THE LIBERAL QUESTION

Do we wrest control of the Democratic Party from The Third Way, or is it time to start a third party?

The rise of Bernie Sanders and the monumental success of his campaign in engaging young people and  lefties of all stripes – and becoming a fundraising juggernaut – has made it clear that we’re at a point where something has to give. Millennials don’t like the status quo; nor do lefties. The compromising and uber-pragmatism of the mushy middle has left too many people behind and has perpetuated social ills in our country that simply don’t exist in many other countries. That mushiness manifests itself in a morally questionable unwillingness to fight for the working class and poor, for people of color, etc – and mostly a complete unwillingness to fight the corporations and financial institutions – “dance with the one who brung ya” seems to be their credo. This is why we have the ACA (Affordable Compromise Act) instead of single payer healthcare – nobody in the Democratic leadership was willing to stand up and fight. This plays out at every level of politics. Locally, the phrase “broad base of support” is used to describe an alliance with conservatives – under the guise of creating unity and solving problems together. That sounds great, but it actually never works, because conservatives aren’t pragmatists, they’re ideologues in the best cases and demagogues in the worst. To put it simply, they draw a line in the sand that they refuse to cross without a fight. They get what they want most of the time because our mushy middle Dems acquiesce.

Michelle Alexander, author of ‘The New Jim Crow’, chatted with Chris Hayes recently about this question:

Extended interview with Michelle Alexander

To me it’s clear: we can’t do nothing. Donald Trump is proof that we’re not on a good path and that we have to engage and drive out the right and their hate and ignorance. I think recent history has proven without question that Third Way politicians aren’t going to help us create the kind of society that we want for future generations.

Starting a third party is a lot of work. Our system is not set up to sustain a third party, so in order to make change, you have to build a solid foundation, recruit strong liberal Democrats to secede from the party and join the new, you have to raise a ton of money, and essentially just recreate a whole political party at every level.

Engaging with the Democratic Party, while perhaps less work, is messier. The only thing more important to The Third Way than getting power is keeping it. They’ll get nasty, make accusations, drag young progressive candidates through the mud, and potentially make life very difficult. They’ll relinquish control out of their cold dead hands.

Personally, I’m leaning toward the latter option, mostly because making a new party viable would take years, and I don’t think we have that kind of time if we want to seize this moment that Bernie has created. I think it’s the difference between electing Elizabeth Warren in 2020 or electing a candidate to be named later in 2028

This should all be taken as food for thought – please comment and let me know what you think. Is there an option I’m not seeing? Do you disagree that The Third Way is bad for us?

Let me know!

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