The Democrats need to go much further than simply revealing a new slogan.
By Tobi Thomas
In These Times (7/26/18)
On July 18, House Democrats unveiled their new campaign slogan ahead of the 2018 midterm elections: For The People. At first glance, the message may appear similar to “For The Many, Not The Few,” the title of the manifesto put forward in 2017 by the UK’s Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn. And while both slogans place the public as the center of political action, the Democratic Party still has much further to go in comparison to Labour, which embraced a bold, redistributive agenda as a means to grow its power.
The Labour manifesto called for such policies as nationalizing rail and electric utilities, getting rid of tuition for public colleges, banning fracking, investing in clean energy, controlling rent increases and massively taxing the rich and corporations. The Democratic Party establishment, meanwhile, has so far steered clear of adopting such unabashedly left proposals.
Yet the recent primary victories of democratic socialist candidates such as Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato in Pittsburgh and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York against powerful incumbents within the Democratic machine signal that the energy and enthusiasm within the party lies on its left flank. These candidates, along with many other democratic socialists across the country, have run on platforms that are largely in line with Labour’s manifesto.
In response to the victories by candidates such as Ocasio-Cortez, many U.S. pundits and political insiders have either written off the rise of democratic socialism as marginal or warned against the Democratic Party embracing “extremism.”
The Democratic base in the United States is moving much further left than the party establishment anticipated, and the base has shown a yearning for candidates who actually speak to their material interests.
Such a reaction is familiar. Soon after UK Prime Minister Theresa May called for a surprise general election to take place in June 2017, pundits across the political spectrum repeated a narrative reducing Corbyn to a scruffy, unelectable old-school socialist who would return Labour to the electoral obscurity of the 1980s rather than a viable alternative to the Conservative status quo.
The accidental leaking of the Labour Party’s manifesto during the 2017 general election seemed to give Corbyn’s critics another chance to accuse him of disorganization and incompetence. However, the leak ended up working in Labour’s favor, as the electorate was able to understand Corbyn’s vision of a progressive Labour-led Britain at face value and without spin. The manifesto proved popular: Labour’s poll ratings instantly rose, with 7 in 10 voters welcoming its pledges.
Bold vision addressing voter needs
The appeal of Labour’s manifesto lay in its bold vision that decisively addressed the public’s material circumstances and needs. It was as much an implicit accounting of the violence of austerity as it was an explicit policy platform for readdressing it. Corbyn ended up receiving 40 percent of the popular vote, a swing of 10 percent from the previous election which equaled the largest increase in the vote-share by a Labour leader since 1945. Corbyn won the hearts and minds of much of the British public despite facing immense hostility from even his own MPs, laying bare the dissonance between the politics of the political establishment and that of the general population. …
Noam Chomsky On Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Spectacular” Victory & Growing Split in Democratic Party
Democracy Now! (7/27/18)
The 2018 midterm election season has been roiled by the internal divisions between the Democratic Party’s growing progressive base and the more conservative party establishment. In New York City, this division came to a head with the most shocking upset of the election season so far, when 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez handily defeated 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. Ocasio-Cortez ran a progressive grassroots campaign as a Democratic Socialist advocating for “Medicare for All” and the abolition of ICE.
For more on her victory and what it means for the Democratic Party, we speak with Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author.
“When you look a the future and you look at the Democratic party, what do they have? They better get their heads out of their ass, ’cause they are going to get eaten up.”
— Tim Tayloe, President UAW Local 833, Sheboygan, WI.
From “The Fall Of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest Of A Progressive Bastion & The Future Of American Politics” by Dan Kaufman, 2018 (p. 196)