There are currently 7,383 state legislators in the United States. Nine of them are affiliated with the Vermont Progressive Party. One of them is an independent from Alaska who caucuses with the Democrats.
This is the grand sum of the left presence in American state legislatures outside the Democratic Party. There has been a single instance of federal-level victory in my lifetime—Bernie Sanders’s election as an independent to the U.S. House, then Senate, in Vermont. No one else has even come close. And Sanders, after 30 years as an Independent, elected to seek the presidency through the Democratic primary. Continue reading →
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ defeat in New York’s April 19 primary in many ways tolled doom for his quest to capture the Democratic nomination for president. Despite a string of recent wins in the Midwest, it became clear then he couldn’t beat Hillary Clinton in the big, diverse states that form the party’s bedrock—and that he couldn’t recover from the delegate deficit he ran up losing virtually all of the South.
Still, that hasn’t stopped candidates across the Empire State from running under the Bernie banner, promising to bring his vision to fruition in Albany or Washington. This, if you will, is the vanguard of the “political revolution” in New York.
The debate between Jason Schulman of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and Barry Finger of New Politics about how to build a party to the left of the Democratic ‘Party’ in the 21st century has largely ignored actually existing third-party efforts and focused instead on whether it is possible to use the Democratic Party for progressive ends in light of the astounding success of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. Schulman along with DSA argue that yes, it is possible — in certain situations under certain conditions — while Finger says no, it is not possible in any situation or under any conditions. For Schulman and DSA, working within the Democratic Party could help lead to the formation of a left-of-Democratic Party wheras Finger contends that all roads within the Democratic Party framework lead inevitably to dead ends.
The best way to settle this debate is to look at the three organizing models provided by America’s actually existing third-party efforts. Continue reading →
Debbie Medina has lived her entire life south of Grand Street in the Southside of Williamsburg, a historically Puerto Rican neighborhood in Brooklyn. The office of Southside United HFDC — better known as Los Sures — where Medina has worked as a housing organizer for 30 years, is on South Fifth, eight blocks away. When she walks down Driggs Avenue, Debbie can point at the buildings and recite their histories. “This neighborhood has always had some nasty landlords,” she says.
Debbie Medina (center) with the city council’s Antonio Reynoso (D) (right).