by Paul Garver
In December 2015 Tom Gallagher self published a pamphlet entitled The Primary Route: How the 99% Take On the Military Industrial Complex (Coast to Coast Publications).
Drawing on his own experiences as a Massachusetts legislator and as an elected delegate for a number of progressive Democratic challengers in presidential primaries, long-time democratic socialist Tom Gallagher argued in considerable historical detail and humor that the American Left had to engage in Democratic primary races at the national level to be taken seriously as a political force.
Bernie Sanders had recently announced his Presidential candidacy, but his campaign had not yet demonstrated its capacity to rally millions of voters behind his progressive ideas. The successes of Sanders’ campaign strongly supports the thrust of Gallagher’s argument, while simultaneously making his thesis seem somewhat outdated and obvious.
As Gallagher recently stated with his characteristic humor, there was either going to be a good book or a good campaign, and would not be both.
As I read Gallagher’s pamphlet today, its relevance to 2016 feels limited. Gallagher himself, as a Sanders delegate from the 12th Congressional District of California, will be using his persuasive skills at the DNC in Philadelphia.
Yet I strongly suspect that when 2019 rolls around, the pamphlet should be reissued. Already the spin doctors of several sectarian socialist groups are making use of the “failure” of Sanders to become the Democratic presidential candidate as an argument for retreating back to the safe and sheltered sanctuary of the Green Party. In 2019 much of the U.S. Left may be spinning its wheels once again as it did in this electoral cycle, rehashing the same old arguments about the inevitable doom the Left faces if we engage in Democratic primaries.
The Primary Route will be useful reading then.
Tom Gallagher is a member of the United Educators in San Francisco. You can view his other writings and buy this pamphlet at https://tomgallagherwrites.com/