The Wrong Way to Stop the Right

Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) made news last week by contributing, for the first time in her nearly five years in the House of Representatives, $260,000 to the campaign arm used by Democrats in the House of Representatives. For her first few years in office, she resisted contributing to the larger fund, choosing to use her successful fundraising exclusively on her own campaigns and to maintain at least some symbolic independence from the rest of the Democratic Party. Now she says she is shifting her position because she fears what a Republican-controlled House might do during a disputed presidential election that might occur at the end of this year or early next year. This shift isn’t nearly as important as it might seem. On a whole host of specific policy issues and votes, and in a number of significant ways, Ocasio-Cortez is not much different than your average Democrat. They talk a good game, giving a rousing speech here and there, but do not fight for the working class or for any fundamental changes to the system.

Her donation shows another problem with AOC and other so-called progressives and radicals: they still think that working within the electoral system to elect Democrats will stop the rising right wing, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Democratic Party, even if its so-called left could influence its actions, has no shot to and does not intend to abolish the class society that leaves millions behind while the One Percent gets richer. They won’t give us free health care or better schools, or slash military budgets, or magically create a sustainable society. We can’t expect Democrats to solve our problems, or even to defend us from Trump’s likely authoritarianism or his most violent supporters. AOC’s rationale for now supporting Democrats is severely misguided!

To address our needs seriously, we must build our own power. The working class is the majority of any capitalist society and that’s true in today’s United States. Working-class people must organize as a class and use our power where it matters – in our workplaces and in the streets. Only a dynamic and strong working class can win angry workers away from Trump’s lies, and only a strong working class can stop a confrontational and potentially violent right wing.