Give The People What They Want: DSA Members on 2016 and Beyond

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Give The People What They Want: DSA Members on 2016 and Beyond was released October 29, 2016, in Democratic Left.

For decades, the dominant approach to electoral politics on the left has followed a now-familiar formula. The formula goes something like this: the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate leave much to be desired. They fall far short of our aspirations for a free and just society. Despite these shortcomings, however, the Republican Party and its candidate are far worse and will inflict much harm on the institutions and constituencies we care about. We have no illusions about the Democrats, but leftists and progressives should vote for them because the political terrain will be much more favorable to us with them in office. Once the threat from the right is defeated at the polls, we will mobilize to hold the Democrats accountable whenever they move to implement neoliberal and militaristic policies.
However, we 75 signatories of this statement seek an alternative.
But if we want to move beyond the cycle of mobilization and retreat that dominates left electoral activity in the US, we have no choice but to build our own political formations, as difficult as that will be. They will have to do what all parties do – run candidates for office, particularly in states and localities where competition between Democrats and Republicans is low. Considering the many institutional barriers to effective independent politics, they will also have to launch fights to change ballot access laws and other measures aimed at maintaining the two-party duopoly.
Beyond that, they should also focus on building the intellectual and organizational capacities of their base between elections, and raise people’s expectations of what is possible instead of managing them downward. And perhaps most importantly, they must resist the tendency of unions and other social movement organizations to prioritize short-term interests and goals above all other concerns.
The Sanders campaign and the mini-revival of protest activity shows us that millions of people are fed up with the political order and want an alternative to it. Instead of accepting and working within the limitations of the system they despise, why not begin the hard work of offering one to them?[1]

Signatories

References