[Marxism] Revolutionaries, elections and the Democrats | SocialistWorker.org

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 26 13:39:52 MDT 2018

Todd Chretien:

How can we challenge the two-party system?

Hadas Thier wrote earlier this week: “The calculation of our comrades in 
the Democratic Socialists of America...that the ground is not yet ready 
for a third party is, I believe, correct.”

This raises an interesting question. Why is the ground not ready?

Hadas references Ralph Nader’s campaign in 2000, which received 2.9 
million votes, despite the Democratic Party carrying out the same kind 
of dirty tricks it used against Sanders in 2016. And I think we can all 
agree that everything about American capitalism has gotten much worse 
since 2000.

If Nader, an idiosyncratic figure who was vilified by the Democrats, 
could win nearly 3 million votes, couldn’t Bernie do as well or better, 
even while running as an independent? Couldn’t DSA candidates like 
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jovanka Beckles and Julia Salazar make 
sustained inroads at the local level running as independents?

Of course they could. But here’s the kicker: They probably couldn’t win 
in the short term.



 From my "Bring back communism?" post:

In 2000, Ralph Nader ran an election campaign that generated 1,182 news 
articles and, according to people like Todd Gitlin and Eric Alterman, 
cost Al Gore the election. Nader got 2,882,955 votes, or 2.74 percent of 
the popular vote. While not quite in the same realm as Debs’s 6 percent 
of the popular vote in 1912, it was on a par with all his other runs. In 
fact, his showing was so impressive that people like David Cobb, Ted 
Glick, Medea Benjamin and other Green Party leaders conspired to deprive 
him of ballot status in 2004 just to make sure the Democrats would not 
have any competition.

On top of all this, Gallup reports that sixty percent of Americans 
believe that a third party is needed. Some of them might be only in 
favor of the sort of side show that Ross Perot ran but you can be sure 
that millions would be open to the sort of initiative that Ralph Nader 
represented. As long as the Republicans and Democrats continue to play 
hard and soft cop respectively to the American working class, that sixty 
percent is likely to grow.

Nader ran the kind of campaign that Debs ran even though it was not 
specifically socialist. If the entire left had thrown itself into 
building the Green Party as the ISO had, maybe we would have ended up 
with a much different constellation of forces today.

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