Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sanders: 'Make Democrats a party of the working class, not liberal elite'

On Friday night, March 31, "Our Revolution" and several local activist groups hosted a rally in Boston that was also heavily promoted on line and made available through YouTube.  It was very clearly and sharply a declaration of war on the Democratic Party establishment, with the explicit aim of changing the Democrats from "a party of the liberal elite" into one of the "working class," as Sanders expressed it.

The beginning of a social-democratic party in the USA?
The event started with brief remarks from the local groups that co-sponsored the rally including Latino immigrant rights organizations. They were followed by Elizabeth Warren, who began by saying she was there to introduce Bernie but proceeded to make a very substantial political presentation.

She outlined around 10 platform points: health care as a right; debt-free access to college; a living wage of $15; support and promote unions; protect and expand social security and Medicare; we are a nation of immigrants; Black lives matter; women must control their own bodies and democracy is not for sale. Not sure I got all of them but those were almost all. The one point that I would have expected but did not hear was a call for a public works infrastructure program.
She stressed fighting the Republicans through activism and protests. And she clearly identified as being part of the same movement as Bernie (which she did not do a year ago during the primaries) as well as recognizing his senior status, so to speak. So she was very clearly projected as the second most important leader and spokesperson for the Sanders "Our Revolution" movement, which is a very significant development.
Bernie's speech was a call to qualitatively transform the Democratic Party. "We need a Democratic party that is not a party of the liberal elite but of the working class." And, yes, he said working class.

He emphasizes that Republicans didn't win the last few elections, Democrats lost them by being so out of touch with working people that many ended up voting for Trump even though they disagree with cutbacks in social services and giveaways to the corporations and the rich and favor legalization of the undocumented and single-payer Medicare for all.

He spoke on many of the same issues introduced by Warren, but clearly, the open, brazen call for a fight to take control of the Democratic Party away from neoliberals like the Clintons, Pelosi and Schumer was the central message.

Bernie has now projected "Our Revolution" as, in essence, the start of a different party even while operating in the Democrat framework by counterposing the idea of a working class party to a party of the liberal elite.

A lot of my Marxist friends will say Bernie is crazy in trying to transform  into a working class party this giant political apparatus intimately intertwined with the moneyed class and the state at all levels.  
And some will even say that Bernie is playing the part of the Judas goat leading people back into the two-party-system trap.

I do not believe the latter criticism makes sense politically nor is it fair to Sanders and his friends.

But at any rate, I think that Marxists need to recognize the movement towards something akin to a social-democratic party that the "Our Revolution" faction of the Democratic Party represents, and figure out how to relate to it.

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