Money and Centrist Politics are Big 2020 Election Winners

By Mark Weber

In 1970, within the tiny Socialist Party of the United States, there was a fierce debate over what was then called “realignment.” The realignment forces led by Michael Harrington (1928-1989) argued that third parties were never going to be a winning strategy for the democratic left. Harrington argued that the left should pour its energies into working within the Democratic Party so that the party would be pushed to the left policy issues. Harrington’s position was adopted by the Socialist Party. However, within two years the venerable old Socialist Party (founded in 1901) would split into three factions. Harrington’s faction became the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) which later merged with much of the New American Movement (NAM) to form the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Following the first Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016, the membership of DSA soared until presently it is around 65,000. It is by far the largest socialist organization on the left and has a number of its members sitting in Congress. Now, more than 50 years after Mike Harrington wrote about realignment in his book, Toward a Democratic Left, the question still remains: what about the Democratic Party?

In 1970, within the tiny Socialist Party of the United States, there was a fierce debate over what was then called “realignment.” The realignment forces led by Michael Harrington (1928-1989) argued that third parties were never going to be a winning strategy for the democratic left. Harrington argued that the left should pour its energies into working within the Democratic Party so that the party would be pushed to the left policy issues. Harrington’s position was adopted by the Socialist Party. However, within two years the venerable old Socialist Party (founded in 1901) would split into three factions. Harrington’s faction became the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) which later merged with much of the New American Movement (NAM) to form the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Following the first Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016, the membership of DSA soared until presently it is around 65,000. It is by far the largest socialist organization on the left and has a number of its members sitting in Congress. Now, more than 50 years after Mike Harrington wrote about realignment in his book, Toward a Democratic Left, the question still remains: what about the Democratic Party?

Now, let us turn our attention to the 2020 election and beyond. In 1970, the Democratic Party of Harrington’s day, was a loose coalition of urban machines, people of color, a Southern “Dixiecrat” wing, and the labor movement. On the National level and outside the South, the Democrats stood for a variety  of social democratic measures like national health insurance and no-tuition college education. Labor backed the Democrats and Business backed the Republicans. Fifty years later the political landscape has changed almost beyond recognition.

The 2020 election was the most expensive in American history. According to Open Secrets, it cost about $14 billion up and down the ballot, which was about twice as much as what was spent in the 2016 election. For their narrow victory, the Democratic Party outspent Republicans by a margin of $6.9 billion to $3.8 billion. Deregulated  “outside” donations, mostly from very wealthy individuals, came to about $3 billion which mostly came through Super PACs. The two major parties themselves raised another $3.6 billion, mostly from wealthy people. In contrast, spending by the labor movement and by various “social welfare” groups barely passed the $100 million mark. Only about 22% of all donations to candidates came from those who gave $200 or less.

In other words, the rich paid for the 2020 election and it is they who will be its principal beneficiaries.

We have seen a kind of “realignment;” although not the kind that Mike Harrington envisioned. The Democratic Party has made significant inroads into Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Wall Street hedge fund managers; while many nonunion white workers switched to the GOP. The Democrats were ensured Silicon Valley backing after Bill Clinton gave the high-tech big shots what they most wanted: patent and copyright protection for their income along  with financial deregulation. So the realignment has sent white workers to the GOP while more and more well-to-do voters have switched to  the Democrats. The old-fashioned union and working-class families that  once were the backbone of the Democratic Party have shrunk in number; while new support comes from affluent suburbanites and the wealthy.

Some on the left have always demanded a third party that would compete with the Democrats and be more progressive on issues like Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal. However, while many people say they would back a third party, no third party (except for the Green Party) has yet to emerge. Even during the Depression (1929-1941) no third party was able to compete and be a force. Third parties must deal with undemocratic state election laws, lack of money, and, most important, lack of a base. This is unlikely to change in time for 2022 or 2024.

As we recover from the 2020 election, those of us on the left must face the fact that the white working-class support for the GOP is up; while support from the wealthy for the Democrats is also up. This means that the Democrats will hew to the center  so as to  not alienate its new wealthy backers. 

I suggest that we need to keep this new partial class shift in the two parties as we plan our political work and our outreach to both elected officials and candidates.

Mike Harrington died of throat cancer in 1989. No doubt he is turning over in his grave. 

Cleveland is Breaking the Silence, April 5th at 7pm

posted in: Events, News

We invite you to join us in an intersectional local event to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Time to Break the Silence” speech of April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City. This historic speech condemned US militarism, racism and poverty, and represented a significant expansion of Dr. King’s thinking on the root causes of the challenges U.S. society faced.

We will read excerpts from Dr. King’s speech and discuss its relevance for today in NE Ohio:: Monday, April 5th, at 7 pm on Zoom – register here

Cleveland co-sponsoring organizations include: A Greater Buckeye, Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Black Spring Cleveland, The Cleveland Observer, Cleveland Nonviolence Network, Cleveland Peace Action, Coalition for a Better Life, dba Peace in the Hood, Coalition to Stop the Inhumanity at the Cuyahoga County Jail – Bail Reform and From Inside Committees, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, End Poverty Now!, Interreligious Task Force on Central America,Neighborhood Connections, New Era, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Ohio Poor People’s Campaign, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland, Young Latino Network.

Our local work is in coordination with the national Breaking the Silence effort. This coalition is conducting a national event and supporting creation of local events. Their multi-year purpose includes encouraging formation of local coalitions to work on these intersectional issues going forward to drive change and transformation. The national event will be held on April 4, 2021, the 54th anniversary of the speech.

Local contacts:

200 Meters: Palestinian Film Streaming April 7-20, 2021

posted in: Events, News


We are proud to share that Cleveland Peace Action is a Community Partner for the 45th Cleveland International Film Festival! We are supporting the film, 200 Meters. Screening will take place entirely online from April 7-20, 2021. Tickets on sale now. Use our discount code PEACE and you will receive $1 off the purchase of any film festival ticket. Most films are available nationwide, so make plans to support independent film and its filmmakers.

200 Meters, a feature film by Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh, premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival in September 2020 where it won the BNL People’s Choice Audience Award as part of the Venice Days competition. It features Ali Suliman as a father cut off from his family by the Israeli wall. who pays a smuggler to get him across. View trailer

End Medical Apartheid in Israel-Palestine

Cleveland Peace Action calls on the Israeli government to end its exclusionary practices in denying to many, access to a COVID-19 vaccine. While some have praised Israel for its quick rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, others point out that more than five million Palestinian Arabs have been excluded from Israel’s vaccine distribution efforts. Israel has rationalized this unfair vaccine distribution system by saying that first priority for vaccination goes to those who are citizens of Israel, noting that Palestinians living in the West Bank under brutal military occupation are “merely permanent residents.” Israeli medical officials had hinted that they may begin to offer the Moderna vaccine to Palestinians living in the West Bank; but this has been exposed as a lie since Israel has announced that it will ship its “spare vaccines” to nations it believes are its foreign allies. For example, Honduras and the Czech Republic, both of which have recognized Israeli control of Jerusalem, will receive shipments of the vaccine that will then not be going to Palestinian Arabs, who continue to suffer under Israeli military rule. In addition, now Guatemala (no stranger to human rights abuses of its own), and Viktor Orban’s Hungary have announced that they will move their foreign delegations to Jerusalem in exchange for shipments of the vaccine. In an effort to deflect criticism of this racist, two-tier medical system, Israel now insists that providing potentially life-saving vaccines to Arabs living under its military rule is not its responsibility! Instead they try to shift blame to the Palestinian Authority (PA) . This moral tunnel vision seeks to blame the PA despite the fact that Israel controls about 64% of the West Bank under the terms of the Oslo Accords of 1993. The Geneva Convention specifically states that the occupying power (Israel) has a responsibility provide medical services to those living in territory it has captured and controls. From the United States, Israel receives about $4 billion in military aid annually as well $8 billion in loan guarantees. Cleveland Peace Action says: “No rights for Palestinians?     Then, no aid for Israel!     End the cruel two-tier medicine system in Israel/Palestine!   Establish a vaccination program for Palestinian Arabs that is paid for by Israel; yet administered by an international aid agency.

Nuclear Weapons or Green Economy: It’s Our Choice

posted in: Events, Home, News

[email protected] HOME
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Speaker: Eric Schreiber, MD


view program here – passcode ea5!LrX$

download Cleveland Environmental Groups

In FY 2021, the National Nuclear Security Administration planned to spend $15.6 billion on maintaining and updating the nuclear arsenal. The Department of Defense also planned to spend an additional $28.9 billion to modernize weapons delivery systems. Meanwhile, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 47 percent since 1850 and 2020 was the warmest year on record. Dr. Schreiber will discuss how the money spent on weapons could be better spent on the green infrastructure that the country – and world – desperately need.

Read More
1 2 3 4 5 18