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Democratic Socialism & Black Nationalism -- Part 2  09.01.2018
Black Nationalism and the Rise of Democratic Socialism by Deckland Bolt

Comrade Kerensky for President 2020

Amid the revolutionary tumult of the 1960's, it was the Black Panther Party that introduced socialist and communist ideas to radicalized Black youth. Clad in black berets and leather jackets, the Panthers sold copies of Mao's Little Red Book, the Panther paper, and popularized slogans like "Political Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun." Download to 2018. It's the white grandfatherly octogenarian Bernie Sanders who is opening the frontier of socialism to Black millennials and young Black Democrats.          

Vermont (I) Senator Bernie Sanders (Comrade Kerensky) is a self-proclaimed socialist and undisputed leader of the growing Democratic Socialist movement. Whether this incipient political movement consolidates as a mainstream third political force and trend within the Darker Nation, could hinge on whether Comrade Kerensky makes a presidential run in 2020.      

Sanders won 13 million votes and raised $220 million in 2016. After losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton, Sanders created 'Our Revolution,' a (501) (C) (4) to raise money, promote his platform and endorse candidates. Resourced with money, organization, and an army of loyal followers, Comrade Kerensky appears to be prepping for a second shot at the Oval Office.

Bernie's boning up on foreign policy, meeting with former Defense Secretaries and old adversaries like American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten. But the most serious signal that Comrade Kerensky is in the 2020 hunt is his courtship of Black Civil Rights and Democrat leaders (The Tabernacle). 

Sanders failed to win the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination for one reason; he lost the Black vote by a 70-30 margin in most states that held primaries. Worse still, his campaign deliberately conceded Black voters to Clinton without a fight. The Sanders campaign literarily refused to spend money in Southern states with large Black voting blocs or even purchase ads with the Black press. He didn't have a clue of what was percolating on Beale Street (the Black Street).  

Comrade Kerensky is not making that mistake in 2020. On the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis, he marched and hung out with 'Rev. Al' Sharpton and M.L. King lll. He convened a sit down with Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA) in Washington, D.C. Later, Bernie swung over to Duke University for a joint event with hard hitting social justice activist Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of North Carolina. 

Comrade Kerensky also traveled to Jackson, Mississippi on April 5, to speak at an economic justice forum with the 35 year-old left-wing Mayor Choke Antar Lumumba. Antar was the son of the legendary attorney, activist, former 2nd Vice-President of the Republic of New Afrika, and Mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Lumumba who died unexpectedly in office in 2014. After the event the 'Comrade' and Antar (endorsed by 'Our Revolution' in 2017) threw down some chicken wings.   

Bernie and 'Our Revolution' are also flexing their muscles in the 2018 elections, endorsing more than 40 Black candidates in local, state and Federal elections. Among the candidates Sanders backed are Georgia's Stacey Abrams (D) for Governor, Keith Ellison (D) Attorney General in Minnesota, and Somali born Ilhan Omar (D) U.S. House of Representatives. The crown jewel of Comrade Kerensky's endorsements was his support of Andrew Gillum, who at the time was polling a distant third in the  Florida's governors race. But, increasingly, to be young, Black, and going 'hard left' as a Democrat is in vogue.  

Running on an aggressive platform of supporting a $15 minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, beating the NRA, supporting a single pay health care plan, and impeaching the Sun King Trump, Gillum shocked the Democratic Party establishment coming out of nowhere to win Florida's Governor's race. The young Mayor of Tallahassee  calls himself a 'Progressive Democrat,' but less than 24 hours after his primary win, Gillum's opponent and the entire Republican establishment excoriated him as a 'Socialist.' Gillum along with Alexandrio Ocasico-Cortez are now the poster children of the new young left-wing Democrats who will be associated with Democratic Socialism in the 2018 mid-term elections.   

Comrade Kerensky is accumulating receipts among Black Democrats, especially with millennials. Expanding his influence in the Black political biosphere is not just making up ground lost in the 2016 election. Bernie is positioning himself to withstand possible presidential challenges from New Jersey Senator Corey Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris. Should either candidate, particularly Harris enter the race, Sanders would certainly lose Black supporters. What he can't afford is another waxing by one or multiple candidates that minimizes his share of the Black vote. 

That being said, Sanders potentially has some influential Black surrogates. They include Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Press Secretary Symone Sanders and possibly Professor Cornell West, who has ties with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). 

Outside the Democratic Party there are two groups that could also play important roles in expanding  Democratic Socialism's influence in the Darker Nation: Black Lives Matters and the Democratic Socialist of America. 

Black Lives Matter and the Black Futures Lab

Since 2013, Black Lives Matter has emerged as the dominate radical political force in the Darker Nation. They have grown from a loose coalition of activists fighting state sanctioned violence against Black people, to a global organization of 40 chapter members with an expanded agenda. Politically, BLM is an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, and gender equity formation. Their political agenda is in sync with the leftist profile of Democratic Socialists.   

In 2016, BLM refused to endorse Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Quite the opposite, they protested against both candidates, disrupting their events and forcing them to take more aggressive positions against police brutality and in support of prison sentencing reform. Thus far, BLM has sought to influence Democratic Party polices, without endorsing their candidates. BLM has maintained its formal political independence from Democrats and other parties, but to the extent its base and supporters vote, it's likely they're more disposed to support ' progressive' Democrats.  

In a recent Alt-black.com article on BLM we noted the organization is going through a period of critical assessment and reorganization. Co-founders Opal Tom​eti and Alicea Garza have resigned from working on day-to-day-operations. Patrice Cullors now runs BLM, and Garza is spearheading a new initiative called Black Futures Lab. BFL is mission-tasked to study policy initiatives, identify and support Black candidates, and create a fund raising war chest to support their campaigns. In all likelihood those candidates will be hard-left Black Democrats or Independents who mirror a proximate version of social democracy ideologically couched in the Black collective experience.    

The Democratic Socialists of America ​

In the aftermath of Comrade Kerensky's 2016 insurgent campaign, the resurrection of the Democratic Socialist of America 's (DSA) has been off the charts. Their dues paying members jumped from 6,745 to 49,000. DSA elected officials doubled, moving from 15 to 38 local, state, and federal office holders. Geographically, DSA metastasized like a video gone viral, spreading across the country from 40 to 181 local chapters. 

For all DSA's meteoric growth, what's most astounding is the one area it experienced a fortuitous decline. DSA members median age plummeted from 68 years-old in 2013 down to 33 years-old in 2017.  DSA, founded in 1982 as a compound of 1960's left socialist groups, was in danger of becoming a geriatric socialist debating society. 

Their is a lesson to be learned here from the DSA experience. Sustaining your political and ideological beliefs during over long periods when your beliefs are not popular or held by a small minority is critical for revolutionaries. History has a way of extending second chances to political movements, usually during periods that are pregnant with crisis. In these periods of crisis or when events take a sharp political turn, organizations can grow fifty-fold in a condensed time frame. Suddenly they are presented with an extraordinary leadership opportunity and more often than not, aren't prepared to leverage the moment.     

Infused with a timely injection of youthful exuberance, college chapters of the DSA are springing up everywhere. DSA banners can now be seen at protest marches across the country. Flanked by Black Lives Matter on one side, and Black Bloc anarchists of Antifa on the other, DSA now has visibility on the ground. DSA may not have a large Black membership today, but its growing. So too is DSA's support of Black socialists and 'progressive' candidates. They are positioned to make inroads in the Darker Nation. Time will tell how DSA leverages its opportunities.   

Democratic Socialism and Black Nationalism - Prospects for the Future 

The combination of DSA and Bernie Sander's 'Our Revolution' gives Democratic Socialism a potent political presence. Its rise, while invigorated by Bernie Sanders presidential candidacy can also be attributed to reactionary reign of the Sun King Trump and the emergence of the Alt-Right. It is also a reaction to the increasingly grotesques disparities of wealth between the ruling elites of Global North's imperial project and the struggling broad masses.

Young people who view the world as it should be as opposed to the way it is, will always seek out alternative visions. Youth, by their nature are also more disposed to rebellion against the existing order. Millennials rallying to Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Our Revolution and the Democratic Socialists of America are part of a new generational wave. 

The rise of Democratic Socialism represents another opportunity for Black Nationalist to influence the future direction of this movement. Democratic Socialism may find varied forms of expression within the Black community. Our goal is to divert our some of the advanced elements awakening to political life from the path of Democratic Socialism's reformist agenda toward a more revolutionary path for Black self-determination.    

Black Vote 2020: Democratic Socialism & Black Nationalism
by Selwyn Trench