“No chance of winning.”
These are the words
Hillary Clinton’s camp Socialist Worker, newspaper of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), uses to describe Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party in response to a (rather lackluster) endorsement of Sanders by Jacobin which is published by members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The delicious irony of the ISO’s arguments is that they actually want Sanders to run a doomed, no-chance-of-winning presidential campaign, as they readily admit in the same editorial:
“If Sanders had his heart set on national politics, he could have run for president like Ralph Nader as an independent, opposing both capitalist parties, the Democrats and Republicans. He would have been appealing for a protest vote, rather than any real chance to win…”
The crux of the ISO’s ‘left’ objections to what Sanders is doing is this:
“[R]unning for the Democratic presidential nomination as the liberal outsider with almost no chance of winning, Sanders isn’t very ‘bold’–no more so than the fizzled campaigns of Dennis Kucinich in past presidential election years. And by steering liberal and left supporters into a Democratic Party whose policies and politics he claims to disagree with, Sanders–no matter how critical he might be of Hillary Clinton–is acting as the opposite of an ‘alternative.'”
And here is what is wrong with the way this argument is (sloppily) constructed:
- The Democratic Party doesn’t need anyone’s help “steering liberal and left supporters” into voting for it. Just look at the Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s vote in the 2012 election results in Iowa, for example — she got 0.24% of the vote. Without a Dennis Kucinich equivalent in the 2012 primary, the Democrats had the left-liberal-labor vote lock, stock, and barrel. Pretending that there is a nascent mass-based left-liberal break with the Democratic Party at the level of presidential politics in this country brewing is either dishonesty, sheer stupidity, or both and pretending that ‘left’ Democrats are a major obstacle to that developing is even more so.
- Putting Bernie Sanders in the same category as Dennis Kucinich is frankly ridiculous when, in the space of 24 hours, Bernie Sanders raised a volunteer army of 100,000 people and raised $1.5 million from his supporters, more than the $900,000 Jill Stein raised in all of 2012.
To make matters worse, the ISO exhumes the political corpse of socialist hero Eugene V. Debs to use as their sock puppet to attack Sanders:
“SANDERS’ DECISION to jump into Democratic Party presidential politics represents a decisive break from the man he calls his hero: Eugene V. Debs. Debs spent his whole life building the Socialist Party as an alternative to the two capitalist parties. Year in and year out, he insisted that ‘[t]he differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties involve no issue, no principle in which the working class have any interest.’
“Debs understood that his call for working class people to break with the two capitalist parties meant supporting a political alternative that might not win–but he believed this was a necessary challenge to a two-party system that offered nothing to workers. ‘I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it,’ Debs once wrote, ‘than vote for something I don’t want and get it.’
“Sanders’ retreat is based on a liberal strategy of attempting to transform the Democratic Party from within that has failed for generations.
There is nothing more unconvincing than the pot screaming about how black the kettle is.
Furthermore, Sanders isn’t running to save the Democratic Party, he’s running to save the country from the Koch brothers, the 1%, or what Sanders terms the “billionaire class” who are hell-bent on destroying all the progressive gains working and oppressed peoples fought and bled in the 20th century. Surely Debs would appreciate that fact while arguing his differences with Sanders honestly and respectfully as he did with Victor Berger, Big Bill Haywood, and other radicals of that era that he had disagreements with.