I’m glad that I was able to catch the last half of the Peoples Party Conventions live stream. The first speaker I caught was Tim Black. Dramatically pulling his notes from his pocket, he put it quite succinctly, “Fuck Trump!” he said. It hit home. So frank, so honest, so heart-felt, and then he pulled another note from his pocket. “And fuck Joe Biden!” giving us the counterpunch. In that moment I went from a smirky kind of ha-ha cynicism to a full-on joyful laugh. It was real! The convention and the speakers were raw, natural, fresh and authentic.
Missing from the event were the staged appearances of importantly groomed and well-rehearsed company store speakers. Missing was the lock-step adherence to company lines. Missing were the vapid statements of bad actors in their designated roles, mouthing insincere nonsense and out-right lies while their gleaming white teeth clack away, betraying the price of their plastered-on smiles. The Peoples Party Convention was not a well-rehearsed, highly produced, tightly scripted, and likewise, elite gathering of the expensively perfumed.
For what we lost in theatrics, we gained in sincerity. The PPC was like going over to sit with Marianne over a tea and biscuit while watching her make important magic. We got to visit in Cornel’s kitchen while he invoked the spirits of true brotherhood and humanity. I wanted to reach out for a sip of bourbon and a short smoke while taking in the sincerity of Brother West’s radical love. Senator Turner then stood ground and transformed herself into an altar of truth and power with no more props than the glasses on her face and the face with glasses on the wall behind her staring straight out. “Hello somebody!” she called out, inviting us in, demanding the attention of our “better angels”
It had the feeling of a historic event. The horse is out of the barn now with the announcement of this newly formed Peoples Party. Whether we ride this creature or not will determine the outcome of the event, and will decide, for the sake of history, the meaning of this moment. One thing stood out stark and clear which was reflected in the words of Senator Turner when she said without equivocation, ”What we agree on is that we are in a fight for our lives and for future generations—and we stand-up for what is just, and for what is right, and for what is good.”
Although the mood was celebratory it was also somber. The speakers were genuinely concerned regarding what lies ahead for this nation. It requires a great amount of nerve and courage to take on the almost impossible task of wresting power from the two most influential political parties on Earth. With its list of speakers, from long standing activists and dissenters, authors, political candidates, stand-up comedians, and everyday citizens and community organizers, the event touched on almost every element of concern to those seeking real answers and solutions to this nation’s deepest problems. Unlike the Republican and the Democratic conventions, at the PPC we heard from those who had the integrity to speak to the inescapable truth of the degradation of the nation which has been brought on by the constant warring, the forced poverty, the systemic racism and the environmental ecocide that has been constructed and maintained by the corporate managers who have bought off the politicians of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Fortunately, the purpose of the PPC was not hijacked with the usual angry rhetoric against one or the other of the two fighting parties. The convention was not derailed with the concerns over this year’s up-coming presidential election or by infighting over who the people should vote for in that election. The Peoples Party has no candidate in the 2020 race. The convention was not a call for voters to upset this year’s election with abstinence or what some might call a protest vote. The issue of which of the two evils we should vote for was not skirted by the speakers, it was simply and refreshingly not the focus of this convention. Many did speak to the issue of two corrupted and incompetent candidates but there was no consensus, or effort made to achieve a consensus as to how people should vote in this years election. Instead the matter of this years vote was kindly left for each speaker and for each of us to decide according to our own conscious and our own understanding.
The focus was on the desperate need for breaking away from the two party political strangleholds that Republicans and Democrats have created. Though the urgency of today’s political failures were certainly a theme, there was no illusion created that a Peoples Party would be able to win any kind of political battle overnight, or to say it again, that a Peoples Party candidate should run in this year’s election. What we did hear was that without the hard effort, sacrifice and imagination of us, the people, that there would be no changes in US politics, except for that change that takes us in the direction of more corruption, more oppression, more degradation and a further loss of civil and planetary rights.
It’s encouraging that this effort of empowerment embraces the idea of starting this new party from scratch, treating the movement as a brand new creation, a newborn baby in the world of US politics. Better something new than returning to whip a tired, old party into shape. Concluding that the Democratic and Republican parties are both too far gone to tolerate any reform, these political activists have made the decision to move on. Making a clean break from old habits, they have decided to start down this path in the spirit, joined with the freedom that confidence and joy bring to a weary soul. Unencumbered by past faults and failures, unencumbered by both real and manufactured images, by skepticism and the doubt of past experience, the Peoples Party is free to be something unique, something currently unavailable but desperately needed by the public. The Peoples Party is free to rightly and sincerely represent at least one group of people, and a sizable group that is. The Peoples Party is free to represent those that with good reason, feel that they are not being represented at all, in any way, by either the Republican or Democratic Parties.
I know that there are more than the two dominant parties and I have not forgotten to consider in this moment the fate of the Green Party or the Socialist Party or any of those other dozens of parties that exist here in the US. I am not sentimental for the glory days of those parties. They never happened. However I am a little more hopeful with the formation of this Peoples Party. This party might represent the best bet we have for turning voters out, moving them towards a strong, healthy and viable alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties.
The Socialist Party has one glaring flaw, which though probably inappropriate, still has and will continue to hinder its acceptance on a broader scale, its name. Whether appropriate or not, there is certain stigma that comes with an association to the word “socialist” and therefore, what in many minds, it represents. Sadly, the word socialist has been attached to at least a few totalitarian states and those images are hard to shake as there is some truth to the problems associated with them. Better to drop a word that is misapplied, misunderstood and held in contempt by many than to stubbornly hold onto it. The concept of governmental participation in the general well-being of a nation works just as well without misunderstood and confusing words that are used to stir-up fear and contempt in the public’s mind.
The Green Party, which has adopted and promoted by far the most generally accepted progressive platforms, has also become burdened by its own past. Formally founded in 2001, the Green Party has become a prisoner to its public image. Although the Green Party platform is very popular few, voting age Americans seen to know it. The Green Party also has suffered from its inability to grab the public’s attention, except for in a few small, very progressive communities. The one time that the Greens did manage to gain major attention in the news was in 2016 when the Greens earnestly attempted to run up against the Republicans and Democrats. Instead of making much political headway, at a time when they most needed to get the votes, they were instead smeared into the ground by the press and by angry voters on the left who were determined to stay bogged down in the ruts of repetition as they lined-up to cast their votes for one or the other evil. As unjust, unfair and plain ignorant as that may have been, it was firmly beaten into the heads of the willing that the Greens were somehow responsible for the lesser evil’s failure to succeed, and that animosity remains an obstacle that will never be surmounted. The Greens have become known as nothing more or better than a lowly third-party spoiler, a long-time, going no-where failure of a party, and we will not see a political revolution coming from there.
These two parties that we’ve highlighted here are indeed held in the public conscience as products of their own past, just as the Democratic and Republican Parties are held. And as we need to break free from the corruption of the Republicans and Democrats we also need to break away from the images and failures of those “third parties.” In fact it is important that the Peoples Party never sinks so low as to be anything less than a first party. The Peoples Party might thrive if and only if the people are willing to take on the responsibility of being the foremost party, the most important and main-stream of parties, the party of the people.
Those who spoke to us from their homes for the PPC spoke in tones of measured hope. They did not attempt to paint phony scenarios of the Party’s success, or try to draw us in with comforting reassurances of some kind of easy success. The path ahead is full of adversity and will be covered with every obstruction and obstacle the world of entrenched power can find to burden it with. I fear and find it so very sad to think that the greatest burden will come from those closest to the ideals of this Peoples Party and by those who have the most to gain from its success.
We have seen the hold that the Democrats have on the minds and actions of its supporters even though the party’s failures and corruptions have been shown to them time and time again. The propaganda runs deep as they, the advertisers, meant it to run. Voters are reduced to mindless blobs who unquestionably vote blue no matter who when they are told to do so. To point out a flaw or weakness in their plans or strategies is next to treason and to attempt any reform of the party or its platform is nothing but a fool’s errand, those who do try are slowly eaten alive like a bug in a flytrap. The Democrats, being so close to the ideals of the Peoples Party are the most nervous when true progressives start acting-up. It flies in the face of their empty efforts to match their policies and legislation with the words that they have memorized for speeches. The Democratic Party stands to lose millions of their supporters with the creation of a party that actually gets down to the business of the people rather than simply giving the people the business.
But if there is any chance for a new beginning this must be that chance. Again, never before has there been such disillusionment, such distrust and such dissatisfaction with the entire system of governance here in the US. Never since the Civil War of 1861 has America been so divided along the lines of such explosive issues. Never have the failures that have been driving this country into the ground been more obvious along with the knowledge of the complicity of the Democratic and Republican Parties in that destruction of not just the people and the land, but the very idea of the US as a democratic society.
We know that we must change directions in this country and around the world or we go off the cliff, and we must act now because the edge we go off of is getting very close. The timing for this movement to form a Peoples Party is perfect, because the best time to begin any great thing is always NOW! The organizers have been either wise or lucky in choosing to move now while the nation is watching and yearning for some shred of an opportunity for taking back their power. People are afraid and lonely. They have lost sight of any place where their energy might not be wasted or even turned against them. The organizers have been wise too, in staying out of this year’s race, a race that they were in no way prepared to run. But as for the founding of a new political party, the timing is perfect.
The Peoples Party has already begun calling in members, volunteers, and donations. The work of building a party has begun. Assuming we still have a country come November, the Peoples Party can step into a higher gear then. But starting today will give the new party two full years of organizing before the midterms, and with diligence and sweat that organizing should be able to win some converts and place a few candidates. If that is accomplished then it can work toward larger prizes. But even as this new party works toward the power of being placed in political position, it will have in its hands the most necessary power of all, the power of political persuasion.
We’ve heard many times now from those who say that we can and must move the Democratic Party to the left. There is no better way of doing that than to challenge, in real terms, the Democratic Party’s steady move to the right by providing an actual place of refuge for those disenfranchised by the Democratic Partys failure to move on their own accord. This is not to suggest that the purpose of the Peoples Party is to move the Democratic Party. The goal of the Peoples Party is to provide representation to American voters. This they hope to accomplish by actually listening to the demands of the voters and in that way providing refuge for the disenfranchised. Then the challenge of stimulating those who have lost all interest in what might be called, politics for the corrupted. Then, with the power of those gathered for the interests of the people, they can begin in earnest to work on the overhaul of this broken country. The Peoples Party must be appreciated and supported according to its own merits if it hopes to be successful and sustained by its particular achievements and its own faithful adherence to its mission, not followed because of a hope in its ability to possibly influence the Democrats.
In desperate times such as these, it is easy to find oneself out searching for any morsel of hope, but harder to actually find a genuine reason for hope. In this country, we have been through such tribulation that to even believe in such a thing as hope might seem to some as being naïve, caught-up in magical thinking and an exercise good for nothing more than activating false and juvenile thinking. Though I can understand the sceptic, I find myself standing with the children of hope, with the ones who continue to believe that there is some good in attempting the impossible, for as Chris Hedges reminded us with one of his most famous and important expressions, “ We don’t fight against fascism because we think we are going to win. We fight fascism because it is fascism.” I thank Mr. Hedges for those words and I find a lot of hope in that kind of faith and that kind of courage.
Although the founding the Peoples Party came across with little fanfare, and even less media coverage, it never-the-less has come across, and now exists as an alternative to the duopoly that has crippled the advancement of fresh political ideas and solutions. The political scene here in the US is reminiscent of something out of the dark ages and we cannot go on this way much longer. Perhaps it might be that this newly formed Peoples Party will become the spark that lights the fire that sheds light on all this darkness. One can hope!