“W.F.P. had the
strategy and the know-how and we combined that with what D.S.A. does
best, which is boots-on-the-ground organizing,” Ms. Cabán said.
The new leader of the Working Families Party in New York hopes to remake the progressive group to attract the energized left.
the W.F.P. is small potatoes when you consider the much broader
movement being built,” said Jonathan Westin, director of New York
Communities for Change, a grass-roots organizing group. “There is a
growing anger on the left about where we need to be going and that the
Democratic Party has not gone there.”
There are signs that the Democratic Party is heading for a crisis and possibly a split or the emergence of a new party to the left. The key is the ability to have deep grassroots (the Dem Party has an organized machine at the neighborhood levels). Imagine the scenario where the progressive wing feels denied in the 2020 election process. There is such hatred of Trump that people will bite their tongues - other than the far left which doesn't want any entanglement in electoral politics -- but that is the fringe, so ignore them for now. But it can't be top down and must have roots at the community level.
The on the ground work of DSA and other groups in challenging Democrats that are not viewed as left enough has created a lot of tension in the party -- why the AOC victory of Crowley who was/is a typical Dem boss, was so huge. There's more to come, with a lot more challenges to long-time Dem politicians coming. The question is can the left actually take control of the party - and at this point I can't see that happening - which can only lead to some kind of formation of a new party - but it can't be a fringe but a coalition of sorts of the left wing of the current Dem Party which is clearly growing.
Remember the Green Party? They run for president and NY Governor and have a splattering of candidates in local races. But they have been far outstripped by the DSA in many places. I believe the current political crisis will force various segments of the left to come together - even if they have to grin and bear it.
That is why the article I cite here is so interesting: A working relationship between the Working Families Party, which was just screwed over royally by the Cuomo vendetta against them which will probably cost them their place on the ballot -and also the abandonment of union support - with the UFT as prime deserter -- and the DSA is intriguing and a first step in the consolidation. But one thing has to be clear. DSA is anti-capitalist and as I pointed out in yesterday's post (How the Cool Kids of the Left Turned on Elizabeth Warren - POLITICO)
, there is much synergy between DSA and Jacobin, groups clearly out to end capitalism and establish some version of socialism - and there's the rub there as that wing has engaged in ideological warfare for the past 150 years.
The article points out the mine field in the potential for cooperation:
The W.F.P. and
the D.S.A. may not agree on everything. The W.F.P., for example, has
endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic presidential
primary; the Democratic Socialists have endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders.
What the reported is missing is the level of vituperation directed at the WFP by the Jacobin crowd for endorsing Warren as that Politico article I cited. This alliance won't be an easy one. But if it worked it could have an impact on the Dem party here in the city.
I've written in the past about the potential of the Democratic Socialists (DSA) which has grown tenfold since 2016, in challenging the Dem Party machine at the neighborhood level in gentrified areas. There are eight NYC branches geographically located throughout the city with a 9th citywide Labor Branch rooted in union members from around the city - a group where the current MORE leadership has rooted itself. (But more on that angle in the future.) I've attended a few south Brooklyn DSA branch meetings and was impressed with the level of activity in so many areas (housing, health to name a few - though ironically not much on education) on a grass roots level. If the other branches are doing the same, these are deep roots that in certain neighborhoods can compete with the Democratic Party machine. The real problem for DSA is that it is rooted in the gentrified areas and dominated by fairly young whites, a majority male but increasingly female.
The work of DSA is so antithetical to the usual Dem Party machine politics and DSA has aligned with other left wing groups to challenge the machine in areas where it can build alliances. As pointed out in the article that I almost missed in Saturday's NYT, the Tiffany Caban challenge for the Queens DA race was an example. The left points out how she lost by only 50 votes to the machine candidate, Melinda Katz (who was forced to lean left by the campaign). But I also point out that there were 7 candidates running who were not really left and if it were Caban/Katz head to head it wouldn't have been close. And that is the essential weakness of the DSA/left - their strength is in the white progressive gentrified areas - like northwest Queens. Most of the rest of Queens - and I include the black areas in southeastern Queens - is nowhere close to where DSA stands. One of the reasons I have begun to distribute the leftist monthly, The Independent, in Rockaway libraries is to expand that point of view.
Nnaemeka’s background as a black woman
who is the daughter of immigrants was a signal that groups like the
W.F.P. and D.S.A. were listening to the criticism. “The
progressive left is a multiracial coalition,” Ms. Nnaemeka said.
“Blacks are progressive. I’m a black person who considers herself part
of a strong progressive left who wants to expand possibilities for
The weakness of DSA has been in its inability to attract people of color - nothing new - just look at a group like MORE in the UFT. At almost every meeting for 6 years we heard complaints about how white the group is- and still is - and white male dominated. But The Squad is a sign of change. And locally, there is hope that an alliance between DSA and WFP can remedy that.
A Political Party Aligns Itself With Ocasio-Cortez