Democratic Strategists are beside themselves with lesser evilist apoplexy over Cornel West’s independent socialist campaign for president. They are reviving the specter of past Green Party candidates as being responsible for rightwing administrations presiding over the country. The prime example of this is Clinton Era operative James Carville, who is perhaps the slimiest Democratic Party corporate hack of them all. As in the past, he was recently once again resurrected from “MSNBC’s Cryochamber,” as The New Republic called it, to guard the party from any left challengers.
Quintessential quotes from Carville like saying Cornel West is “a threat to the constitutional order of the United States” and that he’s just going to give the election to Trump are emblematic of the vitriol unleashed by the corporate media by many other pundits. This vitriol is necessary to shield Biden and the Democratic Party establishment for the embarrassing questions about how he could possibly be neck-and-neck in the polls with Trump, a 4-time indicted megalomaniac with more than a dozen sexual harassment accusations to his name. The answer of course is that Biden’s entire record whether in the US Senate, as VP to Obama, or as president has been utterly destructive to the working class and oppressed.
Ralph Nader Didn’t Cost The Democrats The 2000 Election
Lesser evilism is an old game, perfected to fever pitch in the aftermath of Ralph Nader’s 2000 campaign for president on the Green Party ticket. James Carville went on Good Morning America and said “Don’t you think Ralph Nader has done enough damage to the country? I mean, he was probably single-handedly responsible for electing George Bush,” The truth however is that even on the face of it, the idea that Nader cost Al Gore the election in 2000 is a lie. Most Nader voters in the exit polls stated that if he wasn’t on the ballot, they would have just stayed home.
There were numerous far more substantial reasons Gore lost than Nader’s votes in Florida but the media and corporate politicians chose to focus all fire on Nader. The Clinton/Gore Administration’s record was not just totally uninspiring but included vicious attacks on workers and oppressed people. Corporate free trade agreements like NAFTA that gutted industrial jobs, virtually ending the Assistance for Families with Dependent Children program, massively ratcheting up the racist mass incarceration state, and massive deregulation of essentially casino capitalism on Wall Street. Further, no questions are asked about the 308,000 Registered Democrats in Florida who voted for Bush in 2000 compared to Nader’s 97,488.
Lesser evilism treats us like hamsters in a wheel with no exit ramp. In 2004 and 2008, we were harangued to vote Democrat to end Bush’s war on Iraq. Each time we were told how uniquely important that election was. Then Obama continued the Iraq War for most of his presidency and further expanded the War on Terror to five additional countries. Essentially their aim is to force us to look at every election abstracted from the political events and historical period that led up to it or will follow it. Meanwhile, lesser evilism allows both parties to get worse and more conservative over time.
Registered Republicans And Democrats Aren’t The Only Voters
The fact of the matter is that there is a vast latent army of youth, working people, and the oppressed who do not vote because they see little to no potential for change in the established two corporate parties. Nader’s campaign in 2000 and to a much bigger extent Bernie’s primary campaigns, though ill-fated, brought large numbers of new voters into the elections. They were animated by a bold call for a “political revolution against the billionaire class,” with transformative working-class demands like Medicare for All and tuition-free public colleges and universities. Further, there are people who voted for Trump who could be won over to a working-class campaign that challenged the billionaire class. This is evidenced by the fact that in 2016, there were 12% of Bernie voters who switched to Trump in the general, as he was the only one remaining in the race who painted himself as anti-establishment, as disingenuous as that was.
For us, the key strategic priority is that the US working class and oppressed need our own mass left party, and we need to bring together new activists to form the base of that now! As the highest-profile independent left campaign since Nader in 2000, the Cornel West campaign offers a great potential opportunity for that, regardless of how many votes he gets in the end. The bottom line is that there will never be easy favorable terrain in the two-party system to campaign for a prominent independent left candidate like Cornel West. We have to build the movement now and take the necessary risks if we are going to build an independent mass working-class party to fight unapologetically in the interests of the working class and oppressed.