Anti-Trump Resistance Will Fail Without Ditching Establishment Democrats

| Educate!

Note: The reality is the only way to ditch the establishment Democrats is to ditch the Democrats. The party has shown itself to be unreformable and a destroyer of political movements. Half the voting population has left the two parties. The movement must give them somewhere to go and that is independent politics outside of the two party system. It may seem like a shortcut to try and change the Democratic Party but every movement that has tried has found themselves changed and weakened while being absorbed into the Democratic Party, which has always been a party of big business. There is no shortcut — the movement must have its own party so its interests are represented. KZ and MF

We can’t succeed if we are tied to generations of unpopular Democratic party leaders

If the last week has shown us anything, it’s that Donald Trump has power, but he doesn’t have much of a mandate yet.

We need to keep it that way – and be wary of the bad political leadership and strategy that can help him build one. November’s election is a powerful reminder that the Clinton establishment’s mix of socially inclusive rhetoric and neoliberal economics is a weak response to xenophobic populism.

An anti-Trump resistance movement must be broad, but it must direct its anger and energy not just at the enemy in the White House, but the failed leadership that let him get there. The Tea Party movement couldn’t have emerged with Bob Dole and George W Bush among their leaders. We can’t build our anti-Trump resistance, settled with generations of unpopular Democratic party leaders either.

The alternative must come from below – and certainly protests like the Women’s March are inspiring starts. Millions marched, many of whom had never attended a political protest before. It was hopefully a sign of things to come. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.

Now a whole generation of Sanders Democrats are engaged in a process that at its best creatively produces divisions and polarizations within the party that complements the organizing that is going on outside of it.

The broad sketches of an alternative-left politics in the Trump era are emerging. Socialists and others are doing their part building social movements organized around real, uncompromising demands for things such as free public higher education and a dignified healthcare system to expand the base for progressive politics, while using local elections (both within Democratic primaries and as independents) to spread their message far and wide.

But though he’s seemingly in disarray now, we must be wary of the ways in which Trump’s support can easily be bolstered.

We should be very afraid when the president of the Building Trades Unions umbrella group, Sean McGarvey, calls the meeting he had with Trump last week the best of his life. Our response in the labor movement must be to support rank-and-file struggles against leaders prone to conciliation for even the most meager of concessions. We must demand the same accountability from liberal organizations and the Democratic party as well.

There is no doubt that this stance will put like-minded leftists and liberals in direct confrontation with establishment Democrats and their assorted lackies.

There is every reason to believe that if confronted, this caste can be overtaken. We’re in a shocking new political era. Just in the past few months, thousands of people have joined leftwing organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America, and millions more are trying to get active politically at the local level.

But we’ve seen time and time again – the antiwar movement of the 2000s being just the most recent example – of what happens when people subordinate all other political priorities to fighting Enemy No 1.

Trump is bad and needs to resisted, we all know that. But the Sanders left and its allies are the only force in the US that have the ideas that can win an immediate majority in this country: a class-based movement for jobs and justice. That vision must triumph over not just Trump, but the Democratic leadership.

Because, frankly, it might be the last hope for democratic politics in this country. Now more than ever we need something to fight for, not just something to fight against.

  • David P. Bresett

    The Democrats are as much the problem as the cure. We need to hold the Democrats responsible when they side with the right, that stopped our government in it’s tracks and cost the American taxpayers millions.

  • jemcgloin

    The corporate/Washington fake “center” represented by the Clinton’s, Bushes, etc, and promoted by global corporate mass media, push the agenda of global corporations.
    The other billionaires are not happy that Trump has this much power, but much of Trump’s agenda is consistent with their goals.
    We have to broaden the movement to be more than anti Trump. Trump is a symptom not a cause, and if the corporate “center” is able to regain its balance things will be worse than ever.
    So yes we must reject the sold out factions of the Democratic Party, but we need break of as much of the the rank and file as possible to keep up the fight, even if Trump resigns. It won’t be easy. It will take finesse and understanding.

  • Aquifer

    The article talks about the need to ditch the establishment Dems and puts up the “Sanders faction” as a vanguard in the struggle – but why does one attach the name “Sanders” to it? What Sanders did is not create a movement, but tap into the growing sentiments already out there – and attempt to appropriate them into support for the DP – “a reformed DP” to be sure, but the DP nonetheless. a party that is so thoroughly corrupt on so many levels that attempting to reform it is like suggesting that we put new doors and windows in a termite ridden structure …

    I have seen a number of articles like this – talking about the need to oust “establishment” Dems – but they always seem to fail to point out that insofar as reputed “reformers” like Sanders continue to prop up those same establishment Ds like Clinton, Schumer, etc – insofar as they don’t walk, preferably run, away from them – they are part of the problem, not the solution … They keep holding out the carrot in front of those riding the donkey – “just a little more and we’ll get there …” So we can spend a lot of time and effort trying to “push” these folks into doing what is right – and they will stick their fingers out the window, check which way the wind is blowing and will make the appropriate noises – great speeches, promises, etc. but when push comes to shove it is party over principle – every time.

    Think about it – why do folks run as Dems – because they “believe” in the party or for “pragmatic” reasons, the ease of piggybacking on an already established political machine – what we were told “justified” the “indy” Sanders in running as a Dem – but it comes at a price, the fine print in the deal says they will sit down and shut up when told – and they always do. When you sign a dance card with the devil, you can go to the prom in style, you can even boogie a bit, but step on his toes and there is hell to pay. They know, or quickly learn, just how far they can go – and no further. The pattern is so well established by now that one would think it blatantly obvious …
    Folks addiction to the DP is strong – but it’s like an alcoholic who thinks if he gets rid of the hard stuff and sticks to wine, everything will be OK … But we need to sober up, folks … The temptation to have “just one more glass” needs to be refused …

    It is best summed up in the phrase – You can’t have a revolution in a counter revolutionary party …

    But by the same token – lefties need to coalesce around an independent party – as long as there are a bunch of them each competing for prog/lefty votes, we will always wind up on the losing side …

  • Aquifer

    We need to hold them responsible, period ….

  • It depresses me, to think that the public is not astute enough to win this fight. The election of 2016 is now over. Still, there is uncertainty as to what went wrong and fear as to where it will lead. Yet, the public looks to the establishment political parties to provide the answers. Though some would think that everyone should be discerning enough to realize that they have been betrayed once again, and by whom. While each party continues the effort to convince you that it is the other party that is at fault. It is not that complicated. Neither party has been serving the interests of the general voting public for a long time now, and, they are not likely to start doing so in the foreseeable future. Trump is not going to be “a president for all the people.”
    The Clintons would not have been either, had they prevailed, and Obama wasn’t. There is nothing to argue about. The facts are clear.

  • 20 years ago … a co-worker in Seattle left to go to Florida to work with the DEA recovering private (small) aircraft from the swamps. If your cargo consists entirely of illegal drugs . . . you probably don’t want to run the risk of landing at a public airport. The value of the cargo exceeds that of the plane. The plane is forfeit to the profit gained by bringing the drugs into the US.
    The activity put the pilot at some risk, however. This involves a controlled crash in remote areas where recovery could be complicated. The DEA had some success in catching those engaged in this action.
    Imagine drug smugglers with access to drones in Texas, NM, Arizona and California. Border wall? Not a problem. Lots of cheap labor in Mexico, lots of potential low-risk locations for tunnels under a border wall. How effective do you suppose Donald’s expensive border wall will be? The difference between a fence and a wall is . . .?
    Stupid plan to remedy stupid problem.

  • kevinzeese

    We said. We wanted to show that kind of thinking because it is one of the most dangerous to the success of the movement. As we say in the note before the article, the Democratic Party is not reformable. This is an important lesson for progressive Democrats to understand. Many simply cannot face it. But, there is no alternative but to abandon the Democratic Party. Real progressives, including elected officials, will learn they must leave it.

  • Aquifer

    Perhaps – like media that gave so much coverage to Trump, continuing to print or reprint articles like this only further spreads, albeit unintentionally, the idea in folks minds – sorta like printing “fake news” and retracting it later – the damage is already done and re-enforced … methinks one can attack the premise without reprinting the propaganda bolstering it …
    Just a thought …

  • il corvo

    In your minds eye, where do you see the growing list of Independents, many progressives, going? Doesn’t there need to be a center that gives movements a forum to debate, plan and establish a platform. An American version of the Pirate Party, would be worth considering.

  • Lorraine Heth

    This all begs the question, would Bernie have been the one to do this if he hadn’t changed his party to Democrat. Who out there has the kind of draw he had? The Green party has been around for a long time, yet it just can’t seem to break through. Personally, am more inclined to fight for Improved Medicare for All than to work building a political party. Historically, third parties have brought substantive policy to this country; those policies are worth so much of our time as well. My 2 cents. (I am Green btw)

  • kevinzeese

    Thanks. If you do not know about it, we are just starting a multi-year campaign for National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). Our goal is to make NIMA like motherhood so no politician can oppose it without paying a heavy political price. Join us at:

  • Lorraine Heth

    Yes, have been to that site….thought I had signed up! Have been to PNHP and Colorado is continuing to do some things. Am currently working on a letter to my US Representative, who I have already given some bulleted points about Medicare for All (she had a meeting I went to and handed the notes to her staff). Thanks for the link….must have had an ADD moment (grin).

  • Aquifer

    Would Sanders have been able to do what? Co-opt these issues for the DP? No, probably not – that was his point in running as a Dem – to suggest that if folks wanted this stuff, the DP was the place to go – don’t bother with those “fringe parties” out there …

    Though the GP has its organizational challenges, IMO the reason it hasn’t been able to “break through” is because of the phenomenal success the duopoly has had in planting in people’s minds that “3rd Parties can’t win”, thus TINA to the D/Rs – folks generally don’t spend a lot of, if any, time, trouble, or money on something they believe “can’t be done” – even though they would like it to be done – the irony is that the reason it isn’t done is because folks don’t spend the time energy and money that it takes to make it “done” …. in other words a self fulfilling prophecy – it isn’t done, not because it “can’t” be, but because folks don’t put the effort in to do it and they don’t do that because, as i said, they believe it “can’t be done” …

    I have spent years, literally, pointing out the disastrous consequences of this meme which has been inserted in our political DNA for so long that it has reached the level of “common knowledge” – and it is eminently BS – any candidate on a ballot can win if enough folks vote for ’em , this ain’t rocket science… I have spent a good deal of time on various “prog” sites and time and again i have seen folks express the idea that they thought Stein was a better candidate than Sanders, but they were putting their money on Sanders because Stein “couldn’t win” … i have seen this them repeated on a more local level as well ..

    I am not the only one who gets the power of this meme – fairly early on, someone, i think from the NNU, wrote a piece forcefully debunking the idea floating around that Sanders “couldn’t win” – and i had to laugh – Dems had been laying this BS on 3rd parties for years (and tossing in the “spoiler” routine for those actually considering going 3rd party) and now it had come home to roost and was in danger of dampening the enthusiasm for one of “their own”.

    To my way of thinking the only useful things to come out of the Sanders campaign were demonstrations of a) how far a candidate can go when people say “phooey” on “can’t win” and support a candidate anyway and b) how much money the “little people” can come up with – $200+ million ain’t chicken feed …

  • Lorraine Heth

    First, I have for years maintained that I don’t like politics because it intereferes with good communication. Second, being involved politically on a regular basis only serves to interefere with my health. So, am seeing positive results (from FB friends) of my suggestion to choose something and work really hard on that “something” ….

  • Aquifer

    We need both, “movements” and politics – one without the other is like a one-legged man, he can hop around a lot, but he won’t get too far …

    All life is politics, in one form or another and all politics is personal …. as Nader said, if you don’t get into politics, politics will get into you …

  • Lorelei Lee87

    Yes, please leave the Democratic party. We don’t need our own Tea Party.

  • Frank J

    Yesss. When I heard that former congressional staffers are trying to start a tea party on the left, I was somewhere between laughter and dismay. The establishment trying to start a protest movement is, I guess we can say, the mother load of all oxymoron’s. But cliche lefty puns aside, I guess I would say that the math isn’t good for any sort of progressive “political” movement. We need the northern midwest, Florida, and to deepen support in venerable states (like Colorado and Nevada). Doing that without the backing of a major party or establishment media is no easy task (while at the same time, as this article implies, the democrats are not only corrupt, but just as importantly, they’re incompetent).

    But the reality is, to win in places like the northern midwest and southwest, some concessions have to made. For instance, ditching the gun control fetish would go a long way in rehabilitating the left. And obviously, a strategy to revive manufacturing is key (I think this is the anxiety that Sanders tapped into and Trump exploited). We’re the only OCD country without a value added tax (which puts us at a disadvantage). And yes there has been an uptick in people joining orgs like the Democratic Socialists of America, but in the grand scheme of things, is it even statistically significant? I mean, in a nation of 330 million people, 10,000 college students signing up for something like that isn’t even indicative of a major trend, let alone enough to win federal elections.

    Funny thing is, Trump won in counties that Obama won (both times). So it’s not as easy as writing this off as racism (this is an easy go to for democrats, who hope we forget the real reasons why someone like Trump could win a national election). Obviously, race is an issue, but the left should obviously never try to appeal to racists (but I think that racism was less important than the media would have us believe). Also, I do realize that race is a much more complex issue that merely talking about who voted for Obama (and I don’t mean to minimize structural racism). But that complexity has many dimensions, and with an impotent left, we’ll never even have the opportunity to begin a genuine discussion about race.

    And it’s also about the way we frame things. Instead of trying to appeal to compassion (with issues like healthcare), why not point out that we’re the only major economic power where companies have to foot the bill for healthcare (which makes us less competitive). Instead of framing something like employee ownership in socialist jargon, why not frame it in terms of language that appeals to the American psyche. Most people don’t view themselves as wage slaves. This was an easier argument in the early 20th century (when conditions for many workers were horrible), not so easy when we’re talking to office workers. In other words, the left hasn’t updated its lexicon in very long time. Anyway, there’s a lot I have to say on this, but I’ll cut myself off here.