Why we are running in the 2024 Presidential race

Mar 25, 2024

Washington DC, January 13th, 2024. Claudia and Karina join 400,000 demanding the U.S. stop funding Israel's genocide of Palestinians. Photo: Wyatt Souers / ANSWER Coalition

Introduction: Why we are running

There are few things more vilified in the mainstream political conversation than “third party” campaigns for president. Candidacies outside the two major political parties are called spoilers. Those who vote for alternatives are portrayed as petulant, privileged, people who can afford to vote third party.

There are tremendous hurdles for third party candidates. Among these hurdles are the state-by-state thicket of rules, restrictions and astronomical petition requirements that make it nearly impossible to appear on most voters’ ballots without huge sums of money or armies of volunteers. So, why run? Because this election cycle is another key opportunity to show the necessity of socialism and help build a movement to achieve it.

There is no alternative, unless you build it

For the last four decades the political spectrum has only shifted in a more and more pro-ultra-rich direction. Income inequality has skyrocketed, housing prices have increased, not to mention that healthcare and higher education have become more unaffordable. The number of billionaires has grown while 40 million people go hungry every day. Homelessness is at epidemic levels in almost every major city.

The U.S. has become tied down in endless wars that only benefit weapons contractors and big corporate brands. Our civil liberties are being cut to shreds and mass incarceration has continued full speed since the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Joe Biden played a key role in launching mass incarceration into overdrive by sponsoring the 1994 Crime Omnibus Law.

This record is an indictment of the so-called two-party system, and also the efforts to “reform” it in favor of working class interests. It is a factual reminder that the two major parties are ruling class parties. While various movements of the working class and oppressed can, at times, gain influence in both, they will always be excluded from power, their interests always subordinated to capital’s.

Working and poor people need their own class-conscious organizations where their needs are subordinate to no one. Elections allow working class parties to directly contrast their program to the capitalist parties in their entirety, demonstrating that socialism is superior to capitalism at proposing solutions that meet the scale of the problems facing the majority of people.

The general sense that a socialist program is “implausible” in the present system gives elections the further ability to expose the thing standing between the substandard status quo and a fulfilling future: the capitalist state, or, said differently, the current political system.

Elections, along with strikes, rebellions, and protests, are a rallying point, where the broad mass of those disillusioned with capitalism can gather and turn their scattered protest into a large-scale positive force for change. Furthermore, they are a unique arena to educate and organize greater numbers to work towards building a new system. Winning power is a long, complex process, but it will never happen unless we openly contend for it and explain what an alternative world could look like.

History is a weapon

Historically, the view that we must contend openly for power and explain what an alternative could look like is unimpeachable. All the periods of U.S. history most associated with radical change: the 1850s, 1870s, 1890s, 1930s-40s, and the “radical sixties,” were all periods of great political upheaval, where the two-party system was in great turmoil. In the 1850s the two-party system totally unraveled and a third party, the Republican Party, actually won the presidency in 1860. This was the culmination of a major political shift that would also lead to the Civil War.

Reform tends to be the self-preserving product of the capitalist class’ fear of rebellions and revolutions. We can see this reflected in our more contemporary period, even if the changes are mainly rhetorical. The uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Minneapolis, for example, forced the issue of addressing police terrorism into the mainstream. This was achieved by bringing millions into motion around demands such as defunding and abolishing the police. But even as the mainstream gave lip service to these demands, defunding the police, for example, remained totally unacceptable to the status quo. The movement, in other words, forced the political establishment to at least acknowledge the peoples’ demands in an effort to contain and blunt their indignation.

The last decade, characterized by uprisings against racist police terror, reveal another historical lesson that underlines why we are running in the 2024 election. All these great periods of reform were followed almost immediately by great periods of reaction. Over time many of the democratic reforms the working class holds most dear have been eroded, watered down or outright destroyed. When faced with insistent demands, power often concedes on certain points it would prefer not to. However, at the first chance, it organizes a counterattack.

It is not enough to simply influence or force elite power centers to make concessions from time to time. The only way to make lasting change is for workers to take power themselves.

We are running for power

Our campaign is explicitly pitched for power. What does this mean? First, it means that focusing a campaign on proving the capitalist ideology of the major parties (and some minor ones) is totally bankrupt. Instead, we must go further to show how socialism is the best solution for the problems of the working class. It becomes clear that real power for workers can’t be achieved within the current system, something made apparent by the very “implausibility” of our sound solutions. Finally, in this campaign, we are raising the key issue of how to make deep social change: the need for a Party.

Not only are our ideas different from those of the other parties, so is our purpose. We organize at the ballot box, yes, but also in the streets and at the workplace, and anywhere else there is oppression and exploitation. Without a party, which unites the experiences and talents of a representative cross-section of the working class, change will always be ephemeral and the fruits of our struggles will be reaped by those who seek only to co-opt.

Our campaign is fighting not simply on “issues” but on the very issue of the type of organization we need to win. We are comparing and contrasting our ideas with the major capitalist parties, but also comparing and contrasting our organization strategy to that of other progressive currents. We need socialism to solve the ills of capitalism, and we need a revolutionary party to establish socialism. We are running to explain why both things must happen if we want a better future.

The colonial roots of Zionism

The colonial roots of Zionism

The following two-part series of The Socialist Program with Brian Becker delves into the real history of the Israeli state. Both episodes feature Richard Becker, author of Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire—a book for which Liberation School has a study and...

The colonial roots of Zionism

The colonial roots of Zionism

The following two-part series of The Socialist Program with Brian Becker delves into the real history of the Israeli state. Both episodes feature Richard Becker, author of Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire—a book for which Liberation School has a study and...