An Answer To Cornel West – A “Peoples Party” Won’t be Imposed From Above

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

In a Democracy Now interview Dr. Cornel West said he was part of a new "Peoples Party" the invention of former Bernie staffers who want to recruit their old boss and maybe some other Democrats to leave the capitalist duopoly. In the first place Bernie is a war Democrat content to stay where he is. In the second place, stealing the politicians of the corrupt Democratic party is no shortcut to organizing the people.

An Answer To Cornel West – A “Peoples Party” Won’t be Imposed From Above

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We agree with our good friend Dr. Cornel West that the Democratic party is the craven servant of privatizers, gentrifiers and Wall Street at home and of vicious empire abroad, which explains why it’s pretty much useless to those who seek justice and peace. But we are deeply skeptical of Brother West’s latest project, something called the Peoples party, not incorporated or on the ballot anywhere, still a gleam in the eye of some folks who used to work for Bernie Sanders, one of whom was interviewed with West on Democracy Now this week.

Their big insight was that local Democratic politicians run local and state parties. But if their new Peoples Party can steal away some of those Democratic politicians, provided they can find some local Democrats not already bought by telecoms, privatizers or charter school sugar daddies, then the Peoples Party will get millions of Democratic voters, and they’ll become big players. And they want to start by recruiting Bernie Sanders.

In the manner of outfits that don’t have local roots anywhere they hung a petition on the internet hoping for millions of signers, maybe the beginning of a list they can use.

This is wrong-headed on multiple levels.

First, Bernie has decided what he is, and that’s a Democrat, often a pro-war Democrat. Those who believe otherwise delude themselves or others. Bernie will be 77 when the next grueling yearlong presidential campaign begins, not when it ends.

Third and most important a peoples party ought to begin with organizing, educating, and training leaders from among the people, not borrowing the leaders and politicians of the corrupt capitalist parties. If Cornel seriously wants to help us build a peoples party, a party that stands for children and the elderly, for the planet and for peace which can compete with the capitalist parties he’s actually talking about how we get to a mass based party of the left. You don’t do that by poaching politicians, you do it by empowering people, educating people, raising their political levels, and identifying leaders among them.

A peoples party worth the name has to start from below, among the people and be scaled up. It won’t start from above, in the office of some politician or staffer and trickle down, and sorry it will not start on the internet. Brother Cornel’s intellect would serve us better focused on the specific challenge of building powerful, sustainable left political organizations, what he calls the “institutional capacity” that the left lacks, than on fantasies of recruiting Democratic politicians for a so-called peoples party.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at [email protected].