AFL-CIO considers the possibility of a labor party

AFL-CIO is the largest collection of Unions in the United States.

https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/afl-cio-calls-for-a-break-with-lesser-of-two-evils-politics/

Excerpt:
"The time has passed when we can passively settle for the lesser of two evils," reads the main political resolution passed Tuesday by the AFL-CIO convention delegates. Lee Saunders, chair of the AFL-CIO's political committee and president of AFSCME, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, introduced the resolution. They lead the labor federation's two largest unions. Convention managers yoked the resolution to another measure it also approved discussing a labor party, though not by name.

I think it's good news that the unions are making themselves more independent from the Democrats, since the Democrats clearly aren't representing them well-- treating them as a captured voting bloc (and suffering the predictable consequence of lower turnout from disenchanted workers).

Excerpt:
Velasquez contended pro-Labor Party members should participate in electoral politics, but starting at the local and state levels. But all agreed, as he put it, the Democrats "are not doing us any favors, never have and never will."

This seems like big news, but it hasn't gotten much press that I'm aware of. Should labor unions continue in a cautious Fabian approach, or seize the means of political representation?

Imagine: a (slightly more) left-leaning American population; 25% voting for the Labor Party, 25% voting for the Democrats. And the Republicans, scratching together 30%, winning every election.

A split vote is not workable in a country operating First Past the Post. The electoral system must allow for multiple parties occupying overlapping ground, else the creation of a new Party merely makes power all the less likely for yourself and those you share ground with.

Silvanus:
Imagine: a (slightly more) left-leaning American population; 25% voting for the Labor Party, 25% voting for the Democrats. And the Republicans, scratching together 30%, winning every election.

A split vote is not workable in a country operating First Past the Post. The electoral system must allow for multiple parties occupying overlapping ground, else the creation of a new Party merely makes power all the less likely for yourself and those you share ground with.

I think you're overestimating loyalty to the Democratic Party label. They is fitting to get Whigged.

Didn't I also hear something in another thread about Justice Democrats?
That would make 3 new formed out of old Democratic party. Together with other independents of course.
I wondering how likely it is that these new parties will win over votes and shrink the regular old Democrats.

Anyone know of any such thing happening with the Republicans?
I'm not an American myself, but I do find it somewhat fascination in a purely political way.

Vendor-Lazarus:
Didn't I also hear something in another thread about Justice Democrats?

That's not a new party. That's a group that's trying to run progressives as Democrats against both repuclicans and democrats in a bid to basically take over the party.

aegix drakan:

Vendor-Lazarus:
Didn't I also hear something in another thread about Justice Democrats?

That's not a new party. That's a group that's trying to run progressives as Democrats against both repuclicans and democrats in a bid to basically take over the party.

Ah, my mistake. Thank you for the correction.

Good idea. I hope the AFL-CIO goes for this, full throttle. Commit to the American Worker in a way that political parties really haven't lately.

If they run totally separate from the Democratic Party, then it's a bad idea. The vote split is real.

If they focused on running progressive candidates in blue districts to push the Democrats left and formed a coalition for presidential elections, it might work.

Seanchaidh:

I think you're overestimating loyalty to the Democratic Party label. They is fitting to get Whigged.

Really? You think it an overstatement to say even half of their voters won't abandon them the moment a new Party pops up?

That's... extraordinarily bold.

Silvanus:

Seanchaidh:

I think you're overestimating loyalty to the Democratic Party label. They is fitting to get Whigged.

Really? You think it an overstatement to say even half of their voters won't abandon them the moment a new Party pops up?

That's... extraordinarily bold.

Needn't happen immediately-- just in time for the election.

Labor organizing basically was the Democratic Party during its most successful stretch - from the beginning of the 1930s through the end of the 1960s, in which it solidly dominated both houses of Congress - it continued to do so afterward, but less severely, until that phenomenon fell completely apart in 1994.

Now, labor unions aren't nearly as powerful as they once were, but there are still quite a few laborers and wage-earners of all kinds.

There are roughly as many Democrats as Independents (and as Republicans) registered to vote. If a new party splits the Democrats and gets a majority of independents (not too unlikely-- many independents are like Bernie Sanders, to the left of the Democratic Party), it will be in a position where it will benefit from the impulse to tactically vote. That impulse is very strong, which is why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both got as many votes as they did despite being the least popular major party nominees in history.

A labor-focused party would also have genuine populist bona fides, which would erode the Republican grip on those they attracted with fake populism. A political realignment of this sort is not inevitable, but it is possible.

Once the Democrats finally collapse we get to watch rich white liberals (rich white liberal feminists even) justify to themselves voting for anti-choice Republicans. Oh, my, it will be glorious.

Seanchaidh:

Needn't happen immediately-- just in time for the election.

Labor organizing basically was the Democratic Party during its most successful stretch - from the beginning of the 1930s through the end of the 1960s, in which it solidly dominated both houses of Congress - it continued to do so afterward, but less severely, until that phenomenon fell completely apart in 1994.

<3 years, to topple a two-party system and realign the loyalties of hundreds of millions of people is monumentally difficult, though not impossible. But to do so entirely one-sided, with the other party undergoing no such restructure, and win? Self-destruction.

Unless the electoral system changes to allow parties to overlap ideological ground, of course. It's very possible with PR, or AV.

I fully believe in the power of labour organisation. Yet, the Dems in that successful stretch did not have their vote split by another left-wing party. If they had, there would never have been a successful stretch at all.

There are roughly as many Democrats as Independents (and as Republicans) registered to vote. If a new party splits the Democrats and gets a majority of independents (not too unlikely-- many independents are like Bernie Sanders, to the left of the Democratic Party), it will be in a position where it will benefit from the impulse to tactically vote. That impulse is very strong, which is why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both got as many votes as they did despite being the least popular major party nominees in history.

A labor-focused party would also have genuine populist bona fides, which would erode the Republican grip on those they attracted with fake populism. A political realignment of this sort is not inevitable, but it is possible.

Once the Democrats finally collapse we get to watch rich white liberals (rich white liberal feminists even) justify to themselves voting for anti-choice Republicans. Oh, my, it will be glorious.

You must be talking about American economic liberals, there.

Don't see this doing anything over than splitting the not Republican vote. Though, get rid of First Past the Post and you're talking. Don't see that happening either, though.

Because a party with no central power has thus far worked splendidly. I'm an Independent because I literally just choose according to what I think makes the most sense. You're an Independent because you don't approve of Republicans or Democrats, because your needs lie somewhere more in the middle, without compromise. According to this, you still won't get what you want, so I don't know why you would call it a good thing.

Huh, I thught this was about the Australian Football League chief information officer going into politics. But hey, a genuine Labor party in the US? Sounds like a lark.

People who want a third party should instead suck it up and vote for the lesser of two evils.

People who don't want a third party, even if outnumbered by those who do, can't be expected to vote for their own lesser of two evils.

Seems contradictory.

It occurred to me to go and check up the state of labor unions in the US, and...well, only ten percent of US workers belong to a union. Is that a large enough base to consider launching a labor party?

Maybe they should focus on expanding the size of the unions to pre-Reagan levels before trying to pull a risky Ross Perot manoeuvre.

Seanchaidh:
People who want a third party should instead suck it up and vote for the lesser of two evils.

People who don't want a third party, even if outnumbered by those who do, can't be expected to vote for their own lesser of two evils.

If there's two parties, there's a clear lesser evil. If there's three, if you vote for the wrong not evil party, you've wasted your vote. You don't know for sure which was the right not evil party until the votes are tallied. You'd need the new party to have overwhelming and obvious support.

Thaluikhain:

Seanchaidh:
People who want a third party should instead suck it up and vote for the lesser of two evils.

People who don't want a third party, even if outnumbered by those who do, can't be expected to vote for their own lesser of two evils.

If there's two parties, there's a clear lesser evil. If there's three, if you vote for the wrong not evil party, you've wasted your vote. You don't know for sure which was the right not evil party until the votes are tallied. You'd need the new party to have overwhelming and obvious support.

This is doable.

bastardofmelbourne:
It occurred to me to go and check up the state of labor unions in the US, and...well, only ten percent of US workers belong to a union. Is that a large enough base to consider launching a labor party?

Maybe they should focus on expanding the size of the unions to pre-Reagan levels before trying to pull a risky Ross Perot manoeuvre.

A lot of employers will fire employees who discuss unionizing to prevent it. if a US labor party got going I would likely vote for them (All depends on their platform.)

bastardofmelbourne:
It occurred to me to go and check up the state of labor unions in the US, and...well, only ten percent of US workers belong to a union. Is that a large enough base to consider launching a labor party?

Maybe they should focus on expanding the size of the unions to pre-Reagan levels before trying to pull a risky Ross Perot manoeuvre.

Obviously labor organizing will help. And that seems to be their idea as well-- for now, they will focus on state/local and endorse candidates who they trust on their issues (not just Democrats, because Democrats have failed to do so).

However, the disorganization of American labor has a lot to do with political decisions that have been made over the years (or not made, as the case may be). Obama endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act as a Senator... didn't even try to get it passed while President. Also, you don't need to be in a labor union to recognize that government by a labor party can help you. Yeah, not many people are in labor unions these days, in part because union-busting has been a GOP-led (but also bipartisan) pastime, and because the Democrats abandoned their defense of labor interests and indeed fought for NAFTA and subsequent trade deals which weakened the labor movement further.

The Democratic Party nowadays is pretty aptly described as a party of white-collar professionals. Since the 1990s at least, the attitude toward working people has been "where else are they going to go?" If that's how they're going to play it, giving working people a better place to go is how you even begin to be able to fix it. Represent them, get your message out, and they will come. If you want a satisfactory explanation for why people in the United States don't vote, the lack of appropriate representation is a good place to start.

I like what Justice Democrats are doing, and I actually do think that left independents should still register as Democrats in order to vote in primaries, and if Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress can fix the Democratic Party through primary challenges and structural reforms, that's great-- they're facing a lot of resistance, though. Organizations outside of the Democratic Party need to be there if nothing else to put competitive pressure on the Democrats by giving dissatisfied voters a potentially viable outlet should they continue to put forward corporate tools. And I think both JD and BNC should favor reforms to the electoral system to make third parties more competitive. The German model seems fine in that regard, though if I'm thinking bigger I'd just say we should have our House of Representatives turn into a delegative democracy.

Silvanus:
Imagine: a (slightly more) left-leaning American population; 25% voting for the Labor Party, 25% voting for the Democrats. And the Republicans, scratching together 30%, winning every election.

A split vote is not workable in a country operating First Past the Post. The electoral system must allow for multiple parties occupying overlapping ground, else the creation of a new Party merely makes power all the less likely for yourself and those you share ground with.

Well... the thing is then what do you do? The current parties lack incentive to change it. Extra parties might give them incentive as they lose power.

Also, the Democrats can always try to compromise to win their vote. Might go poorly the first few times as the Democrats expect the opposite to happen, but I imagine someone will give, either the new guys or the old.

Idk, it seems like change is painful, but it seems like if that fear is always there then it's just not going to happen. And is there any other option to it? Are the leaders of the Democratic party in fact going to listen to anything else?

Will also point out, such a thing could get more people voting who previously were not because they were to dissatisfied with either.

Seanchaidh:

Thaluikhain:

Seanchaidh:
People who want a third party should instead suck it up and vote for the lesser of two evils.

People who don't want a third party, even if outnumbered by those who do, can't be expected to vote for their own lesser of two evils.

If there's two parties, there's a clear lesser evil. If there's three, if you vote for the wrong not evil party, you've wasted your vote. You don't know for sure which was the right not evil party until the votes are tallied. You'd need the new party to have overwhelming and obvious support.

This is doable.

Perhaps, but it's no small task. Good luck to them, but I'm dubious.

Thaluikhain:

Seanchaidh:

Thaluikhain:

If there's two parties, there's a clear lesser evil. If there's three, if you vote for the wrong not evil party, you've wasted your vote. You don't know for sure which was the right not evil party until the votes are tallied. You'd need the new party to have overwhelming and obvious support.

This is doable.

Perhaps, but it's no small task. Good luck to them, but I'm dubious.

It should also be pointed out, there are regular opinion polls, and since opinion polls are less immediately consequential than the elections they come before, you'll see third place candidates and parties perform better in them. If you're 2nd (or 1st) in opinion polls, then tactical votes by rational people go to you rather than to the decaying husk of a party that remains, shambling toward oblivion.

The Decapitated Centaur:

Well... the thing is then what do you do? The current parties lack incentive to change it. Extra parties might give them incentive as they lose power.

Also, the Democrats can always try to compromise to win their vote. Might go poorly the first few times as the Democrats expect the opposite to happen, but I imagine someone will give, either the new guys or the old.

Idk, it seems like change is painful, but it seems like if that fear is always there then it's just not going to happen. And is there any other option to it? Are the leaders of the Democratic party in fact going to listen to anything else?

Parties have often internally changed direction, and it has a much higher success rate than do new parties attempting to take over the same ideological ground.

As far as I see it there are two options: address the electoral system first, transitioning to a system in which two parties can have overlapping ideological ground without necessarily costing the other power. For instance, Alternative Vote or ranked preference systems allow this.

The second option is internally shifting the direction of the Democratic Party as I described above. It's difficult, but it happens more often that you'd think.

Silvanus:

The Decapitated Centaur:

Well... the thing is then what do you do? The current parties lack incentive to change it. Extra parties might give them incentive as they lose power.

Also, the Democrats can always try to compromise to win their vote. Might go poorly the first few times as the Democrats expect the opposite to happen, but I imagine someone will give, either the new guys or the old.

Idk, it seems like change is painful, but it seems like if that fear is always there then it's just not going to happen. And is there any other option to it? Are the leaders of the Democratic party in fact going to listen to anything else?

Parties have often internally changed direction, and it has a much higher success rate than do new parties attempting to take over the same ideological ground.

As far as I see it there are two options: address the electoral system first, transitioning to a system in which two parties can have overlapping ideological ground without necessarily costing the other power. For instance, Alternative Vote or ranked preference systems allow this.

The second option is internally shifting the direction of the Democratic Party as I described above. It's difficult, but it happens more often that you'd think.

Well it depends how much they are willing to change. It feels like a lot of politics just is too affected by lobbyists and who they owe and corporations... it seems hard to get that out of a leadership mired in it as opposed to something fresher where it feels like people could start without that. Maybe it's just being too optimistic about a new party, but sometimes a fresh start from things feels good.

The Decapitated Centaur:

Well it depends how much they are willing to change. It feels like a lot of politics just is too affected by lobbyists and who they owe and corporations... it seems hard to get that out of a leadership mired in it as opposed to something fresher where it feels like people could start without that. Maybe it's just being too optimistic about a new party, but sometimes a fresh start from things feels good.

It feels and sounds good, yes-- that's primarily because it's easier to sell something untested. When was the last time it successfully turned into success in the span of a single electoral cycle? When was the last time it went on to deliver on its promise?

The recent French election was extremely notable, in that neither of the two final candidates were from either of the two parties which had dominated the electoral landscape for so long (the UMP and the Socialists). It took a perfect storm of disillusion and scandal to bring that state of affairs around. Yet, the ultimate victor was somebody who claimed the centre ground (though the validity of such a claim is up to debate). Even this cannot be truly compared to a situation in which we want one party replaced by another, rather than two, and for the new party to occupy much of the same ideological ground.

Silvanus:
Yet, the ultimate victor was somebody who claimed the centre ground (though the validity of such a claim is up to debate).

France's election was pretty silly, though. Taking the top two of 23, 20, 19, 19 is decidedly random. And would you tell me that Melenchon made a mistake by running? That he should just shut up and let the country go to the dismal center if it means stopping the racist right?

Silvanus:

The Decapitated Centaur:

Well it depends how much they are willing to change. It feels like a lot of politics just is too affected by lobbyists and who they owe and corporations... it seems hard to get that out of a leadership mired in it as opposed to something fresher where it feels like people could start without that. Maybe it's just being too optimistic about a new party, but sometimes a fresh start from things feels good.

It feels and sounds good, yes-- that's primarily because it's easier to sell something untested. When was the last time it successfully turned into success in the span of a single electoral cycle? When was the last time it went on to deliver on its promise?

The recent French election was extremely notable, in that neither of the two final candidates were from either of the two parties which had dominated the electoral landscape for so long (the UMP and the Socialists). It took a perfect storm of disillusion and scandal to bring that state of affairs around. Yet, the ultimate victor was somebody who claimed the centre ground (though the validity of such a claim is up to debate). Even this cannot be truly compared to a situation in which we want one party replaced by another, rather than two, and for the new party to occupy much of the same ideological ground.

Does it *need* to happen in a single electoral cycle? I don't really think it would necessarily, or even likely at all, but can you really keep putting that kind of thing off with that?

Yeah, but... this is the US and the problem is how unfriendly the system is to third parties.

Seanchaidh:

France's election was pretty silly, though. Taking the top two of 23, 20, 19, 19 is decidedly random. And would you tell me that Melenchon made a mistake by running? That he should just shut up and let the country go to the dismal center if it means stopping the racist right?

No, I wouldn't, but that's partly because the Socialist Party's chances in the last French election were already shot.

Please note, also, that I don't want left-wing political figures to "shut up" at all. If anything, I want them to be more vocal than they've been, because the political landscape in Western Europe is almost devoid of credible left-wing alternatives. My issue is with method, not with principle.

Jeremy Corbyn has a realistic shot at power in the UK because he chose to change the direction of an existing party, taking it back (in many respects) to its roots. Had he created another party, there would be no shot at power; only an emboldened Conservative Party, happily protected by the electoral system.

The Decapitated Centaur:

Does it *need* to happen in a single electoral cycle? I don't really think it would necessarily, or even likely at all, but can you really keep putting that kind of thing off with that?

Yeah, but... this is the US and the problem is how unfriendly the system is to third parties.

I'm really not a fan of sacrificing an election in favour of the vague promise of long-term shifts. It's monumental risk-- peoples' lives and livelihoods-- for the promise of undefined reward, which may well never come.

Silvanus:

The Decapitated Centaur:

Does it *need* to happen in a single electoral cycle? I don't really think it would necessarily, or even likely at all, but can you really keep putting that kind of thing off with that?

Yeah, but... this is the US and the problem is how unfriendly the system is to third parties.

I'm really not a fan of sacrificing an election in favour of the vague promise of long-term shifts. It's monumental risk-- peoples' lives and livelihoods-- for the promise of undefined reward, which may well never come.

You have the privilege of a political system in which the parties listen to their voters to some extent. It's not clear that the Democrats will allow themselves to be reformed. And if they aren't going to represent the voters, then the voters need to go around them. The DNC is currently a mechanism to line the pockets of a borderline useless consultant class who have been failing upward for years and needn't care too much whether they actually win because they get paid either way. This mechanism may be masquerading as a political party, but it isn't properly responsive to voters and as long as that's the case the voters need to consider going around them. What is being sought (short of total victory) is not a vague promise of undefined reward, it's a change to the national conversation and reevaluation of what is possible. That may not be an immediate policy consequence (although the failure of the Republicans to pass their healthcare demolition can be credited to some extent with the leftward surge of the voting public that is not currently reflected in the composition of government), but it can be defined and it is a necessary step in making progress.

The best way forward is to organize in parallel to the Democratic Party in a way that both works within it but replicates all the processes essential to forming an independent party capable of running its own campaigns as well. By all means, we should take advantage of whatever democratic levers the Democrats will give us to influence them-- primary challenges, platform changes-- but ultimately, there must be no loyalty towards that party structure: if they engage measures in an attempt to thwart progressives, progressives must be prepared to go around them and explain why they are doing so. The Democratic Party must be forced into a choice between listening to its voters or dying.

People here think Obama is very liberal/progressive. That is half right. He is a new democrat. This is the same guy that wanted to privatize our schools and make cuts to social security, Medicaid, and Medicare with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner. That is something a European conservative like David Cameron would do.

Thanks to the extremists in the Tea Party with their 'I want everything mentality', Boehner didn't have the votes for this. It makes me wonder about the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers. The mainstream deal-making Republicans are very efficient with tax-cuts, but the Tea Party seem to want to just say no.

No wonder these people want a new political party. When "liberals" like Obama and those greedy pricks in The Third Way think tanks like trying to cut Social security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here