Cornel West claims there are 'crypto fascist elements' of Democratic Party and GOP is Trump-'hijacked' as he courts donors

West may not have a major party platform, but he has enthusiastic backers.

October 4, 2023, 5:11 PM

Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Cornel West denounced what he called the "crypto-fascist elements" of the Democratic Party and a Trump-"hijacked" Republican Party as he courted donors at his first presidential fundraiser.

West argued that former President Donald Trump has "hijacked" the Republican Party, which he said is governed by "the rule of big business and big military, scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful" and is "xenophobic across the board."

He also criticized Trump individually, saying that while he doesn't "demonize anybody," he does "keep track of [Trump's] demonic activity."

But the Green Party hopeful also slammed the Democratic Party, saying it has "its own crypto-fascist elements" when it comes to issues like mass incarceration. He seemed to be invoking, without offering evidence, his belief that members of the Democratic Party secretly support fascism but keep their sympathies hidden due to fear of public admonishment.

West asked the audience to use "the sense of history that you are connected with" to have "the energy, the vitality, the vibrancy" to "conceive of a different future."

"There's nothing else you can do. You are locked in to choosing," he said, summarizing the widely-held view of the two-party system.

West's backers left little to no room Tuesday afternoon at a popular bookstore restaurant in the nation's capital as they listened to the independent candidate's message.

"I've been running for truth and justice and oftentimes running from the police. ... The point is, running for president is just a vessel and a vehicle for running for truth and justice," he told the crowd.

Supporters who traveled across state lines to support the philosopher agreed with West's message on the political parties.

"They've already said in the past through lawsuits that they're a corporation. They don't owe a free and fair election and running ... and a third party is the only way to go right now," said Marcos Rocha, a Marine veteran wearing a Cornel West T-shirt. "I traveled from New York City to here on a check engine light just to support this cause."

"Dr. Cornel West, it's such a breath of fresh air. We need his message and we need his leadership right now. We've got to do something about what we're dealing with across the country in terms of the two party systems that are failing," said Dr. Rhonda Hamilton, a Washington, D.C., native and mental health outreach advocate. "People should vote for Cornel West because we should be voting for change. The status quo is not working for far too many Americans."

West's Green Party candidacy has been a point of concern for backers of President Joe Biden given national surveys indicating that independent campaigns and third-party candidates could return Donald Trump to the White House.

Biden recently called out former Sen. Joe Lieberman for his affiliation with No Labels, a group that is publicly floating the possibility of putting forward a third-party presidential ticket.

"He has a democratic right to do it. There's no reason not to do that," Biden told ProPublica of Lieberman. "Now, it's going to help the other guy, and he knows. That's a political decision he's making that I obviously think is a mistake. But he has a right to do that."

But some supporters who attended West's event say that the former Harvard University professor could be a formidable candidate in his own right and not just a "spoiler" for Biden.

"I think Cornel West's chances against the incumbent and the previous president are excellent," Carey Campbell, state chairman of the Green Party of Virginia. "Clearly, most Americans do not. All the polls show they don't want the prior president, the current president, running. That's clear. So Dr. Cornel West is a new, fresh, positive Green Party alternative."

Pressed about the possibility of another 2024 presidential candidate -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. -- switching parties, West said he wants Kennedy to "do his thing."

"Well I have love for my brother, he's going to go out and do his thing," he said.

"We are going all through to November but we all shall see," he vowed.

It is unclear how much money West raised at the fundraiser. ABC News has reached out to the West campaign.

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