While the two parties of capitalism were busy duking it out during the disastrous 2020 US election, a group of self-described progressives began to catch the attention of voters who were sick of America’s business-as-usual political model. They call themselves the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP), an organization that is currently building a progressive third party for future elections, which would be called the People’s Party. Started in 2017 by former Bernie Sanders campaign worker Nick Brana, the original mission was to have Sanders break from the Democratic Party and run independently of both parties. Sanders declined the offer, and what eventually followed is what we have today. MPP plans to become a legitimate political party in 2021, and possibly run or endorse a candidate in the 2022 midterms. But what is their platform exactly?
On the surface, what they’re pushing sounds promising, but it won’t take long to figure out that what they’re doing is playing it safe by pushing New Deal reformism. In fact, President FDR himself is mentioned by name in their platform. Although MPP is trying to become another third party, their website even boldly claims that the failures of other third parties in elections, notably the Green Party, is because of their so-called “lack of resources;” never mind the fact that Republicans and Democrats have worked day and night to suppress the Green Party’s presidential campaign efforts, such as booting them off several key swing state ballots, the ridiculous ballot access laws and petition signature thresholds deliberately designed to make campaigning an uphill battle, and in 2020, a global pandemic, making in-person volunteer work a health risk; never you mind that MPP, with a somewhat similar platform to the Green Party (though different methods of how to seek desired results), will most likely fail just as hard in getting full ballot access themselves, at least not without donations from any of their wealthy Hollywood sympathizers such as Susan Sarandon or DSA member Danny Glover, who were both present at the organization’s 2020 virtual summer convention. Several of the convention’s speakers advocated a vote for Joe Biden, so it would seem that MPP has already tarnished their own slogan: “for the people, not the billionaires.”
While many of MPP’s constituents seem to hold left-of-center political views, the organization itself is the furthest thing from that. On top of their claim to want to appeal to both progressives and red state republican voters, their reformist platform offers only a temporary reprieve to the suffering and hardships of working and poor Americans. Many volunteers and supporters have begun to walk away from the organization due to internal struggles, such as those highlighted in Our Revolution Los Angeles’ open disaffiliation with MPP. Podcaster Ryan Knight, one of MPP’s most vocal advocates, wrote a statement on Twitter that he was stepping back from the party, even hinting that MPP wasn’t “socialist enough” for the former anti-Trump resister.
Therein lies the dilemma: the US lacks a genuine workers’ political party, one that addresses and tackles working-class issues head-on and offers a legitimate alternative to the decaying two-party oligarchy. You might be asking yourself, how would a workers’ party function? What would be the party’s platform?
First and foremost, said party must not accept donations from corporations, lobbying groups, wealthy donors, etc. A working-class party should be funded and powered by the working class. The party should have members maintain annual dues; as 2020 dual Socialist Party-Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins puts it in his book, The Case for an Independent Left Party, “…only dues-paying members were allowed to vote on party decisions in order to protect the Socialists’ internal democracy from being overwhelmed by the contemporary Progressive movement that might flood their meetings with different agendas and motivations like the shadow populist movement had done to the People’s Party.” (That is, the 1900s People’s Party unrelated to the modern day incarnation.) Members of the party must have equal say in how the party conducts its operations, and the party should have members democratically-elected to leadership positions, rather than self-appointed, like with MPP, according to internal reports from former members.
Far too many organizations today claim to hold a left-of-center political line and want what’s best for the working class only to come out in support of capitalist politicians. A few examples include Social Democrats USA, Revolutionary Communist Party and the once mighty Communist Party USA, who used to run candidates of their own, endorsing or showing strong support for the Biden-Harris 2020 presidential ticket. In contrast, a real workers’ party will not seek peace with ruling class overlords.
To that point, the party’s platform must be unwaveringly sympathetic to the cause of socialism. The party will not support or endorse candidates outside the party who aren’t pushing a socialist platform. A genuinely socialist system of government, in other words, a Cooperative Commonwealth, would put society in the hands of the workers and not opportunistic, state capitalist bureaucrats. Capitalism has proven to be a dead-end, and liberal reformism is merely a pacifier. Both the Republican and Democratic parties want to keep this dreadful system in place unchanged.
Many self-described socialists have advocated entryism; that is, infiltrating a larger organization in order to push our ideas into the mainstream, such as the case with politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and others being elected to Congress. Advocates of entryism believe that progressives pushing an openly leftist agenda would eventually result in the Democratic Party as a whole being pushed left. By now, these very socialists on the sidelines should know that working within the confines of a capitalist party is a lost cause. Indeed, the longer one lingers among the capitalists, the more likely they are to conform to their imperialist agenda. Entryism is, historically speaking, a failed strategy.
Finally, much like the original Socialist Party of America, a future workers’ party must reach out to and appeal to working class people. It is not only essential for building the party; it’s a requirement. The working-class are the most important voting bloc in America, and a colossal portion of them sit out elections for fear of the Republican-Democratic establishment putting profits before human lives and not wanting their vote to go to that. (There is also the more nefarious issue of voter-shaming.) Yes, it is easy to sympathize with eligible voters who feel this way, but workers need their own party, and workers deserve to have their voices heard on election day.
America’s modern progressive movement fails because its grassroots campaigners can’t seem to keep themselves from inevitably seeking support from the capitalist class. The same is unfortunately true for many labor unions that continue to endorse ruling class politicians, whose parties have worked tirelessly to suppress the labor movement’s voice. Class collaboration is not only a dangerously high form of treason, but unity with our economic and social oppressors is the antithesis of the movement. It is not the capitalists but the workers who have the interests of fellow workers in mind. Should the oppressed continue to seek their emancipation through the capitalist class, they will fail every single time. For a better and brighter tomorrow, the only way forward is organizing independently, both in the streets and in the voting booths. The victory of socialism is the victory of all humankind!
Vince Ceraso is an activist and card-carrying member of the Socialist Party.