To the folks who want to take over the Democratic Party
A true working-class party must be democratic and member-controlled. It must be independent — determining its own platform and educating around it. It should actually contest elections. And its candidates for public office should be members of the party, accountable to the membership, and pledged to respect the platform.
Each of those features plays a crucial role in mobilizing working people to change society. The platform presents a concrete image of what a better society could look like. The candidates, by visibly contesting elections and winning votes under the banner of the platform, generate a sense of hope and momentum that this better society might be attainable in practice. And because the members control the party, working people can have confidence that the party is genuinely acting on their behalf.
That's awesomely utopian stuff. Democracy is coming to the USA!
(Leonard Cohen (1934-2016))
On the other hand, my concern, in writing the diary, was in putting together the initial process of party formation. What do we do when we're ready to form a new party? How are we going to form a new party in such a way that it avoids the pitfalls of the Green Party, a party of sectarians which can't seem to grow significantly, and of the Democratic Party, which has completely sold out through agreements based in money with the possessors of money?
My solution was this: since the people who organize the party will be the activists, have the activists spell out the parameters of the new party. Sell the concept through a sort of "Bernie Plus" platform: Bernie's proposals, only organized so they'd work more effectively to deliver the goods to the people. It is styled this way because Bernie organizers are the ones to which the initial appeal should be made: only organizing effectiveness will be able to get us off the ground. (H/t to Roger Fox for helping me to consider this notion.) If we have organization, we will need democratic organization and future orientation.
The new party needs to be a major party. 1% won't cut it; the Green Party has been around in the US since 1990, and so it's important to ask whether or not we want to be the Green Party, or create a second Green Party. A second Green Party would be pointless, and I have yet to see Green regulars comment on my diaries at C99%. So we will need an 1856 moment if we are to form a new party.
Given this high standard, the "new party" is a BACKUP proposal: it's clear that all the momentum is at this point in favor of a "takeover" of the Democratic Party. I'm not sure that those who claim to have read my Saturday diary have caught this. But my opinion is that we'd better have something ready in case the neoliberals win. The alternative in that case would be to jump on the Cory Booker 2020 Presidential campaign bandwagon.
Analytically, I can see three possible outcomes to the struggle to take over the Democrats: 1) a genuine takeover of the Democratic Party, 2) an illegitimate takeover of the Democratic Party, and 3) a complete fiasco. Which outcome do you think is most likely?
I myself don't see 1) as being anything close to inevitable. Here's a website outlining some difficulties that might be encountered -- please read it.
Seth Ackerman's Jacobin piece suggests that the Democratic Party can only feature "liberalism" through an approach which is born and which dies with the campaigns of unsuccessful candidates. Here's the passage in which this is shown:
“Working within the Democratic Party” has been the prevailing model of progressive political action for decades now, and it suffers from a fundamental limitation: it cedes all real agency to professional politicians. The liberal office-seeker becomes the indispensable actor to whom all others, including progressives, must respond.
Think of Ted Kennedy or Mario Cuomo in the 1980s; Paul Wellstone or Russ Feingold in the 1990s; Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren, or Bill de Blasio since 2000. Each emerges into the spotlight as they launch their careers or seek higher office. Each promises to represent “the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Each generates a flurry of positive coverage in progressive media and a ripple of excitement within a narrow circle of progressive activists and voters.
The "Left" has been trying to take over the Democratic Party at least since the Populist Party ran fusion candidates with the Democrats. Anyone care to step back and assess how this strategy has worked so far since 1896? I'd like to see this question asked of Bernie Sanders (with his big endorsement of Keith Ellison for DNC chair) and of his associates right now. I'm sure if we try once again, success is TOTALLY GUARANTEED y'know. Fer sher! Anyone for a backup plan in case they're wrong?
I'd also like to hear from anyone who's been involved in Brand New Congress. How have your results been so far? Yes, let's take over Congress. Please. How?
People have argued that setting up a new political party in the US would be "divisive." I suppose this is the primary criticism. Guess what y'all? The "Left" is divided ALREADY. Severely. Sanders' endorsement of Clinton did that. Two strategies appear: 1) recognizing that division, and 2) not recognizing it. Which strategy do you think I support?
So yeah. New Party. It can stay at the proposal level for awhile now. But it might have to happen.