We are for-sure in a different political period than just a month ago, at the close of the Democratic Convention. Trump has been Trump and is therefore in serious political trouble, thank God. The Clinton campaign has done an effective job highlighting the dangers of a Trump Presidency, which has so far lessened the negative fallout from her State Department emails and Clinton Foundation problems.
On the left, Jill Stein’s openly expressed, hail Mary hope that the “42 million millennials” were going to rally to her campaign is being shown to be a false hope; she is currently at 3.1% in the realclearpolitics.com average of national polls. Given that she is not going to be allowed into the debates, it is hard to see how she is going to change those numbers to any significant degree in the next two months.
As far as the “Bernie movement,” which is much more than Bernie Sanders, the big development was the official launch of Sanders’ “Our Revolution” on August 24th with 2,600 local viewing parties around the country, a definite indicator of Bernie’s continuing mass support and organizational abilities. Unfortunately, just as it was being launched, internal differences among Sanders and Jeff Weaver and OR staff about how it should be set up and function led to half of the staff resigning as it was being launched.
Sanders himself has called for his supporters to support not just progressive but some centrist US Senate Democratic candidates because of the importance he, and others, attach to wresting control of the Senate from the Republicans.
Yet to be heard from publicly as far as major Bernie movement players are the groups–National Nurses United foremost among them–which organized the very successful People’s Summit of 3,000 people in Chicago in mid-June. At the closing plenary of that event, Roseann DeMoro, NNU Executive Director, called for a national day of action in February to hold candidates accountable to the Bernie campaign’s program as well as for “one, two more people’s summits” that would be larger than the first one.
I would not expect much to be done on either of those until after the November election. Right now most of the major organizational players and individuals most active in the Bernie movement are either actively working to elect Clinton to defeat Trump (the only way it will happen) and on other down-ballot races, and/or they have gone back to the issue-based, grassroots organizing and/or movement-building work they were doing when Bernie announced for President last year.
Here’s what I see as bottom-line guiding principles for the work which must be undertaken in earnest after the November elections to build an independent, democratic, progressive mass organization—a third party-like organization:
- It must bring together political independents who are outside the Democratic and Republican parties with progressive Democrats, all united by the general programmatic approach of the Bernie campaign.
- Given the Green Party’s position that those who run for office as Democrats are, at best, naïve or, at worst, hopelessly compromised and untrustworthy, it makes no sense to try to involve it as an organization in these unity-building efforts. Individual Greens, on the other hand, should be welcomed who have a less sectarian approach.
- Such a formation, though party-like, cannot be a “third party.” In its electoral work it should be willing to support serious candidates on any party line if their positions on issues are consistently progressive.
- It must be committed to an intersectional approach which is openly against and works to understand the connections between racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism and other negative ideologies and practices. It must affirmatively develop a leadership and a movement that is multi-racial, gender diverse, predominantly working-class based and internally democratic.
- It much be both electoral and activist, supportive of strong progressive candidates and committed to grassroots organizing and action on issues.
It is much easier to write about all of this than to do it, but because of the huge political success of the Sanders campaign, because it showed all of us and the world that there is a winning constituency for a strong progressive agenda in the USA, there are solid reasons to believe that we can do it. We have to! The needs of the people and the planet require us to do so!
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968. His primary work is with Beyond Extreme Energy. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.