As I have friends both in the “never a Democrat” camp and in the “anyone but [insert Republican nominee]” camp, I usually don’t spend a lot of time explaining – yet again – why I have no hope in the Democratic Party.
I quit supporting the Democratic Party in 1992, when they nominated Bill Clinton. I had “held my nose” twice to vote for Mondale and Dukakis. Clinton was several steps too far for me. The issue for which I can never forgive him was his vaunted “Welfare Reform” which drove so many into even deeper poverty. Few Republicans ever directly harmed so many poor citizens.
I took it personally because in the 80s under Reagan and Bush I had to take food stamps and public aid. I might have not survived the 80s without it. HRC may not be Bill, but she has repeatedly defended his cuts to public assistance.
HRC is also a hawk, as her tenure as Secretary of State proves. I can understand mainstream liberals supporting her, sort of, but the peaceniks among my friends baffle me. I don’t expect them to vote Trump, hell no! But to continue to resist the third party strategy baffles me.
And Obama. Even swaths of his African American supporters have abandoned him, most notably Cornel West, who recently came out and endorsed Jill Stein of the Green Party. Call Cornel West privileged if you dare, I will. He IS privileged. He has taught at the most prestigious institutions in the USA. And, he has always supported the Democratic Party until now. You can accuse him of “hurt feelings” if you want, but I am gratified that West has finally come to the point that I came in 1996.
I have always lived on the edge of poverty; “America never was America to me.” It was always the land of the privileged. Although some folks in my situation have adopted one of the major parties, a huge number of people never vote. This is key to my strategy to work with a third party. The non-voters tend to be poorer, more unemployed, more minority, lower education, and disidentified with mainstream political ideologies. In other words, not voting is often a sign of significant marginalization.
My party of choice is the Socialist Party USA, a lineal descendant of Eugene Debs’s Socialist Party of America and the only organization from that tradition that still runs candidates. I’ve been a member for 8 years since I grew frustrated with the Greens in 2008. The Greens are an important factor in this situation, as I explained in an earlier blog post, but not adequate in terms of a socialist strategy, as I explained in this post.
I’ll be honest about the chances of the SPUSA actually growing into the mass socialist party we need. They are slim. However, the growth of the Socialist movement in the US since 2008 has been stronger than any period since the 1970s. It may be that a different socialist party formation might overtake the modest efforts of the SPUSA and I might urge our party to merge with those efforts. It’s all speculation, though Socialist Alternative is making some moves that position it to emerge into that space.
I have “failsafes” in my strategy come election day. If HRC is polling too close to call in my state, I will not vote at all. However, Illinois in recent history has never been a swing state, so I expect that the sun will rise and Illinois will vote for HRC.
Are there circumstances where I would actually cast a vote for HRC? I can’t think of a scenario, but I try never to close any doors. Being a Socialist requires revolutionary patience. It’s never a straight line.