I went to a Green Party meeting in Oakland, CA last night. My main reason was to see if a layer of radicalized Sanders supporters were getting involved in the Greens. One meeting is not a be-all and end-all, but the Sanders youth weren’t there last night. Who was there was a politically mixed crowd to listen to a variety of speakers:
The first speaker, Laura Wells, is a leading Green Party member in California. She mainly gave a rundown of who spoke at the recent GP national convention. Two of the other five – Tom Gallagher and Pat DeTemple – were active Democrats who argued for working for “change” through that party. Another speaker was David Cobb, who gave a rip-roaring speech in which he claimed to be “a revolutionary”. Finally, there was Wyatt Ratliff of Socialist Alternative. He claimed his organization has “has the playbook for building the mass movement.”
Some speakers argued for voting for Jill Stein, others for Clinton, all with equally friendly response from the audience. In other words, it does seem that the view some Greens have that their party is a pressure group on the Democrats (vs. an independent political party fighting for power) is alive and well, at least in this area. (Why, after all, would a serious political party invite speakers from a rival party?) Meanwhile, the lack of a significant delegation of radicalized young Sanders supporters at this meeting seems to say something. It seems to say that while these same Sanders supporters who cheered for Jill Stein in Philadelphia a few weeks ago may not vote for Clinton, they might still be seeing politics as mainly simply turning out to hear and vote for their favored candidate, rather than building an organization – meaning a political party – that can carry their needs and interests. (We say “might” because one meeting is far from definite proof.)
Black Lives Matter Program
Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter movement or a wing of it has developed a more comprehensive platform. Their program takes up economic as well as other demands. This is an extremely important development for all workers. There are also other important aspects, some of which seem to show an orientation towards the Democratic Party, but some which seem to show the opposite.
So far, this movement has seemed to steer clear of the issue of electoral politics, but no movement that exists for an extended time can avoid the issue forever. Either this movement will have to fall in with the liberal wing of the Democrats or it will have to start running its own candidates, at least at the local level. If they do so, they will be propelled further down the role of taking up class politics. (Along the way, they will have to grapple with the reformist role of both the nonprofiteers and the union leadership.)
But that remains the issue of the day — Corporate America – the capitalist class – has two main parties (the Republicans and the Democrats). Through these parties they organize their own class; advance their ideas and propaganda; and carry out their political agenda. The United States is unique in the industrialized capitalist world in that the main rival class to the capitalist class, the working class, has never had a mass party of its own — a party that can start to play a similar role for its class.
Beyond the “Feel the Bern”, beyond the “Jill not Hill”, the question of the hour remains how and when the US working class will change this situation. Will the Greens become radicalized and start to form a real working class base? Will the developments inside Black Lives Matter continue down that road? Or will it be a combination along with some development that nobody foresees right now?
Most probably the latter. But meantime, workers and socialists should be involved in all these developments as well as keeping an ear to the ground.