Why the American Left Failed and What Canadians Can Learn

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NorthReport
Why the American Left Failed and What Canadians Can Learn
NorthReport

The reason being the American Left abandoned its working class base

I could not agree more with this analysis

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Here's the problem:

Typical Democrat:  "The Democratic candidate isn't inspiring me!  I'm not getting everything I want!  Fuck it!! I'm voting Republican!"

Typical Republican:  "The Republican candidate isn't inspiring me!  I'm not getting everything I want!  Fuck it!! I'm voting Republican!"

josh
WWWTT

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Here's the problem:

Typical Democrat:  "The Democratic candidate isn't inspiring me!  I'm not getting everything I want!  Fuck it!! I'm voting Republican!"

Typical Republican:  "The Republican candidate isn't inspiring me!  I'm not getting everything I want!  Fuck it!! I'm voting Republican!"

Ya that's right MrMagoo, it's the voters fault the US is screwed up and going no where.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Ya that's right MrMagoo, it's the voters fault the US is screwed up and going no where.

Not all of them; only some.

And they can take comfort in knowing that they punished those Dems for settling for only being better than the alternative.

SeekingAPolitic...

Latest poll i read -- Indenify yourself

45 % independent

28 % democrat

25 % republican

Dems had their chance Bernie was strongest candiate with the independent voters.  Trump lies aside Bernie beat Trump with a significant margin with independents 

NorthReport

 

Most Americans want universal health care. What are we waiting for?

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/1...

JKR

If Americans want universal healthcare they will have to stop allowing the Republicans to control the presidency and congress. Universal healthcare will only happen if the Democrats are in control of the Presidency, the Senate and the House. Moreover, at least a sixty-seat Democratic majority will be required in the Senate.

Sean in Ottawa

WWWTT wrote:

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Here's the problem:

Typical Democrat:  "The Democratic candidate isn't inspiring me!  I'm not getting everything I want!  Fuck it!! I'm voting Republican!"

Typical Republican:  "The Republican candidate isn't inspiring me!  I'm not getting everything I want!  Fuck it!! I'm voting Republican!"

Ya that's right MrMagoo, it's the voters fault the US is screwed up and going no where.

 

Yes, it is significantly the voter's fault or responsibility -- of course there are other forces including the actions of the wealthiest in their society. However, voters have often been told but have chosen to ignore the warnings. To suggest that voters ought not to wear a significant amount of the blame is an unreasonable fantasy. While not being solely responsibly, they own their share of the blame for the results of US elections over generations. They must share blame for the fact that tactics, naked as they often were, worked.

We are talking about a class of people who make voting decisions, not those prevented from doing so. They have chosen to ignore the information that was clearly available. To suggest that the US had good options in the last election would be incorrect, but so too would be a suggestion that Trump was not a particularly dangerous option.

It is reasonable to consider the logic of some wanting to break down a corrupt "left" by voting for Trump, but, right or wrong, that is a decision with responsibility. Only in time can we know if this Trump interlude is an acceleration of a horrific slide or the cause of a future backlash that could make the US better than it was in 2016. It is normal to make decisions, and be responsible for them, without knowing the full consequence.

Of course we can bemoan the fact that the US voters have few good options and the system is tilted. However, if we see US voters in the long term, they have support candidates who have long worked to build that tilted system. The US voters have not considered consistently, and with weight, values of democracy, equality, and human rights. The changes have caught up but those voters calculated what was offered to them and are responsible for the risks they have taken.

Of course voting is an individual and not a collective act. Voters do not collectivel share responsibility for electing a winner -- only those that voted for that winner. So to be clear, those voters who voted for Trump are largely responsibly for his Presidency just as those who voted for Clinton would have been had she won.

I have more sympathy for those who were unable to vote where they were (or are) not yet of age, or prevented by others from voting. But let's not let those who did cast ballots not share responsibility.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Ya that's right MrMagoo, it's the voters fault the US is screwed up and going no where.

Not all of them; only some.

And they can take comfort in knowing that they punished those Dems for settling for only being better than the alternative.

It's one thing to say that the Democratic nominee is generally somewhat more progressive than the Republican candidate.  But, while I've argued(mostly) that progressives should vote for the Democratic presidential ticket due to the Electoral College, it is also the case that the Democratic Party has made a lot of bad choices in how it runs its fall campaigns-continually blurring the differences on key issues (economic policy, trade, foreign and military policy) and has not defended working-class people, of ANY race, gender, orientation, creed or immigration status, against corporate greed and corporate power.  This was symbolized, in 2016, by the insistence of the Obama Adminstration that Hillary Clinton NOT include a specific pledge to reject the TPP(Trans Pacific Partnership) in the party platform.  Had that pledge been there-and Secretary Clinton could fairly have insisted that it be there, given that she had made an anti-TPP stance part of her primary campaign, Trump would never have been able to carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and might not even have carried Ohio-all states where trade globalization has brought little but misery to working people.  In other words, without platform language being put in place that implied there was a chance TPP could be approved after all, Trump would not be president today.

It was never just people not voting Democratic like "they were damn well suppose to do".  It was people who voted for other parties or just sat the election out because, for whatever reason, the party had decided to put the ego of President Obama and the interests of the large corporations who write big checks for the party ahead of actually doing what everybody knew had to be done to make sure the party's presidential nominee was elected.

There never needed to be a choice between standing with people of color, women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants, OR standing with the working-class.  Democrats should have, and should in the future, stand with BOTH.  That's the only way to build a majority coalition.

Putting it all on people being "too purist" to vote for the Democratic ticket is a cop-out.  

And I say that as someone who spent most of last fall begging people to the left of the party, at least in swing states, to vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket on antifascist grounds.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Putting it all on people being "too purist" to vote for the Democratic ticket is a cop-out.  

And I say that as someone who spent most of last fall begging people to the left of the party, at least in swing states, to vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket on antifascist grounds.

I see it as a question of which of the two is the lesser evil.  If it's Clinton, then no matter how odious she or the DNC were, it would have made rational sense to vote for them.  And if it's Trump then it's Trump.  But it's a logical paradox to say that they're both "the worse of the two".

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Putting it all on people being "too purist" to vote for the Democratic ticket is a cop-out.  

And I say that as someone who spent most of last fall begging people to the left of the party, at least in swing states, to vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket on antifascist grounds.

I see it as a question of which of the two is the lesser evil.  If it's Clinton, then no matter how odious she or the DNC were, it would have made rational sense to vote for them.  And if it's Trump then it's Trump.  But it's a logical paradox to say that they're both "the worse of the two".

I campaigned and voted for the Clinton-Kaine ticket in the fall.   Clinton's strategists chose to ran in the fall as the lesser evil, rather than basing the campaign on the platform the party had adopted, a platform with a lot of planks straight out of the Sanders campaign.  She could, on the same platform the party accepted, have run as the greater good. 

She could have challenged Trump's bogus "I'm the champion of the working class" pitch by actually going to the Upper Midwest, holding mass labor rallies, and laying out the economic justice program she did have on offer-including her primary opposition to the TPP.

But her campaign did nothing of the kind.  It focused, almost exclusively, on pointing out what everyone already knew and what the majority of the voters were never going to care about:  That Donald J. Trump is a walking talking sewage pipe of a man.

And she wasn't the first Den to refuse to make the choice to run FOR, rather than against.  Carter refused to do that in 1980.  Mondale refused to do it in 1984.  Dukakis refused in 1988.  Bill Clinton was an outlier-a candidate who scraped in on personal charisma due to a split right-wing vote.  Gore refused to do that in 2000.  Kerry did the same in 2004. 

Time and again, the Democratic Party has refused to run an inspiring fall campaign, a campaign that was based on trying to get people to vote FOR, rather than simply vote AGAINST, a campaign that worked from the assumption that voters could actually support policies that weren't right-of-center.  And the result was always essentially the same-failure where there could have been success.

It's not as though Dems can only win the presidency by reducing their offer to voters to being "we're less bad".  And what has happened time and time and time again is that voters have taken timidity and blandness and excessively careful "positioning" by the Democratic presidential ticket as a sign that the party is embarrassed about being even LESS conservative than the Republicans, and decided that that brand of self-loathing campaigning means that Democratic presidential candidates are simply to wishy-washy and spineless to be trusted with power.

The party would have done far better, in most of the presidential elections it lost after 1972, if it had stood up and proudly said "Hell yes!  We DO want a more progressive, decent, compassionate and fair society than the Republicans do.  We WILL stand with the working and jobless poor as much as they stand with billionaires.  We'll defend this country against external attack, but we reject the idea that we can NEVER stop militarily intervening in other countries.  And we have enough damn nuclear weapons-we don't need anymore!"  

cco

Of course, that lesser-evil voting logic gives the Democrats the incentive to move farther and farther to the right, since their base is locked in. If in 2020 the Republican nominee is Richard Spencer and the Democratic nominee is Donald Trump, should the base still turn out and enthusiastically support Trump?

At least in Canada the NDP gives the Liberals the incentive to pretend to be left, during campaigns. The American Greens are tiny enough that the Democrats only care about their voters as a scapegoat. If losing to Trump, of all people, because they were unable to inspire the Democratic base wasn't a wake-up call (and it certainly doesn't appear to have been), I don't have high hopes for the future of the party.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I campaigned and voted for the Clinton-Kaine ticket in the fall.   Clinton's strategists chose to ran in the fall as the lesser evil, rather than basing the campaign on the platform the party had adopted, a platform with a lot of planks straight out of the Sanders campaign.  She could, on the same platform the party accepted, have run as the greater good.

I don't really disagree with this, but I'm looking back at what did happen rather than what could have (or even should have).

And TBH, it's hardly the first time that the left has taken the position of "We MUST STOP ________" as a campaign slogan.  Everyone from Harris to Eves to Harper to Ford to "other" Ford, and lots more I don't mention.  Maybe that's just a symptom of having little else to offer, but I'm still of the opinion that (for example) no matter how tepid and uninspired Olivia Chow's mayoral bid turned out to be, she'd still have been at least a little bit better than what we got.  She, too was presumed to be a strong contender, and in the end turned out to not be.  Could she have been more charismatic?  Spoken directly to the hearts of the electorate?  Energized the voters?  Sure.  She didn't, but she'd still have been better than Tory or Ford.

Quote:
If in 2020 the Republican nominee is Richard Spencer and the Democratic nominee is Donald Trump, should the base still turn out and enthusiastically support Trump?

In your example, does Trump win the Democratic primary?  Who would he have to beat to do that?

 

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

In your example, does Trump win the Democratic primary?

Yes.

Quote:

Who would he have to beat to do that?

Let's say Elizabeth Warren, or even Bernie Sanders. If you think this is an unrealistic example, it's only by a matter of degree; Arlen Specter was only narrowly defeated for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania after 30 years sitting as a Republican, and John Kerry courted John McCain as his vice-presidential nominee.

The question here isn't "Is it realistic that the Democrats would nominate Trump?", but "Is it incumbent upon progressives to vote for the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may be, even if they don't agree with the policies presented, so long as the Republican is worse?"

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
"Is it incumbent upon progressives to vote for the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may be, even if they don't agree with the policies presented, so long as the Republican is worse?"

You've always been a logical fellow.  Is there an actual argument to be made for voting for that Republican if the Republican is worse?

To be fair, I've always suggested that third and fourth parties on the ballot are also legitimate contenders, if enough vote for them.  But no matter how bad or worse or downright evil the R and D choices seem to be, those third and fourths never seem to get above a few percent, so while there's no concrete barrier to them winning, it does seem like most voters WANT to choose between R and D. 

So why would any of them want to mark their X for the worse of the two??  Can someone help that make sense?  The only thing I can think of is to "teach the Democrats a lesson", as I've suggested.  But it's a long, four-year lesson that may not even stick, and lots will be lost in those four years.

cco

Don't get me wrong - I'm not advocating voting for the Republican, under any circumstance. However, I can understand *not* voting for the Democrat, whether that means staying home or voting for a third party. The Democratic establishment continually trumpets the message that that's "the same as voting Republican". I don't agree. If all Democrats bother to present is the lesser evil, they shouldn't get too indignant when evil wins. At some point, one of the options should be good.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..voting for the lesser evil there is still perpetual war, destruction of the environment, a government/party dominated by the elite and their money, attacks on civil liberties and labour rights, plus so much more negative stuff. in short mini trump. 

..voting is not the crucial issue but how to get out of the trap that has been created by both those parties.  to try and beat the parties in the environment they created, in the environment that has been totally corrupted is not where the focus needs to be because you can not beat them there. imho it needs to be in the building of an alternate world inside the old where the focus is on empowering community. for example and this is one of many examples...

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements 

A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
However, I can understand *not* voting for the Democrat, whether that means staying home or voting for a third party. The Democratic establishment continually trumpets the message that that's "the same as voting Republican". I don't agree.

Is your disagreement grounded in personal principle, or math? 

I'm not demanding that anyone "bend the knee" for a candidate they can't really support, but if the worse candidate wins, I think they should take the next four years to keep their gob shut about it.  If you couldn't support the WORSE candidate then no problem.  If you couldn't support the better candidate because you had an axe to grind, own up.  That's all I would ever ask.  Just tell us how Trump is still better than Clinton would have been, or else tell us why you wouldn't support the one that's better.

cco

Principle. And logic, as I explained above. If it comes down to supporting the least evil candidate, than we can justify voting for Trump over Spencer, Spencer over Genghis Khan, and on and on, in infinite regress.

It's also worth noting that this argument only ever goes one way: those who argue for supporting the right over the farther right, in Canada, America, the UK, or France. The fallacy in the argument is always the assumption that every other voter is immutable, but the left voters can be swung beween supporting the right and the far right.

The "long, four-year lesson" (and that's likely optimistic) you refer to relies upon a similar assumption, that left-wing voters are throwing a tantrum at the expense of themselves and other citizens, rather than attempting to draw a line for their own side that'll halt or slow the constant slide to the right. I could just as easily say that left-wingers have been taught a decades-long lesson about appeasement.

We've seen plenty of examples of this, including right here on Rabble, where nicky insisted that the only way for Labour to win was to replace its leader with a Tory. He's been hard to find since the election, for some reason.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..the jeremy corbyn and bernie sanders phenomena are a part of a greater struggle that came about from bottom up power. what it is not is the fix to the so called parliamentary democracy where any future election can overturn everything built. our survival depends on something different. it depends on a new way of making decisions from the bottom up.

Sean in Ottawa

The US is a very different system of course with a lot more power in the leader. It does do one thing we don't do and that is the primary where party voters choose their candidate before all voters decide. Given the concentration of power in the leader this makes sense. Given the increased concentration of power in Canadian leaders, it is something we should at least think about.

This primary system means that people within a party can support the one they want (provided that one has the ability to challenge). What we saw in the recent campaign was a public loss of confidence in that process and therefore Clinton lost narrowly to Trump after having lost significantly the moral authority she needed to represent her party in that election. This alone likely lead to the loss of enough votes to allow Trump to win. Without that I believe he would have lost. The primary system -- if it worked as it should -- would allow voters to be able to fight for the leadership they want and if that does nto work then support the majority decision of their party.

Now the priomary failed in two particular ways -- first through what was an underhanded bias in favour of one candidate and against another and second through the long time diseased process where money and support prevents a real democratic process. These two failures led people to be unable in sufficient numbers to stand by the victor of the Primary in the election in the numbers needed to win. A small number of defections would be enough to bring defeat.

All that said, as bad as that process is, potential voters who did not come out to vote and voters who voted for Trump to punish their party are responsible for the result as negative as it was, just as they would be responsible if the tactic had been only helpful rather than damaging in whatever way they saw it. As I have said it remains difficult to determine if a potnetial backlash against Trump could do more good in the US than a compromised Clinton Presidency may have. If I had been a US citizen, I would have selected Clinton, as much as I do not like her over Trump, but in the end, since she lost, we get to see how bad Trump actually is and whether a backlash materializes sufficient to justify all that.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Principle. And logic, as I explained above. If it comes down to supporting the least evil candidate, than we can justify voting for Trump over Spencer, Spencer over Genghis Khan, and on and on, in infinite regress.

Is your problem with that that you feel Trump isn't a better choice than Spencer, or Spencer a better choice than Khan, and so on?

Or just that it seems a race to the bottom?

I'm not endorsing any of them.  But when you have a choice between being stabbed ten times or being stabbed five times, as shitty as both are, choose five.  Does that make any sense?

cco

Yes, my problem's that it's a race to the bottom, and that lesser-evil voting as a moral imperative enables this race to the bottom. We have (in Canada) a somewhat democratic system that enables us to present a better choice, and ignore the logical fallacy of assuming the big party lock-in.

On the right, the rejection of the Progressive Conservatives as the "slightly better than the Liberals" alternative led them to a decade of Reform power. They accepted 13 years in opposition in order to come back with a platform they actually believed in. On the left, the best we've done, federally, is four years as official opposition, but if I believed that was the best we could ever possibly do, I wouldn't be an NDP member.

In America, the Democrats are well to the right of Reform even in the Preston Manning days, and the Republicans make the Christian Heritage Party look like the Marxist-Leninists. Maybe a viable third party is what it takes (despite the inevitable enduring of "splitters!" taunts), or maybe it's just waking the Democrats up to the idea that using their base as hostages against fascism isn't a winning strategy. I'm not optimistic about either option, but putting the sole responsibility on the individual left-wing voter to vote second-most-right clearly isn't working, except for some editorial writers who are still making a decent living.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Yes, my problem's that it's a race to the bottom, and that lesser-evil voting as a moral imperative enables this race to the bottom.

OK.  But when the ballot literally only lists "evil" and "lesser evil" (or, in Canada, "evil", "lesser evil" and "least evil") which should voters choose?  Choosing to not vote seems reasonable, so long as one is OK with "evil" winning.  But if "awesome" simply isn't on the ballot, what then?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

cco wrote:

Yes, my problem's that it's a race to the bottom, and that lesser-evil voting as a moral imperative enables this race to the bottom. We have (in Canada) a somewhat democratic system that enables us to present a better choice, and ignore the logical fallacy of assuming the big party lock-in.

On the right, the rejection of the Progressive Conservatives as the "slightly better than the Liberals" alternative led them to a decade of Reform power. They accepted 13 years in opposition in order to come back with a platform they actually believed in. On the left, the best we've done, federally, is four years as official opposition, but if I believed that was the best we could ever possibly do, I wouldn't be an NDP member.

In America, the Democrats are well to the right of Reform even in the Preston Manning days, and the Republicans make the Christian Heritage Party look like the Marxist-Leninists. Maybe a viable third party is what it takes (despite the inevitable enduring of "splitters!" taunts), or maybe it's just waking the Democrats up to the idea that using their base as hostages against fascism isn't a winning strategy. I'm not optimistic about either option, but putting the sole responsibility on the individual left-wing voter to vote second-most-right clearly isn't working, except for some editorial writers who are still making a decent living.

But if you want to build a third party, the way to do that is to build it by contesting winnable races...races for local government, state legislatures, even gubenatorial and congressional races...races where the Electoral College does not exist to block democratic change.  And work for electoral reform-which in many areas can be brought in via the initiative process-to bring proportional representation systems into place for non-presidential races.

Had the Greens focused on that, they'd have made massive gains in the U.S. in the last twenty years.  Because they haven't, because they've wasted massive amounts of time and resources on hopeless presidential campaigns-there are actually fewer Greens holding elective office in the States then there were in 1997.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

Egregious racist voter suppression and gerrymandering have a lot to do with the failure of the American Left.

NorthReport

The Left needs to be whining less and doing more.

The American Left needs to take some responsibility for allowing these things to happen.

NorthReport

Memo to Trump: Don't Forget to Turn Off the Lights On Your Way Out

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2017/8/18/191352/560/Trump_Admin/Memo-to-T...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Effort to Launch National People’s Party Has Local Ties, Inspirations

quote:

Its name may sound familiar to Seattle: The People’s Party.

However, while Sawant was an early supporter of the newly founded Seattle Peoples Party and its mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, the two groups with similar names have no formal relationship with each other, though they are feeding off the same populist fervor. And just as the Seattle Peoples Party upended local political dynamics during the mayoral primary, the national party has simliar ambitions.

“I think Nikkita Oliver’s campaign is a symptom and actually an example of what’s happening politically in this country,” says Dr. Bill Kildall, Washington State coordinator. “The two party system no longer represents our working people and [her] campaign obviously was directed at gaining support from working people.”

A town hall will be hosted in Washington D.C. on Sept. 9 to discuss the formation of the new People’s Party. It will be livestreamed across the country to similar gatherings. The event in D.C. will be headlined by Sawant, Dr. Cornel West, and Nick Brana, founder of Draft Bernie for a People’s Party (that orginization was what gave rise to the national party’s name).

“What we will be doing,” Kildall says, “is establishing what I would call chapters in each place where the sister townhalls are going to be held. There will be follow up meetings where we will actually form these chapters of the People’s Party and elect officers and make by-laws.”

NorthReport
NorthReport
cco

Ken Burch wrote:

But if you want to build a third party, the way to do that is to build it by contesting winnable races...races for local government, state legislatures, even gubenatorial and congressional races...races where the Electoral College does not exist to block democratic change.

At which point individual Democratic candidates for Congress will start running slightly more to the left, then continuing to vote right, because "the president wouldn't work with us otherwise". The electoral college magnifies the effects of FPTP, but it's not substantively different than "vote for a Democrat, not a Green, so the Republican won't get in" on the congressional or gubernatorial level. True, if California and Massachusetts go Green while Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania go Democratic, then the election could be thrown into the hands of a Republican House -- at which point the Democratic establishment would, once more, blame the left for not voting right to block the far-right. This idea that the left should just patiently bide its time with school board seats and hope to present a left-wing candidate after 30 years or so of damage seems quite foolish to me. Not to mention that the instant left-wingers start winning, Democrats will change the rules (implementing a two-round system and begging for Republican votes in the second round, or even something like what happened to Ned Lamont).

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

epaulo13 wrote:

Effort to Launch National People’s Party Has Local Ties, Inspirations

quote:

Its name may sound familiar to Seattle: The People’s Party.

However, while Sawant was an early supporter of the newly founded Seattle Peoples Party and its mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, the two groups with similar names have no formal relationship with each other, though they are feeding off the same populist fervor. And just as the Seattle Peoples Party upended local political dynamics during the mayoral primary, the national party has simliar ambitions.

“I think Nikkita Oliver’s campaign is a symptom and actually an example of what’s happening politically in this country,” says Dr. Bill Kildall, Washington State coordinator. “The two party system no longer represents our working people and [her] campaign obviously was directed at gaining support from working people.”

A town hall will be hosted in Washington D.C. on Sept. 9 to discuss the formation of the new People’s Party. It will be livestreamed across the country to similar gatherings. The event in D.C. will be headlined by Sawant, Dr. Cornel West, and Nick Brana, founder of Draft Bernie for a People’s Party (that orginization was what gave rise to the national party’s name).

“What we will be doing,” Kildall says, “is establishing what I would call chapters in each place where the sister townhalls are going to be held. There will be follow up meetings where we will actually form these chapters of the People’s Party and elect officers and make by-laws.”

This is the kind of thing the Left could do in any city in this country...start local parties like this(they could be in some kind of loose national alliance) that would contest winnable races and make local races even MORE winnable by instituting proportional representation as an electoral system on the local level.   That's the way you build an alternative Left-not by wasting massive amounts of money in a presidential race that will remain unwinnable for independent candidates as long as the Electoral College remains in place. 

The only real argument I've heard for the Green presidential ticket is that, if it wins 5% of the national vote, it could qualify for federal matching funds.  Assuming that a 5% national showing is even achievable-it isn't-haven't they already spent far more money than they'd ever take in from that?

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

cco wrote:
Ken Burch wrote:

But if you want to build a third party, the way to do that is to build it by contesting winnable races...races for local government, state legislatures, even gubenatorial and congressional races...races where the Electoral College does not exist to block democratic change.

At which point individual Democratic candidates for Congress will start running slightly more to the left, then continuing to vote right, because "the president wouldn't work with us otherwise". The electoral college magnifies the effects of FPTP, but it's not substantively different than "vote for a Democrat, not a Green, so the Republican won't get in" on the congressional or gubernatorial level. True, if California and Massachusetts go Green while Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania go Democratic, then the election could be thrown into the hands of a Republican House -- at which point the Democratic establishment would, once more, blame the left for not voting right to block the far-right. This idea that the left should just patiently bide its time with school board seats and hope to present a left-wing candidate after 30 years or so of damage seems quite foolish to me. Not to mention that the instant left-wingers start winning, Democrats will change the rules (implementing a two-round system and begging for Republican votes in the second round, or even something like what happened to Ned Lamont).

The only possible alternative outcome to the strategy I laid out above(and btw, you don't know that such a strategy wouldn't move Dems significantly to the Left-it did in the Thirties and the Sixties)is going through what would have to be at least thirty years in which the Right won EVERY presidential election and had a continuous majority in Congress and state legislatures.  The Electoral College makes it permanently impossible for any candidate other than a Democrat or Republican to win the presidency.  And we already know that it is no longer possible to build a Left in the U.S. via third-party presidential campaigns-such candidates can never win more than the 3% Nader or Stein occasionally flirt with.  Not only that, but so far those campaigns have done nothing but alienate the constituencies that would have to switch to a independent Left-people of color will never vote third-party presidential in any significant numbers, neither will women, neither will labor, neither will LGBTQ people-the fact is that those constituencies, however justifiably enraged they are about the Democratic establishment, will never feel they have the luxury of casting the type of votes that put people like George W. Bush or Trump in the White House.   

If you had independent Left local governments in every large city-as you easily could in the U.S., and if the growth of the independent Left had led to much wider use of pr in local and even state legislative elections, that would force a total change in the U.S. political conversation.  It would change everything.

Other than making everything worse, what changes have Ralph or Liz Stein made through their useless campaigns?  What is there to show of any of it?  What has been built?  Has anything been built at all?

What's been the use?

 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

This is the kind of thing the Left could do in any city in this country...start local parties like this(they could be in some kind of loose national alliance) that would contest winnable races and make local races even MORE winnable by instituting proportional representation as an electoral system on the local level.   That's the way you build an alternative Left-not by wasting massive amounts of money in a presidential race that will remain unwinnable for independent candidates as long as the Electoral College remains in place. 

..my preference is to change rep democracy to a direct/bottom up democracy as they are doing in madrid barcelona etc. very easy to do and cheap.

..once again i post this link and i have to say i'm amazed no one has commented on it to date. it's ground breaking. 

Madrid as a democracy lab

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

As always, thank you for the education, epaulo.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..my pleasure ken. i learn from you as well.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Only a global confederation of rebel cities can lead us out of the death-spiral of neoliberalism towards a new rational society that delivers on the promise of humankind.

Radical Municipalism: The Future We Deserve

I am the daughter of two longtime municipalists. My mother, Beatrice Bookchin, ran for city council of Burlington, Vermont thirty years ago, in 1987, on an explicitly municipalist platform of building an ecological city, a moral economy and, above all, citizen assemblies that would contest the power of the nation state. My father is the social theorist and libertarian municipalist, Murray Bookchin.

quote:

Municipalism rejects seizing state power, which we all know from the experiences of the twentieth century to be a hopeless pursuit, a dead end, because the state — whether capitalist or socialist — with its faceless bureaucracy is never truly responsive to the people. At the same time, activists must acknowledge that we won’t achieve social change simply by taking our demands to the street. Large encampments and demonstrations may challenge the authority of the state, but they have not succeeded in usurping it. Those who engage only in a politics of protest or organizing on the margins of society must recognize that there will always be power — it does not simply dissolve. The question is in whose hands this power will reside: in the centralized authority of the state, or on the local level with the people.

 

JKR

NorthReport wrote:
">https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/rise-and-fall-socialist-party-of-amer...

Is the Socialist Party of America going to included in the 2020 Presidential Primaries?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

JKR wrote:

NorthReport wrote:
">https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/rise-and-fall-socialist-party-of-amer...

Is the Socialist Party of America going to included in the 2020 Presidential Primaries?

They would only have primaries if they had ballot status in particular states(the SP actually won enough support to gain ballot status in Oregon a few years back, but they were unable to maintain the support level).

JKR

Ken Burch wrote:

JKR wrote:

NorthReport wrote:
">https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/rise-and-fall-socialist-party-of-amer...

Is the Socialist Party of America going to included in the 2020 Presidential Primaries?

They would only have primaries if they had ballot status in particular states(the SP actually won enough support to gain ballot status in Oregon a few years back, but they were unable to maintain the support level).

I think a party is viable in the US only if it can take part in the US primary process which leaves the Democrats and Republicans as the only two parties that reliably elect people to the House, Senate, and Presidency. I think socialists should run as Democrats in the US if they seriously want to get elected.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

JKR wrote:

 

JKR wrote:

NorthReport wrote:
">https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/rise-and-fall-socialist-party-of-amer...

Is the Socialist Party of America going to included in the 2020 Presidential Primaries?

They would only have primaries if they had ballot status in particular states(the SP actually won enough support to gain ballot status in Oregon a few years back, but they were unable to maintain the support level).

I think a party is viable in the US only if it can take part in the US primary process which leaves the Democrats and Republicans as the only two parties that reliably elect people to the House, Senate, and Presidency. I think socialists should run as Democrats in the US if they seriously want to get elected.

 

At least on the level of presidential politics.  

Bernie showed the possibilities there.  If he'd only connected with African-American and Latinx-American audiences(he had a chance to make that connection at the Netroots conference, but wouldn't embrace BLM and wouldn't speak out openly against racism, especially violent police racism, until it was too late to matter) and in refusing to do so managed to do the near-impossible:  driving people of color to support someone who had helped her husband build his national political career on the idea that Democrats should appease white backlash voters(and should go along with racializing the whole political discussion)on issues like crime and social welfare.  

 

JKR

Ken Burch wrote:

JKR wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

At least on the level of presidential politics.  

Bernie showed the possibilities there.  If he'd only connected with African-American and Latinx-American audiences(he had a chance to make that connection at the Netroots conference, but wouldn't embrace BLM and wouldn't speak out openly against racism, and in refusing to do so managed to do the near-impossible:  driving people of color to support someone who had helped her husband build his national political career on the idea that Democrats should appease white backlash voters(and should go along with racializing the whole political discussion)on issues like crime and social welfare.)  

JKR wrote:

NorthReport wrote:
">https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/rise-and-fall-socialist-party-of-amer...

Is the Socialist Party of America going to included in the 2020 Presidential Primaries?

They would only have primaries if they had ballot status in particular states(the SP actually won enough support to gain ballot status in Oregon a few years back, but they were unable to maintain the support level).

I think a party is viable in the US only if it can take part in the US primary process which leaves the Democrats and Republicans as the only two parties that reliably elect people to the House, Senate, and Presidency. I think socialists should run as Democrats in the US if they seriously want to get elected.

I agree. I think the left should emulate the electoral success of the Tea Party by also infiltrating a big tent party, in this case, the Democrats.

JKR

Ken Burch wrote:

JKR wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

At least on the level of presidential politics.  

Bernie showed the possibilities there.  If he'd only connected with African-American and Latinx-American audiences(he had a chance to make that connection at the Netroots conference, but wouldn't embrace BLM and wouldn't speak out openly against racism, and in refusing to do so managed to do the near-impossible:  driving people of color to support someone who had helped her husband build his national political career on the idea that Democrats should appease white backlash voters(and should go along with racializing the whole political discussion)on issues like crime and social welfare.)  

JKR wrote:

NorthReport wrote:
">https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/02/rise-and-fall-socialist-party-of-amer...

Is the Socialist Party of America going to included in the 2020 Presidential Primaries?

They would only have primaries if they had ballot status in particular states(the SP actually won enough support to gain ballot status in Oregon a few years back, but they were unable to maintain the support level).

I think a party is viable in the US only if it can take part in the US primary process which leaves the Democrats and Republicans as the only two parties that reliably elect people to the House, Senate, and Presidency. I think socialists should run as Democrats in the US if they seriously want to get elected.

I agree. I think the left should emulate the electoral success of the Tea Party by also infiltrating a big tent party, in this case, the Democrats.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Much more than simply a strategy for local governance, radical municipalism is emerging as a path to social freedom and democracy beyond the state.

​The New Municipal Movements

quote:

This summer, I had the opportunity to meet leaders from several municipal projects, including Cooperation Jackson, the Seattle Neighborhood Action Councils (NAC), Portland Assembly, Olympia Assembly and Genese Grill’s District City Councilor campaign in Burlington, Vermont.  Consistently, these activists brought sophisticated analysis, raised challenging questions and shared innovative approaches to organizing. But what I found most striking was their ability to articulate utopian ideas with common-sense policies aimed at actually improving people’s lives. Their political aspirations are serious and grounded in the belief that popular power really can offer superior solutions to difficult social issues.

In Seattle, the Neighborhood Action Coalition (NAC) formed during the dramatic aftermath of Trump’s election. Like many anti-Trump groups, their primary goal is to protect targeted groups against hate crimes and provide immediate services. Yet instead of convening big, amorphous “general assemblies” like Occupy Wall Street, the NAC delineates its chapters according to Seattle’s dozen or so city districts. Each neighborhood chapter is empowered to select its own activities and many groups have evolved through door-to-door listening campaigns.

The NAC is creating new forms of encounter between citizens and city officials. Seattle is currently in the midst of a mayoral election with no running incumbent. The NAC is thus hosting a town-hall series called “Candidate Jeopardy,” during which candidates are quizzed on a selection of citizen-authored questions. Like the game show Jeopardy, they must select within a range from easy questions to difficult. “Who will pick the low-hanging questions?” reads an event callout in the Seattle Weekly, “Who will pick the hard ones? Will we have a Ken Jennings [a famous Jeopardy contestant] of the 2017 elections? Come find out!”

The NAC may eventually find a friendly face in office. Nikkita Oliver, one of the front-runners, is a Black Lives Matter activist running on a platform of holding local officials accountable to the public. If she wins, Seattle’s situation may begin to resemble Barcelona, where radical housing rights activist Ada Colau holds the mayorship.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..if we are going to survive the growing fascism, corporate power and the critical ecological state of affairs we need to learn lessons as the thread title asks and engage a different path. this is not just a matter of debate for me but an exercise in watching and documenting the rise of grassroots power.  i saw this first hand in bc, in their struggle against corporations and governments re extraction. we saw this power around the attempts by the trump administration to destroy obama care and medicare. and we are seeing it in the rejection of the rising fascism. 

Reason, creativity and freedom: the communalist model

    Humanity stands at a crossroads. Now, more than ever, history calls for a grassroots democracy at a global scale. If we look carefully, all the tools are at hand.

    quote:

    POWER, ADMINISTRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

    The most fundamental institution of communalism is the civic assembly. Civic assemblies are regular communal gatherings open to all adults within a given municipality — such as a town, village or city borough — for the purpose of discussing, debating and making decisions about matters that concern the community as a whole.

    In order to understand how civic assemblies function, one must understand the subtle, but crucial distinction between administration and decision-making power. Administration encompasses tasks and plans related to executing policy. The administration of a particular project may make minor decisions — such as what kind of stone to use for a bridge.

    Power, on the other hand, refers to the ability to actually make policy and major decisions — whether or not to build a bridge. In communalism, power lies within this collective body, while smaller, mandated councils are delegated to execute them. Experts such as engineers, or public health practicioners play an important role in assemblies by informing citizens, but it is the collective body itself which is empowered to actually make decisions.

    With clear distinctions between administration and power, the nature of individual leadership changes dramatically. Leaders cultivate dialogue and execute the will of the community. The Zapatistas expresses this is through the term cargo, meaning the charge or burden. Council membership execute the will of their community, leadership means “to obey and not to command, to represent and not to supplant…to move down and not upwards.”

    A second critical distinction between professional-driven politics as usual and communalism is citizenship. By using the term “citizen”, communalists deliberately contradict the restrictive and emptied notion of citizenship invoked by modern-day nation-states. In communal societies, citizenship is conferred to every adult who lives within the municipality. Every adult who lives within the municipality is empowered to directly participate, vote and take a turn performing administrative roles. Rather, this radical idea of citizenship is based on residency and face-to-face relationships.

    NorthReport

    Opting out of the political process and not voting gets you a Trump for leader

    We have many ways to participate in the political process whether it be be municipal regional provincial federal or international

    But you can't win if you don't play

    epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

    NorthReport wrote:
    Opting out of the political process and not voting gets you a Trump for leader We have many ways to participate in the political process whether it be be municipal regional provincial federal or international But you can't win if you don't play

    ..if that was directed towards my posts nr you misunderstand. i don't suggest opting out of anything. indigenous folks and the coalitions in bc didn't opt out of anything . what they did was take control of their communities and rejected what the govs and corps wanted. communities is where power should be imo.

    SeekingAPolitic...

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/10/the-democratic-partys-...

    That's the article Dores responsed to.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFwF5dK9fWA

    this is from the article

    During that same six-month time span, the RNC raised $33 million in small contributions—money from people who donate $200 or less over an election cycle—while that same class of donors gave the DNC just $21 million.

    ​Its bizzaro world, up is down and down is up.  Dems the party of the people, middle class, working class are being beaten with small donors with Reps.  This article is a must read if you want to know why the DEMS are stinking up the place.