Al Sharpton

Eli Stephens elishastephens at
Wed Jul 16 23:42:23 MDT 2003

Last night CSPAN carried a moderated program (can't really call it a debate)
with most of the Democratic candidates. While Kucinich, Mosely-Braun, and
Sharpton were all fairly indistinguishable (but not undistinguished!) on the
issues, the most interesting bit came from Al Sharpton. The transcript isn't
available at, although the video is, but from memory, when asked
(by moderator Sam Donaldson) about his history of activism, made a point of
saying that activism was a key effector of change, and that advances like
civil rights came from activism, not from lobbying and elections.

Incidentally, we've had a number of people touting the Greens as the way
forward (the "roadmap to socialism" to borrow a phrase), and others
disparaging the CPUSA for endorsing Democrats. People (including me!)
denounce the Democrats and Republicans as the twin, nearly indistinguishable
parties of capitalism. But couldn't it be argued that the Democrats have no
intrinsic principles whatsoever, and that leftists could just as well (in
some hypothetical world) elect enough delegates to the next Democrat party
convention to put through a platform calling for socialism and proclaiming
(as the Democrat party already does!) the party to be the party of the
working class? Heck, you wouldn't even need a platform calling for socialism
according to some people, after all, a platform like Peter Camejo's is
exactly the right transitional program, we are told. Well, Kucinich,
Mosely-Braun, and Sharpton could all undoubtedly run on exactly the same
platform (or on Nader's platform); indeed, with the exception of running in
the Democrat party primary, they pretty much are running on the same
platform. So why urge a "break from the Democrats" when you could just urge
a "takeover and repurposing of the Democrats"?

Discuss amongst yourselves. :-)  As for me, I will certainly be supporting
Camejo in the California runoff, but at the same time maintaining, along
with Al Sharpton (and traditional leftist dogma) that activism, not
electoralism, is the key to change.

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