I’ve been pretty disappointed in Kshama Sawant this election because she has mistaken what works in leftist politics to what doesn’t work. What works is exactly what she did–challenging the Democratic Party from the left in a one-party city. That’s a great idea. In that case, it’s not really a third party challenge. It’s a second party challenge. Instead of building on that to take on lame Democrats and cities and state legislatures in safe districts around the nation, she is making the same error that leftists have made throughout American history: seeking to go presidential immediately. By calling for progressives to vote for Jill Stein, she is calling for a strategy that leads to nothingness, quite literally for the millions who would die from neglect, bombing, and who knows what else in a Trump administration. It’s a dead-end political strategy of nihilism.
But what really gets me is the argument that Jill Stein is an anti-capitalist candidate? How is that true? She might be a candidate opposed to the big banks or whatnot, but she’s barely a socialist. Is Sawant wants the left to vote for anti-capitalist candidates, there are real socialists and communists out there. Why not vote for them? What does Jill Stein possibly offer except regrets over the death of Harambe the gorilla, playing nice with anti-vaxxers, and concerns about the effect of Wifi on our health?
Many progressives will vote for Clinton in spite of their opposition to her politics, simply to prevent Trump from setting foot in the White House. I understand their desire to see him defeated, but even more important is beginning the process—too long delayed—of building an alternative to the pro-capitalist parties monopolizing US politics.
Stein’s campaign is an opportunity to rally support for what is widely wanted and needed: radical change. Even a few million people voting for her would be a powerful expression of the changing political landscape. It would be a down payment for a whole new kind of politics in the years ahead, and a new party based on social movements and ordinary people—a party of, by, and for the 99 percent.
I grant that the Democratic Party is a pro-capitalist party. I do not see any evidence that the Green Party is anti-capitalist in any meaningful way. But once again, the left will throw away real potential gains for meaningless stands based on personality.