Come November ballot, parties with the word Socialist in their name have almost completely disappeared. Only one candidate from any party is using the word this year. The Socialist Party’s Maia Dendinger of Maine is the one candidate in the country appearing on the ballot from one of the socialist parties.
Ballot access laws are the main barrier to many potential candidates. An example of the struggles many socialist parties had in obtaining ballot access was in Washington state where the Freedom Socialists Party wanted to field Steve Hoffman for Senate but his name didn’t make the November ballot, leaving the party with no nominee.
Despite past successes in this regard, the Freedom Socialists Party, the Socialist Alternative Party, Socialist Action, and the Socialist Working Party are without candidates for November midterm elections. A great summary was recently posted by Ballot Access News editor Richard Winger:
The Socialist Equality Party has a candidate for congress in Michigan, but because it didn’t do the statewide petition, its candidate must have “independent” as a ballot label. It also ran two candidates in California, but because of the top-two system, they are not on the November ballot. And even in the primary, they were forced to have the label “party preference: none.”
- The Freedom Socialist Party had a candidate on the Washington primary ballot for U.S. Senate, but he also was not able to be on the November ballot.
- The Socialist Alternative Party has in the recent past run candidates for the Washington legislature, but it did not do so this year.
- Socialist Action tried to place a candidate on the Connecticut ballot, but its petition was a few hundred signatures short.
- The Socialist Workers Party has nominated twenty candidates for federal or state office, but none of them is on the ballot.
Does the continued decline of any socialist party influence reflect a shift in America? Has the Democratic Party monopolized the field? Add your thoughts in the comment section.
Democracy Chronicles has put together a brief review of the majority of America’s socialist/leftist parties in a handy overview you can see below. The parties are separated into two categories, Democratic Socialist Parties and Communist Parties. Links to their websites and party platforms are included too. See other summaries of American political parties at Democracy Chronicles Third Party Central.
1. democratic socialist parties
peace and freedom party
The Peace and Freedom Party is a nationally organized left-wing political party with affiliates in more than a dozen U.S. states. The Peace and Freedom Party went national in 1968 as a left-wing organization opposed to the Vietnam War. On August 4, 2012, the Peace and Freedom Party nominated Roseanne Barr for President and Cindy Sheehan for Vice President. Look here for the party platform.
socialist party usa
A multi-tendency democratic-socialist party. The party states that it is the rightful continuation and successor to the tradition of the Socialist Party of America, which had lasted from 1901 to 1972. The party is officially committed to left-wing democratic socialism. Party supports radical democracy reforms. Look here for the party platform.
green party usa
The Greens/ Green Party USA is the oldest, continuously active Green organization in America. Its organization created the Green Ten Key Values which are now accepted by nearly all Greens in the United States. The values when correctly understood point to a new society and way of life based on Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice and Nonviolence. Supported entirely by memberships and small donations. Look here for the party platform.
socialist labor party
Established in 1876 as the Workingmen’s Party, it is the nation’s oldest socialist party and the second oldest socialist party in the world still in existence. The party ideology is “socialist industrial unionism”. The only US socialist party until 1900, the SLP attracted socialists of all tendencies but by 1890 the party was reorganized on a Marxist basis. Look here for the party platform.
2. communist parties
communist party usa
Marxist-Leninist political party that is the largest communist party in the country. Established in 1919, it has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement. The Communist Party USA has championed the struggles for democracy, labor rights, women’s equality, racial justice and peace for ninety years. It has an intimate history in the progressive movement of the United States, from the struggle against Jim Crow segregation to the organizing of the industrial unions, from the canneries of California, to the sweatshops of New York City. The Communist Party has members and local organizations all around the country from big cities to small towns. Look at their website for the party platform.
party for socialism and liberation
A Marxist-Leninist political party intent on a socialist transformation of society. It was created as the result of a split within the ranks of Workers World Party (WWP). The San Francisco branch and several other members left WWP in June 2004, announcing that “the Workers World Party leadership is no longer capable of fulfilling that mission of ‘building socialism'”. Look here for the party platform.
working families party
Political party founded in New York in 1998. There are “sister” parties to the New York WFP in Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Oregon, but there is as yet no national WFP. The party blends a culture of political organizing with unionism, 1960s idealism, and tactical pragmatism. Nearly a quarter million New Yorkers voted on the Working Families Party ballot line in 2012. Look here for the party platform.
socialist equality party
Trotskyist political party affiliated with the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). The SEP “seeks not to reform capitalism, but to create a socialist, democratic and egalitarian society through the establishment of a workers’ government and the revolutionary transformation of the world economy. Jerry White and Niles Niemuth were nominated to lead the party’s 2016 Presidential ticket. Look here for the party platform.
socialist labor party
A far-left political organization that places a priority on “solidarity work” to aid labor strikes and is strongly supportive of Castro regime in Cuba and the foreign policy of Vladimir Putin‘s dictatorship in Russia. The Socialist Labor Party publishes “The Militant”, a weekly newspaper that dates back to 1928 and maintains Pathfinder Press. Look here for the party platform in pdf.
freedom socialist party
Far-left socialist party with revolutionary feminist philosophy that split in the Socialist Workers Party in 1966. Views the struggles of women and minority as part of the struggle of the working class. The SWP’s Seattle branch, split off from the SWP over what it described as the SWP’s entrenched opportunism and undemocratic methods. Look at their website for the party platform.
socialist action party
Founded in 1919, a Trotskyist political party that publishes the monthly Socialist Action newspaper and has publishing arm called Socialist Action Books. It has a youth affiliate called Youth for Socialist Action and is associated with the Fourth International. Socialist Action has its national office in San Francisco and champions the struggles for democracy, labor rights, women’s equality and racial justice. Take a look at the party platform.
socialist alternative party
Socialist political party that identifies itself as a national organization fighting in workplaces, communities and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day. Support for immigrants and student organizing. Fight sexism and homophobia. In 2013, Kshama Sawant became the first independent socialist elected in a major U.S. city in decades, entering the Seattle City Council. Take a look at the party platform.
worker’s world party
A Marxist-Leninist communist third party founded in 1959 by a group led by Sam Marcy of the United States Socialist Workers Party. Marcy and his followers split from the Socialist Workers Party in 1958 over a series of long-standing differences. Marcy and the Socialist Workers Party support militant organizers against imperialist oppression and against oppression of nationality, sexuality, gender or disabilities. Take a look at the party platform.