Frank on spoiling it for the pro-war Democrats

Joshua Frank has an interesting proposal for an anti-war candidacy in 2008:

Third-party campaigns are up against many barriers. Ballot access restrictions, fundraising, media attention, and the inability to crack in to the corporate sponsored debates. Attempting to get on the ballot in all fifty states is laborious, not to mention expensive and time consuming. The Democrats, as they did to Nader in 2000, will even go the legal route in hopes of kicking us off the ballot. So why not instead focus our finite resources and energy on the states that matter most to them in our winner-take-all system — the two swing states will the most Electoral College votes.

Screw party building. It’s about movement building, and we have a war to end.

To run a campaign on a pure anti-war platform is pretty thin to go the stretch till 2008. A platform that has no vision for a post-war U.S.A., offers no constructive goals and requires no accountability of the politicians and the system that permitted the war in the first place.

The Socialist Party runs educational campaigns, as it did most recently in 2004. Workers World Party, the Socialist Workers Party and now possibly the Party for Socialism and Liberation will run educational, anti-war campaigns as well.

Some want create a new party, as a recent debate on the Marxmail list, to run on a pure anti-war line and avoid the messy internal politics of the Greens. The reality is that new party would have to create state bodies that would compete with the Greens externally, wherever they were to run.

Any united anti-war candidacy on the left is going to run well in certain states, and run protest campaigns in the rest. You will pick up an above average percentage in California, Illinois, New York. These states tend to vote Democratic in recent Presidential contests. I guess the main question is how do you run it? Through the Greens, who are already on the ballot in 19 states, including the important swing states of Florida and Washington.

50 state ballot access is supremely difficult to acheive (and hasn’t improved at all in the 10 years since Richard Winger disected the worst problems). The Democratic Party will make it just as difficult for a new party to get on the ballot in Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2008 as they did for Nader in 2004.

I wouldn’t object to a federated effort, composed of different parties, unions and progressive organizations. The constituent organizations join and remain as separate entities organizationally. The UK Labor Party was constructed like this. The AFL-CIO will never abandon the Democrats, of course. The United Electrical Workers and the California Nurses Association were among a few independent unions backing Nader in 2000. These unions today are anti-war and past expectation of relief the Dems. There are a lot of them. They connect the anti-war movement to on international labor solidarity and single payer health care. Initiating these unions as partners in a federative political movement would be free enough to encourage the campaign beyond the limitations of existing small-party politics. These labor unions already expended some political will in founding the scarecrow Labor Party of America. The US would requires a different approach in each state, election law is extremely complicated and unfriendly, but the process can be simplified by using the Green ballot line where possible.

The US saw something like this in the 1924 Progressive Party Presidential campaign of Robert LaFollete. Without leaving any institutions, the movement died. LaFollete insisted on a temporary party, and so the election was largely a personal and an emotional movement vote. The permanent, federated Farmer-Labor Party, which the Socialists wanted to construct with the AFL And the Conference for Progressive Political Action in 1924 was aborted. Results were encouraging, but Lafollete died soon after the election severed any connection between the movement and the event. The Socialist continued to decline as a separate institution under the tutelage of Norman Thomas, until it registered as only a protest vote. The Communist Party USA avoided this fate by linking itself approvingly through the New Deal to the Democrats and the CIO. There they remain to this day, recommending votes for Carter, Clinton, Obama or Edwards to defeat the ultra-right so that Hillary (or whoever) can have the opportunity to do something in Iraq.

The opportunity for combining forces independently, when it is possible is not to be missed. The chance won’t come along again for a long long time.


Posted on June 8, 2007, in Politics. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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