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Jerry Kann has made his living in New York City since the late 1980s in a variety of odd jobs--proofreader, copywriter, messenger, secretary--all while pursuing the very challenging avocation of independent politics. For years Kann's primary goal as an activist has been to help establish a new, independent political party of working people.
Kann joined Labor Party Advocates in 1994 and was active in the Labor Party until 2000. A registered but dissatisfied Democrat during the 1980s and '90s, Kann joined the Green Party in 2000 to volunteer for Ralph Nader's first full-out campaign for President. He worked as an independent contractor for Nader's 2004 campaign and volunteered for Nader in 2008. He was also a Nader delegate to the Green Party national convention in Milwaukee in 2004. As secretary and later as treasurer of the Green Party Office in Manhattan from 2002 to 2006, Kann worked with a very fine group of Green activists trying to build the Green Party in New York City.
Running as a Green in three campaigns for New York City Council in his home district of Astoria, Queens, Kann won 20 percent of the vote in 2003 on contributions of about $2500 (compared to the incumbent's $200,000). With an endorsement statement from Ralph Nader, Kann faced the same incumbent in 2005. In that campaign, Kann drew fire from both major parties, as his opponent ran on both Democratic and Republican ballot lines.
An early member of Greens for Democracy and Independence (under the leadership of Peter Camejo of California), Kann and others tried for several years to convince their fellow Green Party members to declare full independence from the Democratic Party. After a long fight on basic questions of the Greens' identity and long-term goals, Kann finally quit the Green Party in June 2009 and registered as a Populist, running again for City Council in 2009 and 2013.
During 2011 and 2012, Kann had an especially hard time finding anyone willing to publish an article (or even a letter) about his formal complaint against Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The complaint built a very solid case demonstrating that the mayor violated campaign finance law in his 2009 re-election campaign.
Kann remains ready, willing, and able to debate the essential question of independence and the urgent need for a new, militant, major political party in all public forums.
Here I review five basic, competing ideas about where the progressive movement should go next. One: "Taking over" the Democratic Party. Two: Everyone going into the Green Party. Three: Drafting Bernie Sanders. Four: Launching a massive campaign of non-violent civil disobedience. Five: Establishing a new, independent political party of working people.
A Little Background on the Calls for a New Party
A response to Rob Kall's July 31 article calling for support for "a party of the 99%," listing resources that will help OEN readers catch up on the very important history of the Green Party and Ralph Nader's independent campaigns of 2004 and 2008.
Friday, June 19, 2015(6 comments)
Independence Is the Key
The American two-party system is a bird with two right wings. We need a new, major, *independent* progressive political party, and many, many new candidates to revive--to save!--American democracy.
Sunday, October 19, 2014(18 comments)
Kshama Sawant Calls for a New Political Party of Working People
A general review of the meeting at All Souls Church in New York on the eve of the People's Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014, focusing especially on the address of Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and her call for a new political party to represent the interests of working people, as well as her call for nationalization of U.S.-based fossil-fuel corporations.
Thursday, October 10, 2013(48 comments)
The "Affordable" Care Act: The Best Illustration Yet of Why We Need a New Major Political Party
I will argue here that the two major parties are very much the same in terms of their long-term goals--that they primarily aim at serving big banks and corporations--but that they want to give the voters the impression that they fundamentally oppose each other. I will show how the wrangling over the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that the real goal seems to be to make the big insurance happy, one way or another.
Friday, March 22, 2013(27 comments)
We Need a New Political Party
This article is my argument for establishing a new major political party of working people to replace--or at least to seriously compete with--the two existing major parties. I argue that the Democratic and Republican parties have outlived their usefulness
Sunday, May 27, 2012(18 comments)
Why I Left the Democratic Party (a Long Time Ago)
This article was written in response to Rob Kall's May 3 piece, "I'm Dumping the Democratic Party, Personally," in which he asks for readers' thoughts about why they gave up their registration inthe Democratic Party. As I state right upfront, in the ti