Some time ago, I began to ponder this question. I can't remember exactly when. Perhaps it was when Congress passed a healthcare bill that did not include single-payer or a public option. Maybe it was after I campaigned in over a dozen states for a progressive candidate who, once in office, appointed robber barons to fix the economic crisis. It might have had something to do with the Employee Free Choice Act being on life support, with a less than stellar prognosis.
Come to think of it, it was probably a little bit of everything. The question remains: Is it time for a new labor party? I am beginning to think so. Even with the system so heavily tilted in favor of having two parties(Thank you Martin Van Buren), I could see it happening, and here is a brief explanation how I think it could be accomplished. Given the fact that the South Carolina Labor Party never got past the fish or cut bait moment, the field seems to be open for a new entity.
I believe that a growing amount of Americans do not identify with either major party. This is not news, but important nonetheless. I believe that any successful attempt to organize a new political party based around economic issues would do well to incorporate the following ideas:
1. Avoid making party-wide stances on volatile wedge issues that individual candidates can handle.
For example, despite the fact that many Democrats happen to be pro-life, they have allowed themselves as a party to be boxed inby the GOP on this issue. This also goes for gun rights, etc. Let the individual candidates make that call, and let the party focus on galvanizing the working class.
2. Appeal to the economic anger of the tea party crowd.
I know it may be hard for some of my inside the beltway friends to believe, but there are a fair amount of rank-and-file union members in the Tea Party Movement(for those of you who missed my post devoted to this subject, you can read it here). As I stated in the aforementioned entry, I believe the reason for this is that the Labor Movement missed a major opportunity to unite working-class Americans against the capitalist system that got us into this financial mess. Instead, the Tea Party Movement has hijacked the message to push their fringe, right-wing agenda. We have to get to work on fighting this nonsense. If we can do this effectively, we could build a movement built on the economic interests of the working-class.
3. Solicit support from existing Socialist groups.
I know Socialist is a bad word to many people, but that's because they don't know what the hell a socialist is. Any attempt to organize a legitimate labor party is going to need the help of groups like the Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Party USA, The International Socialist Organization, and other groups like this who are dedicated to the cause of labor.
Will this ever happen? I don't know, but what I do know is that we'll be hard-pressed to find another economic situation like this in the near future where a large portion of the population is tired of the two-party nonsense and is listening if someone else offers a better solution.
Let's offer it to them.