Tonight at 6 p.m., a small collection of enterprising young politicos will gather at Urban League headquarters in North Minneapolis with the intention of creating a new local political party. Against all our better judgment, we wish them the best of luck.
In a recent issue of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, community activist Al Flowers announced the creation of the Independent Freedom Party, a political movement that he hopes can unite people of color under a single political banner–one that borrows the ideology of Louis Farrakhan. “I question why we, as a people, cannot come together, not for the good of ourselves personally, but for the good of all people of color,” Flowers wrote. “The time is now.”
Now, borrowing any dogma from as controversial a figure as Farrakhan will certainly spark a lively dialogue about racial politics. But we believe that dialogue is long overdue in this city, and despite our misgivings about the exclusionary language Flowers has thus far chosen to describe this new party, we welcome the conversation. Flowers and his associates, Booker T. Hodges and Amy Alexander, have been known for their willingness to stir the pot around racial issues–but also around class and privilege, topics that generally do not arise in our political discussions. They have often been dismissed by leaders at City Hall–as well as among some in the black community–as too reckless in their criticism. This could be a more constructive process.
There is no question that the DFL Party no longer adequately serves certain political constituencies. A large slice of the local party’s most progressive wing fell away years ago to form the Green Party. A growing segment of young progressives are rallying around the local League of Pissed-Off Voters. And Flowers, Hodges, Alexander, and others aim to represent communities of color that have grown increasingly impatient with a 1960s-era leadership that they believe has become less a part of the solution than a part of the problem.
So we applaud the initiative even as we wait to see what sort of conversation it sparks and what sort of political organization it spawns. Handled properly, this energy could mobilize a powerful constituency that could have real electoral influence throughout the city. But if it descends into the politics of anger and retribution, we will have lost an important opportunity.