Can the Working Families Party Emerge as the Progressive Third Force in American Politics?

Dr. Ron Daniels

By Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer Emeritus, York College City University of New York

For much of my life’s work as a social and political activist, I have been a proponent of independent Black politics and the creation of a progressive, independent, third force in American politics as a vehicle to advance a visionary politics of social transformation; a politics which will not emerge from the dominant, mainstream political Parties. Back in the day, progressive activists hoped that Rev. Jesse Jackson’s historic, electrifying and progressive Presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988 and his Rainbow Coalition would evolve into a third force; a formation which could undertake an inside/outside strategy by supporting acceptable Democratic candidates as well as endorsing or running independent candidates to advance a progressive agenda. But, for reasons too numerous to recount, this was not to be. Indeed, the Ron Daniels Independent Campaign for President in 1992 and subsequent formation of the Campaign for a New Tomorrow (CNT) was in part a response to the fact that the National Rainbow Coalition did not become an independent, mass-based, progressive, third force in American Politics.

For decades various leaders and organizations have issued calls for either the revival of the Rainbow Coalition or a similar formation to establish a viable alternative to the mainstream political Parties; Over the years what has been missing is a vehicle, a structure or mechanism to achieve this objective. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid was arguably the most powerful effort since Rev. Jackson’s presidential campaigns in the 1980’s, but in the end, no permanent structure was created to harness the energy, enthusiasm and talent of the campaign. Now that a new generation of social and political activists have boldly burst onto the stage of history to achieve a major victory in the 2018 mid-term elections, the moment may have arrived for the creation of the long-awaited but elusive third force. And, the vehicle to advance this cause may be the Working Families Party.

Under the dedicated leadership of Dan Cantor, who served as Labor Coordinator for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign for President (where I also served as Deputy Campaign Manager), the Working Families Party has quietly and methodically spread from its original base in New York State and has established chartered chapters in 13 states, and there are plans to develop chapters in a number of additional States. Because of Cantor’s strong relationships with unions, WFP also has solid roots in the labor movement. Equally important, in a major cross-generational transfer of leadership, Maurice Mitchell, a brilliant, courageous and visionary African American activist/organizer, who rose to prominence with the Movement for Black Lives after demonstrating his extraordinary skills in Ferguson, has been selected as the new National Director of the Working Families Party. His acceptance of this position occurs at an opportune moment in this crucial period.

“There is a time for all things in season,” and the season is ripe for a third force in American politics. The emergence of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the broader Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) may well have marked a turning point in the history of social movements in this country, not only because of their uncompromising demand for police reform/accountability/restructuring, but the insistence that “all Black lives matter,” including the voices of LGBTQ persons. This principled stance helped pave the way for an incredible array of leaders with amazing experience, talent, skill and commitment to come out of the shadows to assume their rightful place in the forefront of movements for social justice and transformative change.

The time is ripe because the Women’s March on Washington, with the equitable inclusion and leadership of women of color, unleashed a wave of activism among women unprecedented in recent history. The time is ripe because it has become abundantly clear ………… CLICK TO CONTINUE READING

Leave a Comment