About 300 others and I attended a virtual meeting of The People’s Party tonight (December 3). For those of you who don’t even know that The People’s Party exists, it’s worth pointing out two important recent events in its development. (1) It changed its name from “Movement for a People’s Party” to “The People’s Party” only recently, after four years of hard work and (2) it was officially registered in the State of Maine as a party – a first step towards obtaining registration in all 50 states.
As a reader of NationofChange, it will shortly be up to you to decide whether you are going to join the People’s Party (“PP”) or . . . . what? What, after all, are your choices? Stay with the Democratic Party, even though it already appears that Biden is not going to move in a really progressive direction. Or remain independent. Or join one of the existing third parties, which have never really gotten traction. Or do nothing.
I asked (in the Zoom chat) whether PP was going to call for a progressive convention and try to get all the existing third parties, plus the mass of disorganized Bernie-ites, to join it in a genuine movement. The answer I received was that MPP had tried this several years ago and there were no plans presently to do it again. I also asked whether PP was going to start a “People’s Party Abroad” like Democrats Abroad, and whether Americans abroad were going to have a separate voice within PP, even as Democrats Abroad have within the Democratic Party.
I think that these are important questions. MPP may have tried to organize a progressive convention several years ago, but the situation now is far different. Several years ago, Trump was in the driver’s seat. Now he is not, and if Biden is not going to reward progressives with power in his new administration, progressives had better be ready to organize NOW. And that means reaching out to all those millions of people who are dissatisfied – and will become ever more dissatisfied if Biden does nothing for them. We Bernie-ites (and I certainly count myself among them) either voted for Biden to get rid of Trump or did nothing or voted for a third party. We are even more of an army than we were in 2016. And the third party members are not going to be shocked if PP reaches out to them. What PP should be doing is making it possible for progressives to join them and make themselves heard.
PP is doing the right thing in starting to register everywhere. This was something the Greens never did very effectively, and I believe that it stood in the way of Greens becoming a national party. But PP should also be completely open about calling on the Bernie-ites to join them as welling as calling on the Greens, PSL, Socialists, and the like to create one Party.
Is it too early to start? No, it isn’t. It’s going to take at least a year to get really moving, and there’s no point in waiting for Biden. If he sees the writing on the wall – that progressives are not going to wait for him – he may smell the roses and he may not. And if he does, and if joining back with the Democrats makes sense, that can easily be done. But the likelihood is otherwise, and the election of 2024 is going to pit Trump and his base against the DNC and its base and both against a Party that is truly progressive.
This happened in 1912. Teddy Roosevelt and others formed the Bull Moose Party and basically decimated the Republicans, who lost against Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats. It might also be mentioned that in 1912 Eugene V. Debs and the Socialists got the most votes that they ever did, although they won no state. The Republicans only carried Vermont and Utah. The Bull Moose Party carried six states and got 88 electoral votes, and the Democrats carried 40 states and 435 electoral votes.
I wouldn’t want to predict the outcome of a race between Kamala Harris, Donald Trump, and the PP candidate. For all his flaws, I can see Trump winning. On the other hand, if the PP were really successful, it might get 40 percent of the vote and beat the other two. Anything is possible, after all. The voters are smart enough to see that Trump will do nothing for them, and if Biden has done nothing, then PP has a decent chance if it just advances the 2020 Sanders platform and acts reasonably.
There’s always hope, isn’t there? But what happens, we progressives cannot just sit there. We need to organize, and do it now, in order to be ready for whatever comes our way.