The political left in the US is a political minority that is constantly misrepresented and abused. While the capitalist has captured the media and the political arena, flooding the country with its messages about the wonders of capitalism and the “American Dream” and the dangers of socialism and communism, the left has struggled to get its message out to the American people.
An important part of this problem is the frequent fracturing of the left movement where we fight amongst ourselves and lose sight of the real enemy… US capitalism and imperialism. This was evidenced in 2016 right after Donald Trump’s victory when tens of thousands of people, especially women, took to the streets in anger throughout the US. Many of us on the left not only supported these demonstrations but participated in the actions being taken. After all, an undeniable fascist had risen to power and it had generated actions in which we, on the left, could, as the Black Panthers informed us, “seize the moment.” It is true that these actions did not challenge US capitalism but people were angry and were taking to the streets to express their anger, frustration, and fear. But the radical purists not only denounced these demonstrations but denounced those on the radical left who joined with those taking to the street, often condemning their political decisions as well as insulting them personally.
We are currently faced with another moment of truth, whether or not to support the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Although Sanders is nothing more than a moderate liberal, we must once again, “seize the moment.” Sanders’ proposals are capturing the attention of the young, some of whom have never voted before. This is where we, the radical left, have an opportunity to raise the level of class consciousness of these young people by joining with them. Rejecting Sanders because his proposals do not go far enough and his political history is less than progressive, misses the point. He is addressing many important issues which would otherwise lie dormant and be ignored; he is forcing the status quo Democratic Party to deal with him; he is motivating millions of people to join him. That’s why we see the party’s establishment mobilizing behind Joe Biden. Sanders scares the establishment.
Our message will not be heard through MSNBC, CBS, or Fox News. Neither will it be heard by our silence when people decide to act. It is through our support and participation, where we have the opportunity to raise the consciousness of our neighbors and fellow citizens, that we can share our vision of what this country ought to be. It is important that we place ourselves where the people are if our movement is to grow and become effective. If we expect the people of the US to rise suddenly against capitalism, it will not happen. They are inundated daily with the virtues of capitalism and the threat to freedom by a system of socialism. We need to stay united and recognize that there are many legitimate ways to fight the fight. Accepting and supporting the people where their consciousness lies is crucial and offers us the “moment.”
Dave Alpert has masters’ degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner-city adolescents.