by Keaton Weiss
I was very excited to receive an email this afternoon from Movement For a People’s Party announcing that they will be seeking ballot access in their first state, the state of Maine, next month. Maine has a quirky rule requiring parties to file for ballot access in December of an even-numbered year, and so MPP is weeks away from their official party launch. In order to get on the ballot, they of course need to formalize their party name, and, keeping true to their promise of being a “people’s party,” they are holding a vote this Thursday on their national call to determine what this party should be called, and are taking recommendations from us, the people. I submitted my suggestion earlier today: the Four Freedoms Party.
The name of course refers to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous 1941 State of the Union address in which he outlined four basic freedoms that everyone in the world ought to enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Branding a new populist Left party in the image of FDR and his Four Freedoms address is a winning strategy for a number of reasons. Broadly speaking, “freedom” is a good word for the Left to start using. Leftism is often associated with more government intrusion into people’s lives: higher taxes, more regulations, etc.. It’s often thought that economic justice cannot be achieved without taking away people’s freedoms. By making this concept of “freedom” part of the branding, we work to overcome this unfortunate misconception, and wake people up to the fact that class struggle is liberation struggle, and that people will feel more free under our leadership. Then there’s the invocation of Roosevelt himself. FDR’s vision is at once revolutionary and familiar. It’s both aspirational and restorative. It’s not something so new and adventurous as to appear risky or out of reach to the average person. People know who FDR was and what he stood for. They know the policies he implemented; they know the policies worked, and continue to work to this day. They know him as an American hero who guided the nation through the second World War.
These are all positive connotations that appeal to a spirit of American progressivism that is grounded in reality; an essential quality for any underdog new party effort to embody. By far the biggest obstacle we face is not that people don’t want a new party; polls consistently show that most people do. Our biggest challenge is convincing people such a party is possible, given all of the barriers in our way. Modeling the brand after a popular household name like FDR and his Four Freedoms speech would go a long way towards clearing that hurdle.
The name is also, of course, a reminder of what the Democratic Party is supposed to be, and what it isn’t. Naming a new party after a famously successful Democrat reminds people of why MPP is so necessary in the first place: to replace a party that has strayed so far from what ought to be its core principles and positions. Once again, this brings a certain familiarity, a certain simplicity, and a certain realism to the type of venture that for decades has been dismissed as a Quixotic delusion.
Then, of course, there’s the “four freedoms” themselves. The first two, freedom of speech and freedom of worship, are especially important to emphasize if MPP is to be a viable new Left party. The Left, in recent years, for some reasons fair and some not, has been besmirched as being against free expression and against traditional and religious values. “Woke culture,” as it’s often described, has given people the impression that the Left are the new police of language and culture. People fear being “canceled” for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person in the wrong manner. People worry they’ll be ostracized for their religious beliefs if those beliefs run counter to evolving societal attitudes. And most importantly, they don’t know where these new hegemonic social and cultural conquests will end, which makes them reluctant to give the Left any power, even if they support most of our economic programs, which of course, they do.
Stating unequivocally that we are free speech advocates, against cancel culture, and against the shaming of people for their traditions and religious views, will buy us boatloads of good will, and differentiate us from the most unappealing qualities of the modern Democratic Party, which seemingly exists only to enforce liberal cultural priorities and chide anyone who asks the wrong questions. In being pro-free speech and pro-religious liberty, this new multiracial Left party will have already rid itself of the toxic baggage of wokeism, which is an absolute necessity if it is to build any meaningful power whatsoever. Furthermore, assuring people we aren’t the uptight, humorless, wokescolds they think we are will allow us to sell them on the next two pillars of our platform: freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
This is the easy part. Medicare for All, according to 2020 election exit polling, is at 72% popularity nationwide. A $15 minimum wage initiative passed with 60% support in the state of Florida. Colorado voted convincingly for universal paid family and medical leave. Arizona voted for a substantial tax increase on the rich to fund public education. Progressive economic policies that provide material security are a winner, and not just in safe blue states. We knew this already. We also know that the American people have grown tired of endless war, which is where freedom from fear comes in. We believe in, as FDR himself stated, “a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.” This too is a no-brainer, slam dunk winner with the American majority.
Again, despite FDR’s enduring legacy, the modern Democratic Party is on the wrong side of all of these issues. They openly advocate for censorship online, on campus, and in the workplace, they endlessly promote divisive woke culture war distractions, they refuse to cross their corporate donors and enact meaningful social programs that would afford everyone a baseline level of dignity and comfort, and, most obviously, they aren’t anti-war. A true diverse populist Left movement that embraces FDR’s Four Freedoms, and brands itself in that tradition, is destined for success.
If you agree, or if you have a better idea that you’d like to submit for consideration, click here to make your voice heard.
Photos: Darrell Nance / Ninaturner.com / AP