How to stop the far-right movement? Some Philly organizers pitch a new party

Jaja Robinson wears a face mask in front of signage at a Socialist Alternative meeting

Jaja Robinson, with the Socialist Alternative, says the far-right has grown because Democrats and Republicans have ignored needs of the working class. (Ximena Conde/WHYY)

The way Philadelphia’s branch of the Socialist Alternative sees things, the attack on the Capitol shows that while President Donald Trump may be leaving office, the far-right movement isn’t going anywhere.

The solution, they say, is one they’ve pitched before: build a working-class movement that addresses the kind of economic concerns that could lead people to the far-right in the first place. Socialist Alternative organizer Jed Lauchroen says the country needs a new party altogether.

“And it needs to be based on a program,” said Lauchroen. “It can’t just be, ‘Oh, it’s an anti-fascist party.’ It needs to be based on something that it stands for. We need COVID relief for everyone who’s affected by it. We need Medicare for all. We need a green jobs program. We need to forgive student debt.”

Since Joe Biden was declared president-elect, Philly organizers have been jockeying to find ways to move him further to the left on issues like rent cancelation and student debt, as well as building a working-class movement.

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The push for a new party saw a renewed sense of urgency when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the nation’s capital Wednesday.

Lauchroen and members of the Socialist Alternative held an emergency open-air meeting Sunday at LOVE Park to discuss how to fight the far-right under a Biden presidency. About 50 people attended.

At its core, said Lauchroen, this new party would be a party that fights for the working class, something he said the current Democratic Party can’t do because of how politicians court donations from people with ties to corporations. Lauchroen said this new party wouldn’t even need to have “socialism” in the name.

Nat Dekok stands outside near City Hall at a Socialist Alternative meeting
Nat Dekok, with the Socialist Alternative, says working class people need to know that they have power in organizing. (Ximena Conde/WHYY)

Jaja Robinson, 20, joined the Socialist Alternative around the time the coronavirus pandemic reached the region in March.

While he says racial resentment has certainly helped in the growth of the far-right movement in the U.S., he believes capitalism has also played a role in stoking these tensions. Robinson said the anger stems from the poor working full-time jobs at massive corporations and still needing government assistance to make ends meet.

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To Robinson, much of the far-right’s base is “poor people just like us, they’re working people that’s just trying to feed their families.”

Jed Lauchroen stands outside near City Hall at a Socialist Alternative meeting
Jed Lauchroen is with the Socialist Alternative. He says the only way to defeat the right is to create a third party made up of the working class. (Ximena Conde/WHYY)

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