Former Harvard professor and prominent public intellectual Cornel West will mount a third party run for president, he said on Monday in a video posted on Twitter.
A supporter, surrogate and confidante of Bernie Sanders during the Vermont senator’s 2016 and 2020 presidential bids, West is one of the leading democratic socialist activists of his generation.
“In these bleak times, I have decided to run for truth and justice which takes the form of running for president of the United States as a candidate for the People’s Party,” West said. “I enter in the quest for truth, I enter in the quest for justice. And the presidency is just one vehicle to pursue that truth and justice that I’ve been trying to do all of my life.”
West will run as a candidate for the People’s Party – a path that Sanders refused during his own campaigns, despite his clashes with a Democratic Party establishment that largely weighed in against him. Sanders endorsed Biden ahead of the 2020 general election and will support him again in 2024.
West taught philosophy at Harvard during multiple stints before returning to Union Theological Seminary in 2021. He previously held a tenured position at Princeton and has written an edited dozens of books. West entered the public sphere during the Civil Rights Movement and has emerged in the decades since as an irrepressible voice of radical political thought.
“I come from a tradition where I care about you. I care about the quality of your life. I care about whether you have access to a job with a living wage, decent housing, women having control over their bodies, health for all,” West said in his video.
A supporter of Barack Obama during his first campaign, West soon emerged as one of the former president’s harshest leftist critics. He frequently derided Obama’s politics, including his embrace of Wall Street, drone warfare and what West described as a lack of progress on mass incarceration.
“The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump – but it did contribute to it,” West wrote in 2017. “And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.”
After Biden’s election in 2020, West in an interview with the magazine Jacobin summed up the views of many socialist and left-wing activists.
“It looks as if we’ll be wrestling with a neoliberal disaster,” West said. “That’s another way of saying that the rot is there, it’s just that with Biden, the rot proceeds much more slowly.”