enters into its final years, with the massive economic inequality that's appeared throughout the last four decades having spawned a new political era of radicalism on both the left and the right, American democracy is naturally becoming more factionalized than usual. The most glaring political divide, of course, is the one between those who support the agenda of president-elect Donald Trump and those who aim to fight him. But that hasn't meant that there isn't an equally significant split within the anti-Trump camp.
Namely, there's a dispute as to whether or not the chief anti-Trump organization should represent corporatism, militarism, and other facets of the neoliberal paradigm. Since the majority of Americans side with anti-neoliberal goals, the victory of the non-corporatist camp is naturally assured, but even within this group a dispute has appeared: whether or not the Democratic Party should fill the role of this progressive organization.
Following the Democratic leadership's sabotage this year of the Bernie Sanders campaign, a great deal of Sanders' supporters, already angered to a breaking point by the saga of betrayals that Democratic elites have perpetrated on their base, decided to finally throw up their hands and leave the party. And at first, this "DemExit" movement looked like it was going to succeed, with the poll numbers of the Green Party's Jill Stein having surged during the summer as a result of it.
But after Stein's disappointing Election Day performance of 1% of the vote, DemExit has evidently lost much of its initial steam. Apart from Cornel West and Chris Hedges, all the major progressive leaders are deciding to take the approach of "DemEnter" and try to change the Democratic Party rather than build a new one. For just two examples, Robert Reich, who used to be in the Demexit camp, is now advocating for the Democratic Party's reform, while Bernie Sanders, possibly the most powerful voice on the left right now, is doing the same, saying that the party needs a "fundamental transformation."
Indeed, it appears that because of this, DemEnter currently has more support and momentum than DemExit. But just because DemEnter is popular, it isn't necessarily the best solution; as we've seen this year, the Democratic Party, far from being an empty vessel for progressive reform, is something of a political labrynth, with many devices set in place to make it harder for non-corporatists to take control of it. As Cornel West has said regarding the idea of reforming the party, "I have a deep love and respect for brother Bernie Sanders. I always will. I don't always agree with him. I'm not convinced that the Democratic Party can be reformed. I think it
still has a kind of allegiance to a neoliberal orientation."
So who's right? From an objective standpoint, the approaches of both DemExit and DemEnter have a lot of merit, as well as a lot of potential for failure, and should the currently dominant option of DemEnter fall short of its objectives going into the 2018 and 2020 elections, we'll end up with a fatally damaged Democratic Party and no viable alternative option to replace it.
And should much of the left suddenly start working towards building the Green Party between now and then, given the third party-hostile nature of America's electoral system there's a good chance that the Greens won't become a viable option by 2020, putting Trump's opposition in a similar position to the one mentioned in the previous paragraph. In either of these scenarios, the left will end up blowing the crucial 2020 election.
Those in the DemExit and DemEnter camps are competing for which group's approach will decide the next course that the left takes, and should this standoff last into the next election, the central cause of both groups will be lost.
But despite the risks that come with this competition, I believe its continuation is necessary for now. We don't know for sure which method will turn out to be the most practical and effective one, so when the time comes in 2020 to unite behind whichever approach proves to be the best, it would be wise to make it so that both are viable options by then.
In short, progressives will need to hedge their bets throughout the next three years as DemExit and DemEnter fight it out. But aside from the uncertainty of this situation, the shared goals of DemExit and DemEnter have an almost certain chance of ultimately triumphing; America's descent into its worst period of wealth inequality has created the factors for a class revolt, and when this uprising occurs sometime in the next several years, the objectives of the left will be realized regardless of which party it happens to be aligned with at that point.
So for now, I recommend that regardless of whether you're in the DemExit or DemEnter camp, you continue working towards your current approach, because when you look at the bigger picture, there's no way you'll fail.