Beyond Bernie: The Hidden Potential of Progressive Third Parties

Although the 2016 Democratic Convention came and went quickly this summer, disturbing questions that it raised for many U.S. progressives linger. How could Bernie Sanders, one of the most vocal critics of plutocracy, enthusiastically endorse Hillary Clinton? She is a classic corporate Democrat who defeated him in a blatantly rigged primary. And now that Bernie has backed such an establishment figure, is there any hope for a political revolution, if there ever was? To address these questions, we must look beyond Bernie as an individual and towards the larger left-liberal culture of which he is a part. Therein lays an insidious myth that binds most progressives to the political status quo, and an underlying truth that can help set them and the nation free.

Bernie justified his turn to Clinton with the same belief that keeps many left-leaning people firmly in the Democratic Party fold—the certainty that there are no viable alternatives. In fact, from the beginning of his presidential campaign he explained that running outside of the Democratic Party would be too hard, that he did not want to indirectly help elect a Republican, and that therefore he would endorse the Democratic nominee if he didn’t win the primary.

Yet Bernie, a self-identified independent socialist, rose politically from the progressive third party movement in his own state. He used to strongly advocate third party politics. But that diminished after his election to Congress and growing collaboration…

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