One Divides into Three? A Report on the U.S. Left Unity Conference

By Ethan Young

Dan La Botz’s description of the Future of the Left/Independent Politics Conference makes another introduction redundant. Instead, I’ll add my own observations. I come from the other side of this discussion: I hold with the ‘inside/outside’ approach to electoral politics, as pushed by the late Arthur Kinoy, a radical lawyer who led the National Committee for Independent Political Action in the 1970s and 1980s. Putting it simply, I supported left independent Barry Commoner for president in 1980, and Democrat Harold Washington for mayor of Chicago in 1983. This year, I support Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders.

I see no contradiction – in fact I think it’s the only approach that makes sense. Continue reading

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When Principle Collides with Reality and Common Sense: Socialist Alternative’s Enthusiastic Non-Endorsement of Bernie Sanders

“We will be campaigning with Sanders supporters against the corporate politicians while politically arguing for Sanders to run all-out through the November 2016 election, as a step toward building an independent political alternative for working people.”

This is the conclusion of Socialist Alternative’s wide-ranging and enthusiastic article about Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run. Although it’s a welcome break from the vitriolic sectarian humbug about Sanders peddled by the likes of Black Agenda Report and Socialist Worker, the article doesn’t actually endorse him!

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Re-Elect Kshama Sawant to Seattle’s City Council

A Critical Battle for Working People and the Left

The strong record of Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant in achieving victories by organizing and activating working people is the basis to win more, especially for affordable housing. After winning legislation for a $15 an hour minimum wage, the task to make Seattle affordable for all is far from done. Donate and volunteer in this year´s referendum on the first open socialist elected in the city in a century.

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This campaign promises to be the most highly visible city council race Seattle has seen in decades, one that pits the corporate establishment against the only consistent voice for working people on the council. Moreover, the impact of this campaign will extend far outside of Seattle, with the potential to inspire more independent, left-wing, pro-worker challengers to the two parties of big business nationwide. Continue reading

People Will Take Socialism Seriously When Socialists Start Acting Seriously

Kshama Sawant’s essay in The NationWant to Rebuild the Left? Take Socialism Seriously” asks people who lean to the left to take socialism seriously and points to signs of the massive political potential that exists for a new generation of reds in the United States.

This plea is somewhat misguided. Continue reading

How Upton Sinclair Upended California’s Democratic Party and the Lessons for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Run

Never in American history has a socialist been elected governor of a state, but in 1934 Upton Sinclair came close. He almost became governor on a program known as EPIC — End Poverty in California.

American socialists typically think of Eugene V. Debs’ 1912 presidential campaign as the high point of their movement since Debs won 6% of the vote, or just over 900,000 votes. Sinclair nearly matched that in 1934 by winning 879,000 votes, some 37% of the electorate. With two dozen EPIC candidates elected to the California legislature in 1934, Sinclair’s 37% was a far more politically meaningful result than Debs’ one-in-a-lifetime single-digit showing.

Despite nearly matching Debs’ power at his peak, the EPIC Sinclair campaign of 1934 has all but disappeared from the historical memory of American socialism. Almost a century later, it is the greatest story never told. These days, EPIC warrants but a single misleading mention by one Leninist journal and seems forgotten by the Democratic Socialist of America, a group that advocates the very strategy Sinclair and his followers pursued in 1934 — capturing the Democratic Party for socialism.

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Socialists Won 300,907 Votes in 2014

Candidate Group Votes % of Votes
Owen Hill International Socialist Organization* 3,725 27.0
Jess Spear Socialist Alternative 8,143 17.1
Adam Adrianson Socialist Party USA* 33,920 1
Eugene Puryear Party for Socialism and Liberation* 11,504 3.5
Angela Walker Solidarity 67,346 21
Howie Hawkins Socialist Party USA* 176,269 4.7
TOTAL   300,907
*Green Party candidate/ballot line.

Source.

Lessons from Socialist Alternative’s Loss to Democrat Frank Chopp

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By Tom Barnard.

The Jess Spear campaign for WA State House had been hopeful. Volunteers were growing. Money was coming in at a strong enough pace to pay for door hangers and flyers. Door knocking, especially in working class neighborhoods, was getting a good reception. Neighborhood corner standouts were enthusiastic and well attended. Though no one inside Socialist Alternative was uttering the word “win” it seemed nonetheless that momentum was building, and her 20% primary total would increase. But on election night, Rep. Frank Chopp, the Speaker of the House in the Washington Legislature, easily defeated her, and even lowered her tally to 16.5%.

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