Pilfering the right’s playbook

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Mention forming a progressive political party and even hard-core lefties roll their eyes: The historical landscape is littered with failed third-party movements and independent presidential bids. Nevertheless, after only two years of organizing (see MoJo’s “Who’s on third?” July/Aug. 1992), the New Party has harnessed enough optimism among veteran activists and ordinary citizens to form chapters and run candidates in 10 states.

Pilfering from the playbook of the Christian right, the New Party is targeting local races for school board, city council, and state legislature. Wary of alienating itself from the liberal mainstream, the party occasionally endorses progressive Democrats or runs its own candidates as Democrats. “We want to build the organization strong enough to have real clout inside the Democratic party, but also have a credible threat of exit,” says Field Director Suzanne Wall. Thus far, 30 of the 45 candidates endorsed by local chapters have won; the highest New Party officeholder sits in the Wisconsin state legislature.

The New Party contrasts its bottom-up strategy with Ross Perot’s top-down politics of personality. Current party activists who were involved in Jesse Jackson’s presidential forays learned that even a high level of progressive energy dissipates quickly without a durable base capable of picking up where a defeated candidate leaves off.

Along with targeting a host of races in the fall, New Party chapters in Missouri, Montana, and Washington, D.C., are working with other organizations to pass campaign finance reform initiatives, one of many “tools of democracy” it considers essential to its success.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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