Lance Selfa writes in his book, Democrats: A Critical History, takes a close look at what groups like PDA and examines whether the left can take over the Democratic Party. He quotes PDA founder Kevin Spidel who told William Rivers Pitt, "The most important thing we do is that inside-outside strategy. Pulling together members of the Green Party, the Independent Progressive Politics Network, the hip-hop community, the civil rights community, our allies in Congress, the anti-war community. We are bringing together all the social movements within the Democratic Party under on effective tent, and we will do it better if people can contribute to our cause."
Essentially, Spidel (and I imagine anyone who celebrates the "potential" of PDA) would like all those discontent to not let their discontent create alternatives to working with the Democratic Party. In fact, they would like people to help deter creations of alternatives; PDA did not do anything to denounce or deter the Democratic Party's funded campaign to force Nader/Camejo off the ballots in the 2004 Election.
The examples of Dennis Kucinich's campaigns, Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, writer Upton Sinclair's 1934 primary victory, and Howard Dean's eventual demise in 2004 are all bitter indications of the shenanigans and uphill battles candidates have to face as they organize and run as a Democrat. And, with Kucinich, candidates not only are forced out of the race but are tasked with the duty of herding progressives into the center of the Democratic Party and inspiring them to support a much less robust progressive agenda and much more corporate Democrat like current President Obama.
This writer is very cognizant of the dismal state of the Left. There currently exists no surefire way for any progressives, Greens, socialists, communists, Marxists, or whatever label members of key social movements anoint themselves with to win state power. Ballot access laws effectively make it a chore for candidates from parties not Democrat or Republican to run. Media corporations effectively refuse to cover politics that is not Democrat or Republican. And, the people of this country are conditioned to believe politics is only Democrat or Republican and, actually, that's why so many Americans are angry and upset with the state of this country.
Many recognize how similar the Democratic and Republican Parties are in this country. The characterization is no longer simply that there isn't a dime's worth of difference (as Ralph Nader has said) but much deeper. It's that what Americans are faced with is a corporate party with a left and right wing. Or, it's that we have a war party that splits off in a left and right direction (or something similar to these characterizations).
What is the answer? Where do we go? How willing are we to raise our expectations?
At forums all over the world like the World Social Forum, at summits organized by movement leaders all over the world and at conferences held here in the United States, there are people willing to make the cogent analyses necessary to understand the objective reality we face as a people. There are scholars and thinkers and concerned citizens and sharp, energetic organizers willing to develop and work to get this country turned around so it is no longer going in the destructive downward spiraling direction that it had been going in for decades.
But, what has to be done so this can translate into the political arena? When do social movements get to grow up and actually run this country? When leaders from social movements get to lead? And, when do we stop using the Democratic Party as a measuring stick for what's possible in American politics?
I don't have the answers to the problems this country faces because of the broken electoral system, the control corporations have over politics in this country, the influence that corporatism and it's fiendish offspring militarism have over the agenda and policies of America, but I do have the unwavering interest in a better future one that my children, their children and their children and so on and so forth should be able to enjoy--a future where generations won't have to confront the levels of contempt, exploitation and injustice toward humanity that seem to be increasing because of the policies of an elite few who run this country.
One wonders if a future focus is enough to take on the sharp contradictions of society. But, if that doesn't push us to mature politically and socially, what will?
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