Throughout the 2020 Democratic National Convention virtual broadcast, a concerted effort was made to project an image of party unity. The convention’s producers succeeded in obscuring any trace of the anger and division that pervaded the 2016 Democratic convention that contributed to the electoral college defeat of candidate Hilary Clinton.
But many progressive delegates this year say their wing of the Democratic party has been marginalized. More than 350 delegates who supported Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, signed a pledge to oppose the Democratic party platform because it doesn’t include support for “Medicare for All,” universal health care. They argue that single-payer health care is an ever more urgent priority amid a deadly worldwide pandemic and the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
While many disaffected progressive Democrats say they plan to vote for Biden, they also are committed to actively pressuring Biden if he should win office, to adopt more progressive policies to address the nation’s multiple crises. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Nick Brana, former national political outreach coordinator with Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, who is the founder of the Movement for a People’s Party. Here he explains why he left the Democratic Party and the goal of building a coalition of working people, unions, and progressive groups to launch a new nationally viable people’s political party.
NICK BRANA: My background was working on a political campaign for a Democrat, and I went into that because I thought, you know, well, this is where change happens you know, in the country. I wanted to make things better because there’s so many things obviously that other countries take for granted, things like Medicare for All, and the social safety programs, a lack of homelessness that developed countries particularly ones in Europe take for granted that we don’t have here in the United States, despite being the richest country in the world.
But I quickly lost confidence in the establishment of the Democratic party that takes so much money from foreign corporations and billionaires. And when 2015 came around, I joined Bernie’s campaign because he was calling for so many of the things that I believe in, and that the majority of Americans believe in. When I worked for him, I reached out to the superdelegates for him, which are the DNC members, the party officials who hold enormous influence on who the ultimate nominee gets to be. And after that, helped him plan the convention of 2016 and also helped found Our Revolution with him as his first directorial manager, working on picking some of the candidates there.
SCOTT HARRIS: Thanks for that. And Nick, importantly, we wanted to focus on the current project that you’re organizing now, the Movement for a People’s Party. Tell us about the idea of the movement for a People’s Party and its goals and it’s not going to happen overnight. I understand that, but tell our listeners a bit about the kind of steps that you and this organization are taking to establish a major party in this country.
NICK BRANA: That’s right. Our mission as the Movement for the People’s Party is to form a major new, progressive populist party in this country. We’re going to host the People’s Convention at the end of August to contrast with the Democratic and Republican parties and show, what does the People’s Party look like? You know, it’s a party that supports Medicare for All, a universal basic income, housing as a human right, health as a human right, breaking up the big banks as well, drastically reducing inequality. Those are the kinds of things that we’re going to show when we actually hold our People’s Convention. This is going to be something that we’re organizing, and that will move us into a founding convention in 2021. And in between there we’ll be working on ballot access and setting up state parties in every single state, which is something that we’re working on now as well. And then we plan on running candidates in 2024 for Congress in multiple states, as well as running a presidential candidate in 2024, and really finishing the kind of political revolution that Bernie Sanders started in 2015.
SCOTT HARRIS: Nick, I just wanted to ask your thoughts about the history of progressive third parties in this country. We had the Socialist party in the early part of the 1900s – famously, Eugene Debs ran in that party. You had the Progressive party in the 1940s, the Citizens party,.you had the Green party, that’s still active course. The fate of these parties certainly provides some concern about the success a third party can have in our winner-take-all system as it’s established right no. And I wanted to get your thoughts about how you feel and have faith that this movement for a People’s party you’re working on can have a much better outcome.
NICK BRANA: Well, first off, I’ll say that it took a third party to abolish slavery in the United States. It was the Republican party that was the third party that replaced the Whig party. And after that, it enjoyed 70 years of dominance in the House and Senate and the presidency. And it was also a third party that helped win Medicare for all in Canada. And that actually helped elect the “Bernie Sanders of Mexico” in 2018, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, but also independent parties actually forcing major parties into policies that they don’t want to take. And either one of those is a success for working people who are not being taken care of by the major party.
For more information visit the Movement for a People’s Party at peoplesparty.org.