How the Left Can Become a True Political Force to Be Reckoned With
Continued from previous page
The vitriolic attacks coming from this sector masked the fact that this segment of the Left is actually becoming irrelevant. They had no visible impact on the elections and their protests were largely ignored. Unfortunately, one of the key things that this segment missed was the racial element of the 2012 elections and the need for voters of color, along with a good number of white allies, to push back at the ‘demographic’ attacks that were underway from the political Right. By focusing on all that Obama did incorrectly, this segment of the Left ignored, as well, that the Left and progressives are on the strategic defensive in the USA and that they need alliances that will provide some level of space within which we can operate.
The segment of the Left that actually made a difference was those within the organized Left and the social movement Left who engaged their mass organizations and non-profits in electoral activity.  Whether it was voter registration; voter education efforts; electoral infrastructure work; or Get Out The Vote efforts, many of these organizations proved themselves to be very effective campaign organizations. They appear to be in the process of laying the groundwork for the sorts of progressive alliance building that will be necessary to respond to the next electoral realignment that hits the USA.
What is missing entirely, however, is a coherent, self-identified Left, taking either the form of a united front, alliance, or political organization that can serve as a pole for independent, radical yet grounded Left politics. The mass base for such an effort exists. The opinion polls that demonstrate that roughly one third of the population are open to directions other than capitalism means that approximately 90 million people are seeking alternatives. Consider that 90 million figure when you review the stats for the Green Party’s votes in 2012. The Occupy Movement also evidenced a political fissure that is certain to widen as the class struggle intensifies, though admittedly Occupy did not result in the formation of one or several credible Left organizations (no criticism implied).
The challenge for the Left then becomes two fold. One, there must be a self-identified, self-aware, mass radical Left formation that openly and unapologetically advocates against capitalism and for environmentally friendly socialism. Whether such an organization is called a political party, alliance or some other name is secondary to what it must do and what it must avoid. What it must avoid is the idea that it can or should compete in the electoral realm on the presidential lev el at this time. That is a no-win scenario. What it can do, however, is to unite and train the existing leaders in mass movements and develop an anti-capitalist program and ultimately an anti-capitalist project. We term this notion of a new, self-conscious and organized Left—inspired by the approach taken by and expression used by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci—to be the “Modern Tecumseh.” Second, the Left can also help to build a progressive front—perhaps a popular front against finance capital that unites disparate forces—that gains electoral expression in the form of an organization (rather than a third party) that runs candidates within the Democratic Party or, runs them independently if conditions exist (such as in Vermont where the candidacy and leadership of Senator Sanders needs to be supported).
As long as the progressive forces in the USA are on the defensive there will be tactical alliances that take place that are not satisfying but are nevertheless necessary. These should not be treated as matters of principle but rather as expressions of necessity of the moment. Further, we on the Left must pay much greater attention to what is transpiring among the people themselves. The fact that so many on the Left would have focused on Obama’s record and virtually ignored the intense racist offensive against Obama (and its broader implications) demonstrated that many of our friends are out of touch with reality.