Subscribe
TD originals

Third Parties, Your Time Is Now

Not My President's Day Rally in Washington, D.C., in February 2017. (Lorie Shaull / CC BY-SA 2.0)

For third parties in this country, educational campaigns and working within the Democratic Party has to stop.

There is this idea among some that it is too soon to build third-party candidates and a formidable campaign by 2020, but we have been building third parties for over 150 years.

We are ready now for a true choice.

A third party will never be built to reform the Democratic Party. The very notion has always been the fatal mistake of every third party. The Democratic Party cannot be reformed. The Democratic Party is not broken. It is doing what it is supposed to do.

The Democratic Party decided who it wanted to be in the 1940s in the choice of Harry Truman over Henry Wallace to lead it. The party decided it wanted to be pro-business warmongers.

If you live in Los Angeles or New York, think about your life right now under a Democratic everything. Is this what you want the end of Donald Trump to look like? When Trump is gone, do you want to see a cool coffee shop owned by trust funders on every corner, $5,000 rents with five roommates, steadily looking for work in a gig economy where you can’t save and you have to work for Uber on the weekends, teach yoga at night, float from contract job to contract job—even though you have a master’s degree?

How about wars in the Middle East and Africa? Or, notice the exploitation of people without papers, because they are not white.

Is this the United States we want after Trump? Because that is the U.S. we have had for the last 30 years.

Collaborating with the Democrats has always ended with co-option, moving the third party to the right, ostracizing any stragglers and labeling them communist, and cementing the idea in people who are on the left that the Democrats are the only real option.

Collaboration was tried in the 1940s with the Progressive Party. The Progressives wanted single-payer universal health insurance, an end to the Cold War, nationalizing of energy, worker rights, women’s rights and desegregation. But their ideas were pushed out of the Democratic Party, and the people who would not let them go were labeled communists.

Collaboration was tried again in the 1960s with the Youth International Party (Yippies), Students for a Democratic Society and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. The Yippies and SDS were radical, but in the end, they thought they could be part of the Democratic Party (see Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden) and not become part of the problem. They learned otherwise and were assimilated. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Both the organizations and the people associated with these groups were labeled communists.

Collaboration was tried yet again in the 1980s with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. The Rainbow Coalition was amazingly successful and was able to get broad support from a diverse race and class of people. The Democrats didn’t like the idea of racial and class harmony and instead supported the uninspiring Walter Mondale; because even though white people showed they would support Jackson, the Democrats as a whole are racist and they like war, so they couldn’t risk change that involved potentially losing money. The Democrats’ support of Mondale helped re-elect Ronald Reagan in 1984. Iran-Contra had just started, and Reagan was vulnerable. A candidate Jackson may have won. Afterward, there were whispers that he was a communist.

In the early 2000s and in 2016, the Greens ran educational campaigns, but Jill Stein’s tenacity in her 2016 campaign has led to her being accused of collaborating with the Russians—who used to be the communists. What assistance from the Democrats are the Greens getting to combat this ridiculous but very dangerous accusation?

“That’s what Jill deserves for running against Hillary.”

The Greens have a friendly relationship with the Democrats. This has been to their detriment. The only thing the Democrats want from the Greens is their mailing list. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Working within the Democratic Party system and running educational campaigns is not going to help anyone. It will not prevent anyone competent who is involved in any kind of third party from being viewed as an extreme threat.

Anyone who deviates from the Democratic Party line is viewed as a threat by the party and its corporate funders. Third parties should run like their lives depend on it, because their lives literally do depend on their success. All of our lives depend on a third party’s success.

NAFTA was signed by Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Charter schools, which dismantle the United States’ only universally supported institution other than Social Security, are supported by many Democrats, including former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We have wars in the Middle East that could have been stopped at any time by Clinton or Barack Obama. We have the free market running amok in the New York and California real estate and labor markets. Both states have Democratic governors and many Democratic representatives.

The people cannot survive with the Democrats as the good guy. We are being tortured under neoliberalism—more humanely than under fascism, but it still hurts a lot.

If you have any progressive ideas and want to put people first, the Democratic Party’s job is to “work with you.” They “work with you” by putting a tie on you, placing you on a committee and moving you away from anything having to do with economic or international policy. You’ll be on the purple flower campaign. What is the purple flower campaign? Who knows, but doesn’t it sound “diverse,” and wouldn’t it be a rad hashtag?

The two-party system is a tool to maintain a feast-or-famine paradigm. It keeps the United States at war with itself and internationally. It supports the binary idea of good vs. evil, with no option other than “You’re for us or against us.”

The Democrats are the good guys (in their own minds), and if the Republicans are the only other choice, in the average liberal-leaning person’s mind, the lesser evil is good.

But another world is possible. Third parties, your time is now. It has to be now. We can’t survive with a little bit of evil anymore.

Lark Lo
Lark Lo is a journalist, essayist, and poet who has had a tumultuous relationship with dramatic monologue and satire. She is the literary curator of the Brooklyn-based Blk Grrrl Book Fair, the founder of VELO…
Lark Lo

Now you can personalize your Truthdig experience. To bookmark your favorite articles, please create a user profile.

Personalize your Truthdig experience. Choose authors to follow, bookmark your favorite articles and more.
Your Truthdig, your way. Access your favorite authors, articles and more.
or
or

A password will be e-mailed to you.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles and comments are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.