On August 30, one week after the Democrat and Republican 2020 National Conventions, a band of political outsiders joined forces to discuss the future of the leftist movement — the movement for a more equal America, an America that can actually lead the world. Indeed, a political revolution is brewing again; despite the best efforts of the DNC to stamp out Bernie Sanders’ message, his supporters are carrying on, and carrying forth his revolution in the way he didn’t have the gumption to: by breaking free from the Democratic party establishment and declaring that neither of the two major political parties are redeemable or worthy of reform.
Unlike the rhetoric of Sanders, which often casts Democrats as the feeble-but-well-intentioned opposition to the neo-facism of Republicans, the rhetoric heard at the People’s Convention was far more scathing in its assessment of both parties’ moral rot. As Chris Hedges eloquently phrased it in possibly the best speech of the Convention: “We will be unable to thwart the rise of corporate tyranny and Christian facism or halt the ecocide that will wipe out the human species as well as most other life forms” if we do not meet this dire moment, and adjust our political ambitions as a movement beyond the immovably corrupt shell of its former self that is the Democratic Party. We cannot spend our entire lives hoping to reform something that is unsalvageable – it is a fool’s errand akin to transforming the Catholic Church into the Satanic Temple; the two camps are directly at odds ideologically, and their most hardcore despots/disciples are diametrically opposed philosophically.
Luckily, it’s a lot easier to build a free standing Satanic Temple than it is to totally take over the entire network of Catholic churches. There are also far more non-voters in America than there are Democrats, and for all the disingenuous cries lobbed at the inevitable peril of any effort devoted to assembling a coalition outside of the two-party infrastructure, The Movement for a People’s Party was able to effortlessly put on a convention with some of the absolute most popular movement leaders and superstars of the left for a show of force that the entire mainstream media decided wasn’t worthy of their coverage. The revolution won’t be televised as they say, but luckily it was live-streamed for a glorious five hours, and remains on YouTube and other online platforms for anybody to watch.
The People’s Convention was trending #2 nationally for a much of the event’s duration, and surely some people found themselves agreeing with the speakers, people who previously hadn’t given third party politics a second thought. After all, most “responsible” voters in America associate third parties with Ralph Nadar, who of course was the Democrats’ favorite scapegoat before Jill Stein dared to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016.
As Nick Brana noted at the Convention, “We live now in a perpetual state of crisis”. Most people agree that the Republican and Democrat parties have been beyond insufficient when it comes to delivering politicians who actually represent their voters, let alone getting the nation through times of crisis. Time after time, election after election, voters are told to hold their nose and vote for a lesser of two evils, and those who decide to vote Green or Libertarian are often shamed for the ultimate outcome of the election more so than those who didn’t vote at all.
Speaking of the Green and Libertarian parties, many have pointed to their failure to successfully puncture the two-party duopoly is a serious way. Nick Brana, mastermind behind the Movement for a The People’s Party, has deftly built the groundwork for this new party, being careful not to lean too heavily into partisan language or appeal too directly to any one sect of the left, and has learned lessons from both the successes and failures of the Greens and Libertarians. Ultimately, if the People’s Party is ever to succeed in challenging the two major parties, they will need to attract the entire spectrum of disaffected voters – Greens, Independents and yes, Libertarians – behind an anti-corruption platform of pure populism.
Considering how unexciting the end result of 2020’s Democratic primary was, it can easily be forgotten how many amazing ideas were actually brought to the table – ideas that the Democratic party will never accept or pursue. Ideas like Marianne Williamson’s to transform the Department of Defense into the Department of Peace. Ideas like Universal Basic Income which was popularized by Andrew Yang. The necessity of a new People’s Party lies in the tragedy that the Democratic party did its best to quell these bold new ideas, rather than embracing them and elevating their messengers.
It’s not impossible to think that we could actually have politicians who represent our actual desires as citizens on a policy level. A supermajority of Americans approve of Medicare for All, a policy brought to the forefront of the healthcare debate by Bernie in 2016, but Joseph Biden will happily tell you that he has no intentions on signing Medicare for All into law, even if the bill were to appear on his desk having passed the House and Senate. In case you were wondering who Biden’s actual constituency is, I can assure you it’s not The People. Millions of Americans have lost their healthcare due to Covid – which should be more than enough proof for any “decent” man (let alone public servant) that perhaps one’s healthcare should not be tied to one’s employment, especially in the midst of a pandemic which our own government has failed to protect society’s most vulnerable from.
Americans love to think in binaries, because to think outside of the binary can be uncomfortable and confusing. From an early age, American children are told stories and myths that invariably champion one character as the “good” and another as the “bad”. When learning about the American revolution in school, we were taught that the Americans were the good guys, and that the British were the bad guys. In most fairy tales (at least the Americanized Disney versions), works of beloved fiction and even modern pop culture, there is always a Good vs. Bad dynamic at the heart of the story.
Maybe this is why so many Liberals are so desperate to convince themselves that Joe Biden and the Democrats are the Good Guys. Because of just how bad the GOP has gotten, the Body Politic seems increasingly eager to ignore the destructive, rapacious realities of neoliberalism, having been scared into submission by the ratings-driven media and by the Democrats — who love to start accusing others of being a “threat to our democracy”, conveniently as soon as their own rigged primaries conclude (Remember the Iowa caucus? How about 2016?).
I posit to you that both of the parties are bad – rotten to the core. The Democrat and Republican parties are unsalvageable vessels for corporate interests, and while one party openly ushers in the rise of blatant facism, the other party facilitates and enables it by stagnating progress, killing populist movements and propping up the very architects of our broken system rather than embracing the candidates who fill stadiums with enthusiastic young supporters. Both parties stand idly by the destruction of the environment and the imperialism of our militaristic foreign intervention. Both are the servants of the upper-echelon capitalist class who fund their campaigns and threaten to punish defectors with leaks, smears and banishment from polite society – the same capitalist class that benefits monetarily from the aforementioned pillaging of the environment and developing world. Both parties hate whistleblowers like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange; in fact, future Secretary of State Susan Rice, who Biden strongly considered to be his running mate, recently chastised Trump for even considering a pardon for Snowden.
Because I don’t want to spend my entire adult life waiting for the corrupt Democratic party to catch up with its voters and embrace the politics of the modern developed world, I am eager to see if The People’s Party can actually become a major new party in the coming years. Though they are sitting out the 2020 election, they do plan to run down-ballot candidates starting in 2021, and they plan to run a Presidential candidate in 2024.
Given the impressive roster of speakers at their convention – it seems they already have an impressive list of potential candidates they could run for office: Chris Hedges and Jesse Ventura, who both expressed interest in running as Greens in this election cycle are unequivocal, commanding voices. Local level politicians like Silver Lake councilwoman Maebe A. Girl, and activists like Christian Smalls could definitely make for formidable People’s Party candidates, having already made a name for themselves as troublemakers. And of course, Nina Turner, the final speaker at the People’s Convention, whose presence is always powerful and whose words are unfailingly moving. Senator Turner would make for a Presidential candidate worth building an entire new political party behind, and if she could ever get on a national, televised debate stage, it would be a shift in dynamics so profound that it could trigger a national awakening to the serious possibility of a new major party.
The viability of the People’s Party on a national stage of course remains to be seen, and I have no illusions that the Democratic Party, and as an extension the mainstream media, will scoff at this movement and smear whoever they eventually run for office. But the media also underestimated Bernie Sanders when he originally announced his candidacy in 2015 and subsequently began to attract a ragtag group of dedicated supporters. They had no idea what his campaign would burgeon into, or that his calls for a political revolution would actually resonate and be taken seriously. I suppose we can only hope that they underestimate this movement in precisely the same way.