Eugene V. Debs: On The American Two Party System

In 1900, Eugene V. Debs wrote an article entitled, “Outlook for Socialism in the United States.” It was published in the International Socialist Review in September of that year.

As Debs presents his thoughts about the future of socialism in the United States, he gives special Debs Portraitattention to the two-party political system in America. Regarding the Republican and Democratic Parties he writes …

“Needless is it for me to say to the thinking workingman that he has no choice between these two capitalist parties, that they are both pledged to the same system and that whether the one or the other succeeds, he will still remain the wage-working slave he is today.”

“As a rule, large capitalists are Republicans and small capitalists are Democrats, but workingmen must remember that they are all capitalists, and that the many small ones, like the fewer large ones, are all politically supporting their class interests, and this is always and everywhere the capitalist class.”

“The difference between the Republican and Democratic parties involve no issue, no principles in which the working class have any interest …. “

Debs concludes his article with an appeal to workingmen and women for their participation in a third political party, one comprised of and representing the working class of America, the Socialist Party of America.

“Between these parties socialists have no choice, no preference. They are one in their opposition to Socialism, that is to say, the emancipation of the working class from wage-slavery, and every workingman who has intelligence enough to understand the interest of his class and the nature of the struggle in which it is involved, will once and for all time sever his relations with them both; and recognizing the class-struggle which is being waged between the producing workers and non-producing capitalists, cast his lot with the class-conscious, revolutionary Socialist party, which is pledged to abolish the capitalist system, class-rule, and wage-slavery …. “

Today, there are many in the United States who feel the same way about the Republican and Democratic parties as Eugene V. Debs did in his day. We feel that the two parties that dominate our political system represent the corporate class in America and their global neo-liberal agenda that pursues profit at the expense of nations and people more than they do the working and middle class men and women of their states and districts. The parties are distant from and out of touch with the real-life, bread-and-butter issues that we contend with on a daily basis. It has recently been reported that more than half of the men and women who serve in the United States Congress are millionaires. They can not relate to or understand the plight of those who must work two and three part-time jobs in order to provide for their families and children.

The Republican and Democratic parties, and the politicians and candidates of these parties, receive -Labor-  Corporation Influencehuge financial contributions and legislative counsel from organizations and think tanks that would seek to, and do, influence political policy making and the crafting and passing of legislation at the state and federal levels. These legislative bills favor corporations and the financial elite. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is perhaps the most well-known “counseling” entity that assists legislators with the writing of “model” legislation. Republican dominated states – from Wisconsin to North Carolina – are assaulting voters, public unions, seeking to privatize everything from education to prisons, and slashing food stamps and unemployment insurance benefits for the hungry and out-of-work.

Yes, there is great concern, and rightfully so, about the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States and who they represent. Because of this concern and the seeming evidence that suggests that the American two-party system does not represent the American working people, we would agree with Eugene V. Debs that the time has come for a viable third party that will truly represent the working men and women of America and their working class values, needs, and vision for their families and lives.

Perhaps the time in now for a national working class political party.

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Read Eugene V. Debs’ “Outlook for Socialism in the United States” in its entirety.

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