Bernie Sanders Info Wanted

Andy Daitsman adaitsma at
Wed Mar 1 04:34:43 MST 1995

The XTROT wrote:

>your deal, then go for it. Form a social democratic party along the lines of
>the Canadian NDP. Put out a program attacking welfare for the rich, etc....
>Hold a convention, run someone for office (like Bernie).
>    There are plenty of social democrats in this country. The greens, NOW,
>Ralph Nader's group, some of the less-corrupt unions, Hollywood
>types--they're everywhere.  It could be done in a year. And you'd get your
>ass kicked in every election--but so what? Run until you snag a mayoral
>election or get a defection from the congressional black caucas, then
>celebrate. You might at least open up political discourse in the US to the
>level of Canada or Europe (a vast improvement). You'd certainly scare the

plus a lot more stuff.

I'm not entirely convinced that the model you're proposing isn't already
being implemented, it's just that because New Party-type organizing isn't as
sexy as fundamentalist Christian organizing (and because it challenges the
hegemonic consensus that there are no longer any left alternatives) the
grass-roots stuff being done by local activists doesn't get a whole lot of

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a good example of the kind of stuff that can happen.
 Progressive Milwaukee (PM), a not-so-loose coalition of labor and community
organizers, has been around for, I don't know, five, seven years.  They've
got a good strong base in strategic groups around town, run a wide variety
of organizing projects, and occasionally run someone for public office.  One
current member of the County Board of Supervisors -- Roger Quindel, who
resigned his leadership position in Jobs With Peace, a PM member group, in
order to run -- explicitly ran against the Democrats, as a PM candidate.
Two other members of the County Board tend to sympathize with PM.  Some
members of the Common Council also sympathize with PM, and I think there are
even a couple of members on the Council.

PM is also backing a candidate in the current non-partisan School Board
election.  Their candidate (who happens to be related to me) took the
strongest anti-privatization position of any of the four candidates and,
despite losing the endorsement of both major city newspapers, took first
place in the primary.  The run-off election is scheduled for April.

PM is a rising force in Milwaukee local politics, regardless of the outcome
of the School Board race, and has real potential to become a viable and
competitive third party -- by taking the left wing of the Democratic party,
and incorporating previously disenchanted voters.  But it didn't just come
out of nowhere.  It's founded on decades of left organizing in the city,
building off Milwaukee's Socialist Party traditions, but also using networks
established in the seventies and eighties by different left and progressive
organizations.  I'll mention Jobs With Peace and Mobilization for Survival,
but there were others as well.

The point is that grass-roots organizing around a progressive agenda is
possible, and can lead to real victories at the polls.  I think Don is a
little too pessimistic.  The options are not just Bill Clinton Democrats,
Bernie Sanders "socialists," and futile though well-intentioned efforts to
establish an alternative.  It takes an organic relationship between party
and community, but the progressive alternative is possible.

(What's progressive, you ask?  In a forum that couldn't arrive on a good
definition for populism, I don't think I really want to attempt a precise
answer.  Let's just say it's a conveniently fuzzy code word for left...)

Still waiting for mom to make school board...

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