Against the Current, No. 203, November/
Impeachment and Imperialism
— The Editors
— Dianne Feeley
An Overview of Detroit's Affordable Housing
— Dianne Feeley
Thoughts on Bolivia
— Bret Gustafson
Viewpoint: Defeating Trump
— Dave Jette
Which Green New Deal?
— Howie Hawkins
Howie Hawkins' Statement on Presidential Run
— Howie Hawkins
- Radical Labor History
Introduction: William Z. Foster and Syndicalism
— The ATC Editors
William Z. Foster and Syndicalism
— Avery Wear
Voices from the "Other '60s"
— David Grosser
New Deal Writing and Its Pains
— Nathaniel Mills
Latinx Struggles and Today's Left
— Allen Ruff
Tear Down the Manosphere
— Giselle Gerolami
Turkey's Authoritarian Roots
— Daniel Johnson
Remembering a Fighter
— Joe Stapleton
History & the Standing Rock Saga
— Brian Ward
- In Memoriam
In Memoriam: Hisham H. Ahmed
— Suzi Weissman
In Memoriam: William "Buzz" Alexander
— Alan Wald
DIANNE FEELEY’S VIEWPOINT in ATC 202 (September-October 2019) “What Sanders’ Campaign Opens,” very well describes the possibilities that Bernie Sanders’ pursuit of the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination opens up for socialists. I agree with this presentation, but I think that it incorrectly omits the critical need to defeat Donald Trump next year even if we have to actively support a more mainstream Democrat for this purpose.
There are two basic reasons for what may be for some a shocking proposition: first, Trump is systematically, and with considerable success, bringing about fascism in our country; and second, he is destroying whatever defenses we presently have to help avoid the climate change which will be catastrophic for the whole world.
This suggested course of action would certainly have been shocking to me until very recently, for until then I had been adamant in rejecting any collusion with the Democratic Party, realizing that it like the Republican Party is a creature of the 1% and that its role for countless decades has been to emasculate and absorb any serious challenge to their rule.
Attempts to “capture” and transform the Democratic Party into one serving the needs of the vast majority of our populace have been demonstrated, time and time again, to be a fool’s errand. Nonetheless, the political situation with which we are now faced is so grave that it is imperative to do whatever is possible to deprive Trump of an even more devasting second term of office – we simply cannot avoid to stick our heads in the sand and hope that things work out for the better.
Regarding Dianne Feeley’s article, I am less pessimistic than she about the prospect of Sanders garnering the Democratic Party’s nomination — he’s running a highly active grassroots-based campaign, and he may be able to pull it off in spite of the Party’s leadership.
But more to the point is the refusal of the Democratic Socialists of America, through a resolution passed at DSA’s national convention in August, to support any Democratic Party presidential candidate other than Sanders. Her take on that decision seems to be supportive, pointing out that it demonstrates that Sanders’ candidacy doesn’t trap individuals and organizations inside the Democratic Party.
My own take is rather different, that it is highly dismaying, demonstrating that DSA is not yet able to do that which is absolutely necessary at this time, i.e. to work as hard as possible to prevent Trump’s continuation as president. It’s fine to have strongly socialist politics, but not if your (well justified) antipathy to the Democratic Party results in your dropping the ball.
What to Do?
I’ve been highly active in the Green Party for many years, serving as treasurer for its electoral campaigns at all levels including for federal office.
As usual, the Green Party will be running a candidate for president next year, and it was therefore natural for me to come up with a proposed set of objectives for its candidate’s campaign, keeping in mind the overriding necessity of defeating Trump while also not watering down its own excellent political stance. I came up with the following four points:
1. The presidential campaign should encourage everyone to defeat Trump by voting for the Democratic Party nominee in any state in which the race is at all close, and to help get out the vote in those states. The Green Party should become clearly identified with the struggle to prevent a second term for Trump and substantially contribute to defeating him.
2. The campaign should support the campaigns of local Green Party candidates, as the necessary first step in building the party. Running presidential and statewide candidates with no chance of winning is basically a waste of time and energy.
3. The campaign should promote the Green Party as a genuine progressive electoral party, which will occur naturally through promotion of the first two objectives, as well as in campaigning in the absence of local Green Party candidates. On the one hand it will establish the political maturity of the Party through its active and highly public involvement in the effort to dump Trump, and on the other hand it will be advocating a full progressive political platform for serious consideration.
4. The campaign should still seek to get a high vote total for the Green Party presidential candidate. Although this will be a secondary objective contingent upon satisfying the first three objectives, it is still desirable to demonstrate substantial voter support in states in which it cannot possibly hinder ousting Trump.
The foregoing objectives could of course apply for any progressive third-party presidential campaign, but my intention was to convince the Green Party (at its presidential nominating convention next July) to approve this course of action for its nominee.
But after investigating prospects for such approval, I’ve been convinced that there is no chance of these objectives being obtained, and I have accordingly decided to no longer waste my time and to withdraw from active participation in the Green Party, which evidently has no capability of becoming the sort of progressive electoral party which is so needed.
The reader may be interested in my article “Relation of Progressives to the Democratic Party” which was published in the July 2019 issue of Works in Progress of Olympia, Washington; it is available at https://olywip.org/relation-of-progressives-to-the-democratic-party/.
November-December 2019, ATC 203
David appears to want to put short term tactics ahead of a long term strategy.
Most Greens are attempting to build an independent political organization that can challenge the duopoly.
In order to do that we must fully support our candidates in all races.
Adding points 2,3 and 4 does nothing to obviate the failure of 1 to address the underlying problems with our democracy.
Thank you, Lou, for your response to my article. I do have sympathy for what I interpret you as saying, for some years ago I felt the same way: that we mustn’t get sidetracked into supporting the “lesser of evils”, but rather we must always vigorously support candidates promoting our excellent politics regardless of the consequences, as being the only way to ever break through the ideological hegemony of the 1%. We are now aware that Ralph Nader in fact didn’t throw the 2000 presidential election to Bush II, but my feeling until recently was that even if that had been true, we should still have vigorously supported his candidacy.
But times have changed. I find it depressing how so many socialists seem unable to grasp the real danger of fascism in our country and impending climate catastrophe throughout the world which Trump is ardently promoting, not understanding that it is the overriding responsibility of all of us to deny him a second term in office in order to help counteract the slide into barbarism. Reacting as necessary to this immense danger does not preclude having long-term strategy to build a mass movement against the rule of the 1%.
Indeed, regarding our presidential campaign in swing states in which not voting for the Democratic might make a difference, I am not suggesting that we hide or water-down our politics (as expressed, for example, on our website, as well as in the candidate’s public statements), but rather that our candidate urge voting for the Democrat as being absolutely necessary at this time in spite of her/his bad politics on a number of issues; people are quite capable of understanding and accepting this argument, and by demonstrating such political maturity we shall be opening people up to the unabashedly progressive politics we ourselves stand for.
Right ON, David Jette! Allowing Trump to be elected only sets back ALL progressive efforts. As a former Green Party activist I have decided to channel my energies into reforming our electoral system, recognizing that without major reforms we will continue to have to strategize around the totally corrupting rules of our electoral politics. In an increasingly polarized atmosphere we’ll continue to lose both campaigns and political viability unless we can find ways to increase the fairness and inclusivity of democratic engagement. Financing reform, districting reform, voting reforms, and party primary rules all need our attention if socialism and other progressive ideas are to be able to take their rightful place in the political discourse of our country.