Missing from the Progressive Political Eco-System – An Org’n for Completely Dissafected Democrats

(cross-posted at openleft.com)

I read a diary over the weekend (“So You Want To Form A New Party? Hmmm, Come With Me”) that, together with the comments, illustrated the dilemma facing progressives who have had it with the Democratic Party. There are, of course, good reasons for progressives to take the ‘leave it’ option, as well as good reasons to take the ‘fix it’ option. Reading the diary made me think about another element missing from the Progressive political eco-system that can deal more constructively with this dilemma.

There are many things missing from the political scene in America that would make democracy function better. E.g., having lots of George Galloways, who (I presume) would boldly speak the truth about politics and politicians – even if they were in his own party.

I read a diary over the weekend (“So You Want To Form A New Party? Hmmm, Come With Me”) that, together with the comments, illustrated the dilemma facing progressives who have had it with the Democratic Party. There are, of course, good reasons for progressives to take the ‘leave it’ option, as well as good reasons to take the ‘fix it’ option. Reading the diary made me think about another element missing from the Progressive political eco-system that can deal more constructively with this dilemma.

The Progressive Democrats of America are clearly taking the ‘fix it’ option. But some people are too disaffected for going that route, and I am wondering, aloud, if maybe there should be a group called, e.g., ‘Tentative Democrats of America’, (TDA),which will seek to form a voting bloc that can be courted by Democratic candidates, if they’re sufficiently aligned with the local TDA’s priorities. However, they will also let it be known that they will go for a Green Party candidate (or some other 3rd Party candidate) if they can’t get sufficient satisfaction from the Democrats, locally.

Different strategies can be developed by members from different states and districts, tailor made to the political realities they face. A key concern is to figure out if they have enough collective muscle to allow a much superior Democrat to emerge victorious in a primary. If so, they typically have to establish membership in the Democratic Party by a certain date. Otherwise, they have to consider their options – e.g., does joining the Green Party make sense, or is that totally unnecessary as there is only one Green in the field, and they can just show up to vote for them in the general election?

They will not be loyal Democrats or loyal Greens or loyal-any-party. What they will be loyal to is their own collective will and convictions about what direction the country should be taking.

When Nancy Bordiers’ invention gets implemented and adopted, or some other vote bloc formation technology gets widely adopted, forming a Tentative Democrats of America will become easy. Right now, while it will be a messier and slower process, it seems a shame to waste the opportunity that a decaying Democratic Party represents, in terms of losing voters who can help fix it from the inside, or help pressure it from the outside.

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3 comments

    • banger on August 31, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    but, to me,  clearly, the “So You Want To Form A New Party? Hmmm, Come With Me” diary had it essentially right. Delving into electoral politics at this time is a waste of time outside the Democratic Party as a practical matter. That doesn’t mean that a new party shouldn’t be formed–it should but it should concentrate on non-electoral politics where to create a strong base. Things like organizing the “new” economy not necessarily into unions but into economic institutions that feed us and not the corporate sector that, as things stand, can do everything from hiring PR to thugs to do as they please including fixing elections. Raw political power that comes from the ability to project force is what we are missing. Then we can focus on electoral politics. The current set up is totally fixed and there’s nothing anyone on the left or right can do to change it.

    • metamars on September 1, 2009 at 12:54 am
      Author

    and will become increasingly practical, as time goes on.  Dog’s analysis ignores the trend toward independents outnumbering both the Democrats and Republicans, and (more speculative, but expected, by me and others) near-term changes in the ability to form voting blocs, easily. He also deals inadequately with crowd-funding of candidates, something that will become more important with coming elections, also.

    The one nut to crack, that will remain tough to crack for the the near-term future, is television exposure. Recall that Ross Perot, for all his billions, was sometimes denied the ability to advertise. Recall, also, that Democrats like Kucinich were marginalized in debates (and, IIRC, banned from one because of his healthcare stance.) This is different, in character, from Dog’s other arguments, because it’s more deeply engrained than simply a sort of political or sociological momentum, or the unarguable fact that you have to grow to a certain level before you can have the level of influence you want.

    Perhaps Mr. Dog would care to take another stab, this time taking into account the above, and then explaining to us why incrementally growing a third party, optimally with disaffected Democrats who will vote strategically during this process, is a bad “ROI”?

    Methinks his analysis is fatally flawed, although I agree with one of his basic suggestion, which is attempting to take over the Democratic Party from below. Unfortunately, by limiting himself to this channel (which will corrupt many – perhaps most? – of the would-be reformers before they can attain great power), I would put the prognosis for success much lower than otherwise. Besides that, Mr. Dog’s analysis could fall apart much more quickly, and more evidently, if Obama’s kowtowing to Wall Street gives us another Great Depression. In this vein, see Bordier’s latest comment on OpenLeft.

    • rossl on September 2, 2009 at 12:46 am

    According to some of the more knowledgeable people I’ve talked to about third parties (and I’ve interviewed the Green Party’s only elected state representative and Cindy Sheehan, and I’ve talked to hundreds of third partisans, including people like Richard Winger, who’s the preeminent ballot access scholar in the nation), pretty much the only way to organize a successful left-wing, large-scale third party is to go through unions.  Unfortunately, 99% of unions are loyal to the major parties.  If you can break that stranglehold, even just one or two unions at a time, then you might have a decent chance at slowly building a large third party (although I don’t think there will ever be a third major party in the US).  And it can be done – David Krikorian is a current blue dog candidate for Congress in Ohio, but in 2008 he ran as an independent and got the endorsement of several local unions.

    Also, I think Something The Dog Said demonstrated a great knowledge of the third party world for someone in the Democratic blogosphere, but I think he would have had a better piece if he included some modern success stories.  The Progressive Party in Vermont, for instance.  They’ve got a few state representatives and state senators and a decent amount of local officials around the state (including the mayor of Burlington, the largest city in the state), and Bernie Sanders is closely affiliated with them even though he isn’t officially a Progressive in the Senate.

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