If progressives can learn one thing from the 2014 election cycle, it is that they no longer have a place in the Democratic Party.
With Republicans on the offensive, Democratic incumbents and hopefuls spent the entire election running away from anything perceived to be associated with President Obama. In effect, this created numerous Democratic campaigns that ran to the right of a president that was already on a long-standing drift to the right of his own. This is in contrast to the normal state of affairs, which is where Democrats campaign on ideas that appeal to the progressive base and then do not deliver when elected.
This set of events left progressives and even many liberals without the party that they would normally identify with and vote for. The result was a sweeping defeat for Democrats in the congressional and gubernatorial elections, losing their Senate majority in the process.
At the same time that voters gave a resounding defeat to the Democrats, they also voted heavily in favor of raising the minimum wage in several states. Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota all approved minimum wage initiatives by double-digit margins, while at the same voting down statewide Democratic candidates by double-digit margins in three of the four states. By doing this, working class voters have proven that they are prepared and willing to embrace the issues and cast off the party and politicians that fail to deliver on them.
Outside of the twin parties of capitalism, Tuesday’s election saw candidates running to the left of the Democrats collectively receive over a quarter of a million votes. The parties and specific beliefs of these candidates may be different, but the fact that so many people threw their support behind at least one left-wing candidate cannot be ignored. Our own Adam Adrianson can take credit for 33,000 of these votes from his Socialist Party campaign for the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.
Moving forward, progressives in the United States have to realize that they no longer have a party that represents them. The Democratic Party is on a one-way charge to the right, and progressive-minded people have no place on that trip.
Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the limit of what the Democrats have to offer. They serve as icons to entice progressives and liberals with populist messaging and hopes of building a radical element within the Democratic Party. In reality, they are puppets meant to distract voters and activists with hopes that will never be realized in the current political alignment.
Aside from staying in place and becoming increasingly marginalized and powerless, the only alternative for progressives in the United States is to break from the Democratic Party and move to the Left. By this, we mean the real Left, rather than the left that the Democratic Party has pretended to be.
Socialism, specifically democratic socialism, offers the social justice and economic democracy that progressives yearn for but will never see in a Democrat majority or the capitalist system. By moving towards democratic socialism, working class people who currently identify as progressive or liberal will find radical ideas they could have never dreamed of with the Democrats, along with a rapidly growing movement that is dedicated to building a new society of radical democracy from below.
We hope you will join us in this struggle.
Socialist Party USA National Action Committee 11/8/2014