Some questions for the next "third party" online conference

Earlier today there was a conference on "how to build a third party." David Sirota's "Lever" thing hosted it. The advice offered by the presenters was: form a fusion party, work within the Democrats, get Democrats elected. There were some nods toward the idea that their audience was composed of some people who weren't Democrats. But generally they repeated the stock arguments against "third parties" -- they never win anything big, they're spoilers, it's bad strategy, and so on. So after the conference I decided to create a list of questions to ask the next conference of this sort. Here goes:

1. Since we really haven't won what we need to win, what counts as "good strategy"? How can you possibly take the high ground on "realism" when in fact nobody can?

2. Are there some 21st century American successes of "progressive policy" you can point to? How important are these successes? Can you describe them in detail?

3. How deeply is the "progressive" cause hurt by lesser-evil campaigning and voting? (Perhaps it is hurt worse by Republican victory -- at any rate, the question isn't answered by pointing at the other guy.)

4. Since you all want to work within the Democratic Party, what is your strategy for promoting the case for a Democratic Congress in 2023?

5. Who are you planning to campaign for for President in 2025? (If it's Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, or Pete Buttigieg, what is the case for these politicians? I am already familiar with the rather substantial case against them.)

6. How is "working within the Democratic Party" any more or less defensible than "working outside of the Democratic Party" in light of the wholesale regression of politics since 2001?

7. How much of the judgment that "progressives are bad at sales" lies in the fact that "progressives" have been made, election cycle after election cycle, to sell an extremely defective Democratic Party product?

8. How much of the judgment that "progressives are wedded to the Democratic Party" is made by those who are only looking within the Democratic Party to find the progressives?

For the record, I don't really see why people don't just try anything and everything. We can't be afraid of failure when by any reckoning we ought to be used to it.

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usefewersyllables's picture

I’ll wait for you over here.

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3 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Cassiodorus's picture

@usefewersyllables n/a

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

usefewersyllables's picture

@Cassiodorus

"working within the dem facet of the uniparty" is uttered, I personally already know that the effort is doomed to be an utter waste of time. After going all-in on Bernie twice, I'll stay on the bench.

Your mileage may vary- but as my signature says, I'm now permanently shy.

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13 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

had a dozen candidates. I then wish voting was priority.
But I also wish it were cooler at home.

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5 users have voted.

Third Party is the only option besides violence.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Battle of Blair Mountain you aren't one of those who counseled a vote for Biden because Trump is a fascist?

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5 users have voted.

"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

No.1.Strategy does not exists. "Realism' to go rogue for the D's is not realistic.
2. No successes I can think of right off hand.
3. Hurt to the point of total destruction. bobbing balls in the machine have the same name.
4. A Dem Congress will be exactly what the Dem Congress is now.
5. No info on that. All are the same.
6 It is not defensible.
7. Messaging is what they all do. It is for rallies and fund raising, not action.
8. 100%, if you look at the donors and lobbyists.
I agree with your summation, compliment you on correctly spelling "judgment".

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The Hindsight Times's picture

I have thought about this third party idea for a few years and can conclude that the only way to build a third party is from the ground up not top down as every recent effort has been. Thus, to have a successful third party, every district in every State needs to have a third party primary election with multiple candidates, on the same date, for each office up for election, with lots of advertising for that primary date and the candidates running in the primary. I believe, with the help of the internet, this is more than doable. Bypass the legacy media to actually get it done.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@The Hindsight Times 1) how many people can you interest in such a strategy?

2) A fair number of "minor parties" need a Presidential candidate if they are to retain ballot status from election cycle to election cycle (as required by various state laws). Do you do without a Presidential candidate and just rebuild ballot status time and time again just for the sake of not being "top-down"?

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4 users have voted.

"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

TPTB have a lock on who is on the ballot and has a chance. What about some form of ranked choice voting as the primary goal? It seems to me that that *might* have some influence to disempower the current system.

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janis b's picture

@peachcreek

would be more democratic, but until money spent on campaigning is limited and fairly distributed, nothing (imo) will make a difference. An informed voting public, which depends on a more transparent government, is also necessary. How these ideals are accomplished seem more and more remote.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@peachcreek for getting ranked-choice voting in your locale?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

He ran on the slogan, Come Home America.

Nixon responded to the anti-war movement by Vietnamizing the Vietnam War and bringing an end to the draft. Without the personal crisis of getting drafted into a serious shooting war, white America voted for the "realism" of Tricky Dick and his pet brain, Henry Kissinger. Also contributing to the ugliest landslide in Electoral College history was the white "backlash" on the topic of race as the Solid South turned red and has stayed that way ever since.

Whatever the machinations behind the scenes before, during and after the Nixon years, the politics of "peace" was banished from electoral politics in 1972. A fierce confederacy of power wielding institutions have cemented that political paradigm as the perpetual status quo. Bernie Sanders and The Squad dare not question the wisdom of military force as the principal tool of foreign policy. No discussion necessary or allowed.

Whether it is advanced by a new party, an existing party or by intrepid souls within the major parties, unless it challenges that "realism" head on, it is a waste of time and effort. We, American Citizens, want the wars to end and the military reduced to the role of defending our shores.

Everything else is a trifle compared to this, because this is what prevents anything good from happening. War is applied insanity. And it is no way to live.

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I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

Cassiodorus's picture

@fire with fire In response to the McGovern candidacy, the Democratic Party adopted a voting framework of "superdelegates," unelected party notables who are granted votes in Presidential nominating conventions. Presumably this policy was enacted to make the Democratic Party more difficult to take over from the "outside" -- i.e. by peace candidates.

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6 users have voted.

"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus .

I have no quarrel with anybody, like Jimmy Dore for example, who participates in electoral politics. That is a necessary component of any social change. In my opinion, that is the final stage rather than an early one.

We need a national -- make that international -- consensus backed by Gandhi style massive civil disobedience to end the wars. We must not get bogged down in the perpetual factoid arguments about personalities and their alleged intentions. We must get to a yes or no question -- War Forever?

There remains a massive political job of rebuilding a society that will require intense debate over details. But if we ask the general public to support a reversal of the bellicose foreign policy that has been as American as Apple Pie for centuries, we need to keep it simple.

America comes home for good.

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5 users have voted.

I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

janis b's picture

and I appreciate the thought that motivates them. I also appreciate your dedication to shifting politics in a more productive direction.

From your participation and work, what would you say has been most productive in realising a shift? Your involvement seems to give you a sense of anticipation for better results. I would like to hear more about that.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@janis b Everyone will be calling everyone else a "fascist," and capitalism will get them all.

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5 users have voted.

"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus wear it.
Whereas you think the term is used so often, it has become meaningless, I find the use more and more often dead on correct, as though people are finally recognizing what that economic and governmental system really looks like.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@on the cusp Let's read about the historical research you've done into actual fascism, with parallels to activity going on today.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

QMS's picture

@on the cusp

should you change your foot?
Asking for a friend Wink

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1 user has voted.

@QMS that foot changing is the quickest and least expensive solution.
Quality shoes are hard to find!

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janis b's picture

@Cassiodorus

How do we achieve a sane life and society when every word uttered is parsed to the point there’s no meaning left, only enmity?

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Lookout's picture

This is a corporate oligarchy and there's no voting our way out of it. The system is rigged and captured, and voting is just a way to make you think you have a voice.
emma.jpg

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

ggersh's picture

@Lookout perspective.

“Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.”

― Joseph Stalin

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“Those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”
— Hannah Arendt

Cassiodorus's picture

@Lookout #1 and #2 (see above) are the questions to be asked whenever the advocates for the Justice Democrats (or similar organization) adopt their superior tone of "well this is the time-tested way to enact real change." I'm sorry: what real change?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

snoopydawg's picture

@Lookout

but voting is just one of the many ways rich people transfer money between themselves. How many billions does it cost now to win a presidential election and how many millions for seats in congress? Plus there’s the money given to the media to cover whichever candidate the masters wants to win. Remember Ed Schulz got canned for not wanting to cover the empty podium waiting for Trump to appear and he wanted to cover Bernie.

On top of Hillary rigging the primary in 16 we watched as democrats allowed billionaire Bloomberg buy his way into it and after Tulsi qualified for a debate they changed the rules so she couldn’t. And then the final straw for anyone believing that we can vote our way out of this oligarchy we watched Obama clear the field and told everyone but Warren to drop out making sure she’d take some of Bernie’s votes and whola we got Biden.

Only people blind to this corruption still thinks voting is worth a tinker’s damn.

3rd time dems have had all branches, 3rd time they just don’t have the votes to do a damn thing to help us. 3rd time they will work with republicans to harm us. Social security is on the chopping block again and this time they probably will succeed. The masters are demanding it.

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10 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

was the mantra after 1968 dem convention. I guess from bad to worse is a change. You pose some very good questions but I expect you will get a dogs breakfast worth of doublespeak and platitudes from the panellists and experts.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

I'm not sure what purpose a Third Party would serve, other than an elaborate bait and switch kabuki.

Anyone with significant political influence in the US will do whatever it takes to prevent it — and have done so since this colony was first formed.

Let's wait and see how the war with China goes, first. Talking up "a third party" will undoubtedly be an act of treason.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

10 years of education, that degree in history, that 50 years of being surrounded by family members, WWII vets, who were liberators of Auschwitz, guards at the Nuremberg trials, the neighbor who was captured by Germans and imprisoned in Russia, who walked back to France, or the next door neighbor, born in Germany, who observed Kristallnacht, also ate cats when she was lucky, also got selected to be a member of the Superior Race, mated with some SS elite soldier to produce the ultimate child.
Then, it disappeared.
Other than that, nah. I just fling the word "Fascism" to be cool.
As Sgt Schultz said, "I know nothing."

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Cassiodorus's picture

@on the cusp Hitler took six weeks to establish dictatorial power over Germany. Trump had four years, and was defeated in an election by a senile old man. Were gangs of brownshrts roaming America terrorizing unionists? Were children right and left forcibly inducted into Trump Youth organizations? If there were "fascists" ruling America, they were too few in number to matter.

Even the Russians and Ukrainians in power today, Putin and Zelenskyy and their cronies, pretend to believe in democracy. They just outlaw the parties which would matter, more or less in the way that Daniel Ortega outlaws the parties that matter as de facto dictator of Nicaragua. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini nor even Francisco Franco bothered with any democratic veneer, claiming outright to be dictators. Fascism was motivated by nostalgia for dictatorship -- Hitler was appointed by old guys who pined for the rule of the Kaiser. The closest America has had to a fascist President was George W. Bush, but even he gave up power after two terms.

If fascism were what ruled us right here and now, we would not be allowed to have this conversation. Someone in a room somewhere in the United States would delete our posts, and JtC would have no say in the matter.

Part of what the historic fascists did was to revive their economies as they killed thousands. Hitler created a lot of desk office and munitions industry jobs at the beginning of his tenure as dictator. Today economies falter and the point of Putin and Zelenskyy is to defend oligarchies of thieves. The problem for these people is that, unlike the historic fascists, they live in an era in which capitalism has maxed out its frontiers and there is nowhere new to grow into. Musk and Bezos, like little boys, pretend that outer space is the place for their capitalism while they prepare to exploit it in a day which will never come.

Now capitalism is a well-defined term. Capitalism is a system which features the exploitation of wage labor for the profit of capitalists, rule by the balance sheet, and appropriation of the world so it can be molded in the image of capital resources. Capitalism, like fascism, is a characteristic of a phase of human history, one which in capitalism's case should end in a few decades. But unlike fascism, it's a stock belief of this era that capitalism is eternal and will last forever. Fascism is an old term people want to revive, today, because people have trouble defining their political enemies. "Assholes" and "kleptocrats" are tried and trusted terms. "Inverted totalitarianism" and "managed democracy" are defined precisely as terms. I recommend their revival into our lexicons.

I'm sure you have cred as far as your knowledge of historic fascism is concerned. How much of a comparison have you done with current events?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus @Cassiodorus on politicians or their operatives.
Contemporary comparisons involve contracts between government and media, suppression of free speech, the militarization of police, and the latest Supreme Court rulings. I see patterns seen in the world prior to WWII.
I can't emphasize enough: I give no service to politics or parties. When I get calls from those generating interest and money for new parties and movements involving voting, I tell them to take my number off their list.
I have never called Trump or Biden a fascist.
Zelensky deserves the pejorative. Putin does not.

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5 users have voted.

Despite having clear evidence in front of you, you continue to think that what you believe represents reality. David Sirota worked for Bernie Sanders and saw him cave into the black hole that is the Democratic Party. And yet he and others still believe that the Dems can save the world? It reminds me of an old friend who was fully aware of the corruption in the Catholic Church, but claimed that she would be able to fix it by working within it rather than leaving.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin