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Forget Building Our Own Tea Party. The Left Can Win So Much More


Forget Building Our Own Tea Party. The Left Can Win So Much More

Jacob Swenson-Lengyel

On February 19, 2009, just 30 days after President Obama was sworn in, Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange launched the Tea Party. The conservative establishment worked together with the grassroots to fan the flames of opposition. The resulting tidal wave swept Republicans to power at the national and state level in 2010—and set the stage for Trump’s victory in 2016.


Those who are left leaning must get past rebuilding the Democratic Party.

For far too long, we have been so linear in our thinking regarding political support, left, right, and center. Why don’t we consider thinking, above, below, and even?

Let us all form a party ‘Above’ and beyond all expectations. Our fellow Americans are looking for something real to believe in. Let’s give it to them by putting the two old parties where they belong. Below expectations, and in the past.


I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that I’m willing to let go at bargain prices. Are you interested?


Fighting Democrats is fighting the wrong opponent. One party controls most state legislatures and has gerrymandered their way to winning so deeply that they can lose the popular vote, widely, but still retain control. See Wisconsin in 2012, where Democrats picked up more than half the vote, but Republicans got 60% of the seats. Change party names, change party colors, sing different songs, it’s structural factors and the coherence of the conservative coalition that’s given them control.

More to the point, having two parties isn’t inherently bad nor is having many inherently good. They both consist of people from different regions, with different views on issues, but share general philosophies. To form a government and elect a speaker in the House, parties would have to come together and form a coalition anyway. In our system, we just do this up front.


Great idea. Also, how about just thinking about needs and HONESTY rather than identity politics. Also get the religion card that they use as hypocrisy ( including swearing on and taking an oath on the bible) .


I would disagree with your notion that it is basically the same. The problem is that by forming a coalition before the election it leaves you with no power afterwards. In a multi-party situation you maintain your power because you can withdraw it and bring down the Speaker (using your example).

Imagine instead that you worked to capture 5 seats in the House for a third party. Then, say the election ends with Democrats having 214 seats and the Republicans having 216 seats and a Democratic Socialist party having 5 seats. Now you have real power. You can agree to support the Democrat for Speaker if your 5 receive specific committee assignments/chairs or are allowed to get their proposals to full votes on the House floor. Your 1% of seats is now magnified. A much better position than having your vote diluted into the mainstream before the election.


We have that now. Bernie’s an independent who causes with Democrats as is Angus King. Their votes aren’t necessarily diluted. More to the point, you still have to elect a Speaker that appeals to the majority of legislators too. It’s not all a one-way transaction. History is replete with majority parties that couldn’t get a government formed.

And this is another thing: there are no guarantees whatsoever. The liberal democrats formed a government with Tories just to get a few issues heard in Britain and got wiped out in the subsequent election. Rather than parties, we’ve got caucuses in Congress that function similarly. There’s one right now that may save us from Trumpcare, the freedom caucus.


That’s my point. Bernie is more effective because he is an independent - and that would be magnified if there were a couple others like him and they made the difference in who had the Senate majority (Angus King is not a Democratic Socialist so he’s not part of my vision). Forming coalitions is crucial. Doing so from a stronger bargaining position is also important. Do you really think the left would not be in a stronger bargaining position if they had a few seats in the House as opposed to being just another caucus?


The key words are “a few seats.” My point is that those few seats can be democratic seats or independent seats, doesn’t matter. The freedom caucus has the power it has because it has more than a few seats, 29 to be exact, enough to sink a bill on its own. More important, there’s a bunch of other congress people who lean their direction and fear being primaried by folks in their districts who would be freedom caucus members. It’s about leverage, not party.

That also gets to a bigger problem, progressives are still a minority politically in this country. To change that dynamic, we need voters to change who they vote for. Right now, in most congressional districts, that ain’t progressives. That may change–I hope it does–but we aren’t close to that happening yet.


Words have meanings. We’ve seen virtually no interest in leftist ideology in well over a quarter of a century. Now and then, liberals tip their hats to what are sometimes called “the labor left,” but we’ve seen no evidence of the existence of such a thing. The working class just wants better wages and working conditions. That’s not a leftist notion.

Liberals/media have spent the last 20-some years calling on us to Stand in Solidarity with the bourgeoisie, the better-off alone, only recently including (some) low wage workers. They’ve disappeared the masses of jobless poor. The left are the few who shine a spotlight on our poverty crisis – proof of the failures of our deregulated capitalism.


Oh please, I am sooo tired of these Bluebots thinking that the Dem party is even any better than the Reps, much less a viable vehicle for progressive change. We gave it everything we had with Obama and we got Social crumbs, govt welfare for big health Insurance and bigger banks and drones and so on. The Old Money (Wall Street and Rothschild money) loves the Dems (Khocs? Not so much.). More importantly they OWN them. Stop kidding yourselves (or worse yet, trying to sucker us). The Dems are the enemy.


Who are the better off alone? I agree with you- especially about the ever increasing tech world and joblessness. All those high techies who insist that we just have to learn more about technology. Last night I saw a special about automation and truck drivers. A high techie gleefully proclaimed that trucks would be automated and the operators would have to be engineers. What ARE we doing to ourselves? Also over two million would be out of work. Keep contacting local, state and US congress, as well as joining in with groups like jobs with justice.
I also remember this: Way back in the sixties anti war protesters - especially those from colleges tended to separate from labor groups as if the former were elites who could not be bothered with labor or unions. Today under 7% of jobs are unionized, and those with those jobs value them even if they complain a little.


Democratic Socialists are indeed a minority - though, somewhat surprisingly, in some fairly red areas they have a better reputation than liberals. Anyways, with 50 states, 435 congressional districts, 3142 counties, 13500 school districts, and more than 30,000 incorporated cities, there’s a ton of opportunities to activate a progressive majority in a jurisdiction. The key is organization, discipline, excitement, good authentic leaders, and a whole lot less whining and fighting amongst ourselves.


Remember Bernie was the candidate who actually said that the US was a very wealthy country but unfortunately a lot of people do not know that. Quite frankly, I and many others would like to see less identity politics and more common sense like higher /living wages, better working conditions, and less looking at everything as a profit. There is a new book out with Amnesia in the title written by a Yale professor. This was included in a news piece a few nights ago. It is about how the country as a whole economically did best ( in the fifties/sixties ) when government made direct investments in infrastructure. Of course there were other social ills- but the country experienced great gains during that time the author points out. I remember that time. Today, there seems to be a public/private partnership that enables corporations to get huge profits and tax breaks. We need to remind ( in groups) the public at large that the US does best when it invests in itself publicly, when it does not continuously fight wars across seas, and also to keep recognizing that we are the government ; that these people work for us.


Those who lean anyway need to realize that we cannot fix everything but we do not have to make anything more difficult such as the use of ever more tech, automation, and the selling of natural resources such as water.


“Finally, we should work for structural reforms that make both the party structure and the electoral system itself more democratic. That means everything from giving working people real decision-making power over the direction of the Democratic Party to making it more feasible for third parties to run and win governing power to rewriting the rules to eliminate the Electoral College and other undemocratic elements of our political system.”

Since conservatives live in fear, they brought guns to Tea Party rallies for intimidation, to pretend chickenhawks are patriots and to feel secure against dangerous unarmed counter-demonstrators.

Considering the obvious problems with that tactic, there is a much better one for giving the people back their government:



Thanks for the link - interesting stuff. I’m definitely going to delve deeper into those resources.


If I am reading this correctly, this new movement is to coalesce around the working class. However, I am wondering how even this is sustainable in a post-neoliberal world of robot workers and the dwindling significance of capitalism as a viable economic model. I refer to the emerging reality of a zero marginal cost society based on free information and all its implications.

The author is a philosophy major. I wonder what he thinks the underpinnings of this new movement should be? We are clearly striking out into the unknown given what we are seeing: the end of a cycle of cycles. Wresting control of the economic levers away from the masters of the universe may become pointless as the levers of power become less and less effective. We may end up with nothing as a movement if we do not anticipate whereto the power will next gravitate.


Keep up the good work Jacob and can see from your picture you are going to be around for a long time to help see this thru and if Dem Party isn’t able to be changed from wihin you will have structure to more on without them.


Don’t let the Dem Party coopt the People’s Movement.