Building a viable third-party for the left

Image: Andra MIhali / Flickr / Creative Commons

If we can learn anything from the Bernie Sanders campaign it’s that the left needs a voice. For many, that voice became the Green Party, it adopted an anti-capitalist economic platform at its August convention, and it seems the be the largest leftist answer to the current two party system.

For some, they have chosen to remain in the Democratic Party and believe that reforming that party is a worthwhile effort. They listened to Sanders call to support Hillary Clinton in an effort to stop Trump. He, of course, did this while himself leaving the Democratic Party, but still vowing to vote for Clinton. Whether or not he campaigns for her long term remains to be seen.

For others, though, neither party fits the bill. Revolutionary politics takes many forms, but most agree that the Democratic Party is counter-revolutionary, while the Green Party, for all its benefits, has many fatal flaws that will keep it from ever gaining the momentum that was seen in the Sanders campaign. One example of this is their constant pandering to Sanders directly in an attempt to use his momentum to build a viable party.

While Sanders is much more progressive than the likes of Clinton, calling him a leftist is too far a stretch, and a true leftist party should be looking beyond established candidates. Sanders brought his own brand of revolution to the American political system, but he didn’t bring a revolution in the true revolutionary sense.

The left can often be complemented by liberalism, but the two don’t exist with the same goals.

This is addressed by Danny Katch in his book Socialism … Seriously, in which he points out that, “Millions of people find themselves classified as liberals by default, ranging from those who march against banks and bombs to those who bail out the former and drop the latter. That’s not a very useful category.” He furthers the point by saying that in today’s politics, a liberal is basically anyone who isn’t a Republican. Today’s Green Party has seemingly become anyone who isn’t a Democrat.

Can the Green Party become the party of the left? It certainly could, but why try to rebuild a failed party that becomes nothing other than a spoiler in the eyes of Americans? How can you attract the voters needed to build a viable party when the party has a history, right or wrong, that leaves such a bad taste in people’s mouths?

The Green’s have become the conspiracy theorists of the political arena. Stein’s statements that GMOs are altering our DNA, or that WiFi is dangerous for schoolchildren’s brains, doesn’t leave many with hope that they are a serious contender for anyone but those purchasing tin-foil hats in bulk.

The left needs to build a real, viable, and effective third party. One that builds from the ground up. The Greens have more than 100 locally elected officials, but they need thousands. While Stein uses her spotlight to discuss the White House, she is missing the opportunity to discuss how the left can empower voters.

Angela Walker, the 2016 Socialist Party USA vice presidential candidate believes that is the Socialist Party’s role in this election. “Folks already know what they need. It’s our job to remind folks of what is possible, and that they are their own saviors. People are more invested in a campaign that they can shape and interact with,” she said in a recent interview.

Building from that thought, the left has an opportunity to build a real people’s party. One that is driven by the working class, the unionists, those who feel the Democratic Party left them behind as the anti-union Republicans toppled their power with right-to-work bills.

A party for young, aspiring political and community leaders, and for those he simply feel erased in today’s political field. A party that doesn’t just say Black Lives Matter, but a party that means it, and acts like it. A party that fights without compromise for women’s rights, and views politics as more than protecting Americans and sees politics as a way to protect the world.

A political party without borders.

Sanders campaign has awoken a new generation of voters and Democrats are working to suck them into the system that elects the same, uninspiring candidates over and over, and silences the individual voice. The left must offer them a voice and a home. Empower them to change their communities and give them the tools to change the world.

Political reform isn’t going to come from congress, why would it? Why would congress reform a system that keeps them in endless power? Political reform is going to come when those in congress have no more voters, no sheep to herd to the polls. It comes when the voters are reminded that they are in charge, they run the government, and that they will no longer simply do as they are told.

Political revolution comes to those who want it, and the American people want it. Those on the left in position to make their voices heard now should do so, and do so loudly. Let’s welcome the droves of voters who are fed up and help amplify their voices as loud as ours.