The first thing that struck me about Michael Albert’s commentary was its call for a principled and humble debate within the Left and the recognition that there is no short distance between God’s mouth and any of our ears. Such an approach seems to be in the minority these days with sanctimonious commentaries offered in the context of the current electoral situation. People and organizations that frequently have minimal differences have escalated their contradictions to a dangerous extent.
I believe that there are two issues that face us. The first is the immediate response to the November 2016 election. The second, what comes after November?
We have not yet arrived at the Democratic National Convention. Should Clinton become the nominee, I believe that a tactical decision needs to be made to support her. This is a decision not based on an assumption that Clinton is a progressive candidate but due to the profound danger of a Trump candidacy. I might add that should there be an insurrection at the Republican convention and Trump not get the nomination, none of the other potential candidates makes our decision any easier.
What too many of my friends on the Left and within the broader progressive movement fail to acknowledge, is that an election is not a popularity contest. What is at stake is not only who is elected, but who they appoint to various positons, e.g., judgeships, as well as the social forces that get mobilized on their behalf in other electoral arenas. In the case of Trump, for instance, it is important that we acknowledge the open support given him by neo-fascist elements in addition to others within right-wing populism. This is of great consequence as these forces are fighting to gain respectability and a hearing. To this we must also factor in the longer-term Republican objective to flip enough state legislatures such that they are positioned to call a Constitutional Convention. Should anyone on the Left have any illusions, a Republican-called Constitutional Convention would not be a good idea at all.
So, item #1, we need to stop Trump and the other dangerous right-wing populist types, e.g., Ted Cruz, who might emerge if Trump is dethroned, or who are in operation at other levels of the electoral arena.
Yet that is where too many people stop or, if they don’t, they immediately jump to the conclusion that now is the time to form a 3rd party. Now is actually the time—and here the Sanders campaign and its supporters can play a key role—for state-by-state strategic planning on the part of progressives. While there may be an organization that arises from the Sanders campaign that can coordinate this, don’t hold your breath, and I do not say that sarcastically. Assume the possibilities of multiple organizations. Nevertheless, on a state-by-state basis, united fronts can be convened that can begin the process of assessing and laying the conditions for the building of progressive power.
Thus, while I believe that Michael Albert frames a particular question quite well, and he certainly conveys the sort of constructive method we desperately need, I believe that our approach to the coming year must combine defeating Trump and laying the foundation for a progressive electoral realignment. The realignment, by the way, is not something that can be wished into existence through force of will alone, but must be the result of very hard, grassroots organizing and educating, all of which lays the foundation for challenging for power.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a talk show host, writer and activist. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.