidential election. With 31% of Americans seeing themselves or leaning towards the Democrats, 29% as Republican and 38% as Independents (Gallup, 2010), it’s clear that the Democratic Party ‘Resistance’ represents a very small portion of the country. When you have the leadership of Perez, Clinton, Schumer, Pelosi and others seen up front, there is no question that this Democratic Party led ‘Resistance’ is only designed to carry out Ronald Reagan’s agenda with a smiley face.
There will be occasional victories for real progressive thought in America. Socialism and Socialists are losing the fear factor it once held, and for generations. Cool during the 30s and Great Depression but quickly out of favor as Socialists were later hunted during the 50s, especially. Today, even the anti-communist organization, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, commissioned a YouGov study which identified 44% of millennials who prefer to live in a socialist country.
Although many Green Parties nation-wide are still playing the safe state strategy with their leaders supporting Democrats in elections or pretending to be Green, there is a greater desire to move the party and its locals further to the left, completely distancing itself from the 2 party system. In Houston in 2016 at the Green Party convention it voted to declare itself anti-capitalist, the largest 3rd party to do so. Jill Stein didn’t help, though, when she endorsed Bernie Sanders to win the California Primary, which would have ended any chance of a Green Party victory, even if victory was counted as getting 5% and thus future federal funding. Minnesota just ran an embarrassing candidate who was nearly indistinguishable from a Republican. In previous elections we see state GP chairs, like in Maryland, boasting how he switched to Democrat to vote for Sanders, and then switched back, all the while serving as a 3rd party state co-chair. This ‘crossover’ support still goes on in the MD Green Party within its leadership.
One local, Baltimore County, has learned the mistakes of the past and incorporated only a year ago, to become the fastest growing and possibly largest local in Maryland. With its focus on what a real third party ought to be, it has in its founding by-laws a requirement that no officer representing this local can endorse a Democrat or Republican, and must be registered Green. In time, the hope is that it would require all members to be registered Green, as the idea of a non-Green making decisions on this local’s future is troubling. This Baltimore County local has also done away with consensus voting, aka tyranny of the minority, where any individual disruptive and savvy enough can wear down a group until they get their way, as a child throwing a tantrum does with indulgent parents.
On a national level, the call for independence from the 2 parties is gaining steam, perhaps truly representing a resistance to not just Trumpism, but to the duopoly that has worked so well together to make life very good for the comfortable, and miserable for the already afflicted.
At the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention Resolution 48 called for: studies [for] the viability of independent and third-party politics.
Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, have called for independence from the Democrats and suggested that labor forms a Labor Party. These two, however, are members of the Democratic National Committee, so it looks more like an attempt to pressure the Party to move on labor issues, rather than seriously looking at forming a Labor Party. However, Mark Dimondstein, President of the Postal Workers, has long advocated for a Labor Party since NAFTA in 1993 but his union has no active campaign to make it happen.
Clearly, much needs to be done and the first is to dissuade anyone from thinking that the Democratic Party will lead the Resistance. As this party has long been the graveyard of progressive movements, either a viable Green Party (not likely) or a Labor Party may be the only hope for real systemic, radical and revolutionary change to take on Wall Street. Electing Ray Moore won’t really change things, but electing a Democrat in this race would be throwing a blanket over everyone’s eyes.