To the Editors of The Crimson:
I have via a telephone message that you were curious as to my views on the McGovern candidacy.
I agree with those who are supporting McGovern, although the Left is so tiny that it makes very little differences what it does.
Moreover, I have come to believe that the only chance, however small, for the American Left to have any impact is to run on its most visionary blueprints in Democratic Party primaries from precinct to President. If the primary is lost, then support goes to the winning Democrat.
I arrived at those views by a process of elimination. The first choice point is between armed struggle and non-violent activities. Since I do not think--have never thought--that armed struggle could succeed in the United States, I am for an explicitly non-violent movement.
A non-violent movement then has to decide whether cannot it will be involved in the electoral process. The New American Movement, at least for the time being, has chosen to avoid the electoral process. I think that is a mistake. To the extent that Americans pay any attention to issues, it is during electoral campaigns.
Once a non-violent movement chooses to include electoral politics among its activities, it must decide between a third party strategy and the Democratic Party. My reading of the American situation reluctantly agrees with political scientists--third parties can be no more than pressure groups in this particular political system.
But it also is useless to "support the best person," so "help elect good liberals," or to gain office by running on a platform that is slightly more "progressive" than that of the other Democratic candidate. Those strategies have been tried with as little success as the third-party strategy.
My belief is that even Americans who are dissatisfied will not support a movement that does not present very concrete alternatives to the present system. They are not about to risk what they have for something that might be worse. They are not going to react to general slogans about self-actualization, peace, and freedom. Hence the need to develop blueprints which show how the various parts of the system (economy, education, health care, etc.) would function. To call for "socialism" or "humanism" is not good enough.
Without the blueprints, which do not now exist, the next part of my plan is meaningless. For that plan is to run on the blueprints in every possible Democratic primary, from precinct to President. In fact, it is essential that candidates be running at all levels on every occasion. Top-down is no good. Grass roots alone is not good enough.
The plan differs from other in-the-system attempts of the past. This is not the old, temporary Communist plan of submerging your ideology and supporting moderates against potential "fascists." Instead, it stresses presenting your ideology (as concretized in the blueprints) as the most important part of the strategy; (In Marxian terms, the search is for "ideological hegemony.") Nor, as I said earlier, is this a plan for supporting the "best candidates" or "good liberals." Nor is this a plan where you expect to win any time soon, in which case you are tempted to run only slightly to the "left" of the most liberal candidates.
There are several merits to this plan. For one thing, it allows you to fight ideological battles while not at the same time fighting organizational battles. For another, it allows you to bypass long-standing attachments to party labels so you can quickly get to the keys issues. Most importantly, it allows you to contend for the working person's sympathy without helping to elect conservative Republicans, which would be the major result of third-party efforts which were very successful. IN OTHER WORDS, IT ALLOWS YOU TO WORK FOR A LONG-TERM CHANGE IN WORKING CLASS IDEOLOGY WITHOUT DOING DAMAGE TO THE SHORT RUN, BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES SO RIGHTFULLY OF CONCERN TO THE MIDDLE AMERICAN OF BLUE AND WHITE COLLAR.
This is not a plan to "wreck" the Democratic Party. That is, no rule or ruin. No running on a third-party ticket if you lose in the primaries. Two things are required to remain a good Democrat--to register, and to support the candidate selected by the primary, Ideological credentials are not required, and revolutionary Democrats would work to keep it that way. Loyalty to the party would be essential. If anyone is going to bolt, let it be the fat cats.
Until more Americans see the world through new perspectives, and believe in concrete alternatives, there is no hope for any kind of "radical" action. I think the idea of presenting alternatives to corporate capitalism by running in Democratic primaries might be a reasonable way for the American Left to proceed. The other ways have not worked, radicalism is now at a low ebb, and this particular strategy has not been tried before. And unlikely plans which went against accepted theory have worked elsewhere--like in China and Cuba. It is time to re-think all aspects of the what-is-to-be-done part of American radicalism.
So consider the following: Break the ideological hegemony of the ruling class. Bring the struggle home to the Democratic Party. Become a Revolutionary Democrat dedicated to replacing corporation feudalism with concrete Blueprints for a post-corporate America. G. William Domhoff University of California