A house divided cannot stand. Yet that is precisely where the progressive left finds itself. We are a fragmented movement, though we march the same road. With each new wave of the political diaspora from the corrupt Democratic Party, we once again find ourselves talking of the next third party, the next independent movement, the next great solution. Each wave of the exodus creates one more tiny group among the plethora of third parties and union organizations, all working in unorganized fashion, all hoping they will be the solution.
Each third party currently hopes to gain the membership of all others, while few acknowledge that one size doesn’t fit all. Like protestant churches all trying to convert one another to the one true faith, they end in stalemate. But shouldn’t we leave that problem to the Democrats alone? Isn’t it the Democrats who are the one size fits all party, glossed over with grand pomp about unity, with identity politics in the guise of diversity?
This shouldn’t be our problem. It should be made clear that unlike that dying, dead, and undead party, we can have unity without uniformity. We need not look alike, live alike, or believe alike to unite as one in our common hopes and against our various problems. We are our brother’s and our sister’s keepers, and it is in the extension of the terms, brother and sister, to apply to every human being that we find real allies and in which we fight against oppression and disenfranchisement everywhere it is found. It is a shallow kind of morality–the basest kind–which requires homogeneity to have ethnic, political, or religious peace.
The formation of new parties is clearly not working, however. We split our power so that the voice of a formidable electorate comes to naught. In this, we become disillusioned and our low voter turnout is the only form of political power we have, albeit, as a negative form of power in our absence at the polls. This is, and has always been, to the advantage of the two major parties. If fewer people vote, it is easier to gain control of the vote. Our division is their gain. The two major parties continue their dangerous drift to the right, without any concern that something might blossom in the power vacuum that remains on their left flank. This situation tends toward a lesser-of-two-evils discourse, leads inevitably to the illusion of choice, and brings out the baser side of all involved, at the expense of the American citizen and the real issues and problems we all face. There is no lesser evil. Between two evils, there is only organized evil, and less organized evil.
A Progressive Coalition
The writing’s on the wall. The time has come to form a coalition of progressive parties, and at its center, a progressive platform. Our voice is our power, and it grows by organization. We are more than the sum of our parts. If we stand together, our power is multiplied, our voices are louder, our solutions are wiser.
The progressive third parties of the left must assemble and create a common platform of political issues that seem both vital and immediate in their impact on our lives. The parties must avoid lofty moralizing and empty platitudes and, instead, create a platform that defines discrete policies that go to the heart of the issues, that are at once strong, moral, and yet broad enough to be acceptable to individual parties. This is not a watering down of all parties with a resulting loss of party identity. This is the creation of the hub of a great wheel. The coalition is not a party, but the platform these parties create.
Having created the coalition platform–no small task–we can begin in earnest to work in unison, as a large and diverse bloc of voters. Having a coalition platform that is clear and issue-based gives us the ability to quickly describe in short order where a candidate in any given party of the coalition stands. Vetting becomes easy. The result is that we increase our ability to vote as a bloc. As individual voters, we will still vote as we choose, but by voting over party lines where possible, we are collectively voting for the coalition platform itself. We are furthering the collective end of that platform. This is no small achievement.
Parties are going to disagree on various issues. Candidates within parties may disagree on issues. Two candidates may, for instance, have different stances on student debt and how to solve this problem. However, if it is not an issue of the coalition platform, the coalition has no basis for acting, has no ground for vetting candidates. This is federalism. This allows an added measure of diversity of thought, opinion, and solutions to reign, and allows parties and candidates to diversify, angle themselves, and appeal to the varied needs and hopes of voters on issues beyond the coalition platform. But in that coalition platform, we vote as a bloc. There would be risk that should the coalition stray from its exclusive focus on the platform, that it might end in bias for or against a given party. There is also a risk that the coalition will become watered down and lose sight of those things the member parties collectively deem crucial. Stay the course.
Member organizations need not be political parties to join the coalition. These can be politically oriented organizations such as labor unions, but in all cases must be politically oriented in purpose, and must agree to support the coalition platform.
In doing all of this, it would be easier for 10 parties to gain ballot access for one candidate, than for 10 parties to gain ballot access for 10 candidates. In doing this, the coalition would then act as the coordinating body of the respective member parties, perhaps with leadership roles on a rotational basis. In doing this, it would act as the clearinghouse of information, vetting, marches, and protests. The coalition would act to coordinate resources for gaining ballot access, increasing the number of signatures needed for a given petition or candidate. The reputation of the coalition would share in the successes of each member party, would improve public opinion of each party submitting to the common cause, would increase experience among smaller parties, and would improve awareness of the coalition, the parties, and above all the platform.
There are numerous other benefits to the formation of a coalition. The greatest of these is that every progressive leader elected to office will have the coalition as their anchor point and will be less likely to get lost in the crowd of major parties. Should the coalition succeed in electing just three coalition party officials to the current Senate, for example, replacing Republicans, both Democrats and Republicans would then find themselves in minority. This electoral wedge would force progressive Democrats to work with the coalition, or lose more ground for working around us with Republicans.
A Call to Progressive Coalition
The portrait that is being painted here is one of incentive. This call to coalition proposes to federate the progressive third parties around a people’s platform. As the coalition gains in strength, credibility, and legitimacy, more third parties will wish to join. It will simply be beneficial to do so. The goal is a diverse body of member parties, working together on agreed upon core issues, adding voices to a chorus where there once was the roar of a disorganized crowd. In attempting to create lift, a coalition would add the pressure of increased numbers, and in organizing, uniting, would move the fulcrum for increased leverage.
If we unite, we win.