Against Dem-Exit

It's clear that the Democratic Party no longer represents the will or interests of the working people of America in a meaningful way. It's clear that the Party has been dominated by its conservative wing and the consultant and donor classes who have learned to advance their personal economic agenda under the status quo, and thus have an entrenched interest in denying power to a progressive movement. You will hear no argument from me on that one.

But to take that another step and to say that this means that the left must organize under some other party banner, separate from the Democratic Party, does not follow.

What is the Dem-exit theory of change? What is the real battle plan for an on-the-ground progressive left wing non-Democratic Party challenge to the status quo?

If we organize under the auspices of the Party, the battle plan is clear: we fight for power in our local Executive Committees, and we continuously leverage that power upward. When we achieve hegemony in our County DEC's, we consolidate with other DEC's in the State to flip the State Party power structure out of the hands of the Party's conservative wing and into progressive hands. When we do that, we immediately have access to Party infrastructure, funds, and power that we can use to advance progressive candidates and an uncompromising policy agenda.

If we organize under the auspices of the Party, we can build coalitions outside and within the Party, bringing together the organizing power and community knowledge of movement activists with the data, electoral experience, and institutional knowledge of Party faithful. While we are insurgent within the Party, we can deploy disruptive and insurgent tactics to raise issue awareness and to build working class consciousness.

If we organize under the auspices of the Party, it takes far less work to amplify our power to advocate for our progressive agenda. If we can flip our County DEC's, we suddenly go from progressivism being insurgent in a local electoral context to it being supported by the hegemonic duopoly of the extant power structure.

Let's not kid ourselves here: a progressive ideological hegemony in nationwide politics is the only victory condition. Anything less and we keep the battle lines drawn and continue our fights.

So what's the path to hegemony for Dem-Exit? The only viable path I've ever heard discussed would require a full labor Dem-Exit. Which would be amazing, I'm on board for the formation of a fully-empowered, fully-funded United States Labor Party, but until that movement comes on board all at once in a big way, I don't believe it's a power vector that grassroots organizers can rely on.

The irony of all this is that this bottom-up, inside-out theory of change is precisely what the Republicans have so successfully deployed in multiple terrains over the past decades. The Tea Party movement used precisely an inside-out pressure strategy to haul the GOP centerline away from a globalist neoconservatism towards a market-skeptic nativism, which we must understand as an incredible shift in ideology. The GOP itself, in the midst of that internal ideological shift, has very successful seized enormous degrees of national power by seizing control at local and state levels and using that local power to amplify their ability to organize at higher levels. GOP Congressional control is a direct result of GOP State Legislature control, not a true national change in American ideology.

So if we wish to get real work done, it's time to stop writing policy like Republicans, and instead start organizing for change like Republicans.