Clearly, at present there is not a really dynamic contender able to take on the mantle as an “Occupy candidate.” There is still time between now and the summer when new candidates could step forward. Socialists should hold off any endorsement until we see what might emerge in the coming months. At that point, we will be better able to make an informed decision on what candidate we might support in 2012.
In the first few months of 2012, socialists should determinedly reach out to activists and individuals on the left, especially those in the Occupy movement, in an attempt to engage the broadest possible layer of left and Occupy activists about the need to run independent left candidates. At present, we are facing a strong current among the leading elements in the Occupy movement that wants the movement to either support the Democrats or to attempt to ignore the election. However, there are other activists and individuals who are looking for a dynamic political direction to whom we can look to take up our proposals.
We cannot tell in advance if this will be successful, but by engaging in this socialists will be activating an essential discussion about the role of working-class politics in the movement and the role of the Democratic Party. This effort should include debates with prominent liberal supporters of the Democrats or Ron Paul to help flush out the role of each and the way forward. This will be an excellent way to build the forces of socialism.
In 2008, the leaders of unions and community organizations told us to vote for the Democrats. The unions alone spent over $400 million supporting Democrats. Yet Obama and the Democrats failed to deliver. In our union locals and union conventions and in other progressive social movements, socialists need to initiate a debate about why our movement is throwing its valuable resources behind Obama and the Democrats again. We need to demand that unions cut off their funds to the Democratic Party candidates. This money should be used to build broad working-class movements, fund candidates independent of the two parties, and build a new independent political party of working people and the poor.
Important electoral initiatives could develop on a city, county, and state level. By linking up with existing social movements, an independent left candidate could become an important factor in the local political situation and a focal point for local activists looking to fight back against the corporate agenda. Socialists should be arguing for such candidates to run locally. If conditions mature, socialists should participate in any such initiatives that develop on the ground, or where possible take the initiative to launch campaigns.
As events develop over the next few months, we will have a much clearer idea of any new candidates or movements that will have emerged. The Green Party will hold its convention from July 13 to 15 to nominate its presidential candidates. Socialists should reserve judgment on candidates at this point in time in an effort to help crystallize a more dynamic left candidate or political formation’s development, and make our decisions based on upcoming events. As in the past, socialists should support the strongest possible left independent candidate in 2012, while at the same time explaining the need for building a mass movement in the streets, an independent party of the working class, and the need for a socialist transformation of society.