DemExit? DemEnter? Why Not Both?
A progressive takeover of the Democratic party doesn’t conflict with the buildup of a progressive third party; in fact the two strategies complement each other.
Debate is healthy. It’s a good thing that there’s a strong, passionate debate happening in the progressive movement about whether the Democratic party is salvageable or if it’s better to just take it behind the woodshed and give it the Old Yeller treatment. There are many highly intelligent minds on both sides of this debate, and I love damn near all of them. When I went to bat for Jill Stein during her general election campaign I received a lot of pushback from the DemEnter folks, and now that I’m enthusing about the Justice Democrats I’m getting a lot of pushback from the DemExiters, and I’ve found each debate stimulating and informative.
I think it’s a good idea, though, for we bright-eyed progressives to also hold an awareness that these two sides are not actually in competition with one another. Not only is it true that they both share the same goal, but they actually strengthen and complement each other. In fact, I’ll go so far as to argue that without both approaches pushing for the finish line as hard as they can, neither can succeed.
DemEnter needs DemExit. Without a strong and threatening progressive third party, a progressive insurgency has no leverage over the Democratic establishment. The corporate Dems would be able to simply shut down grassroots uprisings whenever it likes and rig as many primary challenges as it wants to, and if the progressive base objects they’ll be able to do their classic abuser schtick and say, “What are you gonna do? There’s nowhere you can go. You’re mine.” With a surging and aggressive third party, progressives will be able to point and say, “Okay, we’ll just go over there then.” They’ll have an escape car waiting just outside, with the engine running and ready to go.
To the same extent, DemExit needs DemEnter. All this disgust with the Democratic party didn’t come from nowhere, it came as a direct result of Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton’s coronation. Yes, many of my readers were well aware of how corrupt and diseased the Democratic establishment had become, but most Americans weren’t. This newfound awareness is the direct result of Sanders shoving hard against establishment cronyism and corruption, causing it to become exposed when it shoved back. With a large band of DemEnterers doing that same sort of shoving all at once, in all areas of government all over America, more and more corruption and corporate cronyism will be exposed, and if the establishment refuses to either bow out or rectify it, there will be a tremendous influx of votes for third party candidates wherever this exposure happened.
It’s not like the two sides are even in direct competition; third parties aren’t competing for Democratic primary votes, and if a primary challenge fails then progressives have a third party candidate to fall back on in the generals. By providing progressives with both options, the DemEnter and DemExit strategies are arming progressives with a powerful one-two punch combo that they can throw at the establishment’s ugly face whenever it rears its evil head.
The cool thing about grassroots movements is how fast and agile they move. Memetic trends and new ideas can change and flip and revise many times in a single day when it takes the establishment think tanks days to cook up a response to the first one. Our unprecedented ability to share ideas and information en masse fueled by enthusiasm and creativity is a foe that the establishment has never had to deal with, and we’ve got an unassailable advantage in that respect. Adding another lane that we can switch in and out of gives us a whole other dimension of agility and mobility that they’re bound to have an extremely difficult time coping with if we use them right.
So yes, let’s debate, but let’s not waste energy or momentum on it. If you and your friend are running in the same direction, you’re falling behind in the race every time you stop and bicker. Let each side challenge the other to run faster and up its game; if DemExiters embrace a losing strategy they should be told so, and if DemEnterers aren’t shoving hard enough against the Dem establishment they should be called out on it. But let’s please not tear each other down or get bogged down in enmity when we’re all actually friends and allies.
When Bernie talked about coming together to fight a revolution, he wasn’t talking about all of us agreeing upon the exact same ideology and being on the exact same page. We all know the direction we need to be running in to kill the momentum of the oppression machine, and there are more than enough of us to run in both lanes. We’re all running the same direction, so let’s run.
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