History may record that the corporate duopoly dike was finally broken in the Time of Plague, with the defection of Bernie’s former sheep from the Democratic Party.
“Meaningful victories require the shattering of the duopoly, a process that has now begun.”
The leftish exit from the two-corporate-party electoral racket has finally begun. Nearly three-quarters of the 10,000-strong Los Angeles chapter of Our Revolution, the mass organization birthed during Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid, voted to leave the Democratic Party and join the Movement for a People’s Party, also founded by operatives from Sanders’ 2016 campaign. In effect, Sanders’ most committed supporters have refused to once again be sheep-dogged by their mentor into the cemetery where U.S. social movements go to die. “Our Revolution Los Angeles’ members decided that the Democratic Party is irredeemably corporate and must be replaced,” said the organization’s press release. The LA chapter hopes to lead a national exit from the Democratic corporate straightjacket. “Our Revolution Los Angeles is calling on Our Revolution chapters and progressive groups nationwide to poll their members on joining the Movement for a People’s Party. Together they will co-host an informational meeting with interested chapters and groups on Thursday, May 14, to discuss and plan the new party.”
“Sanders’ most committed supporters have refused to once again be sheep-dogged by their mentor into the cemetery where U.S. social movements go to die.”
Chapter chair Kyle Vertin noted that Democrats are in control in Los Angeles and statewide in California, yet “homelessness soars in our city, millions of people in our country have no or inadequate healthcare, and wealth inequality has skyrocketed as billionaire wealth jumped over 200 times greater than median wealth, increasing 1,130 percent in the last 30 years.” He continued:
“We charge that the Democratic Party is no ally in fixing the major crises of our generation, such as healthcare, housing, and climate, but a partner of the elites seeking to increase their wealth and power at the expense of our safety and well-being. Complying with an increasingly corporatist party will harm any effort to guarantee Americans their basic needs.
“The people of Los Angeles need a corporate-free party. We’re calling on all Our Revolution and progressive groups to join us in building it. A people’s party is the next step in the political revolution.”
The Movement for a Peoples Party (MPP) plans to hold a digital People’s Convention this summer, and to come up with a party platform next year, to replace the one they inherited from Sanders. Nick Brana, the MPP’s national coordinator, is looking to knock the duopoly on its ass. “The People’s Party will unite working people into the largest party in America in the next four years,” said Brana. “We will get ballot access nationwide, send representatives to Congress in the midterms, win the presidency in 2024, and revolutionize this country.”
“The Democratic Party is no ally in fixing the major crises of our generation, such as healthcare, housing, and climate, but a partner of the elites.”
In the meantime, it would be helpful if these new jacks to corporate-free politics urge their members to vote for the Greens or any other left party on the ballot in 2020, so that when hordes of erstwhile Democratic voters fail to endorse the duopoly tag-team in November, as expected, corporate media cannot blame the debacle on apathy (the Russians will be blamed, anyway – plus maybe the Chinese).
If Sanders had actually run on the foreign policy platform he conferred on the Movement for a People’s Party, he would have been a far better candidate. The MPP’s call for “A Collaborative and Peaceful Community” demands an end to “wars of aggression, preemptive wars and regime change”; the closing of Guantanamo and return of the base to Cuba; prosecution “of officials who committed torture in violation of the Geneva Convention”; a halt to drone warfare; support for a two-state solution that recognizes Palestine’s right to exist with self-determination and governance; pursuit of diplomatic solutions with North Korea and Iran and a halt to destabilization of Venezuela; and for the U.S. to “join the global community in working towards a nuclear-free world.”
Noting that “U.S. defense spending is larger than the next seven largest defense budgets combined, most of which are allied countries,” the current MPP platform declares, “It’s time to realize the peace dividends that were promised at the end of the Cold War…to scale back the sprawling empire of hundreds of U.S. military bases and black sites abroad. Deploy those funds to defend the American people against the lethal and merciless enemies that have invaded our shores: poverty, hunger and ill health.”
The MPP platform envisions turning guns into plowshares for the planet. “The estimated cost of ending world hunger is $30 billion per year, about 4 percent of the annual American defense budget. The estimated cost of ending extreme poverty is $175 billion per year, about 24 percent of the annual defense budget. Providing for people’s basic needs relieves deprivation, suffering and conflict. It is the most effective weapon in our arsenal. Restore international goodwill, confidence and moral authority in the U.S. by ending world hunger and extreme poverty. Strengthen and enforce the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
“It’s time to scale back the sprawling empire of hundreds of U.S. military bases and black sites abroad.”
Not a bad beginning for a new crop of U.S. “social” democrats, whose greatest obligation to the rest of humanity is to dismantle U.S. imperialism -- the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” (MLK) -- root and branch. White American identification with U.S. global power is deep and many-layered, and finds insidious political expression in multitudinous ways, including among purported progressives and socialists.
The MPP’s “Racial Justice” platform is reformist -- like Bernie -- not transformative. But only Black folks can map the path to racial justice and Black self-determination. The new mass party that emerges from the dissolution of Bernie Sanders’ exercise in sheep-doggery will start out disproportionately white, despite the fact that Sanders did assemble a remarkably multi-racial and largely working class electoral base, especially among the young. Black America is by far the community most deeply infested by the corporate Democratic Party – the word “occupied” better conveys the historical catastrophe that has befallen Black politics in the U.S. Although the Black political spectrum is separate and definitively to the left of the white American political spectrum, the duopoly system has grossly distorted Black electoral behavior by confronting us with a devil’s choice: vote for the “strongest” Democratic candidate (most often perceived as the most heavily funded corporate candidate), or risk victory for the Republican “White Man’s Party.” Only the rise of a mass Black grassroots political movement will dislodge the Democrats from their deeply embedded positions in Black churches and civic organizations, reversing the post-Sixties shutdown of Black “movement” politics by the emerging, Democrat-beholden Black Misleadership Class.
“Black America is by far the community most deeply infested by the corporate Democratic Party.”
The revival of “street” politics must be combined with the destruction of the duopoly system, if the political cage that entraps Black America – and thus cripples the national left – is to be breached. Although the MPP’s Nick Brana looks forward to taking national power in 2024, the new electoral politics that the defection of Bernie’s legions makes possible, need only be potent enough in the beginning to deny the Republican-Democrat tag team a monopoly on electoral politics. More specifically, the electoral anti-corporate Left must be potent enough to make election of a Democrat to the White House impossible without the corporate candidate’s acceptance of an anti-war, anti-austerity, anti-police repression program. Since such a position is anathema to the Lords of Capital -- the puppeteers of the Party -- the further disintegration of the Democrats will result, if not this election cycle, then in the next one.
Radicalized Black youth will lead the way in both the “street” and electoral arenas. They will find that many of the white former Sanders youth have already internalized the language and thinking of Black self-determinationist politics, as evidenced in the wording of the Green New Deal (GND) resolution that was sidelined by House Leader Nancy Pelosi. As I reported in the March 6, 2019 issue of BAR (“The Black Stake in the Green New Deal”), the GND legislation would “promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth…” and is to be accomplished “with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities” as “full and equal participants in the Green New Deal mobilization.”
“Many of the white former Sanders youth have already internalized the language and thinking of Black self-determinationist politics.”
As envisioned by the resolution’s writers, the goal is restorative justice that addresses past crimes against communities that were repeatedly destabilized and made into sacrifice zones for the benefit of capitalists and to satisfy the demands of white privilege. The GND is committed to “ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers to plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization at the local level.”
Language such as this is the basis for strategic and tactical interracial alliances, even as Blacks continue to organize mainly through our own structures. A new national movement for social justice and peace becomes possible, alongside a revitalized Black liberation movement. But meaningful victories require the shattering of the duopoly, a process that has now begun.
My assessment is that the COVID-19 crisis and economic collapse – a capitalist catastrophe whose medical and economic aspects are inseparable – triggered the mass defection in the Sanders ranks, as well as profound disillusion with the “system” throughout the U.S. polity. As political analyst Dr. Anthony Monteiro said, not only was the systemic collapse “total,” but it was also plain to young leftists that the apocalypse would not have been much different if a corporate Democrat had been in the White House instead of Trump. Forty years of austerity and war under the corporate tag-team rendered the superpower helpless against a lowly virus, while the hegemony of finance capital brought ever falling living standards, general precarity, and permanent economic fragility requiring regular infusions of trillions of federal dollars to keep the oligarchy’s casinos afloat. Bernie Sanders’ ignominious surrender to Joe Biden’s “make America like it used to be” politics showed his acolytes that their icon was a prisoner of the duopoly who would never leave -- so they made their exit. A new era of U.S. politics may have begun, with profound implications for the future of the planet.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]
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