As we reported on April 27, the New York State Board of Elections removed Bernie Sanders from the ballot and cancelled the June 23 presidential primaries. That decision has now been overturned by a federal judge after a lawsuit by Sanders and former candidate Andrew Yang.
This is a victory for all of those who have been outraged by the undemocratic decision to deny hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who anticipated voting for Bernie and his progressive platform.
However, the decision is now appealed by none other than New York Attorney General Letitia James, who not long ago pretended to be the leader of the progressive movement as New York City Public Advocate. This not only lifts the progressive mask off James, but also furnishes another example of the pressures put on Democratic Party progressives unaccountable to an independent working-class party — a critical next step for the workers’ movement that Socialist Alternative has long advocated.
New York political observers will remember that James won her first term in the New York City Council in 2003 by defeating a Democrat while running on only the Working Families Party line; now, she’s working to neuter the WFP through ending fusion voting and denying progressives the option to vote for Bernie.
James’ actions aim to give left cover to establishment Democrats like Cuomo who are fighting to deflate growing challenges from progressives and Democratic Socialists running in elections and building movements to win broad housing and healthcare reforms.
Although Bernie is staying on the ballot for the sole purpose of gathering delegates in order to gain leverage at the Democratic National Convention later this year, a strategy that Socialist Alternative believes to be far from sufficient to bring real change, we vociferously defend the democratic right of every person to vote for their preferred candidate in the primary.
While we think that Bernie’s support for Joe Biden is a massive mistake that has, in effect, de-mobilized his supporters for the rest of this year’s elections, we join others in demanding that the primaries take place as planned and call on all registered Democrats to vote for Bernie Sanders to show support for Medicare for All, a federal $15 minimum wage, universal rent control, and a Green New Deal — pillars of Bernie’s platform that should become the basis of a new working-class party.