Independent Progressive Opposition to the Democratic-Republican Party Coalition

In a reader commentary for the Berkeley Daily Planet, Harry Brill makes the case for independent progressive opposition to the ruling Democratic-Republican coalition:
To defeat conservatives in the Democratic or Republican party, we should nurture and support candidates that are not affiliated with either party, whether they run as independents or third party candidates. Failing to do that robs us of any leverage because the party leadership realizes we have nowhere else to go. The proposal being made here is not to permanently desert the Democratic Party. Rather, our commitment should be conditional to assure that the Party pays more attention to progressives than to the corporate community.

In the Bay Area there are several Democratic Party clubs doing very useful work on issues and in supporting progressive candidates in the primaries. But there is a serious shortcoming. If a local Democratic Party organization supports a non-Democrat over a Democratic Party candidate, its charter could be revoked. So Goliath continues to enjoy an important advantage because David is deprived of a sling shot. But there is nothing to stop members of Democratic Party clubs from working outside their clubs on behalf of progressive candidates. We also have to figure out how to undermine the institutional bribery that influences voting patterns in the House and Senate. The Washington D.C. based institute, Public Citizen, found that since 1998, 43 percent of all members of Congress who left office returned as lobbyists.

The current laws on the books prohibit members of congress and staff from taking lobbying jobs immediately after they leave Congress. But as the record shows, these weak laws have been easily circumvented. Vigorous efforts have to be made to continually expose the problem to the public.
Meanwhile, in an Open Letter to the Progressive Community at the Independent Progressive Politics Network we read:
We who are signing this Open Letter affirm our intention to continue working locally, statewide, regionally and nationally to strengthen efforts for independent political action, efforts that are under the control of neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party. The old arguments about “just stick with the Democrats for now” have shown themselves to be wrong. How many times do progressive issues need to be ignored or suppressed by Democratic leaders before a critical mass of U.S. progressives join forces to build something very different?

We are not saying that we believe we should have no connection or relationship with Democratic (and Republican) elected officials. As progressive organizers we need to build strong, mass-based organizations based on principled relationships but which also build power and mount campaigns, both on issues and to get the best possible people in office. We need to aggressively lobby and hold accountable those in office . . .

We wish we had a political system that gave voters a wide range of choices and made it possible to vote for the best candidates without being afraid of getting the worst elected. Until we get such a system, on local, state and federal levels, progressives will have differences over tactics when it comes to support of “third party” candidates vs. support of Democrats. We believe that these are differences that should be tolerated and be a continuing topic of discussion, while we join together in support of a strong progressive platform and a commitment to serious and sustained, grassroots-based, independent movement building.

No comments: