The crisis wracking the Democratic Party is escalating amid debate over selecting a candidate capable of preventing what the party considers “unthinkable” — President Donald Trump winning reelection in November. And their debate over what kind of ideology to run on is getting sharper. None of this presents a way forward for working people.
Only the Socialist Workers Party ticket, Alyson Kennedy for president and Malcolm Jarrett for vice president, and the over 20 SWP candidates backing it across the country, present a course forward based on a working-class line of march.
Democrats supporting Bernie Sanders want to make the party — that acts to defend the interests of the U.S. imperialist rulers — more explicitly socialist in name. And he has been winning a plurality in the party’s 2020 caucuses and primaries so far.
Centrists are stepping up efforts to stop him. Some hope Michael Bloomberg can use his billions to buy the nomination and still appear “progressive,” despite his record as a Republican New York City mayor who targeted African Americans with “stop and frisk” policing.
Bloomberg is reportedly considering Hillary Clinton — who called working-class Trump voters “deplorable” in 2016 — to be his running mate. Bloomberg shares her low opinion of the abilities of working people. “I could teach anyone, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” he told students at a University of Oxford business school meeting in 2016. But to get a job in today’s hi-tech economy, “you have to have a lot more gray matter.”
Sanders and others on the party’s left think the only way for the Democrats to win is to run on a platform of democratic socialism, of reforms to regulate capitalism while keeping the bosses in power.
The middle-class left is coalescing around Sanders’ campaign. A group of anarchists, Stalinists and Democratic Socialists of America leaders wrote an open letter to the Green Party urging it not to run for the presidency and to back whichever Democrat ends up with the nomination — to stop Trump. The Party for Socialism and Liberation says its presidential candidates won’t run in “swing states,” where they say the Green’s vote in 2016 cost Hillary Clinton the presidency. They’ll back Sanders there if he gets the nomination.
The schemes of Sanders and the left — like Medicare for all — are a set of ideas to ameliorate the worst effects of capitalist exploitation. But this isn’t what workers need — nicer exploitation — but a course to combat the bankers, bosses and their capitalist system, to build their own party, a labor party, to fight for political power.
Sanders has defended capitalist rule at home and imperialist interests abroad. He voted for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and endorses the rulers’ hatred towards the Cuban Revolution. He demands Cuba’s workers and farmers get rid of their government and “move towards a more democratic society,” Washington’s code words for overthrowing the socialist revolution.
In fact, neither Trump nor any of the Democratic hopefuls offer anything for workers. All are billionaires themselves or firmly committed to the system of the ruling rich.
Democrats consider Trump a special breed of illegitimate and evil president. They continue to search for new ways to oust him, overturn the 2016 election and prevent him from running in November. Rep. Adam Schiff, a central leader of their failed impeachment drive, accused Trump of a new “abuse of power” Feb. 11 — following the president’s tweets about a reduced sentence for his former associate Roger Stone.
Much of the legislation passed by Democrats in the House is purely aimed at embarrassing the president, not at passing laws that could provide some relief for working people. The toothless War Powers resolution passed Jan. 9 had the stated purpose of preventing Trump from using military force against Iran without congressional approval. But House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted the resolution be nonbinding, saying she doesn’t want this gesture to be “diminished” by Trump being able to veto it.
The working-class road forward
All the candidates seeking the Democrats’ nomination complain that the uptick in jobs and the U.S. economy still leaves millions of people struggling, because of the president’s policies. Trump, on the other hand, speaks as if his administration has directed a “great American comeback” and happy days are here again.
But workers and farmers don’t need convincing about what we face — we know that only too well from our own experiences. The question is what to do about it, for a working-class road forward.
The Democrats share Trump’s blindness to the capacities of working people to fight to change our conditions and an unwillingness to ever consider that those whose labor produces all wealth should run society.
They too view workers as too stupid to be trusted with making any important decisions. These have to be taken out of their hands, by having their rights cut back or being “nudged” until they vote the right way.
Only the Socialist Workers Party and its presidential ticket of Kennedy and Jarrett call for organizing workers to fight for higher wages and better working conditions today. They point to the capacities of working people to join together in their millions and to transform ourselves as we engage in the kinds of struggles necessary to take power into our own hands.
Many workers recognize there are more jobs today and sense we have more room to stand up to the bosses and still find another job if we need to. After years of declining real wages and worsening conditions, they are looking for how to use union power effectively and advance working-class solidarity.