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By Project for a Working People’s World
The activists around this blog and the Project for a Working People’s World, published a statement earlier on the rise of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign and how socialists or other social activists or anti-capitalists should relate to it. The statement came out of discussions we have had in our weekly phone conferences and on our small list serve.
Unlike the old methods, where we had to appear to know everything in advance and set a firm line that we must defend ferociously never daring to retreat, we have thought more about what we recognize is a complex issue. Discussion, debate and collective decision making is the best way to reach the best conclusions. We should not be afraid to change our minds as the facts on the ground change or if we become more aware of them.
Having said this we stand by our position in our earlier statement that we, those of us that have formed the PWPW, do not support Sanders for President, for among other things, his support for US foreign policy and his support for the Zionist regime. But also because he is running as a Democrat. The latter means that he will be telling the thousands of his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton, the likely candidate of one of the two main parties of the 1%. It is extremely unlikely, almost impossible that the corporate backers of the Democratic Party would allow Sanders to be the party’s candidate for present in 2016. If they did and Sanders accepted this position, this would be an even bigger betrayal of his supporters and we would still not support him.
In our previous statement we were very clear who not to vote for, that is not for Republicans and Democrats and this includes Sanders. However what we did not do was make clear who the tens and tens of thousands of Sanders supporters and the millions of working people and youth who want an alternative to the rule of the 1% should vote for.
We did not explain what political action we thought his supporters should take when he openly comes out for support for the Democratic Party nominee. We explained that these supporters should involve themselves in the work of the Project for a Working peoples World, building an alliance against the offensive of the 1% and using mass direct action to oppose this offensive, and we still believe that those who presently look to Sanders should do so. But what we did not do was deal with the concrete situation when 2016 comes round and who these people should vote for?
We know that Sanders would never support the program and direct action strategy needed to implement this program never mind actually accomplish even his own reforms. He will end up telling his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton. By doing so he will demobilize his own base. (Details in our flier of the PWPW here. Feel free to download and distribute.)
Facing up to the fact that it was not enough to say who not to vote for, we concluded that it is necessary to right away give an alternative to working people and the youth who are looking to Sanders and who are looking for an alternative to the 1%. It would be wrong to just call for the building of the PWPW and leave it there. The PWPW does not have the resources itself to run a candidate for President, nor does it see the candidates of small left wing groups as anything but immature gestures.
Instead we think the best strategy for Sanders’ supporters and all those who seek an alternative to the rule of the 1% , is to throw their activity behind the Green Party and its candidate, Jill Stein.
The Green Party is not a workers’ Party. It is made up of working class people, middle class people and youth of all classes. A workers’ party is a party that has been thrown up out of the struggles of the working class, either the struggles of the trade unions or the struggles of the working class outside the trade unions but clearly composed of the working class fighting for its own interests. Such a workers party is what we prefer and continue to stand for. But no such party exists in the US at the moment and given the role of the trade union leaders in supporting the Democratic Party no such party will be built in the months running up to 2016.
There are the newer phenomena of left parties such as in Greece, Spain, etc which have been formed by mass workers struggles and which lead mass movements of the working class at least, for the present. There are none of these in the USA at this time. And the Green Party is not one of these either as it does not have such a mass base.
These are arguments for not supporting the Greens and calling for a vote for Jill Stein in 2016. But this is not the whole story. The most important factor in the present political situation in the US at the moment, from the point of view of trying to take steps towards taking on the 1% and their parties and towards building a mass workers party, is how do we address the hundreds of thousands who are looking to Sanders. What do we say to them?
What do we say to these forces when Sanders disappoints them when many of them will be looking for somewhere else to go? At that moment there will be severe disappointment and there will be tens and tens of thousands of Sanders supporters in danger of turning their backs on political struggle and walking away.
So against this background who do we say these people should vote for? What do we say their political activity should be now to prepare for when this time comes? It is not correct as some do to involve themselves in the Sanders activity and call on him to break from the Democrats and run as an independent. This will not happen short of a complex fracturing of the Republican and Democratic political monopoly in the months ahead. And even then Sanders would not run as a workers party candidate.
It is in this context that we now call on Sanders’ supporters and all who oppose the offensive of the 1% against working people and the environment to draw these conclusions and explain that Sanders will not build a workers’ or mass left party and break from him. We stress that steps have to be taken instead to build an alternative. If this is not done the supporters of Sanders will be demoralized and have no place to go when he comes out in support of the Democratic nominee. When he does this, his supporters will receive a severe shock. They will be forced to think anew. In this situation they must have a different political alternative around which to gather.
So we are now calling for all those who are active in or supportive of the Sanders campaign to explain that what he is doing is leading his supporters up a blind alley and when he withdraws and supports the Democratic party nominee, most likely the right wing Clinton, his supporters will have nowhere to go. By taking the road we now advocate, breaking from the Sanders campaign and supporting and building the Green Party the thousands of people supporting Sanders for the right reasons, that is supporting his rhetoric again austerity, inequality and corporate rule, will have someone other than Hillary Clinton to vote for in 2016.
In doing so we recognize that the Green Party is not a workers’ party. However it is the party with the closest thing to a national infrastructure. It is the Party which takes up capitalism's threat to life on earth. It is also the party that on occasion has shown signs of being prepared to take direct action, like when Jill Stein its then Presidential candidate was arrested for trying to force her way into the Presidential debates which were closed to all but candidates from the capitalist parties.
There are problems with the Greens position on a number of issues. It could be more clear on its position on Zionism and imperialism though in relation to the former, Sanders supported more weaponry for the Zionist regime in its murderous war against Gaza. The Greens did not. Sanders also supports expanding NATO’s presence in Europe strengthening US imperialism and further destabilizing that region.
However we do not leave it there, that is just calling for support for the Green Party and Jill Stein. For those who agree with our position and get involved in the Green Party and work to get support for it in the 2016 elections, we also call on them to struggle within that party on two fronts. One is to orient that party decisively to the working class, seek endorsements and support, official and unofficial, at international and local level from the unions and for unions to have a specific place in the internal structures of the Green Party. That is, to turn the Green Party in the direction of becoming a workers party.
We believe this now develops our position to where we put forward a credible alternative for the many hundreds of thousands who will be disillusioned with Sanders when he shows his Democratic Party loyalty to its fullest extent. While advocating this position as the best option we can see at this time given the balance of class forces we do not in any way forget that we stand for a mass workers party and we do not cease advocating for a mass workers party. However the union leaders are locked into their support for the Democratic Party at this stage and this will not change before the 2016 elections. At the same time there are a myriad of candidates on single and local issues running all over the country. Therefore we believe the best option at present is for all these forces, to move to the Green Party and increase its base and its credibility as an alternative place in which to work.
We also believe that in moving to and supporting the Green Party we have to seek not only to shift it more towards becoming a workers party, but also seek to move it to the left and becoming an openly socialist party. The problems of climate change and pollution, the problems of inequality, the problems of mass starvation and poverty and lack of education, the problems of racism and sexism, the problem of war, none of these can be solved on a capitalist basis. The alternative to the system of the 1% is democratic international socialism.
The degree to which this effort succeeds is likely to be small. However the more it succeeds the more forces will be saved from demoralization when Sanders refuses to break from the Democrats and their capitalist policies and the greater will be the forces that can be held together and developed to continue the struggle for the real alternative, for a mass workers party with democratic and international socialist policies.