From The Avocado Declaration, by Peter Camejo, written in Spring 2004 as he was running for vice president on the Green Party ticket, with Nader as presidential candidate. Camejo explains how real change in the US invariably originates from third parties and independent movements, and how the historic role of the Democratic Party has been to co-opt such change and render it harmless. (Emphasis added)
Struggles for democracy and social justice
In spite of this pro-corporate political monopoly, mass struggles for social progress, struggles to expand democracy and civil rights have periodically exploded throughout United States history.
Every major gain in our history, even pre-Civil War struggles –such as the battles for the Bill of Rights, to end slavery, and to establish free public education– as well as those after the Civil War have been the product of direct action by movements independent of the two major parties and in opposition to them.
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 it looks like the movement is gaining ground though, the Democratic Party always tries to co-opt it and then pretends they’ve been leading all the while.
Division of work
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.
The Republican Party has historically acted as the open advocate for a platform which benefits the rule of wealth and corporate domination. They argue ideologically for policies benefiting the corporate rulers. The Republicans seek to convince the middle classes and labor to support the rule of the wealthy with the argument that “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country,” that what benefits corporations is also going to benefit regular people.
The Democratic Party is different. They act 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. Together the two parties offer one of the best frameworks possible with which to rule a people that otherwise would begin to move society towards the rule of the people (i.e. democracy).
Hey Netroots, you don’t need to form third parties or independent movements. Why the Democratic Party is real interested in what you have to say (even if your ideas are a bit, well, extreme) so come on in, and we’ll be happy to lend you support, money, contacts, influence (but you really need to get rid of all those rough edges and radical ideas.) Hey, would you like staff and funding? Maybe we can put you in charge of a foundation (then ignore what you say, once we own you. But by then you won’t be talking crazy any more anyway.)