A little over a month ago, many on the new socialist left expected Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic Party nomination, defeat Donald Trump in the general election, and enact a program of social democratic reform as President of the United States.
These expectations hit the shoals of reality. Sanders ran a heroic campaign, championing key demands from Medicare for All to the Green New Deal, raising the profile of socialism even higher than in 2016. Despite widespread sympathy for these demands, Sanders was unable to overcome the Democratic Party establishment’s support for Biden. Sanders not only suspended his campaign, but has endorsed Biden and offered him all of the resources of his campaign—staff, funds, contact lists, access to tens of thousands of volunteers, and his enormous moral capital among young working people.
Now we face the most unappealing general election in recent memory, pitting Biden against Trump amidst a spiraling pandemic and deepening global recession. Socialists must come to grips with a hard lesson: the Democratic Party remains under the control of the capitalist class and can neither be realigned nor used to prepare for independent politics.
The Democratic Socialists of the America (DSA) faces many challenges in implementing our commitment to “Bernie or Bust”—the convention resolution pledging that, as an organization, we spend no time, money or energy on supporting any other Democratic candidate for the presidency. DSA needs to put most of its energy into rebuilding mass resistance amidst the pandemic and engaging in electoral work when it advances organizing our power from below—something that is impossible within the Democratic Party.
Coming to Grips with Electoral Defeat
Many socialists predicted Sanders would win the Democratic Party’s nomination this year and threw themselves heart and soul into the campaign. Now after the dust has settled, we need to face the fact that Sanders was more decisively defeated this time than in 2016.
Sanders never won more than 30 percent of the Democratic primary voters. His victories came because the establishment vote was split. He consistently failed to win over older Black voters, or turn out new, young voters.
Fearing that Sanders would run roughshod over a divided centrist establishment, Obama and others in the Democratic establishment worked behind the scenes to pressure the other centrists to drop out and line up behind Biden after South Carolina. Biden then swept the Super Tuesday primaries, building an insuperable lead in the delegate race.
The pandemic and recession only deepened support for Biden. He built double digit leads over Sanders in most of the upcoming primaries, including Wisconsin, which he won by over 30 percentage points.
Misreading the 2016 Campaign
The socialist left needs to understand the real reasons for this defeat, if we are to avoid worse ones in the future. Many comrades fundamentally misread Sanders’ limited success in the 2016 primaries, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the “Squad’s” victories in 2018 elections—hoping that a surging majority in the Democratic electorate would sweep Sanders to victory in 2020.
In 2016, Sanders benefited from the widespread hatred of Hillary Clinton’s record of right-wing neoliberal policies, especially in the rust belt, as well as from the fact that he was the only serious candidate running against her.
Clinton’s arrogance systematically underestimated and dismissed all of her opponents. She was first caught by surprise by Sanders and then defeated by Trump in the Electoral College (although she won the popular vote), largely because she ignored the key battle grounds states in the Midwest.
Confusing the Exception with the Norm in 2018
Many also misread the insurgent victories of AOC and others as further confirmation of the left’s electoral opportunities inside the Democratic Party. These victories should be celebrated, and they have dramatically helped project socialist positions on many issues, but like Sanders in 2016 they benefited from catching the establishment by surprise and from exploiting its divisions.
However, most of the Democrats elected in the midterms were neither progressives nor socialists, but centrists, many bankrolled by none other than former Republican and Democratic Party pretender for the nomination, Mike Bloomberg. Failing to grasp these facts, many believed the left could be swept to power through the Democratic Party in 2020.
Faced with Sanders’ defeat, many on left are casting about for explanations. Some argue that the Democratic again stole the nomination from Sanders with dirty tricks like they used in 2016. But there is little to no evidence to support that claim.
Others point to the pandemic, assuming that voters fled in fear to the supposedly safe choice of Joe Biden. But the turning points were the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries, well before COVID 19 changed the terrain of politics and everyday life.
The establishment, flush with victory, are presenting false explanation for Sanders’ defeat. They claim voters do not support his social democratic program. Actually, his proposals for social reform like Medicare for All are wildly popular and have been for years even before his campaigns for the presidency.
The Real Reasons for Defeat
If Sanders’ program is such broad and deep support, why did he lose so badly to perhaps the worst candidate the Democrats have put forward since the forgettable Michael Dukakis?
First, the establishment, despite the emergence of the “Squad,” has a hammer hold on the Democratic Party. As Kim Moody points out, the Democratic Party is a fundraising cabal, run by an unaccountable layer of elected officials who are the conduits for capitalist donations. They ensure that outsiders like Sanders and the “Squad” are dismissed as “unrealistic” on MSNBC (their Fox News) and marginalized in the party.
Even more importantly, socialists need to recognize that the level of class and social struggle, despite the wave of teachers’ strikes, has remained very low. Sanders’ program, like former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s in Britain, while popular, seemed unattainable for the vast majority of working people. In the absence of fighting and winning through strikes and disruptive street demonstrations, most working people will tend to accept the status quo.
Mark Fischer called this “capitalism realism”—the widespread acceptance of Thatcher’s proclamation “there is no alternative” to capitalism. The bulk of workers and oppressed people were convinced that however much they liked Sanders’ program, it was “unrealistic”—and that the tepid neo-liberalism of Biden is the only alternative to Trumpism.
Biden’s claim that he and not Sanders was more electable against Trump thus found purchase in the existing Democratic Party electorate. Sanders was unable to mobilize new young and working-class voters. Instead, increased voter turn-out in the Democratic primaries was among older, middle class layers who supported Biden and other ‘centrists.’
Can We Use the Democrats to Launch a New Party?
What does Sanders’ defeat tell us about Seth Ackerman and Eric Blanc’s “dirty break” strategy, as an alternative to both the reformist strategy of realignment/turning the Democrats into social democratic party; and the revolutionary left’s call for a working-class party independent of the Democrats? They argued that the Democratic Party was not a party but a ballot line that socialists could use to run candidates, build a membership organization, and prepare for a new party in the future. The success of Sanders in 2016 and the Squad in 2018 were proof of the viability of this strategy.
Unfortunately, these breakthroughs were exceptional events. The Democrats are a bureaucratic machine without a pretense of membership accountability, under the control of capital which commands the unflinching loyalty of the officialdom of the unions and various NGOs that claim to speak for the oppressed.
The Democrats differ from the Republicans in their relation to the left, working and oppressed people. The Democrats use carrots as well as sticks to integrate socialists and neutralize our movements. They managed to get much more powerful forces in the 1930s and 1960s to obey their commands, throwing them some bones and whipping them when necessary.
The Democrats, having faced no internal left challenges since Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign, were caught with their pants down in 2016 and 2018. However, they regained the initiative by 2020, securing the nomination for Biden. They are even better prepared to meet any left challenges in Congressional and local elections.
Retreating from Dirty Break to Realignment?
The utopianism of the dirty break strategy has led many back to the old realignment strategy that they initially rejected.
Dustin Guastella’s article “After the Nevada Blowout, It’s Bernie’s Party Now” was among the first of the new generation of socialists to slip toward the realignment strategy. Bhaskar Sunkara, who has built Jacobin into the premier venue for socialist discussion and debate for a new generation, criticized Seattle socialist council person Kshama Sawant’s speech at a Sanders’ rally arguing that working people need their own party.
He tweeted, “I love Kshama, but not sure someone invited to speak at an event for a candidate for a party’s nomination should go off message and talk about the need for a new party.” Even worse, after Sanders’ defeat became clear, Guastella penned, “Where Do We Go After Last Night’s Defeat” that upped the attacks on those who advocate independent politics.
Guastella pooh-poohed leftists calling for a third-party challenge to Biden, dismissed the idea of protests at the Democratic Party National Convention, and shockingly chocked up Sanders’ defeat to in part advocating the “fringe demands” of oppressed groups. In essence, he argued for socialists to move to the right to win inside the Democratic Party.
Fortunately, many on the left reject such a perspective, especially its dismissal of demands for oppressed groups in today’s multi-racial, multi-gendered, and international working class. But many others embrace Guastella’s argument to hunker down for another long and pointless fight to transform the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders, unfortunately, embraces this perspective. Despite his official status as an “Independent,” Sanders has not supported third parties runs in decades, has caucused with the Democrats in the Senate, and promoted efforts like his NGO “Our Revolution” whose aim, reiterated in Sanders’ concession speech, is to “rebuild the Democratic Party from the bottom up.”
The Siren Song of Lesser Evilism
Faced with unbearably bad “choice” between the Biden and the execrable white supremacist Donald Trump, there will be tremendous pressure on the new socialist movement to follow Sanders’ lead and campaign for Biden.
Instead of giving the Democrats that pound of flesh, DSA members need to maintain their “Bernie or Bust” commitments. We should not repeat the mistakes of earlier generations of socialists—in the Communist Party USA and the New Left—of abandoning independent politics and leading social movements to die in the graveyard of the Democratic Party.
The pressures toward “lesser-evilism” will only escalate as liberal Democrats, union officials, and the NGOs spending tens of millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours, which could be used to build class and social struggles, to ensure the Democrat’s restoration of business as usual.
That will not work to defeat the right. As Sanders rightly argued that the Democratic Party establishment is primarily responsible for Trump’s rise to power to begin with. Their bailouts of corporations, their austerity measures, and their vicious scapegoating combined to alienate working class and oppressed people.
“Lesser-evilism” facilitates this process. If the left folds its tent and campaigns for Biden, it would be forced to downplay our radical alternative to neoliberalism. And should Biden win, he will continue capital’s attacks on working and oppressed people, and then the main voice attacking the “establishment” will not be the socialist left, but forces that will make Trump look like a moderate.
Socialist Electoral Strategy versus Electoralism
Another danger facing the new socialist movement after Sanders’ defeat is “electoralism”—doubling down on the predominantly electoral turn DSA has taken since AOC’s victory in mid-2018.
Many in DSA took seriously Sanders’ rhetoric about “Not me, but us,” and being the “organizer-in-chief.” Those hopes have been dashed as Sanders, over the objection of his former press secretary, not only endorsed Biden, but has given all of his campaign resources to the neoliberal stalwart. Calls to give his resources to “Our Revolution” will further mire socialists in the Democratic Party. Nor has DSA made major organizational and political gains from their involvement in the campaign. As Andy Sernatinger has demonstrated, DSA has spent the bulk of its time, money and energy on electoral campaigns to the detriment of organizing class and social struggle.
The Sanders campaign, for all of its claims to be a social movement, has intensified electoralism. In his concession speech, Sanders argued that the key battle was “to elect strong progressives at every level of government—from Congress to school board.”
In reality, decisive social change has rarely if ever come through the elections. In the 1930s and 1960s, big social reforms were driven by waves of disruptive, often illegal strikes and mass demonstrations that extracted reforms from the two capitalist parties and capitalist state.
As the great socialist historian Howard Zinn argued, “the really critical thing isn’t who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in—in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating—those are thing things that determine what happens.”
Clearly socialists can and have used elections as a compliment to, rather than a substitute for, building movements from below. A “movement-building” election campaign would prioritize educating and generalizing the demands of mass struggles, encourage participation in disruptive actions and building independent organizations—the real source of popular power and radicalism.
Such campaigns cannot be run within the Democratic Party. The Democrats are an electoral machine with one aim—winning office at all costs. While an occasional Democratic candidate may walk picket lines or even give limited support to struggles, they inevitably exert pressures to downplay radical demands and contain struggles within the bounds of legality. It is only election campaigns independent of the Democrats that can promote and be held accountable to organizations and struggles.
Sharp Shift to Organizing Struggle and Building a Party of Our Own
DSA and all socialists should center our activity to organizing and supporting the strikes and protests that have ripped out across the country amidst the pandemic. In particular, we need to promote the demands and actions of undocumented immigrants, people of color, and people in the global south who have and will bear the brunt of the healthcare and economic crises.
We have been thrust into 1930s conditions, and we have to adopt the approach of radicals and revolutionaries in that era—promoting immediate struggles and building the infrastructure of resistance for the even larger battles to come when the economy recovers. Our enemies are preparing—Bloomberg News is warning that if the ruling class does not grant workers reforms, they will face the radical challenges from below.
We must start the process of building toward a new socialist party precisely to lead that radical challenge. The brutal lesson of the Sanders’ campaign is the Democratic Party is not ours, but theirs—and they don’t share. We need to organize meetings, discussions, and debates with all the forces on the left about how we can build a new socialist party over the coming years.
While the forces that could begin organizing a new socialist party will disagree on many strategic and tactical issues, we can agree that we fight for reforms that advance the interests of working class and oppressed people—not as an end in themselves, but a means to building our side’s confidence, consciousness, and organization.
Our goal is not a kinder gentler capitalism, but international socialism. Today, in the midst of apocalyptic crisis—unprecedented in modern history—we face nothing less than a global choice between socialism and barbarism.
I have just a few minor comments in response to Ashley and Charlie.
First, I don’t think many in DSA expected that Sanders’ program would be implemented without serious non-electoral social struggle. We all know that the vast majority of elected Democrats are opposed to social democracy. That’s no secret.
Secondly, while I disagree with Dustin G.’s “neo-realignmentism,” what he said was “There will be lots of finger-pointing and finger-wagging among our corner of the political world; there will be myriad diagnoses of Sanders’s current weakness; words like “racist,” “sexist,” and “xenophobic” will be thrown around a lot.” That doesn’t read to me like Dustin is blaming Sanders’ defeat to “in part advocating the “fringe demands” of oppressed groups.” I just don’t think Charlie and Ashley are reading Dustin accurately on that one point.
Third, I haven’t encountered anyone, literally anyone, in DSA argue for working for Biden. Voting for him, yes. Campaigning for him? No. I haven’t seen any DSA member call for this at all. So this strikes me as a sort of straw man.
I do agree that extra-electoral work is more important than electoral work — at least most of the time. But I don’t want to make this response too long.
Thanks for the article, Ashley and Charlie.
I did not go into the DSA for Bernie campaign predicting Sanders would in the Democratic Party nomination. To be honest, I never actually thought he had a chance of winning, except for a brief moment after Nevada! Nor did I believe if he did get elected, his policies could be implemented without non-electoral struggles in the streets and in our workplaces. I believed in the DSA for Bernie campaign because I saw the Sanders campaign activating millions of Americans around a class-struggle message and believed the DSA could not miss this opportunity to talk to these people and bring them into a socialist organization and push them to engage in non-electoral social struggle.
The problem is that the Sanders Campaign “activat[ed] millions of Americans around a class-struggle message” as an electorate, and not in movements, much less in a party with a collectively empowered working class base. This is the perennial problem with the Democratic Party, and to the degree that Sanders orchestrates this, eschews actual movement-building, and invariably trumps his program (and his electorate’s expectations) by throwing his weight behind the inevitable DP corporate candidate, he plays the role – and merits the designation – of “sheepdog.” This is not simply a problem of the DP, but a consequence of the hegemonic power of the electoralist illusion in this country, the idea of “waiting for the politician, the “great organizer,” to fix things. The idea that change must be made through the electoral system, or the courts, as last resort. This “common sense” is still prevalent among the majority of the electorate. You are correct that the DSA ought to “push them to engage in non-electoral social struggle.” I am confident that folks like yourself will strive to do just that. But, you are a drop in the bucket in a venue that belongs, heart and soul to the class enemy, and with a Chosen One who literally does nothing to defend his own cause and the people who support it from that enemy.
Charlie and Ashley,
You offer a good analysis of our current two-party system, both of which serve the interest of capital, while one of them, the Republican Party is outright proto-fascist while the Dems put on a human face and are willing to make some concessions to working people, women, blacks, Latinos, illegal immigrants, and so on. Bernie understood that but he also realized that he could not get anywhere by running as an independent, and that’s why he caucused with and ran under the banner of the Democratic Party. And he did the principled thing by endorsing Biden.
You have not suggested what people who also supported Sanders, and who may agree with you that we need an alternative democratic socialist party, do in November: abstain from voting for Biden because he represents the democratic wing of the ruling class, or vote for him to prevent Trump from getting re-elected for another four years? Like Sanders, I will vote for Biden for that very reason.
I very much agree with the issue Alex raises. I’ll put my point a bit differently but hope to build on what’s already been written. While I agree with the basic argument of this analysis, I think the orientation is wrong – recapping the arguments in favor of a break to those who are already inclined in that direction.
In our lifetime many of us have been involved in several failed attempts to create an independent political party: Peace and Freedom, Citizen Party, and then the Labor Party. I’m not counting Nader’s candidacy since he was supported by but wasn’t a Green.
How did the failures – and yes, they were failures – inform how we proceed today to advance this much-needed break?
That’s the issue we need to address now, with humility and with honesty about what we did right, what we did wrong, what we didn’t do that we ought to have. And what makes this period, this election, different in terms of how we should intervene? I hope New Politics will be running other pieces that address these questions.
Heroic campaign, my ass.
Jason, you missed these quotes from Dustin G that support Post’s and Smith’s contention that Dustin blamed Sanders’ defeat to “in part, advocating the ‘fringe demands’ of oppressed groups.” I agree with their contention.
From “Where Do We Go After Last Night’s Defeat”
We should use the experience of the Elizabeth Warren campaign to reinforce the fact that “activist demands” and identity posturing are not harmless add-ons to a working-class program but actively harmful. And, instead, we should continue to popularize a program of big bold demands for universal public goods that can win a majoritarian coalition.
We need to shed the more fringe parts of our platform, and we need to focus heavily, almost singularly, on the bread and butter.
Hi Steve — you’re right, I did miss those. I don’t even know what Dustin is talking about here — “activist demands”? Huh? And what does this have to do with Warren? This does come very close to pure economism, to lowest-common-denominator electoral populism.
Todd Chretien has a thoughtful response to Charlie and Ashley’s position here, albeit one written on 3/15: https://nobordersnews.org/2020/04/14/todd-chretien-bernie-out-biden-in-trump-up-stress-test-u-s-a/
I agree that capitalists and state officials make concessions mainly in response to non-electoral social movements and action, above all strikes and demonstrations. That is where we should put most of our organizing efforts. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote for Biden over Trump. Having Biden rather than Trump in office will make a tangible difference in the lives of millions of people who can and should be our allies. To say those differences are trivial and we won’t make the minimal effort of voting to help them realize those gains is to show contempt for the people who have lost so much under Republican rule.
While creating a new working class party is the right long-term goal I don’t see how voting for Nader or Jill Stein or whoever will be the next such candidate helps us toward that goal.
Actually, Richard, I think it’s you who is showing contempt to the millions of working people who have suffered under five decades of bipartisan neoliberal cutbacks and restructuring. Is that the “tangible difference” from Trump you mean? It was the threat of more of the same that brought us Trump. And as Post and Smith note, should the electorate once again fall for the “lesser evil” mantra and return to that “benevolence,” next time, we will get something much worse than Trump. The simple fact is that neither working people nor the planet can tolerate any more of this eternal ratchet down.
Yes, it’s past time that the American working people have a real opposition party of their own to contend against the neoliberal capitalist duopoly setup. Maybe progressive forces will be able to get something off the ground next year after the November elections in our great “democracy.” I’m supporting Howie Hawkins in the Green Party US primary. To my mind, the GPUS–with all of its dysfunctions–is still the largest left party/organization in the country. About 250,000 American voters have consciously chosen to affiliate with the GPUS rather than affiliate with the Democrats, Republicans, or the Independents. Unfortunately, too many American leftists are too sectarian to even give critical support to GPUS candidates…
Edit or delete this
Bernie Sanders’ platform is a slightly watered down version of the social democratic component of the Green Party’s platform, the Labor Party’s Call for Social and Economic Justice, adopted at the founding Convention of the Labor Party in 1996 and by Green organizations which backed Nader in 1996 and 2000 and went on to form the Green Party of the United States in 2000. There is also some overlap between the Labor Party Call for Economic and Social Justice and the Socialist Workers Party 1976 campaign platform, A Bill of Rights for Working People.
Exit polls during the 2020 Democratic primaries in every state showed majority support for Sanders social democratic program and marijuana legalization. Yet after Biden’s win in South Carolina, the Party establishment and a majority of primary voters coalesced around Biden. Yet already, many who voted for Biden are experiencing voters remorse. Biden’s record and his stand on the issues are unpopular. Biden is showing clear signs of dementia. Support for Biden is a mile wide and an inch deep. Sanders had the stronger case for being the more electable candidate, but didn’t prosecute it. Sanders pulled his punches, did not try to make the case that Biden and Trump had no solutions to the problems of daily life faced by a majority of Americans. Sanders centered his attacks against Trump on Trump’s personal qualities and alleged bro-mance with Vladimir Putin and Syrian president Assad, themes of the Democratic Party establishment.
The goal of the Sanders campaign in 2016 and 2020 has been to unite the Democratic Party behind its candidates from the top to the bottom on the ballot. The goal of the Democratic Party establishment was to defeat Bernie Sanders at any cost. Sanders ran a campaign against Trump and not against the Democratic Party establishment, while the Democratic Party establishment campaigned against Sanders.
We will never know if Sanders had a path to the Democratic Party nomination because he guaranteed Joe Biden’s victory by suspending his campaign and then endorsing Joe Biden in early April 2020. Sanders not only suspended his campaign for president, he also suspended his campaign for Medicare for all and the rest of his social democratic platform, announcing “that fight (for medicare for all) is in the future” because “we must unite to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in the history of the US.” Joe Biden opposes Sanders’ social democratic reform program, opposes legalization of marijuana. Biden had a hand in passing legislation that fuel a huge expansion of the prison population in the 1990s.
I don’t recall any major party presidential candidate call for restoration of the ban on exploitation of convict labor by companies engaged in inter-state commerce. The Hawes-Cooper Act of 1929 restricted exploitation of convict labor in inter-state trade, which was enhanced by the Sumners-Ashurst Act of 1935 and and Walsh-Healy amendment in 1936 and additional legislation enacted before the US entered World War 2. The Hawes-Cooper Act was repealed in 1978 and further legislation enabled nearly unbridled exploitation of prison labor by companies engaged in interstate commerce by 1985. Criminal reform bills promoted by the Clinton administration intensified the “war on drugs” and imposed harsher, longer sentences for criminal offenses. The prison population increased 10-fold during the reign of US president William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001.
The Sanders campaign demonstrates the serious limitations of a strategy of reforming the Democratic Party. When Sanders announced his plans to run for president in 2015, he made it clear that he did not want to become another Ralph Nader, he did not want to use his campaign to launch a new party. In fact, Sanders took great pains to foreclose that option. His stump speeches almost invariably included statements that “we must unite the Democratic Party to defeat the Republicans in November.” In debates with Clinton in 2016, he said “I don’t care about those damned emails,” in reference to Clinton’s use of a private server when she was secretary of state and using her office to fundraise for the Clinton Foundation. After a conspiracy between the Clinton campaign and the DNC to rig the election was revealed in the leaked Podesta emails, Sanders like others who acted as Clinton surrogates denounced WikiLeaks as a tool of the Kremlin. Such concessions to the Party elite are part of the price of playing an inside game, especially if your aim is to achieve party unity at all costs.
The bourgeois press and the DNC certainly disagree with you about Bernie not being anti-DNC Establishment. They consistently argued he was being too hard on them.
And Putin and Assad are mass murderers regardless of whether or not Trump gets along with them or not. I do think the evidence suggests that Trump has been a money launderer for Russian organized crime, long before he became president. And it should be clear that Wikileaks (which Trump praised at the time) is indeed soft on the Russian state — no surprise, since Julian Assange is a white nationalist (his Tweets have made this obvious).
Many of Us old time leftists have known for decades, a century even, that It is hopeless to expect to vote in socialism using a patently pro capitalist vehicle like the Democratic party. I mean like, DUH! It is a breath of fresh air to see a growing and dynamic party like DSA finally turn on. My fifty years hard at it old leftist heart is beating madly. Truly. Now let’s get going!!#
There are really two separate issues being raised in these comments–in my opinion. (1) Should individual radicals vote for the Democrats, in particular for Biden–whose only positive quality is that he isn’t Trump? (2) Should radicals advocate that organized or larger groups should work in the Democratic Party or, if not, in the electoral arena in a different party?
As to (1), although I am a revolutionary anarchist-socialist, I really do not care. Individual votes rarely make a diffference, and especially not if you live in a “safe state” (as I do, in New York). (2) But what counts is what radicals urge on large groups, from the DSA to the much larger unions, to the African-American community, the LGBTQ community, organized environmentalists, organized feminists, etc., etc. Instead of spending their human resources and money in the bosses’ framework, they should be organizing unions, strikes, general strikes, demonstrations, civil disobedience, sit-ins and sit-down occupations, and so on. The more the establishment feels the fire from the left, the more likely it is to even pass reforms, and the closer we get to revolution.
I have an honest question for the authors of the sentence: what is your source?
“Sanders not only suspended his campaign, but has endorsed Biden and offered him all of the resources of his campaign—staff, funds, contact lists, access to tens of thousands of volunteers, and his enormous moral capital among young working people.”
The exchanging of material items listed here is untrue. First, I asked unemployed former Sanders staff (who clearly are not going to the Biden campaign) and none said this seemed have any idea what this referred to. A few staff do go over as part of most endorsements, but AFAIK, Biden has only taken foreign policy advisors.
More importantly, contacts lists such as email are borderline sacred and are not shared. Only VAN (voter identifications) that have to go to the Democratic Party as part of a contractual agreement.
Practically, how could Bernie even make anyone volunteer for Biden? I have heard nothing from key Bernie volunteers about being turned over to Biden’s operation.
Yes, Bernie’s endorsement has moral weight. But the claim that Biden how has access to items that no campaign – not just Sanders – hands over seems off. Once again, what is the source.
I suggest Charlie Post and Ashley Smith re-read (or read for the first time if they haven’t already) Barry Finger’s excellent article of August 8, also in New Politics, “Protest Vote or Independent Political Action?” A socialist (or even vaguely leftist) third party with truly mass support (which is indeed crucial) that can effectively challenge the Democrats simply can’t be built out of impatient wish-fulfillment or some sense that “the time is right,” especially when, as Post and Smith rightly point out, there just isn’t that much overall class consciousness or class struggle. Yes, I will tell you as a blue-collar worker myself living and working in the Midwest, where the economy has been devastated by job loss–“capitalist realism” in the form of voting Democratic, or else, in a cut-off-one’s-nose-to-spite-one’s-face “protest vote,” going for a xenophobic demagogue like Trump, is where the bulk of the working class is right now; assuming workers even bother to vote, which far too many simply don’t, having given up completely on politics, left or otherwise. Further, capitalism is far more resilient and tougher that Post and Smith appreciate. Even in that “heyday of class struggle,” the 1930s, the “class struggle gain” was “merely” mass unionization and the New Deal(although those were quite a lot, both sorely missed in this present era of neoliberal retrenchment)–decidedly not a socialist republic! As for a third party now–Barry Finger deftly destroys that as any kind of serious, feasible alternative. Further, we have enough third-party carnage already–the Greens, the Peace and Freedom Party, the long-defunct Citizens Party, just to name “serious” third party contenders since 1968! Being the truly “left wing of the feasible,” in Michael Harrington’s felicitous phrase, means that, for better or worse, the real(as opposed to imaginary) political choice will be between the Democrats and Republicans, i.e., between tepid reformism and incremental tweaking, or xenophobic, fascistic, white nationalism. “There is no alternative,” to quote Margaret Thatcher in a different context. That’s the reality that Finger is willing to realistically admit, and which Post and Smith are futilely denying.