socialist movement

Support a working class party while supporting individual Democrats?

Can we progress towards building a socialist movement while still supporting some candidates of the Democratic Party?

That is the question of the hour for the many thousands of socialists who have joined the Democratic Socialists of America. And many (maybe most) think “yes”, even while they might agree that the working class needs its own political party. But we have to think about this concretely, starting with “how can we start to build a movement for a mass, working class party?”

Given the weakness of socialism in the US, especially among working class people, it’s ridiculous for socialists to run candidates for national or even state-wide office. We don’t have the forces to even register such campaigns on the radar screen of workers. However, we can make a dent, start to register in the consciousness of workers, by running local candidates for office.

Take Oakland, for example: A huge issue for Oakland’s working class (which is mainly people of color) is that of gentrification. But the Oakland city council members and the mayor are representatives of the real estate developers, corporate lawyers and bankers. Those are the main donors to their campaign funds. This brings into sharp relief the necessity for working class representatives on the city council. And if socialists got together, they could run one or two candidates that linked up these sorts of issues with the necessity of building a mass working class political party, one that stands opposed to the Democratic Party. We could do it concretely, rather than by abstract rhetoric.

The problem is that we can’t run such candidates while also supporting some candidates of the Democratic Party. The contradiction is too great.

Meanwhile, in Oakland – as in many other cities – it is the liberal wing of the Democratic Party that dominates. This is the same wing that is supported by the union leadership and the NGO’s. It represents the marriage of these forces with finance capital. When a marriage is based on domination and abuse, divorce is the only solution.

Eugene V. Debs.
He said: “The Republican and Democratic Parties, or to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.”

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