Since 2015, and even before that, Bernie Sanders was a leader of progressive Americans. Even though he was not the Democratic nominee in 2016, once Clinton lost, he was the undeniable leader of the progressives. As the horrors of the Trump years fell upon us, Bernie was the one to whom we looked as the leader for change. And then, despite his base, which was probably at least 30% or more of the Democrats, the DNC beat him down and he was forced to quit.
Before he sought the Democratic nomination in 2016, let’s not forget that he was an independent who espouse social democracy in Vermont. His strategy was to take over the Democratic Party and change it for the better, Because of the power of the DNC and neoliberalism, he and all progressives were robbed of what should have been theirs. Now we have Biden, who is a neoliberal at heart, and we have to choose our path.
Will we cooperate and try to bring Biden and his administration towards our way of thinking, or shall we strike out on a new road towards the social democracy that many of us want?
The history of attempts in America to work outside the two party system has not been good, but there have been occasions in which an inward rebellion has torn a major party apart. The one that comes to mind is the Bull Moose Party of 1912, in which Teddy Roosevelt, the former president, created a new progressive party within the Republican Party. As a result, Woodrow Wilson won for the Democrats, but The Bull Moose Party took 6 states and the Republicans under President Taft got only 2.. And, at the same time, Eugene V. Debs and the socialists got 6% of the total vote, the best they ever did.
Let’s look at the situation today. If Bernie Sanders left the Democratic Party and joined forces with what was his Bernie-ite base plus a large part of the progressive/socialist wave now in third parties, that group could get 40% of the vote in the next Presidential election. The DNC would still exist, but the Democratic Party would be in shreds. As for the Republicans, if Trump runs for President again, he is likely to split the Republicans between the Trumpists and the traditional conservatives. The progressive/socialist group could probably win with only 40% of the vote.
To do this, the progressive/socialists would need to find an inspiring leader. Bernie would definitely be too old to be the candidate, but he could inspire his followers to vote for the new party. There is the People’s Party, which already has supporters like Cornel West, Danny Glover, Nina Turner, and Chris Hedges. I don’t see any of them as national leaders, although Nina Turner might become a state governor or a senator. But if People’s Party could get Bernie Sanders to join them, they might also get people like Tulsi Gabbard, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others in the Squad (left-wing Congresswomen). Getting recognized political supporters would help People’s Party grow and possibly become a real national party, supplanting the Democratic Party.
The best strategy for the People’s Party would be to try to get Bernie Sanders and very progressive members of Congress and state parties, to reach out to existing third parties (Greens, PSL, socialists and others), and to make the Bernie-ites understand that they have a home for their ideas.