The US left and Democrat primaries

Submitted by martin on 17 April, 2021 - 6:40 Author: Mark Osborn
Debate

Part of an ongoing debate on the USA. Click here for all the other contributions


The problem with Martin’s Democrats 1 motion is it timeless: Sanders used a tactic, therefore the tactic is good in the future, apparently without consideration of political conditions.

I think it made sense for socialists to intervene in the Democrats during the civil rights ferment of the mid-60s, for example. In so far as I can judge, the tactic seemed a waste of time by the early 1970s.

The Sanders and AOC phenomenon is the product of a period in time, post-2008 crash. Sanders is part of the same political reaction that produced the Corbyn movement in Britain. Will the Sanders mvt find the same openings in the future, with the same strength? – I don’t know. Maybe.

Martin’s very clear this is the way to proceed. It is less clear to me.

It is not at all clear to me, for example, that running in Democrat primaries will have the same purchase in the near future. Why? Because Sanders lost and, more importantly, Trump lost. That’s radically tilted US politics. And, as Biden becomes more clearly an enemy, it will reshape that attitudes of those Americans who, in a very general sense are “left”. They will tend to turn away from the Democrats, at least to some degree.

So we should see how politics unfolds in the US, discuss tactics. There is no need to write into to AWL policy this tactic as a timeless answer to how the US left should build itself, to make it a badge that we wear.

And the final point is this.

There is the question of who our advice is directed at. The DSA, it seems. It is heterogeneous. So we tell them to intervene in Democrat primaries. The aim is good, to strengthen the socialist left. Perhaps, in so far as anyone notices what we say, we actually help the socialist left become Democrats.

There’s the question of emphasis and balance here, too. How much of an intervention should the US left make into the Democrats? This is now to be a main focus, or less so? Does anyone here actually feel either the need or that they have adequate knowledge to advocate a major tactical shift for the US left. We don’t need to set ourselves up to do that. So let’s not.

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