Why You Should Support Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP)

By Millie Phillips and Bill Leumer

We recognize that there are many demands on activists during these difficult times, so why do we think that supporting LCIP should be one of your priorities? Precisely because these are difficult times and the approaches most of us have been taking to deal with them aren’t working!

On June 24, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade. Add to that the ongoing pandemic, mass shootings and white supremacist violence, a war in Ukraine that could turn into nuclear Armageddon, the rapidly increasing climate change disaster, continuing anti-immigrant actions, toxic social media, extreme wealth inequality, rapid inflation, etc. If you are feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, depressed – we get it.

As activists you strive to make a difference. The question is how do we do that, and do it effectively?

There are no instant or easy solutions to any of the crises we face today. Every day, we hear from people calling for positive changes. But they usually leave out the most important factor: we must gain the power to make change happen. Those who have that power currently will do whatever they can to stop us from implementing ideas that benefit us and not them. In the U.S., those in power include not just corporations and billionaires, but the two-party system they control.
Remember how the Democrats told us that, as long as we supported them, they would prevent a reactionary majority from taking over the Supreme Court and ending abortion rights?

LCIP wants to lay the foundation for building our own working-class party, one that reflects the needs and desires of the majority, especially those who are most harmed and marginalized in our society. The majority – young people in particular – would like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, yet, in the absence of a viable party that can win elections, progressive voters fear, despite the betrayals of the Democratic Party, that not supporting Democrats will lead us past the point of no return into a globally dystopian, even fascist future. After all, third parties in the U.S. have been very ineffective. We are in an emergency, and who wants to waste time trying to organize using a strategy that has failed repeatedly?

And, yet, failing to build our own party has led to our current circumstances: a Democratic Party that reneges on all its promises to the working-class majority and, by doing so, has enabled every one of the existential crises we face, including the Republican slide into neofascism. Such a failed system cannot be tolerated indefinitely. Something has to give

LCIP has studied the history of U.S. third parties. Our electoral laws make it very hard to organize one, and Democrats and Republicans alike will continue to do everything they can to keep it that way. Their corporate masters demand no less. That’s the biggest obstacle to building our own party, but there have been lots of mistaken strategies, too. Two of the biggest mistakes have been failing to build a large base of support before starting a party and failing to start at the local level where winning elections is realistic.

That’s why LCIP is different. We are not a party. Rather, we are about building a base throughout the country to recruit, train, endorse, and run loc independent candidates for office on platforms decided by local assemblies of people negatively impacted by current policies (which includes most of us), though we may endorse some existing independent and third-party candidates. Only when this effort is successful in several cities or regions would we advocate combining our efforts to form a national working-class party.

We also recognize the importance of leadership from the very start by activists in marginalized communities (people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, disabled, impoverished) and labor union activists. We are encouraged by the recent rise in labor militancy, usually led by people in the most oppressed sectors, and by rapidly increasing public support for unions. We aspire to draw on this new energy.

Another LCIP objective is to promote widely in the trade union movement a committee that advocates for a Labor-Based Political Party. A resolution adopted by the October 2017 national convention of the AFL-CIO affirmed that, ‘whether the candidates are elected from the Republican or Democratic Party, the interests of Wall Street have been protected and advanced, while the interests of labor and working people have generally been set back.

A second convention resolution concluded that, “the time has passed when we can passively settle for the lesser of two evils politics.” The committee’s goal will be to promote the discussion inside the labor movement about the need to break with the “lesser of two evils politics” and to create a “Labor-Based Political Party” — a reference to the title of a forum organized by key labor officials at the October 2017 AFL-CIO convention. In order to create such a mass working-class party, we will organize to raise awareness in the unions of the need to break with the Democratic Party.

Our union leaders gave lip-service to this resolution but took no action to advance this struggle. It is up to us to get the ball rolling.

LCIP affirms that it’s time for workers to reclaim our unions for struggle against the capitalists. It’s time for workers to reclaim the instruments of power built through hard-fought battles. It’s time for the unions and oppressed working-class communities to break with the Democratic Party and build a working-class party of our own!

The political situation is fraught with dangers but also opportunities. We invite you to join us in this struggle for independent working-class political action. The time is now, Join Us

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(Millie Philips and Bill Leumer are LCIP national continuations committee members living in the San Francisco Bay Area)

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