The Democratic Party and the Politics of Lesser Evilism

The Democratic Party and the Politics of Lesser Evilism, and International Socialist Organization web book, via

This book traces the history of the Democratic Party as a party of Southern slaveholders, a party of big business, and as a party playing on populist themes in order to win the votes of workers and the oppressed. He also looks at the party’s latest, neoliberal incarnation under Clinton and the “new Democrats.” As Selfa shows, the party has always played the role of coopter of any left alternative outside the limited framework of the two-party system. Selfa argues convincingly that the current “Anybody But Bush” mantra that has gripped many on the left has once again set back the struggle to organize a genuine independent left political alternative in the United States.

So I was checking out the website tonight, and I went to the about page.  Near the bottom of the page, I found a link to the ISO (which is the publisher).  I’d been to their site before, including via this link, and found it interesting!  I then checked out the ISO’s website and found a Resources for Members link and checked out the page.  There, they have a blurb for their manual (I haven’t gotten one yet), and a link for the web book for which this is being written about.

The first article in the book, Election 2004: Two Candidates, One Agenda, is by Lance Selfa.  It was published in 2004.  It seems we’re not the first to argue about lesser evilism here at DD!  I read that article and skimmed the others, which were published even earlier.  It’s the Selfa article I want to comment on right now.

It’s must reading.


Coming after reading (and commenting on) Buhdy’s A heartfelt plea to the Far Left, I find Selfa’s article an articulation of why I’m not for the Democratic nominee (or the national party, for that matter).  His points read as if they were written about today’s ongoing Presidential race.  Am I surprised?  Not really.  I do believe that the national Dems are the ‘Left’ wing of an overall Neo-liberal corporatist imperialist party.

Read at least the first article, and see if you don’t agree!

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  1. If we don’t learn from history, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I just didn’t think I’d see it in print this quickly.

  2. … I don’t think any of us believe the Dem party is representative of us or that the corporatists etc., haven’t taken control of the national agenda.

    Where we differ, I think, is in our political choices based on that knowledge.

    I don’t like the concept “lesser of two evils,” because there’s an unlimited amount of evils available to us if we don’t make the right choices, hardly only two.

    Some of us feel McCain needs to be defeated as part of confronting the reality you are talking about in your essay.

    Others feel that’s just feeding the monster, to become involved in national electoral politics at all.

    Both sides have compelling arguments.

    I’ve chosen to vote for Obama.  I do, however, very much respect how you are striving to find your own way politically and that your choices are based upon your principles.

    But I don’t think it’s the lesser of two evils, that there are only two evils.

  3. I am on the sidelines. Until such time that I get off my ass and decide to get citizenship I can’t vote.

    I haven’t even made any political donations because I would rather support my local food bank. I do know this. I want to see a fewer saner more reasonable Supreme Court Judges and that won’t happen under McCain. I want to under cut the influence of the Christian right and do weird things like make sure kids learn science in science class and that won’t happen under McCain. I am not in love with Obama but he deserves a chance. Better to see Obama get in and completely fail as president than to see McCain get in and completely succeed as president because if he succeeds, we all lose.

    Is that “lesser of two evils thinking”, I leave that to you to perceive.

  4. is going to always be compromise. On a national level, thinking any of us are going to get candidates we endorse whole-heartedly very often is an illusion.

    As I said in Buhdy’s essay you linked to – I’ve gotten to vote for one person for a federal office in all my life that I could support almost 100% – and that was Paul Wellstone (I say almost because even Wellstone voted for DOMA – which was a HUGE disappointment to me).

    The whole idea of holding your nose to vote in presidential elections is not new to this election. Its not even new to this generation.  

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