We are conditioned to believe that we ordinary people cannot take this kind of leap and run for office. We must realize that this is part of our slave-conditioning, become angry at it, and break it.
We are also conditioned by the Left to believe in doing things “collectively.” On the one hand, this is a strength which ensures that any efforts which are undertaken will actually have group backing.
On the other hand, it can be a weakness, as members are encouraged to follow perspectives handed down from the leadership instead of thinking for themselves. Of course this translates into action, or inaction – average members are not willing to initiate a project that does not have the leadership approval. In practice this often means such projects will never occur, because it may well be the case that the socialist leaderships’ dominance is threatened by the emergence of inter-tendency/independent coalitions who make decisions democratically from below, instead of the decisions being made by councils of group representatives. In movements they may have been able to roll with things they did not control, but they are touchy about socialist campaigns, because socialism is their traditional “turf.”
Against this bureaucratic inertia, we need to realize that a small group of individuals can now unleash historical forces greater than themselves. Occupy Wall Street was not big when it started, but because of the massive class anger in society, was able to become huge. The same applies to socialist campaigns. Annoyed by our daring to act without permission, the socialist groups may take a largely abstentionist policy, standing aside, sending only token helpers, waiting and seeing if we are able to stand or fall on our own. So it’s up to us, and no one else, to organize well and make this work.
On the flipside, it is very good to have an organized base which discusses issues, and makes decisions through voting. The less of a free-for-all the movement is, the more fair everything will feel to everyone. Chicago Socialist Campaign established and continues to establish such a base. Socialist Alternative already had one, and is trying to expand it.
But ultimately, the collective base won’t do much if nobody steps up to run, or everyone is afraid to, or too humble, or everyone puts their personal life above the chaos that being a candidate will inevitably inflict on you. Chicago Socialist Campaign began to stall out for a while, because they had not picked a candidate. Now that they have, their lost energy is beginning to return. And what if, in the beginning, the individuals who wanted to spearhead the thing had just kept their heads down, and let the socialist groups lead the way? Would it have ever happened? What if nobody had the foresight to do serious research into the Chicago ward system, or all the other insane rules of electoral law, and all the skills of campaigning? Wouldn’t the CSC be kind of a joke?
You have to consider (1) that you might be one of the people, or even the person, to call for a campaign to form, (2) that you might be a campaign manager type of person who blazes the trail in learning technical details of campaigning in a way that no one else will take the initiative to do, and (3) that you might be one of the people on a slate, or the person, to run for office.
There are times when an individual can make a difference in history, by playing a key individual role in a larger collective process. We live in those times. Fortune favors the bold.