Houston's branch of Socialist Alternative convened a gathering of progressives of various stripes at the Montrose Center last night. The theme was building popular resistance to Donald Trump and his minions in the White House and Congress. SA needs to book a bigger room next time: About 80 people showed up, twice what Room 112 can comfortably accommodate.
Well, you know what they say about good intentions. It wasn't exactly hell, or even the road thereto, but it did get warm and stuffy in that overcrowded room.
Socialism Requires Too Many Evenings
After several attendees discoursed on the topic of "Alternative Facts" and the erosion of verbal meaning in political dialog—several times seizing pieces of other people's responses and driving the discussion way off topic—they spent at least a half-hour quite civilly debating the issue of collaborating with the Democratic Party, and even running candidates in Democratic primary races in 2018. I say "at least" because I left when I'd heard more than enough; it might have dragged on even longer.
In the words of the great gladiator and revolutionary Spartacus, fuck that shit. It's another wall against which I refuse to beat my proverbial head. I am now praying frantically to St. Oscar Wilde to get yesterday evening back.
After last week's dismal outing with Houston Area Progressives, I was hoping that Socialist Alternative would provide respite from such talk. Hopes: dashed. To his credit, Brian and the other SA folks on hand stressed that the Democratic Party has proven itself "unreliable" (Brian's word) as a vehicle for progressive change. As Jill Stein observed repeatedly, "You can't create revolutionary change in a counter-revolutionary party." The last 30-plus years have proven that.
There were also plenty of folks in attendance—I reckon at least half of them—who would also Just Say No to working within either establishment party.
Democrats Yes, Democratic Party Hell No
In this resistance effort, I am not opposed to uniting in a coalition with individuals who identify as Democrats. Some of my best friends are Democrats. I can wish with all my might that Progressive Democrats would #DemExit en masse, but I won't hold my breath. If they're for real peace, for the environment, for justice in all its flavors, and against the neo-liberal agenda, they're comrades too. #NeverTrump Republicans are also welcome if they meet those criteria.
However, the Democratic Party as an institution is not our friend, any more than the Republican Party is. Until further notice, it remains the leftish wing of the War & Wall Street Party, regardless of who ends up in the Big DNC Chair this year. With Trump occupying the White House, in 2020 the Democrats are free to run someone slightly less odious than Trump with the slogan, "At least he/she isn't Trump!" (UPDATE: More on this subject from Caity.)
The Texas Democratic Party is equally unlikely to start pitching Progressives in the midterms. More than half of our state legislative and Congressional seats are ridiculously safe, and are occupied by entrenched legislators with lots of corporate backing. Also, as I have stated before, progressive ideas do not get much traction in district conventions here.
Nope, Socialist Alternative needs to build a new platform for its popular resistance movement, whether it participates in elections here or just unites disaffected Progressives. I wish it great success in so doing, and with any luck I'll be part of building it.