Noam Chomsky says we “must push the lever for the Democrats” in order to oust Trump.
Briahna Joy Gray says we need to “leverage” our votes against the Democratic Party in order to force them to take the Left more seriously.
Some on the Left have even tried to make the case that Donald Trump is the “lesser evil” compared to Joe Biden.
If you’re a progressive who’s been following this election at all, you’ve no doubt heard all of these arguments, and most of you have staked out a position of your own that more or less matches one of the above opinions. But no matter what your approach to next week’s election may be, I can rather safely assume that you’re not too happy about it.
Once again, Leftists are mired in this miserable debate about who to vote for or whether to vote at all. This is because, once again, we don’t have a candidate on the ballot who both represents our values and has a chance in hell at winning. More important than the question of whether and how to vote is the question of why we progressives keep finding ourselves in this same dilemma election after election, and how do we make sure that this never happens again?
The reason we keep ending up in this same terrible situation is because we on the Left have not yet built our own institutional power structures that we could activate on our behalf in national elections. Instead, we have tried to hijack the existing infrastructure of the Democratic Party, and repurpose it to serve the needs of the people. The problem with this latter approach has been made obvious over the course of the previous two presidential elections: the owners of that infrastructure care more about maintaining its current makeup than they do about putting it to use to promote the common good.
The only way to change this - the only way to ensure that we will never again spend another campaign cycle rehashing these same exhausting and dispiriting arguments - is to create independent organizational power bases, including a major new political party, so we no longer require the Democrats’ permission to run our candidates of choice come general election season. It’s the only way to ensure that we always have candidates on the ballot who we can support, hopefully with enough numbers to win, but at the very least, in order to build momentum for a robust and viable alternative to the two party duopoly.
Fortunately, this work is already underway. The Sunrise Movement, Democratic Socialists of America, Black Lives Matter, and Movement for a People’s Party are just a few examples of organizations from which progressives can build power. But some on the Left worry that these movements may be co-opted by establishment forces and “sheep dogged” into the Democratic Party fold. They worry that unless members of these groups are committed to a clean break from the DNC, they will eventually be corrupted in similar fashion.
Allen Howell, host of The Howell Underground YouTube show and the Revolution or Bust podcast, returned to our podcast to debate and discuss these strategies, and the importance of building up our own independent institutions. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:
Photo: Gage Skidmore