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From: The Socialist issue 908, 29 June 2016: Defend anti-austerity struggle

Search site for keywords: US - Election - Socialist - Socialist Alternative - Young people - Revolution - Working class - Democrats - Kshama Sawant

US presidential election

Sanders' strategy runs up against the buffers

Kshama Sawant on a 15 Now demonstration in Seattle, photo Alex Garland

Kshama Sawant on a 15 Now demonstration in Seattle, photo Alex Garland   (Click to enlarge)

Despite left-wing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders saying he will work with his rival Hillary Clinton to "stop Trump" and "transform the Democratic Party", millions of his supporters are looking for a way to continue the "political revolution" writes Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative national organiser

There is a massive political polarisation in US society reflected in this election. Donald Trump is the most disliked presidential candidate in modern history, and Hillary Clinton is the second most disliked!

The primary victory of the right-populist Trump and the tremendous enthusiasm for left-winger Bernie Sanders are nothing short of a political earthquake in US society.

Trump whipped up racism, sexism and anti-immigrant posturing while opposing capitalist free trade deals and simultaneously saying he'd "destroy Isis" while calling for a more isolationist foreign policy.

Sanders on the other hand mobilised millions of young people with his call for a "political revolution against the billionaire class", his refusal to accept money from corporations, and his pro-working class programme.

Trump and Sanders have one thing in common though: they were bitterly opposed by the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Undemocratic

From voter fraud, to coin tosses, to illegal campaigning and attempted sabotage, the Democratic Party leadership pulled out its undemocratic tools to stop Sanders. It also used the capitalist media to both ignore and to attack him.

Despite this, Sanders says he will work with Hillary Clinton to "stop Trump" and "transform the Democratic Party". Meanwhile, the millions of Sanders supporters are looking for a way forward to continue the "political revolution".

Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative Seattle city councillor, initiated #Movement4Bernie. Its petition calling on Sanders to run all the way to the November election and form a new party of the 99% has around 120,000 signatures, and support for this call is growing.

In one CNN poll, Jill Stein, the left-wing Green Party candidate is polling at 7% of the vote with most of this support coming from people who have been "feeling the Bern".

While this poll comes before the tidal wave of "lesser evilism" against Trump hits left-wing voters, it shows the current search for an alternative among Sanders supporters.

Trump and the right-populism he represents cannot be defeated by relying on the Democratic Party. Its big business policies directly lead to support for right-wing populism, such as the free trade deals and bank bailouts it has championed.

As we have pointed out repeatedly, an establishment icon like Hillary Clinton is the worst way to defeat Trump in this election. If defeating Trump was truly the Democratic establishment's top priority, why did they do everything in their power to stop the most effective anti-Trump candidate, Bernie Sanders?

Break with Democrats

Further, if Clinton wins this election do we really believe it will put an end to the threat of right-wing Republicans?

It is only a working class programme that can effectively combat right-populism. That is why we demand that Sanders breaks from the Democratic Party and runs in the general election to begin building a new party that can combat both right-wing populism and the corporate-controlled Democrats rather than letting Donald Trump become the only well known 'anti-establishment' candidate.

The Sanders campaign has given political expression to working class anger at the billionaire class, particularly among young people. Over 1.5 million people attended Sanders' rallies. This shows the potential for what could be done to continue the "political revolution against the billionaire class".

A majority of young people in the US - the best educated and most diverse, yet most indebted generation in history - now prefer "socialism" over "capitalism", even if their idea of socialism is limited and confused.

US

US "democratic socialist" presidental hopeful Bernie Sanders, photo Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

This is not just a passive preference though; young people are moving into action through the Sanders campaign, the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage, Black Lives Matter and struggles against sexism and homophobia.

Throughout Bernie's campaign, there has been a clear contradiction: he's running a campaign of strident opposition to corporate America within a party controlled by those same corporations he's fighting.

On the left, Jill Stein of the Green Party is the strongest presidential candidate. Socialist Alternative has gathered support for the idea of Sanders running alongside her all the way to November to continue the fight against the billionaire class.

Stein has a left-wing programme and is gaining some name recognition. At Socialist Alternative's recent national convention, we agreed to support her campaign while building the socialist movement necessary to end the poverty, war and misery of capitalism.

If Clinton wins, then the Democratic Party will be overseeing a system in crisis and carrying out attacks on working people, youth and the oppressed. Movements would then come into conflict with the establishment Democrats while Sanders pushes people to "reform" the Party.

Independent

These contradictions would provide possibilities for independent left and working class politics. To fully prepare for immense opportunities in the future, socialists must skillfully but boldly stand up against "lesser evil" pressures and put forward a strategy and programme to win victories for working people.

Socialist Alternative in the US made a breakthrough for independent working-class politics and socialist ideas by getting Kshama Sawant elected twice to Seattle city council.

We led the way on the movement for a $15 an hour minimum wage, and were a socialist pole of attraction in the Sanders campaign. This preparatory work in advance of the mass upheavals coming in US society will provide tremendous opportunities to organise for the socialist transformation of society.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 29 June 2016

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