Peter Camejo’s Avocado Declaration details the role of the Democratic Party in first opposing social change then in co-opting it, trying to funnel it into the Democratic Party. They exist to preserve the status quo, not change it.
When social change begins, the Democratic Party always opposes it.
Since the Civil War, without exception, the Democratic Party has opposed all mass struggles for democracy and social justice. These include the struggle for ballot reform, for the right of African Americans to vote and against American apartheid (“Jim Crow”), for the right to form unions, for the right of women to vote, against the war in Vietnam, the struggle to make lynching illegal, the fight against the death penalty, the struggle for universal health care, the fight for gay and lesbian rights, and endless others. Many of these struggles were initiated by or helped by the existence of small third parties.
When they can’t kill it, they then support it in a watered-down form and try to co-opt it, pretending they were really for it all along..
When social justice, peace or civil rights movements become massive in scale, and threaten to become uncontrollable and begin to win over large numbers of people, the Democratic Party begins to shift and presents itself as a supposed ally. Its goal is always to co-opt the movement, demobilize its forces and block its development into an alternative, independent political force.
Here’s the crux, the real role of the Democratic Party.
[The Democratic Party acts] as a “broker” negotiating and selling influence among broad layers of the people to support the objectives of corporate rule. The Democratic Party’s core group of elected officials is rooted in careerists seeking self-promotion by offering to the corporate rulers their ability to control and deliver mass support. And to the people they offer some concessions, modifications on the platform of the Republican Party. One important value of the Democratic Party to the corporate world is that it makes the Republican Party possible through the maintenance of the stability that is essential for “business as usual.” It does this by preventing a genuine mass opposition from developing.
This is why liberals and progressives trying to work within a party dedicated to and complicit in maintaining the status quo – no matter if that means backing invasions based on lies or assenting to the use of torture – is an exercise in futility. The change won’t come from within the Democratic Party, it will come when they are either removed from power or forced to obey the will of the people.
But they’ll be happy to have you try to change them. As Camejo says, that’s precisely what their function is, to channel dissent into the party where it can be softened and neutralized.