Election 2016: The Progressive Wilderness Ahead

Body 3: Join a Third Party


Such as the Socialist Alternative

The third option, perhaps the most “purist” option for progressives interested in pursing electoral politics, is to join and build with another progressive political party.  Practically speaking that would mean joining the Green Party or perhaps the Socialist Alternative Party. Progressives who choose this route can join a party that is advocating for progressive issues relatively solidly across the board without having the baggage or pitfalls of the Democratic party or forcing reform on those apparently unwilling to change. Progressives that go this route also can help build the party from the ground up and direct the future of the party in ways that would just be off the table for them as part of the Democratic Establishment. However, there are major downsides to this approach. 

In 2016, no progressive third-party saw more than 1% of the national vote in support of their presidential candidates or state votes for their congressional candidates. It appears the  Green Party, and any other progressive third-party, would have to spend years building power, capacity, infrastructure, donor relations and trust at lower levels of government before they started making a significant shift to the current balance of power in Congress. It is highly unlikely that enough third-party candidates would be competitive against incumbent Republicans, many of whom are from conservative areas, to make a change in 2018, so any progressive third-party would show up late to confront Trump.

Progressive third parties also have no reasonably viable presidential candidates.  That means in 2020 the best they could hope for is getting 5% of the national presidential vote to be on the ballot in all 50 states automatically.  It also means that from 2020-2024 any potential progressive third-party would have to deal with a Democrat or Republican in the White House that would likely not welcome or be openly antagonistic to a them.

In short, any attempt to form and build a viable progressive third-party option is enticing for a number of reasons but would take years to build and would offer no immediate opposition to Trump. This may be the best long-term option but it provides little resistance in our present dire political circumstances.

About Speakfaithfully

I am figuring out life and faith and taking other people along with me on my journey. Sometimes as fellow travelers, sometimes as hostages.
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1 Response to Election 2016: The Progressive Wilderness Ahead

  1. skyewinspur says:

    Very good essay. The second wilderness image is provocative and well-chosen.

    There is ample time now for progressives (at least middle-class ones) to examine their own lives and think about how they may be quietly enabling the kinds of tyranny they deplore. Movements to boycott Wells Fargo and US Bank (over the DAPL pipeline) are promising, I think. And we should not forget holidays tailor-made for resistance like International Workers’ Day on May 1st.

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