The Real News Network recently interviewed the famous historian Howard Zinn, whose most famous book is A People’s History of the United States. He addressed topics including his new movie, the significance of labor unions, the success of Obama’s administration, Ron Paul’s followers, and the potential for a large third party forming.
His comments on a new third party were a continuation of his comments on the future of progressives and how they might advance their goals through politics:
HOWARD ZINN, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR: If the situation continues to be as bad as it is or gets worse—and, in fact, I don’t think it can remain just as it is. I think it probably will get worse if these very weak policies of the Obama administration do not change into something bold. If the situation does get worse, then what alternatives, politically, will people have? They could vote for a Republican. They could create a new progressive wing of the Democratic Party which transforms the Democratic Party and creates a possibility of new, bold policies. Or if the Democratic Party looks so hopeless, refuses to change, continues in its present path, it’s quite possible that a third party could emerge, a party which will say to the American people, “We know the Republican Party. We had them. We had them under Bush. They got us into enormous trouble. We’ve now had eight years of the Democratic Party there, incapable of taking us out of this economic crisis, and they still have our sons and daughters overseas dying in wars. We need a new party.” And I can see the possibility of a third party emerging and speaking to the American people and saying, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get our young people out of wars. We’re going to stop war. We are going to cut down the military budget to the point where it’s simply a defensive operation. We have not defended ourselves. Despite the fact we have a Department of Defense, every war that we have fought since World War II has been an offensive war, an aggressive war. We are going to create free health care for everybody. We’ll even guarantee jobs to people who lose their jobs. We are going to guarantee adequate social security for older people. We are going to guarantee that people who want to go to college and can’t afford it will be able to go to college. These are the things we promise to do, and we have the money to do it, and we can show you where we have the money to do it: through a new taxation policy and through the cutting down of the military. I think a bold program like that, advertised widely—and, of course, this is always a problem with any new party that’s trying to crash the barriers—advertise on the Internet, advertise in every possible way, would speak to what the American people want, is that the program that I just outlined, I believe, is what the American people want. I believe the American people are sick of war. I believe the American people—and they’ve shown us in poll after poll—want a government-run health system. I don’t think the American people are as afraid of big government as the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Party are. So I think a new party that speaks very boldly and clearly in simple language to the public and presents to them a program which they’ve been waiting for and which neither party has given them, such a party could succeed.
On the topic of the Ron Paul movement and independents in America, he said:
ZINN: I think there is ground for appealing to Republicans who are not die-hard Republicans, who are Republicans because they don’t see any really exciting alternative. And I think there’s a very large number of Republicans who are with Ron Paul’s idea of no more war, no more militarism, no more foreign bases. And I believe that these people who are not, as I say, the hardcore of the Republican Party but who are a certain percentage of the Republican Party, I think these people can be appealed to by a new party. You know, many polls over the years have shown that when you ask Americans to classify themselves as Democrats or Republicans or independent, huge number of them classify themselves as independent—they only vote Democrat or Republican because they have to, because they don’t see an alternative. And so the problem is to present to them a viable, attractive alternative.
The entire interview is posted below (note: it is shorter than the time on the Youtube videos would suggest because there is a pitch for donations that lasts a few minutes at the end of every video). The fifth and last part is the one in which he talks about third parties:
Part 1: Class in America
Part 2: We are brought up to believe there’s only one class
Part 3: Send a message to Obama
Part 4: Unions and the movement
Part 5: The movement and new parties