Who Was There
There were a lot of interesting things about the event, most importantly who was there
(fairly diverse crowd, overwhelmingly young). The other thing I found was that it was extremely easy to get into conversations with people, including the young people. Being 70, that’s not always the case for me. I even had one shocking experience: Usually, at events like this, when I get to talking with somebody, I really want to hear what they have to say. In one instance, I got to talking with a group of five or six young people (early 20s at the oldest). At one point I made some comment and then stopped, waiting to hear what they had to say. They told me to go on, they wanted to hear more of what an older person had to say, what his experiences were. What a shocking experience here in the US!
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the openness and the seriousness of the people I got to talking with.
On several occasions, I had to explain that I didn’t support Sanders (and of course I don’t support Clinton nor Trump). People were very open and willing to hear why. As my generation used to say, the Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements; it’s like quicksand, drawing movements in in order to drown them. In my opinion the main thing is that what’s needed more than anything is a working class political party, and I think the Sanders campaign, as positive as it is raising some important issues, also is tending to serve that same role. Some socialists are supporting Sanders and his so-called “political revolution,” but I think it’s a contradiction to support a Democratic candidate and at the same time argue for the need for a complete alternative to all Democrats.
Sanders’ speech was interesting. He concentrated his fire on Donald Trump, saying why it’s important that this bigot not be allowed to be elected president. Given that it’s overwhelmingly likely that Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, this seemed to be setting the groundwork for him to transition to campaigning for her after the Democratic Party convention.
Where will Sanders supporters go after that? The overwhelming majority of those I’ve talked with (if not all of them) say they won’t vote for Clinton, although one or two agreed that if they lived in a “swing state” they might. But how about after the elections?
Sanders has made it clear that he’s going to campaign to reform the Democratic Party. As he said after the Nevada Democratic Party convention: “It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics.” This is a declaration that he’s going to campaign to try make them “understand”, which is to say to reform the Democratic Party. However, Glen Ford of Black Agenda report has made convincing argument that the Democrats will turn to the right, though. Even if he’s wrong, though, even if Sanders succeeds in building the “progressive” wing of the Democrats, they will only be allowed to grow enough to “keep hope (in the Democrats) alive”, but not to have real power. No matter what, though, some of Sanders supporters will continue in political activity and will be looking to build an alternative to the Democrats. What form that alternative will take and how it will be built is open to question, but build it we must.
One older union member I was talking with made the point that this was the next wave after Occupy, and I think he was right. As we agreed, the Greek myth of the goddess Pallas Athena springing full grown from the head of Zeus is just that — a myth – because like humans, no movement comes into being full grown and fully formed. Especially in the US, it will come into existence in fits and starts, with confusions and all.
Stay tuned; more coming
For those who are new to this blog site and want to read more of a revolutionary socialist critique of the Sanders campaign, you can find a series of articles here. Also, Oaklandsocialist did several interviews yesterday. We will have them up in a day or two. Stay tuned.