Archive for May, 2015

Bernie Sanders and Michael Harrington: A second chance?

Monday, May 11th, 2015

My first article ever for Salon.  That’s my original title, and this is how my version of it opened:

Current speculation about a possible Bernie Sanders challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016 is not the first time a prominent socialist has considered a bid for the Democratic nomination.

It reminds me of a time nearly four decades ago when I was a young socialist in New York. It was the summer of 1978, and liberal Democrats had grown increasingly disillusioned with the Carter presidency.

Carter was never going to be our favorite candidate. On the eve of the 1976 elections, Michael Harrington, the leader of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) had called on Leftists to vote for Carter “without illusions”. We expected very little and that’s exactly what we got.

Read the full article here.

Shock victory for the Left as Tories ousted

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Tomorrow is election day here in Britain, and that headline is unlikely to grace the front page of any of our newspapers on the morning after.

But it’s a real headline and it describes what happened yesterday in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The New Democratic Party (NDP), which is a sister party to the British Labour Party and a member party of the Socialist International, just won a historic victory.  The word “historic” is tossed around quite a bit lately, but let me explain by anecdote.

The first and only time I ever visited Alberta was in early 1977.  I arrived in Edmonton planning to spend a couple of days there.  As one does, I went to visit the local NDP, which was a small, sleepy office with one or two people hanging around.

The Provincial Secretary, Ray Martin, had time on his hands and though my visit was unannounced, he was happy to talk me through Alberta politics.  He explained that as the party would be holding its provincial convention in a couple of weeks, I should stick around.  And while in Edmonton, I should check the opening of the provincial parliament, known as the Legislative Assembly.  So I did.

I attended the colourful opening of parliament, and heard the speeches by the conservative government, which were followed by a speech by the lone dissenter, the only NDP member of Alberta’s parliament, Grant Notley.   I met Notley later at the provincial NDP convention, where I delivered greetings from our little group south of the border, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.  And then I left.

Notley tragically died in a plane crash seven years later.  The party he left behind was stronger, and picked up 16 seats (up from just two) in the election that year.  The leader was Ray Martin, who I’d chatted with just a few years earlier.  It was to be the NDP’s high point, never matched again in what has long been considered Canada’s most right-wing province.

Now fast forward to May 2015.

Yesterday, Notley’s daughter Rachel, who would have been 13 when I visited Edmonton, led the NDP to a landslide victory in the provincial elections.  The party won 55 seats, and the ruling Tories, just 11, in the 87 seat legislature.  

In Canada’s most right-wing province, the democratic socialists are now in power.

So, yes, pigs fly, miracles happen — and one should never, ever give up.