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Tue Jun 24, 2014, 07:08 PM

Breaking out of the two-party (ballot) box [View all]

NEARLY SIX years into Obama's neoliberal presidency, there are growing signs of discontent within the Democrats' traditional voting base. While both of Obama's electoral wins can be attributed to the turnout of young, female, Black, Latino/a and working-class voters, these are precisely the groups that have most suffered from the economic crisis and his administration's commitment to austerity. This is part of the reason why, for the first time since 2000, there is a space opening up in mainstream politics to the left of the Democratic Party.

In Seattle, socialist Kshama Sawant's campaign for City Council was able to gain support from constituencies, including some unions, that would normally support the Democrats. In Lorain County, Ohio, union activists angered by their local Democratic mayor and City Council broke ranks and ran their own independent slate of two dozen labor candidates--nearly all of whom won. This represents a flexing of labor muscle in the face of Democratic betrayal, rather than a firm break, but it points to the potential working-class audience for an independent political alternative.

These are relatively small and localized examples, but they reflect a real and growing frustration and impatience that reaches beyond the radical left into the American working class. Sawant's victory in Seattle may have been aided by the support of a hip indy newspaper and a base of lefty volunteers, but her campaign themes were solidly working class, and her votes came overwhelmingly from households making less than $40,000 a year. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio remains a solidly committed Democrat, but his "tale of two cities" campaign also reflected an economically populist break away from the status quo.

What direction all this takes remains to be seen. While space is opening up for independent political challenges, progressives who see possibilities for creating a left-wing within the Democratic Party will also step forward. Adolph Reed's recent article "Nothing Left" criticizing liberals' commitment to the Democrats was a cover story for Harper's and led to an interview on Bill Moyers' show.

More at http://socialistworker.org/2014/06/24/breaking-out-of-the-two-party-box .

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Reply Breaking out of the two-party (ballot) box [View all]
TexasTowelie Jun 2014 OP
L0oniX Jun 2014 #1
Omaha Steve Jun 2014 #2