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Why the Democrats and Movements Need Each Other


Why the Democrats and Movements Need Each Other

Frances Fox Piven, Lorraine Minnite

The Democrats are not just gaining voters. They are gaining activists determined to transform the party.

The great and transformational movements of the past — the radical Democrats of the Revolutionary War era, or the abolitionists of the 19th century, or the 20th-century labor movement, or the black freedom movement, or the women’s movement, or the movements for personal rights included under the LBGTQ acronym — all scored their successes because they activated the elementary and fundamental power of ordinary people.


The flip side of this is that the Republicans are making widespread efforts to suppress the vote. To counter this the ACLU has started campaigns in all 50 states to make voting easier. No matter how energized the Democrats are they won’t win if the voters do not vote and particularly for minorities the ability to vote is getting more and more difficult. Below is a link to the video of the launch of the “Let People Vote” campaign of the ACLU’s grassroots movement People Power.


Registering as a Democrat or a Republican is akin to supporting the murder of innocents.

Who, in their right mind would ever do that, except someone without morals or ethics who benefits from it in some way?


In addition to what happened in 2016, Perez recently tapped a person as Finance Chair of that party that was previously paid to lobby against raising the minimum wage. The DCCC has focused their efforts on right wing Democrats. The DNC pushed Perez into office and has recently purged the top brass of progressives and replaced them with conservative, Clinton like hacks that will keep the consultant money flowing. There is a push to open up the books, to see the groups and individuals within that dying party that receive and give the most money. Currently, two people have access to that information, Perez and the party’s Treasurer. People that want to reform that party want more people to have access to that and so Perez is trying to replace people that might not be happy with what the financials show. The party has chosen to take direct corporate bribes too.

You know why the left is basically dead nationally, while its ideas are very popular? It has attached itself to this, increasingly right wing party, and those that have run that party into the ground will not change anything or give up power because that party is their piggy bank and they don’t have enough talent and skills to stay as wealthy based on their own merits. They have power and wealth because of their access to power, and the DNC is their access. So, if them not relinquishing power destroys the party but saves their hides, oh well.

They think they can continue to support policies that have destroyed working people for decades and that the left has nowhere to go. They assume that Trump is enough for them to stay rotten and to gain power none the less. The last decade of collapse, and the last election, has shown that they won’t change and they won’t give up power willingly. If the left wants to matter it should operate and focus on a party or parties that support their ideas, not a corrupt party dominated by parasites that oppose the left’s ideas. Voting for the type of people Clinton, Perez or Lrx here support is going to be a net negative for most people, we can see that in the data. So what is the point of taking part in the spectacle and wasting your time on that particular party. If it doesn’t like the left, if it opposes its ideas, then let it win elections without the left. Let it focus its efforts on the 15% of the country that it seems to want to please.


knowing what Dr Piven knows, it’s surprising to see she’d take such an organizationally partisan position–one, incidentally, that she would have never taken in her intellectual heyday during the 60s and 70s.

The one thing that movements don’t need is Democrats. The roster of murdered social uprisings is impressively lengthy, and in nearly every case the hopeful energy marking the ascent of many of these movements immediately discharged upon becoming ordinary vote herders for the Democratic party. Occupy Walls St. one of the most recent–and heartbreaking–examples. That movement, of course, was crushed in its cradle by Democrats!

I respect Piven a great deal. But I’m sad to see a history I know she knows well being sacrificed on the altar of a faded hope for reform that isn’t going to happen


I wrote to Greenpeace International this morning.

A brief email - urging them to run for office - everywhere.

It just hit me, after seeing the new finding from Germany on the insect decline - the dramatic and unnerving decline - more or less right out of the blue - (see Plos One if interested for the journal article - or George Monbiot’s latest article at monbiot dot com).

It reminded me of the time years ago when the Yellowstone Park Service suddenly recognised the value of forest fires.

Greenpeace - according to Naomi Klein - one of the very few NGO’s that has avoided corporate capture - quiet lately I’ve noticed - contemplating their future possibly ?

I agree with the main premise of this article, that movements need to translate into the political arena, but I agree with PonyBoy that neither of the two mainstream United States federal parties are the way to go.

Greenpeace is a magic name - like NASA. In its very name is all that we need and want.

And they are not naive - they know the system - what we are all up against.

Why not ?

And - We are out of time.

Third Party = Greenpeace - worldwide.

I would vote for them in a heartbeat if they ran in my country, Canada.

Here is a piece I just read from Chris Hedges on Truthdig - which talks non-violence - and makes sense:

What do you think nighthawk - AlephNull ?? fern ? Phil Rockstroh ???


If the DNC heads back to the center-corporate “middle” which in fact no longer exists, the next election is theirs to lose. Many of us will never again vote with the pants-suit crowd.


Five by five ~


I am inclined to agree with you - but right now, domestic movements on the US left have absolutely zero organization - absolutely zero. Not as much as a single desk. And no, blabbering away on the internet and social media is not organizing - it is quite the opposite of organizing.

So, considering the challenges involved, a takeover of the Democratic Party still seems like the most expedient thing to try first. Look at what the Corbyn wing has done to the Labour Party in the UK. But in order to begin, USAns on the left need to stop thinking of political parties as some kind of detached government agency whose purpose is to provide us service if we bellyache enough. That isn’t how it works. We need to take them over and serve ourselves.

And if that does not work, then more revolutionary action can be pursued.

And regarding Occupy, It was crushed by trying to be everything to everyone and not spelling out a specific program, agenda and strategy. No democrats were needed - they destroyed themselves. And I I ever hear a “people’s microphone” again I will puke.


“The roster of murdered social uprisings is impressively lengthy, and in nearly every case the hopeful energy marking the ascent of many of these movements immediately discharged upon becoming ordinary vote herders for the Democratic party. Occupy Walls St. one of the most recent–and heartbreaking–examples. That movement, of course, was crushed in its cradle by Democrats!”

Occupy is still here. Without the Occupy energy, there would not have been a Sanders. Occupy never made any attempts to align with a party and certainly never expected anything except harassment from the democratic establishment. Nevertheless, it has and continues to influence public opinion.

There are off shoots of Occupy all over the country. Some still refer to themselves as Occupy, many others have taken on different names but the activism that began at Zuccotti Park is still very much alive and well. You will find current and former Occupiers in almost all of the various progressives movements that are currently at the forefront of national activism from Black Lives Matter to Health Over Profits.

Occupy put the spotlight on income inequality with the slogan, “We are the 99%”. The GOP and Dem-neolibs despise the sound bite but try as they may, they cannot “evict an idea whose time has come.”

With a majority in the House and Senate, Trump and his GOP have not been able to pass any legislation. People, both conservative and liberal voters, are more aware of the fact that they are being shafted. Much of the credit for this awareness is because Occupy brought forward into the public eye a powerful idea whose time has come.


We had a discussion of the Hedges article here a few days ago. My view is that nonviolence is a tactic - certainly one we should always pursue first - but there are too many instances of it ending up being ineffective by itself. If by “violence”, we mean armed struggle (which in many cases India, Nicaragua, Cuba, and a number of African countries, the arms did not need to be used very much, thankfully), then it has been successful. Most successful revolutions in the 20th century had both a political/nonviolent and an armed component.

Also, Greenpeace is fine - but they are a very narrow single-issue organization - they have nothing to say about capitalism and getting rid of it.


This assertion that the most successful revolutions of the 20th century had both an armed and non-violent componet does not seem to be supported by the research.

"In the research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan they undertook a systematic study of resistance movements to authoritarian governments in the 20th century in an attempt to determine which methods are more successful in both succeeding and in transitioning to peaceful democracies afterwards.

To study these methods, the authors examined 323 different movements from 1900 to 2006, involving both violent and nonviolent movements that involved more than 1,000 participants for the purpose of “self-determination, the removal of an incumbent leader, or the expulsion of a foreign military occupation.”

Their conclusion was that nonviolent movements were twice as likely to succeed as violent movements, and that nonviolent movements often significantly increased the chances of a more peaceful and democratic government emerging in the aftermath."

Here is a link to their article: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2014-06-16/drop-your-weapons

Here is a link to a list of several of the successful non-violent efforts from the 20th century. http://gandhiking.ning.com/notes/A_Timeline_of_Nonviolent_Movements_in_the_20th_Century


The Democratic party’s in no danger of being overrun by progressives. In fact, the party core has been working hard to eradicate the influence of any progressive movements on the street.

Yes, movements are still the crucible of reform, but if they depend on a few friendly or “wobbly” corporate Democrat politicians to take time from their busy fundraising schedule to translate put into political reform, we’re back to chasing our tails and settling for a few crumbs of progress when so many issues have reached an emergency status. How many times have we seen this movie? We know how it ends.

“Iffy” and “maybe” Clinton style incremental change is now no change at all. We’ve run out of time. Yes, Obama threw a few crumbs to various movements, but, remember, it was his overall record of performance that helped set the stage for a Trump victory. The “join up with the corporate Democrats and hope for change within the party” has had far, far more failures as a strategy than successes. It has a proven record of failure. How can progressives call Trump voters suckers, when so many in our ranks keep suckering for this tired, worn out Democratic ploy?


My apologies for swearing, but for fuck’s sake, are people really this fucking gullible!

D.N.C. Chair Purges Dissenters in Surprise Shake-Up

Sanders loyalists and Ellison supporters were among the officials ousted amid an ongoing intra-party feud.

To add insult to injury, Perez also tapped several individuals who have lobbying or corporate-interest backgrounds—a move that has sparked criticism in the past. The pack of new delegates includes Joanne Dowdell, a registered lobbyist for Fox News parent company News Corp; Harold Ickes, a veteran of the Clinton White House; and Manuel Ortiz, a lobbyist for CITGO Petroleum Corp and Puerto Rican interests. At least 10 additional Perez-tapped superdelegates have previously been registered as lobbyists, Bloomberg reports.

Un- f’ing - believable that people still have not gotten it through their head who the Democrats are.


The Movements don’t need the Democratic Party, but they do need the Democratic voters to join them. The Democratic Party definitely needs the Movements, however, the only reason the DP needs the Movements is to try to co-opt those very Movements. Right now the Movements are leading the way against the attack from the Right and the DP better get with the program or get left in the dust.


We must make sure we don’t get the Party confused with the many Democratic voters who are equally disgusted with the Party and the rightward direction they maintain.


Every single movement on your list had an armed resistance component at least waiting in the wings (including India) or it it is a movement that considered successful if by “success” you mean something more than warm-and-fuzzys in the hearts of privileged white bourgeois liberals in lands far from the struggle. In particular, nonviolence in the Palestinian struggle has been an absolute failure. And this list does not mention ANY of the many successful armed movements to eject colonialists or their puppets Nicaragua, Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mexico 1910 to 1920, Ireland 1919 to 1921, Timore L’este 1975 to 1999 and of course, Vietnam 1960 to 1975. Those are just some off the top of my head.


The woman is old and probably growing senile. That is not to disparage Piven’s age. Noam Chomsky is 89, still sharp as a tack, and a self declared “Libertarian socialist”, a proponent of the common man. All this Piven support is drivel. Does resting on ones laurels include taking the support of the “get as much of the lucre and glory as one can” and the so called “party” be damned. The Democratic party is dead, rotting to the core, a dead as John Cleese’s parrot.


Thank you, Ms Piven. Sensible people understand that the Democratic Party is the left’s only hope and the left can push democrats towards more progressive ideas if we care enough. The purist left and the Putin workers will prattle on, but only fools will listen.


All this hope is just smoke if the centrist Democrats don’t back off. Progressives won’t support centrist Democratic policies on corporatism, war-mongering, tax cuts for the wealthy, loss of LGBTQ rights, continuing police actions against African Americans without justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators, loss of Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid, Reproductive Rights, terrible immigration policies, health care for all. The list is long. And if centrist Democrats continue to support these policies that do not benefit the 90%, the left is likely to lose again.

Centrist Democrats need progressives more than progressives need Centrist Democrats, who seem determined to keep us on the progressive left out of the process.