Future of the American left?

It’s feeling its oats now like at no time since the Vietnam War ended. Bernie won’t be POTUS, but he has put together a mass-based left-progressive movement such as America has not seen for decades. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is now that much more important.

What next? Should it go the third-party route – which is usually electoral suicide, but can at least inspire a major party to co-opt parts of your platform – or try to take over the Dems Tea-Party-style, by primarying Dem incumbents from the left?

That might be a good thing, if it happened.
People are pissed now, because of Trump. Hopefully he’ll be gone soon and then we can sort out how progressive we should be at our leisure.

As for “what’s next?” I would counsel working with moderates to get something done. That would, I think, rule out primary challenges to well meaning liberals who might not be perfect.

BTW, I think the previous era of the organized American left-as-such can be said to have ended when the Socialist Party of America broke up in 1973. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America

The Republican Party will essentially cease to exist in about 20 years. But within the American left, there will be a split. You’ll see the Bernie/Warren progressives against the Biden centrists.

Well, that “split” already exists – within the Dems, but not within the left, which by definition does not include the Biden centrists. As for the GOP dying out, I’m sure the Plutocracy will find some way to remain politically relevant, which means preserving their most effectual organ, somehow.

Bernie’s movement is largely succeeding. Every election, the Democratic party platform, and the policies advocated by its candidates, are moving towards Bernie.

So, don’t bother with a third party?

Bernie is not the future of the Democratic party because Bernie is not a Democrat. The party is becoming more progressive and perhaps there are young leaders in the Democratic party ready to take the lead, but they are going to have to be strategically smarter than Bernie has been in appealing to a wider Democratic audience that includes moderates. The gulf between Bernie-bros and more mainstream moderates is not a sustainable tension, nor is the thought that splitting the party will somehow be beneficial to progressives. It will only play into conservative hands.

There has been no serious contender from a third party since 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt carried six states.

Look, what matters is getting things done. If they can enact some elements of the progressive agenda by appealing to moderates, they will – but, otherwise, what’s the point? If, e.g., the moderates won’t get on board with single-payer health care, what can the leftists do but appeal to the voters, Tea-Party-style?

I doubt any moderate Democrats will object to single-payer heath care. Biden isn’t championing it (because he doesn’t think it could be enacted, not because he doesn’t like it), but he wouldn’t veto such a bill.

In any case, the American left needs to be laser-focused on the real problem: Breaking the political power of the Plutocracy. That is a precondition to getting done anything that won’t be done in the natural course of things.

I think that leftist policies will increase in popularity owing to a collapse of faith in markets and private power. The right will fight fiercely to remain politically powerful or viable; the question is whether the left can unify without embracing authoritarian tendencies of its own. The answer to that question seems obvious now, but things can change, especially if the country gets really angry at the right.

Relevant article: https://www.alternet.org/2020/09/beyond-trump-why-progressives-now-have-a-real-path-to-power/

This represents an interesting stage in the development of the American party system. Over the past 40+ years the GOP has transformed into an ideological party, while the Dems remained a collection of interest groups, which has made electoral politics kind of . . . asymmetric. But now the Dems have an actual ideological wing.

The problem with comparing the effects of GOP ideology to DEM ideology is that right wing ideology tends not to split the Republican electorate. The Tea Party certainly didn’t do it. It got absorbed and Republicans did quite well electorally. Whereas, extreme left wing politics tend to split the Democratic block and voters stay home if they feel their views are not being correctly represented by the the nominee, or if they just can’t fall in love with the nominee to start (see, HRC).

American politics have been so center right for so long that social democracy as a political platform looks like something out of the little red book to far too many Americans.

I agree wholeheartedly. What can the voters achieve, and if successful, what can their elected officials get done?

As of late, I’ve been increasingly worried that Trump will get re-elected. The options available to all folk left of center will be vastly different depending on the outcomes this Nov. If the Dems get power, in the form of the presidency and both houses of Congress, what will they do with it to ensure lasting effects? If the Dems do not get either/both the presidency and Congress, how will they adjust to improve their chances in the future?

We’ve seen how much harm Trump and McConnell can do in 4+ years - it is hard to imagine how significant and longlasting the effects of the next 2-4 years might be.

And if the Dems can’t figure out how to defeat this clown, in the midst of COVID, what chance is there of greater success in the future?

And we remember that the “oats” produced an overwhelming victory for Richard Nixon in 1972.

They need to end the filibuster, pack the court if the Republicans go through with shoving someone in, and pass a ton of legislation that will benefit the American people.

Much as people rail against SS and Medicare, those are programs that cannot be ended, as they are too popular, even among those who oppose them.

ACA is a flop, and was so because it was too much of a compromise. It improved a few things, but didn’t do much to help most people, and for some, actually made their situation worse. A true UHC, without having to try for 60 senators would not be something that could be reversed once it is implemented. Technically, it could be, but people would suddenly become too accustomed to not being bankrupted by medical bills to let it. People would like it too much, even those who opposed it in principle.

They can pass legislation for actual immigration reform, deal with Dreamers and asylum seekers in a humane way, rather than using them as hostages as the Republicans have been.

The Democrats allowed themselves to be hamstrung in 2008, and ended up looking rather feeble. They didn’t fix all the problems that they were elected to address, so the power returned to those who caused the problems in the first place.

Here’s my prediction for what will happen to the Left over the next 12 years. (So you know it’s gonna be completely accurate and true :slight_smile: )

  1. In 2020:
    Trump will win in November, so 4 more years of Repubs.

  2. In 2024:
    The Dems will face an internal mutiny from the progressive wing, who will demand the right to set the party’s agenda. By claiming that Biden and Hillary have proven that moderates bring failure, the progressives will push their candidate to the top of the party.
    So an AOC-type person will be the Democratic candidate for president.After a barrage of publicity, some once-radical ideas will become more acceptable to the general public.(esp. single-payer health care.)
    But the progressives won’t be able to restrain themselves, and will go full-steam ahead on other parts of their alphabet agenda : LBGTPOC BLM plus 30 more letters.White men will allowed to participate, but quietly and not on camera. All disagreement is shut down by screaming “you’re a racist”. There will be a controversial moment at the Democratic convention, when a speaker from the BLM movement shares the podium with Louis Farrakhan.
    .
    The result: the Repubs win again. But the Democratic party is pushed leftwards, permanently…and the American public is okay with some of that(especially health care, and maybe cheaper college tuition. )

  3. Now it’s 2028:
    The Dems revert to a more moderate platform on social issues, but have succeeded in making health reform acceptable to the public. Their candidate is nice but uncharismatic. And the millenials are now older and actually voting instead of just clicking ‘likes’ on social media, so they boost the party’s numbers.
    On the Republican side, their candidate is running for re-election as incumbent with all the usual advantages , so it is a very close election. But the Republican wins, because white people are still uncomfortable with the reverse racism embedded in the progressive wing of the Dems.

  4. Now it’s 2032:
    After 16 consecutive years in power, the Republicans have lost their luster. The public is eager for single-payer health care, so the Dems make that their main issue. The progressives are still concerned about social justice, but have learned to tone down their propaganda, and cooperate with the rest of the Democratic party.

Result: the Democrats win, bigly. And the Progressive Left is fully legitimized as a political force.


(Somebody, please bookmark this thread-- and revive it in 2032. I’ll be living in an old-age home, but I hope we can all laugh together even if I’m cringing at what I wrote. :slight_smile: )