SUNDAY, JUN 11, 2023
Leftist firebrand Cornel West launched a third-party presidential campaign last week, and some Democrats are uneasy over his potential to sow Democrat discontent with Joe Biden and potentially play the spoiler in 2024, Politico reports.
West is running as the first-ever presidential candidate of the People’s Party, a progressive group formed in 2017 by a former campaign staffer for Bernie Sanders. In a video announcing his candidacy, West said he was running under the People’s Party banner because “neither political party wants to tell the truth about Wall Street, about Ukraine, about the Pentagon, about Big Tech.”
I am running for truth and justice as a presidential candidate for the People’s Party to reintroduce America to the best of itself – fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for… pic.twitter.com/u3NYGUbG1S
— Cornel West (@CornelWest) June 5, 2023
The Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party has an affinity for West, who was one of Sanders’ media surrogates during his presidential campaigns, and was named to the 2016 Democratic Party platform committee by Sanders.
The sharp-tongued West may have his most profound impact among young voters, who are more prone to embrace far-left politics. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 56% disapprove of President Biden‘s performance. A former professor at Yale, Princeton and Harvard, West now teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Biden-backing Congressman Brendan Boyle sounded an indignant alarm about West’s announcement, telling Politico, “Any Democrat who runs an independent or third-party presidential campaign is dramatically helping Republican odds of victory. It’s that simple. And unfortunately, I have seen this play before.”
Boyle’s expression of political deja vu seemingly refers to 2016. Many Democrats accuse Green Party candidate Jill Stein of peeling away Democrat votes to an extent that cost Hillary Clinton the electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — and thus the general election.
West’s potential to pull votes away from Biden will be driven in large part by the ability of the People’s Party to qualify to appear on ballots — a complex, labor-intensive undertaking that typically involves collecting petition signatures.
That will have to be repeated in every state the People’s Party targets, with the potential for the Democratic Party to intervene with legal challenges. Plaintiffs in a third-party ballot access lawsuit in Texas said trying to meet the signature requirement in the Lone Star State alone would cost more than $600,000, with no guarantee of success.
Because of those formidable hurdles, some progressives are already discussing a way to amplify West’s ballot presence — by also winning him the nomination of the Green Party, which appeared on 28 state ballots in 2020, and conducted write-in campaigns in 17 more.
Pulling votes isn’t the only way West can undermine Biden. A steady stream of his trademark, sharp-edged criticism is certain to dampen Democrats’ already lackluster enthusiasm for Biden, with the potential to put a dent in general election turnout.
West endorsed the Green Party’s Stein over Hillary Clinton in 2016. He voted for Biden in 2020, but damned him with faint praise, saying he voted for a “mediocre, milquetoast neoliberal centrist because he’s better than fascism, and a fascist catastrophe is worse than a neoliberal disaster.”
West’s campaign policy stances are a typical progressive mixed bag of horrible and excellent. On the negative side, he wants to “forgive all student debt…guarantee quality education, housing, a living wage [and] health care to all…support unions…end drilling on public lands and invest in clean energy.”
On the plus side, West says he wants to “stop CBDCs [central bank digital currencies]…end the wars…stop all foreign military aid, close the bases, disband NATO…restore free speech [and] press freedoms…switch to hand-counted paper ballots.”
Philosopher @CornelWest calls the Ukraine war a “clash of two empires” between the United States and Russia, stressing the need for a ceasefire. “We’re on the road to nuclear war,” he warns.
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) June 7, 2023