Communist Party Endorses Obama and the Democrats for 2012

In an article for People's World, the chair of the Communist Party USA, Sam Webb, asks if it matters "which party wins."  Webb argues that while the Communists "have always advocated the formation of an independent people's party," Democratic Party victories create "space to struggle for a people's agenda."  Excerpt:
In our view, the differences between the two parties of capitalism are of consequence to class and democratic struggles.  Neither party is anti-capitalist, but they aren't identical either. Differences exist at the levels of policy and social composition. And despite the many frustrations of the past two years, the election of Barack Obama was historic and gave space to struggle for a people's agenda.

If, on the other hand, the Republicans had been victorious in 2008 the character of class and democratic struggles would have unfolded very differently. Our movement would have been on the defensive from Day One, the Democrats would be running for cover, and the Republicans would have an unfettered hand in their efforts to liquidate the welfare state, roll back the rights revolution of the 1930s and 1960s, and crush the people's movement - labor in the first place.  [Emphasis added.]
Though Webb says Communists "would have been on the defensive from day one" had the Republicans won the presidency in 2008, the point is undermined by the fact that their support for the Democrats is part and parcel of a defensive and reactionary political strategy, the primary aim of which is purely negative in character: ensuring that Republicans are defeated by Democrats.  In other words, it is nothing more than lesser evilism in the guise of progressive reformism.  He concludes:
We are keenly aware of the fact that the agenda of the far right is to bring this administration and country to its knees, with a heavy dose of racism, lies and economic sabotage, setting the stage for a full blown return to power of the most reactionary, racist, anti-labor, anti-women, homophobic and militarist grouping in U.S. politics . . .  no other party besides the Democratic Party stands a chance of beating the GOP next year.
Needless to say, liberal and progressive Democrats are not touting the endorsement in their commentaries and fundraising letters, while the more militant elements in the Communist party rank and file have been vocal opponents of Webb's political strategy.  On the other hand, ironically, tea party groups that have been co-opted and infiltrated by Republican party hacks are among the most passionate supporters of the negative and reactionary lesser-evilist political strategy favored by Webb, but from the other direction, of course.


Samuel Wilson said...

Webb fails to notice how Democrats like Obama create space for a people's agenda by frustrating progressives and disillusioning them about the radical potential of the two-party system. But it looks like self-styled communists like Webb would rather take the short-cut to power that so many Americans opt for on the assumption that they can somehow co-opt one of the major parties.

At this point, I wonder whether the Communist Party is so small that right-wing mischief-makers could take it over the way they take over local Working Families organizations, just so they can say that Communists endorse Democrats and rile up the rubes.

Gene Berkman said...

The Communist Party has supported the Democrats since 1936, following adoption of the Popular Front strategy at the 7th World Congress of the Communist International.

In 1948 the Communist Party backed the creation of the Progressive Party which ran Henry Wallace against President Truman, because of Truman's Cold War stance against the Soviet Union.

The result of the Progressive Party campaign was that many labor unions purged Communists from positions of influence, and many "progressive" intellectuals distanced themselves from the Communist Party.

Since the collapse of the Progressive Party after 1952, the CP has tried to prove its loyalty to the Democratic Party in order to maintain any influence in unions or the African-American community. The CP bitterly attacked Ralph Nader's campaign in 2000 and has opposed other third party efforts.

TiradeFaction said...

IMO, communism is pretty much dead on arrival in the US nowadays. Anything slightly to the left of the right wing nowadays is lambasted as "Far left socialism" anyway. It's funny though the CP still desperately tries to gain some influence in the system that is through sheer compromising.

Also Gene, in case you don't know, Vermont has an active (and electable) "Progressive" third party, though they are of no relation to the Wallace Prog party.

DLW said...

I personally employ the strategy of committing myself to vote strategically on the basis of which major party candidate campaigns less negatively in most major elections or which supports key electoral reforms and then put shoulder into the electoral reform front...

The CP would be more respect-worthy if they coupled their general strategic support of the Democratic party with a state-level strategy to push for third-party friend electoral reforms and varied the strength of their support for the former based on how they accommodated them in the latter.


d.eris said...

In fairness to Webb, Sam, he does mention something similar to your point about disillusionment, but he just dismisses it out of hand. This appears to be the longstanding position of the party, thanks for the historical background Gene. btw, do you have any good links/sources in that regard?

One of the interesting things about the CP strategy (through "sheer compromising" as TF says) is that it provides some good evidence for the often absurd GOP claim that the Democrats are socialists/communists. They can say, "hey look, the Communists support the Democrats!"

Maybe the CP already has been taken over by right-wing mischief makers?

TiradeFaction said...

>Maybe the CP already has been taken over by right-wing mischief makers?<

Without some solid evidence of this, I wouldn't necessarily go that far since it delves into conspiracy theory land (though it's still an interesting idea, Sam, do you have any sources that right wingers have infiltrated the WFP?)

It's probably more likely they feel that perhaps there's some chance they could get some of their platform and ideas through the Democratic party, and thus commit to sheer compromising, like the unions, or whatever other Democratic party faction. Republican party factions are a little bit more independent, but they do have many overlaps in attitude as well (in regards to partisan politics at least).

TiradeFaction said...

>They can say, "hey look, the Communists support the Democrats!"<

There's certainly some truth to that, I believe the NYC socialist party was invited by Fox News to give an endorsement of Obama so they could say "See, he's a socialist!". They were actually quite critical of him, so it didn't work out there. Maybe they'll say "See, Obama *IS* a secret black Muslim communist!" or something of that nature. Makes sense if it were planned, but without evidence, just an interesting though.

Pete Healey said...

The CP here in New York told me a couple years back that "there's still debate about" their support for electoral reforms like PR, even though they elected NYC Council Members and Congressman from NYC when that city used a proportional election system back in the 30's and 40's.
Along with most of the "left" they became middle class lefties, meaning that they like their privileged status among working people and wouldn't give it up for the world! And that's the main reason why they support the Democrats, because that's official policy for the Dems.

DLW said...

It's hard to remain subversive.
It seems only self-sacrificial acts on behalf of others can subvert in part the vicious cycle of tyranny/terrorism.

TiradeFaction said...


Middle class communists? Anyone else find that amusingly ironic?

Samuel Wilson said...

TiradeFaction, as far as the WFP is concerned I can speak from local experience in Rensselaer County, where Republican operatives reportedly elected an Assembly candidate in the 2008 WFP candidate. The idea was to siphon votes from the Democratic candidate by portraying the WFP dummy candidate as an authentic progressive. They went so far as to print flyers that photoshopped the dummy candidate into a side-by-side pose with Barack Obama. Since then, local Democrats have gotten into legal trouble for allegedly forging absentee ballots for subsequent WFP primaries. You can learn more by googling the name of the dummy candidate, Chris Consuello.

TiradeFaction said...


Woah, sneaky! Thanks for that, I'll certainly read up on it. Guess it's another reason I shouldn't have anything to do with the WFP (not that they're in my state anyway, as my state doesn't allow fusion voting anymore)