Why the Left Should Not Occupy the Democratic Party
Have you ever heard of Mimi Soltysik?
Go ahead, really think about it.
Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik is a political activist and was the Socialist Party USA candidate for the 2016 presidential election. That’s right, there were socialists running for office in the United States last year — and I don’t mean Bernie Sanders.
Unfortunately yet predictably, Mimi garnered roughly zero percent of the vote. This is par for the course for the SPUSA, though, who have trouble keeping the only member of their party in an elected position on a small town school board.
To an observer, the United States’ lack of a true Left might be the result of many decades of ideological battling leading to a clear winner. The so-called End of History, maybe.
This is not the case, as another answer is nearer to reality based on any cursory glance through mainstream analysis of demographic polling data. The microscopic representation for the Left in this country is not due to absence but shoddy organization.
Where is the Left?
One of the core members of would-be Washington leadership, Nancy Pelosi, recently answered questions at a CNN town hall event and met considerable controversy when she spoke with total honesty. She ignored the spirit of a young man’s question by repeating the mantra she likely intones over her morning coffee: “We’re capitalists.”
She’s referring to the Democratic Party, of course, a private organization perfectly within its rights to align with whatever ideology its members enjoy. And it’s demonstrable fact — the Democratic Party is primarily concerned with empowering the capitalist system, while occasionally supporting a social democratic platform when that helps its members win.
To many on the Left, Pelosi’s proclamation was yet another symptom of the Democratic Party’s tone deafness. Sam Seder of The Majority Report called it a HARD FAIL and chalked it up as yet another reason why the Democrats can’t seem to hold onto power. Much of the Lefty blogosphere whined that the party needs to change its messaging and leadership in order to get with the times.
And that’s fucking stupid.
The Democratic Party will not be and should not be used by the Left any longer. We should instead encourage them to wallow in the miserable weakness they’ve cultivated until they realize they died long ago and finally shrivel up like the desiccated Centrist carcass they’ve been all along.
During the Democratic Primary, more than 80 percent of voters under the age of 30 voted for Bernie Sanders. And while Bernie’s socialist cred is flimsy at best, the fact that young people voted his way without fear means they’re heading in the right direction. To the Left, that is.
But the Democrats didn’t go with Bernie at their convention. They nominated Hillary Clinton instead in a move that very likely gave Donald Trump the presidency.
This has genuinely pissed off young liberals and burgeoning Lefties. How dare an entrenched political organization ignore the will of its (largely brand new) supporters when they put their weight behind a candidate who wasn’t even a member of the party proper until it became politically expedient?
Far too much time has been wasted discussing ways the Democrats should have handled their primaries. Yes, they very likely sabotaged any chances Bernie might have had to win the whole thing, but that was always going to happen. And even if somehow a goddamn Marxist took the reins of the DNC, they’d still be so weighed down by the party’s long history of ugly baggage that they might never get their efforts off the ground.
Taking the Window Seat
The Left needs to finally get it through their thick red skulls that the Democratic Party will never represent them. It will only pay occasional lip service to boring liberal values. As long as the Democrats can pretend they alone represent the values of everyone to the left of the GOP, the true Left of this country will never gain any real political ground.
What we need on this continent is a Leftist Party that provides a true counterbalance to the Right. And Millennials are just the generation to create it. We shouldn’t bemoan the abundance of graybeards on every Senate committee if half of them are put there by a party we occasionally align with. Instead, we should righteously fuck up Washington and state congresses with twenty- and thirty-somethings in an all-out political revolution done “by the books.”
I can already hear the cries of the tankies accusing me of crypto-fascism for recommending anything other than a complete overthrow of the establishment. So, know that by writing this I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from taking any political action whatsoever. If you can organize something that shifts the paradigm so dramatically, do so and I’ll support you. But what I prescribe now is for the Left to organize better than ever before in this country — it’s what we’re good at, no? — and offer a party with a radical platform that’s hard to ignore.
And as for you Žižek and Chomsky types, here’s your opportunity to shape the energies of your fellow outraged Lefties into something useful. How better to stop the potential for violence between such disparate factions as those present in 2017 than to give your side something to channel their energies into like productive organization? Imagine what discourse in this country might be like if the Left had a clear agenda covered by the 24 hour news media, if the Left had figures to oppose the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, and Steve Bannon.
As it currently stands, no matter how far to the right your political leanings fall, you’ll be welcomed with open arms in the GOP. Libertarians and anarcho-capitalists rub shoulders with the right of Center every day in state congresses across the country. But there’s no similar place for the Left in this country to engage in discourse with run-of-the-mill liberals.
In many European parliaments, the Far Left rivals the Far Right in seat numbers, and is allowed an equal platform for the exchange of their ideas with the Center. We need to create that same paradigm here. Let’s have a party where Bernie Sanders is revealed as the milquetoast he is. Let’s have a place for the Lefty crazies to vent and maybe even get their fingerprints on legislation. We need to shift that Overton Window our way, and maybe we might just find the strength to take the window seat.
It’s true that our first-past-the-post system may not exactly invite attempts at third-party slow creep. We’ve seen how abysmally the Greens have done, but a lot of that is likely from a failing of branding. A true Left party could absorb the Greens like the GOP does with its myriad splinter groups.
The Democratic Party does not currently and will likely never offer such a platform to the Left. As Nancy Pelosi said, they are capitalists and they very clearly refuse to entertain contrasting ideas. They are more akin to the GOP now than they have been since the parties flipped, and in seeing the great successes of the Right, their strategists are more than likely hard at work on devising ways to capture the imaginations of that demographic.
So let’s see what the Left can do on its own. How about we create a brand new entity to throw our collective energies behind?
It sounds like a good idea to me.