There Are More Socialists Than Democrats or Republicans. We Should Act Like It
American leftists find themselves at a tactical crossroad. Will the 39% of Americans (and more than half of those under 30) who steadily oppose capitalism stand up for themselves? Will socialists, progressives, communists, leftist anarchists and leftist libertarians boldly fight to build a movement, thus inspiring other allies of the working class to join the struggle to abolish the vicious and vacuous capitalist system?
Or will leftists continue to tolerate and support a corporate Democratic Party that exploits them for their votes, financial contributions and labor while it contemptuously promotes everything they deplore?
Two out of 5 voters is a plurality. If the other 3 out of 5 split their votes between the Democrats and the Republicans, the left wins . But those big numbers cannot win if they remain scattered. Tragically for workers and the environment, the left has no organization, no party, no media, no voice inside the establishment.
Progressives and other leftists are powerless. The only "major" left party in the U.S., the Greens, received 0.2% of the vote in 2020. Celebrity-oriented internet formations like the fake-progressive Movement for a People's Party suck energy away from those who want to build a real grassroots party.
There isn't a single newspaper, television network, commentator on a television network or even an op-ed columnist that/who is a leftist.
The streets, churning with Black Lives Matter protests last summer, emptied after the defeat of Donald Trump.
Biden marks a new low for the post-1960s left. Two months in, the new president has already abandoned the few progressive promises he made in order to con supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren into supporting his regressive policies. The promised $15-an-hour minimum wage quickly plunged by a third to $9.50, scaling up to $15 over four years, and now appears to be a dead letter. Student loan forgiveness went from $50,000 to maybe $10,000. The administration has announced no plans to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act. The number of progressives in the Cabinet is zero.
Yet, even now, at this darkest of bleak times, there is hope. Hope lies in the left itself.
"The general sentiment of mankind," Frederick Douglass observed, "is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just."
The political gains of American women over the last century offer a lesson for down-and-out leftists. Women convinced men to support equal rights. But first, women had to convince themselves that they deserved equality and that their cause was viable -- that they could win after sustained struggle. As Douglass (who also supported suffrage) observed about the requirement that oppressed people fight first for themselves, women's self-assuredness attracted male allies to their movement.