The question of the nature of the Democratic Party and its role in American politics comes in an out of focus around every election cycle. Approaching the 2016 Presidential election, the same issues resurface, as well as new iterations of old ones: what do we make of the run of formerly independent socialist Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary? Once again, can the Democratic Party be used by radicals, or is the whole structure designed to prevent any politics outside the typical narrow range?
Episode 029 is an interview with Lance Selfa, author of The Democrats: A Critical History. Lance describes what the political landscape looks like right now in 2015, explaining what he thinks are some of the key issues of the day. We discuss some of the reasons why the United States does not have a working class, socialist or other third party and instead is dominated by a two-party duopoly. Lance maps out some of the make-up of the US electoral system that have made it very difficult to break from the two major parties, comparing our winner take-all elections with other capitalist democracies, drawing out both similarities and differences.
Most of the episode naturally focuses on the Democratic Party. Lance gives some history about how the Democrats have transformed and points that the Democrats are largely an electoral machine for pushing a business agenda through government. A portion of the discussion centers on how the Democratic party functions undemocratically, and why he believes this makes a nomination for Bernie Sanders incredibly unlikely.
The episode ends with some discussion of alternatives, including the recent Left Elect conference held in Chicago to build independent political campaigns.[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/blacksheeppod/029__Lance_Selfa_on_The_Democrats.mp3]