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Progressives Pay the Price for Confusing a Party With a Movement

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Posted on Sep 3, 2009

By David Sirota

The difference between parties and movements is simple: Parties are loyal to their own power regardless of policy agenda; movements are loyal to their own policy agenda regardless of which party champions it. This is one of the few enduring political axioms, and it explains why the organizations purporting to lead an American progressive “movement” have yet to build a real movement, much less a successful one.

Though the 2006 and 2008 elections were billed as progressive movement successes, the story behind them highlights a longer-term failure. During those contests, most leaders of Washington’s major labor, environmental, anti-war and anti-poverty groups spent millions of dollars on a party endeavor—specifically, on electing a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. In the process, many groups subverted their own movement agendas in the name of electoral unity.

The effort involved a sleight of hand. These groups begged their grass-roots members—janitors, soccer moms, veterans and other “regular folks”—to cough up small-dollar contributions in return for the promise of movement pressure on both parties’ politicians. Simultaneously, these groups went to dot-com and Wall Street millionaires asking them to chip in big checks in exchange for advocacy that did not offend those fat cats’ Democratic politician friends (or those millionaires’ economic privilege).

This wasn’t totally dishonest. Many groups sincerely believed that Democratic Party promotion was key to progressive movement causes. And anyway, during the Bush era, many of those causes automatically helped Democrats by indicting Republicans.

But after the 2008 election, the strategy’s bankruptcy is undeniable.

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As we now see, union dues underwrote Democratic leaders who today obstruct serious labor law reform and ignore past promises to fix NAFTA. Green groups’ resources helped elect a government that pretends sham “cap and trade” bills represent environmental progress. Health care groups promising to push a single-payer system got a president not only dropping his own single-payer promises, but also backing off a “public option” to compete with private insurance. And anti-war funding delivered a Congress that refuses to stop financing the Iraq mess, and an administration preparing to escalate the Afghanistan conflict.

Of course, frustrated progressives might be able to forgive the groups that promised different results, had these postelection failures prompted course corrections.

For example, had the left’s pre-eminent groups responded to Democrats’ health care capitulations by immediately announcing campaigns against these Democrats, progressives could feel confident that these groups were back to prioritizing a movement agenda. Likewise, had the big anti-war organizations reacted to Obama’s Afghanistan escalation plans with promises of electoral retribution, we would know those organizations were steadfastly loyal to their anti-war brand.

But that hasn’t happened. Despite the president’s health care retreat, most major progressive groups continue to cheer him on, afraid to lose their White House access and, thus, their Beltway status. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that Moveon.org has “yet to take a clear position on Afghanistan” while VoteVets’ leader all but genuflected to Obama, saying, “People [read: professional political operatives] do not want to take on the administration.”

In this vacuum, movement building has been left to underfunded (but stunningly successful) projects like Firedoglake.com, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and local organizations. And that’s the lesson: True grass-roots movements that deliver concrete legislative results are not steered by marble-columned institutions, wealthy benefactors or celebrity politicians—and they are rarely ever run from Washington. They are almost always far-flung efforts by those organized around real-world results—those who don’t care about party conventions, congressional cocktail parties or White House soirees they were never invited to in the first place.

Only when enough progressives realize that truism will any movement—and any change—finally commence.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books “Hostile Takeover” and “The Uprising.” He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com.

© 2009 Creators.com


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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 15, 2010 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

The problem with angry crowds who have legitimate grievences is that they can be hijacked and steered away by charismatic types who can manipulate popular sentiment and turn it into something ugly. Such has happened to the Tea Baggers. As has recently come to light that Frank Luntz (a Fox frequent guest) runs his own advertising company had written a memo organizing on paper in 2007 what we see today. From Fox News being on it to where and how and who would not be head lining of the rallies. For the Tea Partiers they need to get control or they are co-opted and their issues will be as dead as their reality.

What we need to do is to find and join where we can with the Tea (non)Party and try to educate them away from the Fox News pseudo-reality they espouse now.

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By Millie Smith, April 15, 2010 at 2:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A good well balanced article which certainly gives readers plenty to think about, cheers.

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By ardee, September 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, September 9 at 11:09 am #

You are quite right, StuartH, my mind has been stteped in the acid of negiativity.  It iw no longer flexible, like yours, Obama’s and theDems. I am a strong advocate of negativity.  I am against imperialist war, the plundering of the American people, and the deceit that justifies and manipulates it.

Eloquence must be noted…..steeped in the acid of negativity, sipping from the broth of ...well I have been outdone indeed.

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By Dave Schwab, September 9, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

“As a Green, perhaps you can tell me why they do not seek to make political hay on the issue of Health Care reform, especially since so many favor such? “

Actually, the Green Party has been very focused this year on single-payer “Medicare for All” health care, an issue that Greens support almost unanimously. The one Green in a 2009 congressional race, Jeremy Cloward of California, supports single-payer, universal daycare, large reductions in the military budget, and more:

http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2009/09/03/green-for-greens-jeremy-cloward-us-house-ca-10/

As to why Greens aren’t making a big splash, short answer is the media is indifferent. Even candidates like Cloward never get more than a line or two in the paper, and never about their platforms. Basically, it comes down to money. Greens don’t accept corporate cash, so we can’t buy ads, which makes us ‘unelectable’ in the eyes of the media, which to them justifies ignoring Greens completely.

The Green Party subsists on the usually small donations of real people. Unfortunately, not on the Obama scale; too many people think change will come from flushing more cash down the Democratic drain.

2010 will be a relatively good year for Greens. Here are some of the races coming down the pipeline:

Illinois: Rich Whitney, who got over 10% of the vote for governor in 2006, is running for governor again. LeAlan Jones, one of the journalists behind the award-winning Ghetto Life 101, will be running for Obama’s old Senate seat.

Arkansas: The Greens will put up a candidate against Sen. Blanche Lincoln D-AR, the Senator from Wal-Mart. Unions are ready to desert the AR Democrats for a party that will support EFCA, health care reform, etc.

California: Only time will tell, but I’m hoping that we can draft Matt Gonzalez to run against Nancy Pelosi, and Van Jones to run for governor:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=114466178949&ref=ts

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Draft-Van-Jones-for-governor-of-California/161154048367?ref=nf

If you tell me what state you’re from, I can try to tell you the state of your local Greens.

Also, for news about current campaigns, check out http://gp.org/ and http://greenpartywatch.org/

I appreciate your posting here. Always pleasant to find a reasonable soul.

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By StuartH, September 9, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

I was hoping that this discussion would actually be interesting, since the author’s
piece was based around an insightful observation.

However, it reminds me of dorm room arguments from a really long time ago with
nothing changed.

I wonder if a political movement (or a party) can be led by people who are
essentially anti-social.  Hmmm.  I guess we could call it antisocialism.

Report this

By Folktruther, September 9, 2009 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

You are quite right, StuartH, my mind has been stteped in the acid of negiativity.  It iw no longer flexible, like yours, Obama’s and theDems. I am a strong advocate of negativity.  I am against imperialist war, the plundering of the American people, and the deceit that justifies and manipulates it.

But, as you say, this greatly hinders compromise and reaching agreement with people, especially people that are positive about these things.  With the tinkertoy politics that you and the Dem cadre display, being paid off with favors and by having dinners with the Dem Elite, or at least they’ll throw you a bone if you sit up and beg nicely, you have neutralized the mainstream left who might actually want to fight for some issues.  As a consequence historically, the American political consensus has gone continually to the right the past 30 years, led by the right who DO fight for their politic.

Many would would characterize the Dem cadre, who now average 82 years old, as wimps that don’t matter.  They are wrong.  Your historical function is to neutralize the left, allowing the right to mostroruusly increase inequality, violence and irrationality.  You have measured out your political life with coffee spoons, and the coffee is laced with political cyinide.  You and your kind have killed the US left, and are standing in the way of a revived spectre.

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By ardee, September 9, 2009 at 3:26 am Link to this comment

greenferret, September 8 at 9:18 pm #

Well stated and , though I believe you waste your time trying to break through to ITW’s unique blindness, I applaud both the effort to do so and that of working to strengthen the Green Party.

As a Green, perhaps you can tell me why they do not seek to make political hay on the issue of Health Care reform, especially since so many favor such?

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By Dave Schwab, September 8, 2009 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

“I know what socialism is, both Marxist and non-Marxist and it doesn’t take a genius to see that it has failed DREADFULLY all around the world. “

Have you been to Norway? Sweden? Denmark? Finland? The Netherlands? The happiest, freest countries out there, with a good dose of socialism to help everyone stay healthy, wealthy and wise.

For all the people who lecture us daily on how we need to capture the Democratic Party, go do it yourselves. Your team has a super-majority, so please call them up and read them all those nice speeches where Obama said he was gonna do a lot of nice stuff. Unfortunately, I have no time to do so, since I and thousands of others are busy organizing a true progressive party, free of corporate influenc,e from the grassroots up - the Green Party. If your friendly Democratic representatives are unresponsive to your entreaties, you are welcome to join us.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, September 8, 2009 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther:
’... Anarcissie, my impression is that European academics are much more politically sophisiticated than Americans.  European welfare capitlaism is what Americans consider socialism.  europeans typically are astonished at how right wing and poltical unconscious Americans are.  Look at Dihey, a Dutchperson,and how his political sensibility is much greater.  Or Bruwerestroupe from New Zealand. ...’

My experience and observation have been that when Europeans say “socialism” they mean a centralized capitalist state with Welfare, a la Bismarck, maybe with a bit of dirigisme but certainly nothing like worker or public control of the means of production.

There are instances of worker ownership and control in Europe, but all that I know about are cooperatives or communal, of an anarchist flavor.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 8, 2009 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

ardee, September 8 at 6:41 am #

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

For ITW Of course public ownership of health care, administered by the govt., as we find in many nations today, is socialism in action.

I believe you blinded by your dislike of such terms as socialism and communism to the point where you refuse to recognize them as evolutionary steps that lead, inevitably, to socialism in government.
****************************************************

Hey RD, you are starting to sound like FT, making up crap about me.  When did I EVER say I opposed public health care?  When did I EVER say I was against a national health care system?  But, unlike you, I know the difference between public and private goods and I know the government MUST take “ownership” of public goods(and services) and boldly regulate private goods and services against abuse.

I know what socialism is, both Marxist and non-Marxist and it doesn’t take a genius to see that it has failed DREADFULLY all around the world.

I also know that the failures we see in capitalism is the failure to provide proper regulation and to recognize THAT KEYNES WAS RIGHT!  The current disaster was created by people who not only don’t believe in Keynes, they don’t even believe in Milton Friedman.  Friedman didn’t, like the neo-cons, deny that Keynes was right about what fiscal and monetary policy could do—he just argued that monetary policy was the only effective government policy.  But today’s neo-cons have gone BACK to the neo-classicals whose policies landed us in the Great Depression, and, guess what?  They landed us AGAIN in this recession, the biggest since the 1929 crash!

It doesn’t condemn capitalism—it condemns neo-conservatism and neo-classical economics.

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By elisalouisa, September 8, 2009 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

Night-gaunt:  Quoting Ayn Rand-they are “without that organ for (empathy) of
others” and be proud of it. Think themselves superior because of that lack.
What we would call psychopaths/sociopaths. A variant of human not beneficial
for most of us.
*************
Ayn Rand is right about that one. To have empathy is considered a weakness
and undesirable by more than one individual. You may have empathy but it is
possible for charismatic leaders(who are without that organ for empathy) when
they are speaking to a crowd to over ride such sentiment in individuals. Mass
mentality then takes over; it really has nothing to do with intellect as far as
success in swaying the people toward your ideology. If you have been raised in
a fascist type environment hostile to feelings from the heart that would also
place any sentiment on hold. StuartH asks why negativity works so powerfully
that it takes over the minds of those who like to think of themselves as
sensible. The eternal question, why does negativity so dominate every aspect of
our lives. Night-Gaunt responded that I was calm and complacent when in a
recent post I commented that one should concentrate on the glass being half
full. I am not calm and complacent, I just try not to give in to the negativity. To
some I say this includes posts that goad us on and you know who I mean.

Report this

By john_manyjars, September 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There was a right-to-scab banner ad when I opened the article, for general
information…

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, September 8, 2009 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

“A mob of religious zealots screaming the word “socialist” brings out the latent fear from 500 years ago in a time when such mobs, composed of the direct ancestors of the present day ones, were screaming “witch” or “heretic” around a scene that is burned deeply into our nervous systems.”StuartH

A correct observation and the same kind of mentality is at work here. Ones who want to bring such things back into the world. If they succeed they may also bring back the breaking wheel and impaling too one day. But for now it is this mass psychology of fascism and fanaticism at work. They are ruthless and as Ayn Rand would say they are “without that organ for (empathy) of others” and be proud of it. Think themselves superior because of that lack. What we would call psychopaths/sociopaths. A variant of human not beneficial for most of us. 

Gov’t should be working for us and we should be supporting gov’t. We should have control over it so it will benefit the most not the way it is now as a benefitiary of the few, powerful, the “blessed.”

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By StuartH, September 8, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Folktruther:

You don’t win people over by just insulting them and being darkly negative. The mind, steeped in such negative acid, is no longer flexible enough to spot opportunities for agreement that might be persuasive in leading to higher ground. 

You can control more and more of less and less if you just want to drive people out of the room with caustic hyperbole.  There are those who will think this is witty and those who will think it is just boring and go look for something else more interesting. 

Many are comforted by the seductions of exclusionary angst, bitterly complaining about the benighted Others who are all around. 

One can even make a profession out of it, gather a following and lead in a grand circular parade with much show. 

This especially works in one’s own head.

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By Folktruther, September 8, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Cann4ing you are quite right. True socialism is essential to real democracy.  Capitalist Democracy and the electioral system is a distguise for plutocracy.  Capitlaist Democracy is a controdiction in terms.

Anarcissie, my impression is that European academics are much more politically sophisiticated than Americans.  European welfare capitlaism is what Americans consider socialism.  europeans typically are astonished at how right wing and poltical unconscious Americans are.  Look at Dihey, a Dutchperson,and how his political sensibility is much greater.  Or Bruwerestroupe from New Zealand.

Stuart. negativity is essential to serious politics.  Politics is war conducted by other means.  Your plitical life has been spent in a olitical playpen, electing Dems to office. Doing so now helps lead the US toward increased war and a police state.

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By yours truly, September 8, 2009 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vision + Plan + Spirit = Change

“The vision?”

“Each of us in charge of our own destiny by virtue of being equally important in the total scheme of things.”

“The plan?”

“We rise up en masse.”

“And the spirit?”

“All for one and one for all.”

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By StuartH, September 8, 2009 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

There is a lot of negativity here. 

We have certainly seen very negative town
halls and the media is full of incredibly negative style, tone and substance.

Why does negativity work so powerfully that it takes over the minds of those
who like to think of themselves as sensible, like a virus in cold season?  Why
does it trump the reasoning skill set we know full well is our best intellectual
asset?

In the back of our minds is a funhouse full of mirrors that distort, stored in our
collective mental basement along with taboos for not looking behind them. 
Terrors lurk in the dark there and they can be invoked by words, as if they were magic spells. 

A mob of religious zealots screaming the word “socialist” brings out the latent fear from 500 years ago in a time when such mobs, composed of the direct ancestors of the present day ones, were screaming “witch” or “heretic” around a scene that is burned deeply into our nervous systems.  The tortures of the Inquisition were so terrible we still cringe to think of them and they were followed by public burnings at the stake which still seize us with paralyzing fear at an atavistic level. We need not even be aware of this for it to work.  Actually, we can be very aware and it still works.

This trick still works as social control and no one need be burned alive in public for it to do so anymore.  Negativity for the sake of negativity: demonizing, belittling, using contemptuous tones, these are still argument tactics we resort to naturally, easily because after all the conditiong behind them over the centuries, they just simply work. 

“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set ye free,” is emblazoned dramatically across the facades of modern universities and on letterheads.

This is supposed to reflect the great Liberal tradition that intellectual skills built on the foundation premise that analytical and critical thinking are the antidote of fear-based, insult-driven appeals to the mob mind.

We see this most starkly in our politics where people with less intellectual energy, less education and fewer scruples resort to spooking the public into opposing progressive reforms, especially if those based on scientific inquiry. 

The alternative to anti-intellectual negativity isn’t to search for more wood to add to the fire.

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By cann4ing, September 8, 2009 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

A truly democratic socialism is vital to democracy.  As the U.S. proves daily, there can be no meaningful political democracy without economic democracy.

Access to knowledge is also a vital component of democracy.  As James Madison put it, “knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who wish to be their own governors must acquire the power that knowledge can bring.”

The core problem is that we have permitted the most undemocratic of institutions—corporations—to control 95% of what people see, hear and read. 

In “Thieves in High Places,” Jim Hightower observed,

“No corporation is a model for how government should
operate.  Corporations are rigid, top-down, autocratic hierarchies in which executive actions are delivered as fiats to be implemented unquestioningly…Corporations are towers of secrecy, in which all information is considered a proprietary asset to be doled out only in approved snippets vetted through the PR department, keeping as much as possible from employees, investors, customers, auditors, regulators, lawmakers.”

In “Failed States,” Noam Chomsky notes that in “structure, the political counterpart to a corporation is a totalitarian state” —a disturbing thought in light of Antonia Juhasz’s observation that corporations have, as the result of neoliberal policies and institutions, “supplanted governments as the dominant economic force in the world.”

Unfortunately, Anarcissie, there is nothing innevitable about socialism replacing capitalism in these United States.  To the contrary, if left unchecked, the trend will lead to totalitarian fascism.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, September 8, 2009 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

Folktruther: ‘The US is probably the only country in the world where Anarcissie would have to say what socialism is. ...’

No—in Europe, socialism seems to mean “capitalist Welfare state” whereas in the U.S. it means “tyrannical control by secret police and bureaucrats”.  I don’t know what people think elsewhere The original meaning is (to lift Marx’s image) a kind of ghost that keeps coming back and has to be quickly obfuscated by those who are in charge, or think they’re in charge.

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By ardee, September 8, 2009 at 3:41 am Link to this comment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

For ITW Of course public ownership of health care, administered by the govt., as we find in many nations today, is socialism in action.

I believe you blinded by your dislike of such terms as socialism and communism to the point where you refuse to recognize them as evolutionary steps that lead, inevitably, to socialism in government.

Report this

By ardee, September 8, 2009 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

Virginia777, September 7 at 3:15 pm #

well, well, well,

will you look at this. Ardee, our blue-collar hero

is blogging from his forklift on Labor Day

you little “rascal you”

.......................................

Somebody, anybody, tell me what the fuck this has to do with the discussion at hand? Virginia, you have mistaken this forum for a group therapy session….

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By StuartH, September 7, 2009 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:

“If the so-called Left wants to stick with the Dems, you should. Just stop
pretending that it is the Left. It skews USAns perspective of what the Left can
be, and, is, in other civilized countries . It lowers their expectations to a guy
who is smart and can give a good speech.”

It seems like this discussion always devolves back to snark, no matter how
hard various people might try to find a better path.

I don’t know who is in charge of definitions.  But the work goes on, regardless.

To me, the question of what the desireable alternative to the work being
carried out by the Democratic Party and various activist community
organizations, has been left to generalizations and a lot of negativity.

I honor the people I know who are continuing to fight the good fight for
progressivism, whether anyone in the academic environment appreciates what
they continue to do or not.  I don’t think it persuades anyone to simply pour
out a lot of black smoke on what those people try to do. 

What I have seen so far, in something approaching 30 years of effort in states
like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Washington State, is that there is a
disconnect between the academic left and the precinct level actual work of
talking to real people. 

If there is to be a movement towards big picture, long term goals, it will most
likely be carried out by dedicated people who are actually in the fight.

Just recently, here in New Mexico, a non-profit community organizing group,
SWOP or South West Organizing Project, a well run operation that has a lot of
projects and raises a fair amount of money, won a lawsuit that might wind up
expanding public policy education assuming the federal appeal is won.  The
group put out a legislative mailer which gave constituents some reference on
various issues.  Republicans felt it crossed the line into political speech and
should therefore cause the 501(c)3 to be revoked. 

That is the sort of effort that really comprises the progressive movement in its
various dimensions. 

If people are out of joint because those who work in efforts of that kind are not
waiting for guidance from the academic sector, well, that is probably not going
to be helped. 

I would say that a lot of the negativity here has been influenced by the efforts
on the part of right wing strategists to sow discord wherever possible and the
vibe has been picked up by sensitive people who respond without really
knowing where the feeling in the atmosphere is coming from. 

But political gamesmanship is not about rational debate.  It is about crass
manipulation.  If the opponents numbers look good, the strategy has to be
based on pulling them down no matter what it takes.  If there is no really
constructive policy proposals, that is beside the point.  Get the negatives up,
create a negative atmosphere and the next election can be won that way. 

When we are more intellectual about what is going on, we tend to miss that
more crass aspect.

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By john crandell, September 7, 2009 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

I’m not ever likely to vote again. After what has transpired over the past ten months I’ve given up, after closely following national politics and current affairs for over forty years.

But if Joe Biden should happen to move his office over into the EOB and start firing potshots, or if Al Gore or Kerry start blasting away, I’ll reconsider.

A wave of populism is about to tear the Democratic party apart at the seams and I don’t mean Nader or Kucinich. The party is approaching a watershed moment. Something will happen and it won’t be long. The only thing that is going to work for Obama is for Darth Vader to arrive on the scene, and I’m not talking Dick Cheney.

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By KDelphi, September 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

Lets see what Zinn had to say in Nov, 2008:

The Indy: What will Obama need to do to ensure that his presidency results in transformational change?

HZ: Withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as fast as ships and planes can carry them home, declare that the United States will not engage in aggressive wars, renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war and the Carter doctrine, which threatens force to control Mideast oil, and start dismantling our military bases overseas. He should announce that we are henceforth a peace-loving nation, no longer a target for terrorists and no longer engaging in terrorism ourselves. He should reduce the military establishment and the military budget down to a bare minimum and create a jobs program for young people instead of recruiting them for military service.
This is a golden opportunity for Obama to distance himself cleanly from the fossilized Democratic Party leaders, giving life to his slogan of change. And if he doesn’t act, it will be up to the people, as it always has been, to raise a shout that will be heard around the world — and compel the politicians to listen.

Zinn calls for a Third Party (which I may or may not agree with, but he doesnt sound real happy with Obama and the Dems:

http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2009/04/howard-zinn-comments-on-the-future-of-the-progressive-movement-a-potential-third-party/

He isnt real hot on Capitalism either, as long as we’re quoting him:In The Progressive magazine’s May 2009 cover story, Howard Zinn, delivers the marching orders: “We want it all. We want a peaceful world. We want an egalitarian world. We don’t want war. We don’t want capitalism. We want a decent society.”

I know some would say, “See? He’s calling on us to PUSH Obama!”...but does it seem that Obama and the Dems are upholding their part of the deal? Doesnt sound like what is happening at all, to me.

Cold War era pronouncements about Socialism are as out of date as the DLC. Trying to push the Dem party in the US to the Left will be about as effective as trying to push Tony Blair and the Labor Party Left in the UK—-except less successful.

If the so-called Left wants to stick with the Dems, you should. Just stop pretending that it is the Left. It skews USAns perspective of what the Left can be, and, is, in other civilized countries . It lowers their expectations to a guy who is smart and can give a good speech.

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By thebeerdoctor, September 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

I have noticed that much discussion is spent on whether President Obama is carrying out any part of an agenda that many people seek (end to wars, universal health care, economic justice, etc.). I find it remarkable that so many do not not actually listen to what he actually says. For example, here is paragraph from a speech given today in Cincinnati, Ohio at old Coney Island, during the AFL-CIO labor day picnic:
    “I want a health insurance system that works as well for the American people as it does for the insurance industry. They should be free to make a profit. But they also have to be fair. They also have to be accountable.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, September 7, 2009

What a remarkable statement, Either it is a stunning example of incredible naivety or, and much more likely, a cynical rhetorical reply.
It is obvious that Barack Obama does not believe in a national health service. What even Mrs. Thatcher in England called “a proper public service” can not even be considered, when the political leadership announces that the health insurance corporations “should be free to make a profit” by exploiting human sickness. And then here is that: “But they also have to be fair.”
Where in corporate capitalism is there a ‘fairness doctrine”?
The exploitation of labor, resources, proprietary information, are all done to increase their wealth to unimaginable levels… what use to be called “gettin’ over” by less sophisticated folks. The high tech robber barons of capitalism that Barack Obama holds in such high regard.
So those who pull their hair out over Obama’s health care plans, I say forget it kid. He is not concerned with providing a health service for citizenry, he wants a health insurance system where they can continue to turn a profit on human suffering.
Besides the global munitions industry, this is one of the sickest examples of capitalism that exists in this world.

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By Night-Gaunt, September 7, 2009 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

“I don’t have ANY objection to the things you are calling for in this paragraph, except one: It’s simply not socialism and one shouldn’t confuse the social contract and doing what’s best for the people as “socialism”.  It’s not.”-InheritTheWind

I don’t perceive it, define your terms please, then contrast them, for I don’t see such a difference as you posit. What do you think socialism is but the people making a contract with themselves using the apparatus of gov’t as the means to benefit all? I eagerly await your exposition on the matter.

Despite your biting sarcasm and snark, we are living in a taste of the Capitalist Utopia. See how its dynamism unleashed burns the candle at both ends and like a fire in a dry forest spreads to a crescendo of flame. Wow what a show! Then what? That long dead economist was right about that. He saw it for himself and it repeats as often as the next generation forgets what happened before like now. We are just getting more of the same. What happened in 1929-1943 won’t happen again if they have their say of failure of unlimited capitalism. But being Disaster Capitalists they can have their financial collapse and then get to rebuild their own utopia in its place. We aren’t free yet of falling into that abyss.

We need the dynamism of capitalism (under control) with the general benefits of a gov’t cushion of finances. At least a livable wage for every one that won’t be not taxed. Then as those few who can earn more the taxes will start and the more they earn the more they are taxed. Too much wealth in too little hands equal a very bad place. Much like where we are right now. Balance is the only way to go.

I am for more freedoms for the individual but a use of gov’t to protect us from being totally in poverty. Also I would like to dismantle the entire national security juggernaut and start over. Not likely to happen in my life time. More likely they will get their lassiaze fair corporate theocratic empire they missed getting in 1934. Oh they so wanted to join the Axis Powers! Now they would be the literal central Axis of a new kind of Reich. A distinctly American one at that. All its own.*

*Their are many who would join or have already joined, some without knowing it. It is as much a movement as a Cabal.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, September 7 at 5:20 pm #

The US is probably he only coungtryin the world where Anarcissie would have to say what socialism is.  Americans, like Ihnerit, have beeen deluded by the American-Zionist-New Jersey truth consensus to drivel mindlessly on a Progressive truth site.
****************************************

Right. I should recognize that Socialism is when Folktruther, or someone as deluded as he is, gets to be total dictator and decides “right” and “wrong” based on the interpretations of the writings of an obscure, dead economist whose theories have been shown to be utter failures.

And we’ll all have utopia on FT’s Big Rock Candy Mountain.

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By Folktruther, September 7, 2009 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

The US is probably he only coungtryin the world where Anarcissie would have to say what socialism is.  Americans, like Ihnerit, have beeen deluded by the American-Zionist-New Jersey truth consensus to drivel mindlessly on a Progressive truth site.

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By Anarcissie, September 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

The fundamental premise of socialism isn’t centralized control of anything.  It’s the ownership of the means of production by the workers and the people generally.  They may decide to centralize control of the economy, or not—probably six of one, half a dozen of the other.  Capitalism, however, is in most areas far more centralized and authoritarian than any form of actual socialism is likely to be.  That’s why we have corporations that are “too big to fail” and, it seems, too big to regulate either, although as I pointed out the regulators will come from the same pool of people as the regulatees which will tend to inhibit even attempts at regulation.  In fact, they’ll generally be the same people.

I don’t think the evolution of socialism is a matter of choice.  Capitalism is a dynamic system which is inherently out of balance.  That’s fine for the players, who are presumably big Alpha males of both sexes, but it’s too hard on everyone else.  So, eventually, everyone else is going to have to take the capitalists’ marbles away.  Or rather, just take a walk, since capitalism, like all systems of domination, requires the permission of the dominated to survive.

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By StuartH, September 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt:

It could be said that the middle class was, if not created by, then enhanced and
expanded by New Deal programs. 

I think they are only hated by Republicans, unless you count people who listen
to Rush Limbaugh and are mainly aware of revisionist history.  One of the more
powerful New Deal era programs was rural electrification and the related
Universal Service provisions, or Common Carriage laws, which can be said to
have spread electric power as well as telephone service to small and rural
communities as well as to poorer parts of urban communities.  Those were
important factors.  I know one woman who, in her nineties, is still a very
dedicated and influential Democratic activist because she remembers ironing
clothes with a big old heavy cast iron that you had to put a live coal into and
the harshness of existence without electricity.  Women had to have a cook fire
going in the kitchen to wash clothes as well as cook, even if it was 100 degrees
outside. 

Probably the Interstate Highway system had something to do with enabling
Americans to have mobility, under Eisenhower.  LBJ believed in the New Deal,
as he had grown up dirt poor, so Medicare and Head Start are among the
results of his presidency, along with civil rights. 

Republicans have been trying to tear away New Deal and Great Society reforms
ever since.  Reagan and both the Bushes tore at them with gusto. 

Karl Rove and George Bush saw in William McKinley a model for the Bush
Administration, with its return to pre-Teddy Roosevelt laissez faire capitalism
redolent of the Gilded Age.  Ultimately, it didn’t work.  We are in the backwash
from its version of the Teapot Dome scandal, which was on a scale far larger
than any previous scandal minded corrupt pols of the nineteenth century could
have imagined. 

Yes, the middle class has been assaulted by economic forces that have shrunk
its standards of living while costs, particularly for health care, have gone up. 
But we will see how this movie turns out. 

I trudged up and down suburban streets on the west side of Albuquerque last
fall.  Losts of Hispanic yuppies and retired folks.  A lot of McCain/Palin signs in
the lawns, but the vote margin went Democratic - this time.  The NM 1st
Congressional District for the first time in history did not elect a Republican,
and elected a progressive, solar energy consultant at that.  We’ll see if that
trend stays in place for the next election or not.  Could easily swing back.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 7, 2009 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

InheritTheWind Socialism isn’t an automatic “bad” it depends like so much on who is running it and how it is run. Put a Stalin in charge and it is bad, put a Gandhi in charge and it would be vastly different.
*************************************************

Well, wottdayaknow…Gandhi was a socialist….he was????  I never heard THAT before!  But even Gandhi couldn’t establish a system that would force/convince Hindus and Moslems to live together in peace.

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Socialism for the corporation and their rich families moves to fascism which is good for them bad for everyone else. Socialism for everybody helps everybody and the rich won’t die or lose too much of their money. Everyone can have a social safety net which is what I am for. Medical, education and equal legal representation unlike in our barbaric country where the money rules. With it you can get the best medical and social treatment to be found. But only if you have it. If you don’t it is bedlam and difficult and hard. The kind of place most countries won’t turn to, one of the few things people in advanced countries will not copy from the USA.
**********************************************

I don’t have ANY objection to the things you are calling for in this paragraph, except one: It’s simply not socialism and one shouldn’t confuse the social contract and doing what’s best for the people as “socialism”.  It’s not.

Sadly, the TDrs grip on socialism here is almost as bad as the rabid foam-at-the-mouth maniacs posting over at Faux News—they can’t STAND the President telling our kids to stay in school.

(Now, since they aren’t getting much traction with calling Obama a socialist they are escalating it to calling him a communist AND the same as a child molester)

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By Night-Gaunt, September 7, 2009 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

No StuartH the Middle Class is a creature of the much hated New Deal and since 1980 it has been both shrinking and declining as efforts were made to eradicate it. The followers of a New Guilded Age like the way the USA was around 1900. They wish to return to that, at least where the laws are concerned for their version of a utopia. But for us it will be a dystopia of horror and mind numbing labor and the striving for carrots but mostly getting the beating sticks to keep us in line and exhausted. Rather like today only worse. Far worse.

InheritTheWind Socialism isn’t an automatic “bad” it depends like so much on who is running it and how it is run. Put a Stalin in charge and it is bad, put a Gandhi in charge and it would be vastly different.

Socialism for the corporation and their rich families moves to fascism which is good for them bad for everyone else. Socialism for everybody helps everybody and the rich won’t die or lose too much of their money. Everyone can have a social safety net which is what I am for. Medical, education and equal legal representation unlike in our barbaric country where the money rules. With it you can get the best medical and social treatment to be found. But only if you have it. If you don’t it is bedlam and difficult and hard. The kind of place most countries won’t turn to, one of the few things people in advanced countries will not copy from the USA.

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By Virginia777, September 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, in a robe sitting on a tree stump “You, Ardee, are unfortunately much more politically sophisticated than the average blogger on Truthdig”

Ardee, sitting at his feet “What a fool you pose yourself to be.”

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By Virginia777, September 7, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

well, well, well,

will you look at this. Ardee, our blue-collar hero

is blogging from his forklift on Labor Day

you little “rascal you”

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By Inherit The Wind, September 7, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

RD:
Government programs aren’t socialism. It’s as simple as that. The wave of public works projects of the 30’s were to create infrastructure and enhance our national natural treasures.  Medicare isn’t socialism, neither is Medicaid.

Even this temporary bailout of GM and Chrysler isn’t socialism because it is NEVER the government’s intent to own the means of production permanently, much less run them. 

A fundamental premise of socialism is a planned economy, planned by central planners of the government, with all proceeds going into the treasury.  This far exceeds simply determining monetary and fiscal policy, or even bailing out huge employers to prevent a million to 2 million job losses from hitting in one month.

While government partnering with private money to own and run corporations is closer to socialism than anything else, it still is decidedly different.

Communism actually goes beyond Socialism to attempting a fundamental re-ordering of the culture of society, whereas Socialism is simply the State owning and running the means of production.

Both are failures and should be condemned to the dustbin of history.

Please don’t confuse government regulation with socialism.  Also, don’t confuse government control of PUBLIC goods with socialism either.

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By ardee, September 7, 2009 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind, September 6 at 8:11 pm #

RD,
You got it backwards—it wasn’t MY pet ideology that crashed and burned in 1989 with the collapse of the USSR and her client states—so why should I be bitter?

Oh ,ITW you rascal you. Why you so incessantly conflate those who support Socialism with supporting the bastardized Communism of the USSR is a mystery to me. Why you ignore the references to the socialistic principles that are incorporated in so many successful govt programs around the world may be because it so thoroughly deflates your position.

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By ardee, September 7, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

StuartH, September 7 at 9:38 am

Looking at all those rooftops in suburban America, one realizes that American politics has mainly been about maintaining the middle class. The questions we face as a society are about whether the past is any guide to the future.

The Middle Class has been shrinking for almost a decade now. An educated class, sending its children to college and thinking independently is anathema to the ruling class.

Those people who create the visionary direction for the Democratic Party and the country are not the leadership of the Party per se.  There also, people dig in and work for change, year in and year out in all different areas.  Lots of people the general public probably never hears about.  I would say that, for instance,  Amory Lovins has had a lot of influence on environmental policy, but he isn’t known for being political.

For me, I see the Party as a beneficial presence in American politics.  Most of the people I have known who happen to be Democrats are people I like, respect and admire.  I don’t belittle the efforts of anyone who works hard and makes a commitment to better the world.

You are correct in your assertion that there are many decent and hard working folks who seek to alter the course of the Democratic Party. But the party’s course is not determined by them regardless of how hard they work. Instead we see a cadre of insulated decision makers responsive only to the moneyed interests and shielded entirely from the sincere and likable folks you cite.

I fail, I must say, to see evidence of this visionary direction you cite. Maybe twenty years ago, or more.

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By glider, September 7, 2009 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind
Paraphrasing:
>>Yeah, Socialism really is inevitable. Right. That worked out to be real true, didn’t it?  ...What’s inevitable is realization that banking and finance need to be re-regulated and regulated against the bankers’ own natural interest.<<

Maybe the “realization” is inevitable.  Big whoop! That has already happened for most members of this site. The the actual enacting of any such thought is the problem.  I don’t see the mechanism.  It did have after the Great Depression but I think the financial class has a far greater level of control this time around.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 7, 2009 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, September 7 at 10:59 am #

Not to get too far off the subject, but I think that socialism, far from being a dead letter, is practically inevitable.  By socialism I mean the traditional “means of production owned or controlled by the workers, or by the people generally.”  Having an elite manage the economy (capitalism) is not really working out very well because the elites have different interests from the people as a whole and are more interested in short-term advantages and scores than in the long-term behavior of the whole system.  As a result the whole system is becoming increasingly irrational and unstable.

We can observe the process in the breakdown of the financial order, in the constant thrust toward imperial wars, in the inability to deal with environmental issues, and in the “health care” controversy.  In all of these areas, capitalists have created major problems which they are now calling upon the government to solve.  But the policy-making levels of the government consist of the same kind of people as the capitalists (no surprise since the latter installed the former) and as a result the problems created by the capitalists are simply being intensified by the government.

Eventually, the people will be dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that they will have to start taking care of their own business—unless there is some kind of major social breakdown and we get another dose of fascism, so popular in Europe only 70 or 80 years ago.

As for things getting better—the last time I read about it, unemployment was still rising.  The unemployed neither produce nor consume, and for capitalism, prod-con is the name of the game.
***************************************************

Yeah, Socialism really is inevitable.  Right. In 1848, Marx opened the Manifesto with “A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Communism.”  That worked out to be real true, didn’t it?

What’s inevitable is realization that banking and finance need to be re-regulated and regulated against the bankers’ own natural interest.  What’s also inevitable is that industry and how it manages labor need to be re-regulated again.

Check out EJ Dionne’s piece on Labor Day.  Clearly the answer to many of our problems is to recognize that labor unions can save the Republic and the economy again as they did in Great Depression.

There’s a vast difference between a planned Socialist economy, which is DOOMED because planned economies cannot predict the Supply and Demand, or what will be “The Next Big Thing”, and a government careful regulation of commerce, which has been a Federal power since the Constitution went into effect.

The idea of regulation is to allow Capitalism to function, but to prevent it from its worst excesses.  We’ve seen China’s EXTREME failure in this as poisoned foods and toys have hit the market in the USA—their biggest customer.  We took all the red Thomas toys from our toddler—a Chinese toymaker used cheaper lead paint.  Animal feed was contaminated with melamine because it chemically tests as protein but is far cheaper—and kills the pets.  Toothpaste used in institutions like prisons was sweetened with anti-freeze, which slices up your kidneys.  Even milk for children was deliberately adulterated.  China’s response? Execute a few of the worst offenders but do NOTHING to repair the checks and balances.

We’ve abdicated our right to ensure our products are safe in the name of Republican “free trade”.

Capitalism CAN function but it must
a) be forced to NOT destroy or use public goods without adequate compensation.
b) be forced to actually ENGAGE in competition—enforcement of price-fixing and monopoly mergers dropped under Bush.
c) be forced to sell only safe and dependable products to the public.
d) be FORCED to be accountable when they do not.

Claiming socialism is the answer is to ignore the repeated inevitable failures of socialism.

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By Anarcissie, September 7, 2009 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Not to get too far off the subject, but I think that socialism, far from being a dead letter, is practically inevitable.  By socialism I mean the traditional “means of production owned or controlled by the workers, or by the people generally.”  Having an elite manage the economy (capitalism) is not really working out very well because the elites have different interests from the people as a whole and are more interested in short-term advantages and scores than in the long-term behavior of the whole system.  As a result the whole system is becoming increasingly irrational and unstable.

We can observe the process in the breakdown of the financial order, in the constant thrust toward imperial wars, in the inability to deal with environmental issues, and in the “health care” controversy.  In all of these areas, capitalists have created major problems which they are now calling upon the government to solve.  But the policy-making levels of the government consist of the same kind of people as the capitalists (no surprise since the latter installed the former) and as a result the problems created by the capitalists are simply being intensified by the government.

Eventually, the people will be dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that they will have to start taking care of their own business—unless there is some kind of major social breakdown and we get another dose of fascism, so popular in Europe only 70 or 80 years ago.

As for things getting better—the last time I read about it, unemployment was still rising.  The unemployed neither produce nor consume, and for capitalism, prod-con is the name of the game.

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By StuartH, September 7, 2009 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

The problems I have had with the Party stem from my own impatience with the
process, which favors long term commitment.  Standing with people who have
local roots in activism going back thirty of forty years, you sense both the
strength in these people and a certain glacial pace that can result from long
term perspective.

I wonder if that is what we are talking about.  Personal styles.  People who have
dug in for the long haul and have been fighting for political achievement for years just do not give in easy. 

One wishes you could people the system with better people, especially when you find you disagree with particularly bloodyminded people or they with you. 

But the fight is for the long haul.  It really is a fight, not an academic exercise in writing the best manifesto.  It goes badly much of the time. Sometimes, it goes a little better.

There is a Navajo proverb that says that for some people to have better education or intelligence or some form of wealth is good, but life does not improve until the whole community comes to have those things.

That’s our general problem.  Some people think faster and have the advantage of education or experience that liberates them.  They can see further ahead and become impatient with the ordinary ways. 

Political parties tend to represent a sort of first gear for moving in some direction that is hopefully a better one.  For those who wish to shift into third or fourth, the problem is to persuade the first gear speeders of the benefits of shifting into a faster gear. 

It could be one of those Buddhist observations.  Doomed to failure, success is inevitable. 

Looking at all those rooftops in suburban America, one realizes that American politics has mainly been about maintaining the middle class. The questions we face as a society are about whether the past is any guide to the future. 

The scary economic downturn may be easing, but the larger questions about whether this was a temporary situation or a warning about earthquakes that could really rock our world are still there.  Such all encompassing questions are hard to come to grips with among a diverse population. 

Those people who create the visionary direction for the Democratic Party and the country are not the leadership of the Party per se.  There also, people dig in and work for change, year in and year out in all different areas.  Lots of people the general public probably never hears about.  I would say that, for instance,  Amory Lovins has had a lot of influence on environmental policy, but he isn’t known for being political. 

For me, I see the Party as a beneficial presence in American politics.  Most of the people I have known who happen to be Democrats are people I like, respect and admire.  I don’t belittle the efforts of anyone who works hard and makes a commitment to better the world.

However, I have to say that I contemplate various other ways of working towards the future aside from any political involvement.  I find the problem challenging and frustrating.  Some days I want to yell and swear. Some days I feel very depressed about what goes on.  Others, I see a useful way to engage. 

I try to stay realistic - but it isn’t the only option and one has to respect others for theirs.  It is a bewilderingly complex world.  Seems like the bottom line ought to be observing better courtesy anyway.  After all, none of us gets out of here alive.

Our biggest problem may be that we have to invent new ways of contributing to the project of consciousness and purposeful evolution, because the issues are proliferating and accelerating beyond the scope of methodologies, institutions and structures we are used to.  Our vocabulary is even fraught with pitfalls.

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By ardee, September 7, 2009 at 5:20 am Link to this comment

cann4ing, September 6 at 8:18 pm

Did you have anything of import to add to this discussion? Or do you intend to act as a child and have temper tantrums because someone points out the fallacies in your closely held belief systems?

I am sorry that my opposition to your plan of action seems futile to me, based upon my years of experience within local democratic organizations, just as I am sorry that you prove your lack of worth with your assumption that disagreement with YOU must indicate a lesser brain.

What a fool you pose yourself to be.

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By Folktruther, September 6, 2009 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

Cann4ing, where has it ever happened on hunanity’s formerly green earth that a rank and file has ever removed the leadership of a party.  a leadership recruits its own successors and remains there while a party survives. a party may change its policies slighly, but not its leadership. There is no way to vote out the moneymen, the media men and the managment.

And, counseler, didn’t they teach you manners in law school.  Ardee doesn’t have a pea-sized brain, it’s as big as a watermelon only, unfortunately,  it isn’t red inside.

My suggestion now, as it has been before, is that we all become dangerous poltical fanatics.  But somehow we have to do it together.  And I don’t see my way as to how this can be done before the American power system collapses like the soviet union.  But we certainly can rule out the Dem party as a viable alternative. Obama has ruled it out.

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By Rodger Lemonde, September 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

Could be worse, the conservative are confused with a
bowel movement.

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By cann4ing, September 6, 2009 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

By ardee, September 6 at 7:50 pm #

...your blindness with regard to your Democratic loyalty…

___________________

Ideological rubbish!  No one is talking about blind loyalty to a Party. 

My posts deal with an achievable strategy. 

And the “only” achievable strategy is for the Left to capture party first, power second.

And I “never” said anything about “reform.” 

Your problem is that you only see the Democratic Party in its present form—- as an indistinguishable whole.  “You” are incapable of distinguishing between the present-day “leadership” consisting of corporate stooges and the vast majority of the Democratic grass roots—ordinary citizens who by no measure are knowing participants in the corporate security state.

You see the corrupt leadership and generalize to the whole.  Your pea-sized brain appears incapable of comprehending that by removing that leadership and replacing it with true progressives, you change the party.

You reject that strategy.  You reject grass roots politics—though it is the grass roots that is the key to a democratic society.  And you offer “what” as an alternative?

Nothing, so far as I can see.

And that is why yours is the posture of defeatism, of pessimism, of claiming you know it all when you don’t know squat!

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By Inherit The Wind, September 6, 2009 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

RD,
You got it backwards—it wasn’t MY pet ideology that crashed and burned in 1989 with the collapse of the USSR and her client states—so why should I be bitter?

As usual, StuartH presents a cogent and intelligent analysis….NOW CUT THAT OUT!

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By ardee, September 6, 2009 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

cann4ing, September 6 at 11:49 am #

By ardee, September 5 at 7:44 pm #

On the state and national level candidates are selected according to how much money they can raise and how closely they tie themselves to the Party ideology. Grassroots wishes do not enter into the process.

________________________

Your position reflects a self-defeating pessimism.  You vastly underestimate the real power that lies in “the grassroots.”

I think not, though it does represent a rejection of your Democratic Party as a solution to anything at all. Further your blindness with regard to your Democratic loyalty also seems to blind you to the fact that you make statements about my optimism or pessimism that you cannot possibly know.

My rejection of grassroots politics is only as how it is useless to alter the direction or decisions of the Two Party system , and if you ever worked within either party you must be ignoring that fact.

I believe that ‘grassroots’ when referencing a rising up and rejecting both major parties is a viable and possibly inevitable event.

Consider Howard Zinn’s observations in “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.”

“There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies, however vast their wealth, however they control images and information, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists and writers and teachers and artists.  When the citizens begin to suspect they have been deceived and withdraw their support, government loses its legitimacy and its power.”

Yup, but Howie doesn’t say anything about reformation of a corrupt and useless Party.

The hold that corporations have on the current government is a function of the corporate-owned media, which limits coverage to “viable” candidates.  A candidate is not “viable” unless he/she has amassed millions of dollars to spend on deceptive, 30-second spot ads, and only those candidates who sell out to corporate America garner sufficient funds to be deemed viable.

Nope again, the reason corporations rule government is because our politicians are corrupted by those corporations. The media is useful to propagandize and deceive, and only for that purpose.

The solution will not be found by throwing up one’s hands and exclaiming, “Oh crap!  Look at the power they have.”  The solution will not be found in a splintered Left embarking on impotent third party strategies.

I will now throw up my hands with respect to having a logical conversation with you. Where did I once state I was throwing up my hands concerning working for what I believe? You are just another blind loyalist and will never be a part of any solution I fear.

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By StuartH, September 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

Inherit:

To somewhat defend Truthdigger, I see a problem with our vocabulary.  You see right wing nutcases go berserk
every time somebody makes a move in the direction of regulation or over
something like health care reform and start screaming SOCIALISM!  But, do they
know what they mean?  Most likely not.

In a century or two, if we survive the sustainability crises that loom ahead over
oil, water, overconsumption economics, population increase, etc.  more than likely the balance between
public interest and private interest will be different somewhat.  It probably
won’t be recognizeable to Karl Marx, who after all, was trying to describe
nineteenth century conditions. 

The word “socialism” by itself probably doesn’t have a coherent meaning unless
someone has a vision for how to define it as it applies to something specific.

But again, look at the people trying to blame Obama for bringing a socialist
message to schoolchildren.  That doesn’t come from intelligent efforts to define
terms and have a rational debate.  So the term itself is probably wrecked for
such purposes.

The problem is to define terms in such a way that there is some hope of
aligning pragmatic concerns about concrete specific things.  Usually that means
translating overarching meta-terminology like “sustainability” into bite size and
immediate cases.  That is the problem with debates like this.  There isn’t enough space here (or attention span) for adding term definition into the discussion usually.

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By ardee, September 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind, September 6 at 7:05 pm #

Poor FT! Still can’t deal with the fact that in the 20th Century, the Socialism HE espouses failed, and failed because of its own inherent contradictions.

Unless the socialism that FTespouses differs from the textbook definition then it is alive and well, functioning quite efficiently in many governmental services around the world.

Perhaps the bitterness ITW expresses stems from his confusing socialism with the communism that did indeed fail, but that was even a corruption of that form as well.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

Poor FT! Still can’t deal with the fact that in the 20th Century, the Socialism HE espouses failed, and failed because of its own inherent contradictions.

Folk"Truther” cannot see the OBVIOUS truth in front of his eyes: The socialist regimes that were created in the 20th Century all are gone, now.  Gone.  Socialism is no longer a force in the world.  Just road dust. 

To anyone with a usable brain, it’s obvious there’s a reason they are gone, but FT just can’t get his head around that, so he keeps pretending it’s still going to happen.

Kinda pitiful.

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By elisalouisa, September 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Prowoman:Obama’s election intensified the racial divide in this country, and we
would be wrong to leave him hanging in the wind.
***************************
My obligation to Obama ended when it was evident that he was elected on a
campaign promise he had no intention of keeping. It consisted of one word:
Change.  Obama could have made a great difference from the very beginning
starting with the Wall Street bail out. That being said, not really knowing the internal politics of his election, things might have turned out tragically had he really brought
about change.
*********************************
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Folktruther:The political cultural is too corrupt at a time historically when the
power structure is dispowering the population and stealing their resources.
******************************
So true. The people have been disempowered. Unemployment continues to
escalate.  Just about everything we use comes from another country.  Much of the population is on medication that sedates. I suspect this is especially true in Washington. Where is all the ranting and raving that once was commonplace in the House and Senate? Prozac could be the
answer to many of our questions as to why people are not up-in-arms over
what is going on.

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By StuartH, September 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther:

I have been appreciating your comments in this thread.  Perhaps
this topic has a potential for bringing deliberation out, where other threads
seem not to inspire such a context so much. 

How do we get there?  Fair question, assuming a definable “there” in the world of
the 21st or 22nd centuries.

For one thing the discussion around the role corporations play in overwhelming public interest dialogue, has come into more prominence over the
past couple of decades, so one could tentatively say there is a rise in consciousness. 

Given a worldwide human population, I think the internet needs to get spread
to more places.  The media system, including book publishing, seems to be
pretty nearly captive to corporate interests. 

I have been looking at indigenous societies.  I lived on the Navajo Nation for
several years, in an area that is as nearly intact as a Dine’ culture as it is
possible to find. 

This experience confirmed a suspicion that indigenous cultures, centered more
on family and community and less on profit making are not only an ancient
model, but a future model.  (One could certainly make the case that they are naturally closer to socialism, although with huge caveats.)

Sustainability is an issue that people are articulating and doing a lot of cutting
edge research on, but it goes back to rather primary observations about all
things being connected. 

This consciousness seems to be be spreading into political debates over
energy and environmental policy, athough so far, not into economics.

When you look at how the human race might learn something, the prospect
exists that it will be because of external conditions that hit like a big 2x4 to
the head, rather than as considerations that get serious deliberation. 

The 1973 book, Limits to Growth, seems even more prescient than it did all
those years ago.  The timelines projecting when resource issues might become
critical can be argued over and played with.  But in the case of oil, what
difference does it make?  A resource that took tens of millions of years to
develop under conditions that probably won’t be repeated, is half gone in a
little over one hundred.  That proportion is the issue. 

The future prospects are that the economic paradigm that nearly every nation
on earth is completely dedicated to at present, namely perpetual growth, will undergo severe
tests.  The recent economic downtown was probably a mere foretaste. 

Given the long run in the rest of the 21st century, the problem is to understand
as much as possible as soon as possible, to engage in and promote as much
dialogue as there can possibly be, and to push every possible political actor at
every level to get on the bandwagon of doing something to mitigate the full
shock to the system that unexpected and unprepared for changes might
create. 

One problem that goes along with that, which I think we are already seeing, is
that the hysterical right wing may have the answer a lot of people will fall easy
prey to:  brainless shouting in the attempt to wreck progressive reform as dangerous tinkering that could make things worse in favor of a return to some fabled Golden Era of the past.  That will just get louder and
louder. 

For some progressive way forward to actually gain and maintain
traction, there needs to be more communication through forums like this and
every other possible venue for deliberating on local, state, federal and
international ways of educating the public at large and figuring out short term
as well as long term solutions.

I would be kind of depressed about the hugeness of the issue were it not for
the fact that one can look around and see that there are a lot of intelligent
people already dedicated to solutions and consciousness raising.  More are
obviously needed.

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By Folktruther, September 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

the cadre of a political movement are united by an ideology. In the ‘short’ 20th century the main world progressive ideology was socialism.  Socialism was ideologically repressed in the US after WW2 by firing socialists and other radicals from the truth industry, murdering minority leftists, and with the CIA and other organs funding anti-communist and anti-marxist Progressives. 

Consequently the ‘left’ manistream progressive ideology is liberalism, a conservative ideology in other polities.  Liberalism induces the kind of assertive mindlessness so endearing in Inherit’s comments.

The counterrevolution in East Europe and the Soviet Union, and the morphing of China to party capitalism, severely damaged socialism as a viable left ideology.  consequently we have to develop a new ideological synthesis to unite a progressive movment to eventually form a party.

But now it must be a world ideology, since the nation-state is largely losing its power historically in economic globalization, and the world networks of communication and transportation.  No ideology, no effective movement.  No movment, no party.

My purpose in commenting is to explore what emotional truths commenters like and dislike.  We clearely have a long way to go, since the Aemrican popultion has been systematically indoctrinated in power delusions.  My question is how do we get there?

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By Inherit The Wind, September 6, 2009 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, September 6 at 10:49 am #

ITW’s message about voting the bums out is in line with the Louis Menand article I’ve cited several times (http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/08/30/040830crat_atlarge), and others like it, to wit: most people vote for their perceived immediate self-interest, and after that, for image or for traditional affections and associations (like one’s ethnic group or religion). 
********************************************

“Perceived”?  This implies that somebody else, like you or FT, have a “better” knowledge of what their self-interest is.  How arrogant is THAT? You forget: “All politics is local”.

********************************************
...

Looking at politics from the other end—those who wield actual power—it is pretty easy to see that approaching an electorate like this is not a matter of professing an ideology but of promising goods and services.  High talk, for example an Obama speech, is icing on the cake; people don’t mind it, but they want the cake, which is getting something material for their vote.
************************************************

Damn straight I want something material for my vote! But…what is that “material” and do I want it right now or in the future, say, like knowing I can send my kids to college?

************************************************
Thus they are susceptible to the same kind of manipulation and fraud that sells mediocre products and vacuous celebrities to the masses.  The effective production of this manipulation and fraud is best carried out by disciplined organizations, not by the tedious and complicated procedures of real democracy.
**********************************************

Everybody’s susceptible—so are you and FT.  You have ideas you think somebody like, perhaps, Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader will fulfill.

************************************************
...

By contrast, movements don’t have to comprise a majority to have a lot of effect.  I cited the Civil Rights movement.  Now that history has been rewritten, it looks like everyone supported Martin Luther King, but in fact he and his kind were hated and despised by many people and ignored by most of the rest.  What the minority, the two or three or five per cent, who supported him did was not win elections but make trouble.  They also worked off the fact that, while probably a majority of Americans were outright racists, they also believed in political and legal equality.  The Civil Rights movement made trouble about the dissonance between the racist practice and the political and legal principles people believed in.  After they made trouble long enough, the majority became weary of the trouble and the politics of equality began to be something the folks in the smoke-filled room could sell to the people.

I don’t know if this will work with anti-war, anti-imperialism, or other “progressive” causes, but since we know from repeated experience that electing great heroes isn’t going to accomplish much of anything, it looks to me like movements are the only way to go.
*************************************************

You are mistaken. The participants in the Civil Rights movement had a HUGE material gain in mind for themselves, and they were perfectly justified in striving for it.  Rights are tangible and translate into better opportunities, jobs, homes and futures for them and their children.

The anti-Viet Nam War movement was tiny—a demonstration of 10,000 was considered a victory. I remember—my brothers were there (I was a little too young). That was until the draft started touching middle class kids in college and pulled them right out of school. THEN the movement took off—they had a HUGE material gain in mind, like not getting sent to SE Asia and getting killed.  Staying alive is about as material is you can get.

Movements require self-interest and no other way short of violence to achieve them.

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By cann4ing, September 6, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

By ardee, September 5 at 7:44 pm #

On the state and national level candidates are selected according to how much money they can raise and how closely they tie themselves to the Party ideology. Grassroots wishes do not enter into the process.

________________________

Your position reflects a self-defeating pessimism.  You vastly underestimate the real power that lies in “the grassroots.”

Consider Howard Zinn’s observations in “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.”

“There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies, however vast their wealth, however they control images and information, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists and writers and teachers and artists.  When the citizens begin to suspect they have been deceived and withdraw their support, government loses its legitimacy and its power.”

The hold that corporations have on the current government is a function of the corporate-owned media, which limits coverage to “viable” candidates.  A candidate is not “viable” unless he/she has amassed millions of dollars to spend on deceptive, 30-second spot ads, and only those candidates who sell out to corporate America garner sufficient funds to be deemed viable.

The solution will not be found by throwing up one’s hands and exclaiming, “Oh crap!  Look at the power they have.”  The solution will not be found in a splintered Left embarking on impotent third party strategies.

The solution is for the Left to unite behind the PDA; to target the corporate sell outs within the Democratic Party at the local, state and national levels, to use the power of communication through the net, through interpersonal interaction and through every other legitimate means of communication.

The answer to corporate media deception is truth!

Once again, I say, “Progressives of America—Unite!”

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By cann4ing, September 6, 2009 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

Folktruther:  On the subject of Jane Harmon, you might want to take a look at my piece, “Caught on NSA Wiretap, Harman Faces Another Democratic Primary Challenge” at The Brad Blog:

“As reported by Jeff Stein of CQ Politics on April 19, 2009, Harman “was overheard on a 2005 National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former [AIPAC] officials. ‘In return, the Israeli agent pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee,’ Stein reported.”

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7167

In sworn deposition testimony, Sibel Edmonds exposed a much more pervasive scandal. 

Edmonds testified that the FBI targeted the covert activities of “the Turkish lobby.”

Turkish lobby activities included “trying to obtain…highly classified U.S. intelligence information, weapons technology information, classified congressional records…” Edmonds revealed how the Turkish lobby recruited “key U.S. individuals with access to highly sensitive information.”

Edmonds account reveals a sordid tale of corruption, bribery and blackmail directed at key officials and members of Congress, including an extortion scheme designed to ensnare a married, bi-sexual Congresswoman. Her testimony raises the question as to whether some of the individuals involved, including current and former members of Congress, should be investigated; possibly prosecuted for treason.

Edmonds specifically named Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Bob Livingston (R-LA), Dan Burton (R-IN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Stephen Solarz (D-NY), and Tom Lantos (D-CA, deceased).  She declined to name the bi-sexual Congresswoman.

Edmonds testimony was extensively covered by Brad Friedman.  http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7387

It is been ignored not only by the corporate media but by Truthdig.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, September 6, 2009 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

ITW’s message about voting the bums out is in line with the Louis Menand article I’ve cited several times (http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/08/30/040830crat_atlarge), and others like it, to wit: most people vote for their perceived immediate self-interest, and after that, for image or for traditional affections and associations (like one’s ethnic group or religion).  Something like five or ten percent vote on issues, ideology, or the character of the candidates.  A good many of them are rightists or conservatives.  “Progressives”, “liberals” and leftists, a badly split collection of small groups, get to divide up the remaining two or three or five percent.  I see no indication whatever that this has changed over the last several years.  There was a sort of upsurge of ideological voting on the Right for a few years—the “man of God” crap surrounding Bush—but it seems to be dying out.

Looking at politics from the other end—those who wield actual power—it is pretty easy to see that approaching an electorate like this is not a matter of professing an ideology but of promising goods and services.  High talk, for example an Obama speech, is icing on the cake; people don’t mind it, but they want the cake, which is getting something material for their vote.  Thus they are susceptible to the same kind of manipulation and fraud that sells mediocre products and vacuous celebrities to the masses.  The effective production of this manipulation and fraud is best carried out by disciplined organizations, not by the tedious and complicated procedures of real democracy.  This is why you have smoke-filled rooms and will always have smoke-filled rooms (as long as you have centralized power).  This will apply to any third party, however nominally “progressive” it may pretend to be.  Power, in the U.S., comes from a smoke-filled room.

By contrast, movements don’t have to comprise a majority to have a lot of effect.  I cited the Civil Rights movement.  Now that history has been rewritten, it looks like everyone supported Martin Luther King, but in fact he and his kind were hated and despised by many people and ignored by most of the rest.  What the minority, the two or three or five per cent, who supported him did was not win elections but make trouble.  They also worked off the fact that, while probably a majority of Americans were outright racists, they also believed in political and legal equality.  The Civil Rights movement made trouble about the dissonance between the racist practice and the political and legal principles people believed in.  After they made trouble long enough, the majority became weary of the trouble and the politics of equality began to be something the folks in the smoke-filled room could sell to the people.

I don’t know if this will work with anti-war, anti-imperialism, or other “progressive” causes, but since we know from repeated experience that electing great heroes isn’t going to accomplish much of anything, it looks to me like movements are the only way to go.

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By jackpine savage, September 6, 2009 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

Yeah, ItW, they voted in reaction…but they voted in bums that were wholly complicit in the actions you listed.

And look what we got for our troubles, the same shit with a different name plastered over it. But in many ways it’s worse because at least the Republicans were honest about it: we all knew we were gonna get it without so much as a kiss. Now it’s all sweet nothings, chocolate and flowers…but we’re still gonna get it.

The Dems are only too happy to give away the treasury to investment banks or escalate pointless wars over the objections of the majority of the citizens or force us all to help the insurance companies make more of a profit. But, hey, they’re still better than the Republicans, right?

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By Inherit The Wind, September 6, 2009 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

progwoman, September 4 at 8:09 am #

Having heard this argument since the sixties, I think it fails to take into account several things. One, in a two party system such as ours, it’s hard to influence the government if you’re not in one party or the other. A vote for Ralph Nader may make you feel virtuous, but it has little consequence. Two, having worked to elect Obama (clearly the most progressive candidate running) I feel an obligation to both push him and support him. Three, our democracy is more fragile than we progressives acknowledge. We came dangerously close to losing it during the Bush administration, and one reason is that we became complacent during the Clinton years. Remember that old saw that there was essentially no difference between Gore and Bush? And, four, Obama’s election intensified the racial divide in this country, and we would be wrong to leave him hanging in the wind.
**************************************************

As I read through this thread I came to a startling conclusion.  Other than this one post and a few by StuartH, everyone here is living in Dreamland and doesn’t have a CLUE as to what happened in the election of 2006 and 2008.

What this means, which shocked me as I realized it, is that the current so-called “Progressive” movement it totally impotent and irrelevant.  It makes a few loud noises and hangs its hat on two quixotic characters: Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader.

Third Party movements are misunderstood, even the most successful ones: 1) George Wallace’s Independent party in 1968 2) Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrats in 1948, 3) Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party in 1912,  and 4) the Republican Party in 1856-1860. 

Yet in this thread we see lots of flakes come out—like the characters who call themselves the “Wobblies”—with 1000 members—there are odd clubs with more members! That’s 0.00033% of the population—or 3.3 ten-THOUSANDTHS of a percent!

What everyone here (mainly) fails to realize is what happened last November was pretty f***ing simple. 
People watched their savings disappear. 
They watched their retirement disappear. 
They watched their home values disappear.
They watched their neighbors’ homes get foreclosed on.
They watched their neighbors lose their jobs.
They watched their income drain to be replaced by UI pittances as they lost their jobs.
They watched stores close up in their communities and not reopen, from East Hanover, New Jersey to Skagway, Alaska.
They watched Bush-supporting pundits say their unemployment was by their own choice.
They watched banks favored by Bush’s Goldman-Sachs appointees get bailed out.
They watched banks competing with Bush’s Goldman-Sachs appointees’ favorite company allowed to go bankrupt (Can you say Lehman brothers and Morgan Stanley?)
They watched an angry, inept old man get the GOP nomination.
They watched an ignorant, mean, vindictive, but pretty, incompetent first-term governor of a tiny state get the GOP VP nomination.
They watched prices on EVERYTHING but houses go up yet again.

Reality overcame stupidity for most Americans.  They voted the bums out.

Sirota’s right: That’s not a political movement.  It’s a reaction, and, given the circumstances, a totally sane one.

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By jackpine savage, September 6, 2009 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

We used to have movements, and i believe that going back roughly a century in American history to look at those movements is more instructive than those that occurred mid-20th century. I say this because the general socio-economic situation was more similar.

There’s a little tribute to those old time movements on Scholars and Rogues in honor of Labor Day:

http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2009/09/05/workers-of-the-world-unite/

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By richfam, September 6, 2009 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

Obama would find it easy to fulfill your dreams if he was politically able. He’s not
and its because you don’t have enough roots for your grass…

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By ardee, September 6, 2009 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

Movements, and not just of the bowel variety.

Movements are a phenomena that create much good and bad as well. We have seen such movements raise civil rights to the law of the land, we have seen one create an equality for women as well. We , I believe, saw one such movement that helped greatly in ending the Viet Nam war.

If my position is correct movements arise out of single issues, capture the imagination of many folks and lead to change sometimes. The mass movement to protest the coming invasion of Iraq encompassed millions world wide yet had no affect upon the decision. Worse, once the issue exhausts its emotional response, or once it results in a successful conclusion, people go home, and with far too much more to achieve.

If movements arise from emotionalism then one sees much difficulty in arousing the passions of people for the dry work of necessary change to our system of governance. People here and elsewhere rant eloquently sometimes about the undue power of money on governance, yet it seems hard to imagine millions in the streets on this one issue.

Yet this one single fact of our government being run by and for the exclusive privilege of the corporate few may be the single most important issue of the day, around which most of the other issues and agendas revolve in fact.

But will we see a “movement” to correct such creeping (galloping?) fascism? Maybe when this country has completed its journey to third world status, when unemployment is in the double digit range, when homelessness is so common as to draw no notice any more. But probably not before there are too many disenfranchised people to silence completely.

The work that needs doing, in my own and certainly leftist fringe belief system, requires less passion perhaps than dogmatic and tireless efforts to correct certain fundamental abuses or weaknesses in the process.

Can one induce mass outrage against the practice of lobbying? Will everyone take to the streets because it costs a few tens of millions to become a Senator, and about three quarters of a billion to attain the White House? Do enough understand that these ‘flaws’ exist because it makes control of the lawmakers much easier?

We are a nation wherein “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. It is the quiet part of that statement that refuses changes and thwarts hope.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble, hope you remained awake through it.

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By Folktruther, September 5, 2009 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment

Let me second, Ardee, cann4ing.  jane Harman, the congressperson whose district is a little south of Santa Monica in Venice, Cal, is not only a corporatist, she is a militerist, and a mouthpiece for Zionism.  She help prevent two Americans spying for Israel from being prosecuted and, much worse, sponsored the Thought Control Bill that would censor the intenet without a crime being committed.

She was opposed last time in the primary and won.  She bought ads on TV are were the most sincere and effective deceit that I have seen, stating how she would fight Bush and fight for civil liberties.  If I knew nothing about her I would have voted for her.  Most people voting are similarly influenced in primaries and elections.

If her opponent wins the primary and then the election (where is she goig to get the money for this?)  the same power constraints are stll in play for her to remain in office.  McKinney was accused of the absurd charge of assaulting a policeman and zionist money defeated her in Georgia.  Being an isolated leftist among Dems leaves every newcomer in the same position.

What is necessary is to change the power relations conditioning elections.  and this can only be done by a movement not a party, just as the civil rights movement and the union movement and the anti-Vietnam movement occurred largely outside the electoral system.

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By Night-Gaunt, September 5, 2009 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

Excellent work The Worm for distillating what has gone on and what is going on with the “Healthcare Debate” which it really isn’t anymore. More like the the band playing while the Titanic was sinking. Only in this case it is the “Healthcare Industry” that are not only on the life boats but bar anyone else from getting on. While the healthcare part of the industry lets the rest of us who can’t pay sink to our demise.

Of course our captain Obama is continually over the loud speaker saying platitudes as he gets on board the life boats too while telling us he is looking out for us. That he cares and to have hope.

False hope is that carrot your not supposed to ever get. And it isn’t even a real carrot either.

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By ardee, September 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

StuartH, September 5 at 6:25 pm #

“You don’t “expect” that anyone is a progressive.  You ascertain whether the
incumbent Dem is or is not progressive.  If he or she isn’t, then you find a real
progressive to run against the corporate sell-out.”

Perhaps on the very most local of levels this strategy would be applicable. But we are not talking about a village board or a township either. On the state and national level candidates are selected according to how much money they can raise and how closely they tie themselves to the Party ideology. Grassroots wishes do not enter into the process.

That is the essence of it.  There are other ways to work for societal change,
such as through non-profit efforts of various kinds.

A lot of people concerned about such issues as sustainability have opted to
work on developing innovations or methodologies that could be adopted by
people without concern for local, state or federal policy.  Poverty can be
addressed through local efforts to an extent.

Certainly nonprofits and NGO’s have a place in the world, but we speak about the two party system and its unwillingness to represent the people.

However, at some point it becomes clear that there are obstacles to a better
society that require political efforts and change.

What the Democratic Party has going for it is a lot of people who stay
dedicated to positive change and are amenable to innovative approaches that
will work.  That’s generally why it is easier to move the Party in the right
direction than it is to start a wholly new one.

No one argues that there are not good and decent people who are democrats, but not movers and shakers. These folks have lost their way and live amidst the influence of corporate monies , deals and unreality.

I wonder if you have ever been to a state or national convention? All the posturing and flag waving has nothing whatsoever to do with the business of the convention, which goes on far from you and I.

To say that it is easier to move the Democratic Party seems true enough. If you are a zillionare you can buy enough of them to move the party whichever direction you choose, as long as that direction is to the right.

 

The problem with corporate money is essentially about TV and other forms of
advertising, which are expensive.  Except in small communities, it is difficult to
entirely to work through grassroots organizing only.

The problem with your position is that it fails utterly to represent the real truth of the matter. Corporate money takes many forms, including offers of lobbying positions for retiring Legislators , and at six and seven figure salaries that purchase the votes of these future lobbyists.

Without meaning to insult , honest, I find your position to be more than a bit naive and less representative of the reality of Democratic ( or Republican) methods of decision making, and th einfluence upon those decisions.

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By the worm, September 5, 2009 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Summary of the Obama Administration’s Health Care Leadership
Single Payer:  Achieves all stated goals: Cuts costs, increases coverage, focuses
most health care dollars on providing health care. Status: Eliminated by Obama
from consideration before ‘negotiations’ began.
Real Public Option: Achieves some stated goals. Status: ‘Compromised Away’ by
Obama.
Psuedo-Public Option: Achieves nothing. A ‘political option’, but does not
achieve cost reduction; instead increases enrollment to the existing system,
thereby, increasing the % of GNP devoted to health insurers and big pharma
profits and continuing to reduce the number of health care dollars actually
spent on providing health care. Status: Under active consideration by Obama.
Coops: Achieves nothing. A ‘political option’, that does not achieve cost
reduction, increased coverage or efficiencies in the existing system; but will
increase the % of GNP funneled to profits for health insurers and big pharma.
Status: Under active consideration by Obama.
Trigger: Allow a prolonged period for the Republican noise machine to
manufacture lies and prey on people’s fears. Status: Under active consideration
by Obama.
Party or movement; movement or party?  The movement by the majority party
has been backwards. Now that all options which would result in cost cutting,
increased access and improved efficiencies are no longer under consideration,
which option will the great negotiator choose as his ‘health care reform’?

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By StuartH, September 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

Cann4ing:

“You don’t “expect” that anyone is a progressive.  You ascertain whether the
incumbent Dem is or is not progressive.  If he or she isn’t, then you find a real
progressive to run against the corporate sell-out.”

That is the essence of it.  There are other ways to work for societal change,
such as through non-profit efforts of various kinds. 

A lot of people concerned about such issues as sustainability have opted to
work on developing innovations or methodologies that could be adopted by
people without concern for local, state or federal policy.  Poverty can be
addressed through local efforts to an extent.

However, at some point it becomes clear that there are obstacles to a better
society that require political efforts and change. 

What the Democratic Party has going for it is a lot of people who stay
dedicated to positive change and are amenable to innovative approaches that
will work.  That’s generally why it is easier to move the Party in the right
direction than it is to start a wholly new one.

The problem with corporate money is essentially about TV and other forms of
advertising, which are expensive.  Except in small communities, it is difficult to
entirely to work through grassroots organizing only.

In the last three election cycles we saw the rise of the prospect that the old
model of grassroots organizing, which was abandoned during the ‘90s in favor
of big donors and consultants directing everything, could be revitalized
through the use of the web.  The record setting fundraising from the online
community, together with the push for a true 50 state strategy was what
ultimately made the difference. 

I look for continued evolution along the lines of what has been developing and
one of the things I have been seeing over the years since the web has been
available, is an increased emphasis on discussing the role of progressives in
shaping the debate and in gathering significant voter participation.  That wasn’t
happening so much during the ‘90s, the heyday of the consultant.

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By cann4ing, September 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

By Folktruther, September 5 at 4:37 pm #

cann4ing—the problem with just electing Dems and expecting that some will be progressive

_____________________

You don’t “expect” that anyone is a progressive.  You ascertain whether the incumbent Dem is or is not progressive.  If he or she isn’t, then you find a real progressive to run against the corporate sell-out.  An example can be found in Santa Monica where Marcy Winograd—a true progressive—is challenging Jane Harmon, who is not merely a corporatist but one of the richest members of Congress.

Marcy is not conducting a futile third party campaign.  She has declared well in advance and is positioning herself to challenge Jane-the-sell-out-Harmon in the 2010 Dem primary.

We need to target “every” corporate Dem in every Congressional and Senate seat at the primary level.  Nader would do well to join the Dem party and declare, now, that he intends to challenge Obama in the 2012 Democratic Party.

Progressives of America—Unite!  Take the party first; then the nation.

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By Folktruther, September 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

And to second KDelphi, Stuwart is typical of the cadre that work with the Dems.  He states that his coalition was successful because the won all the seats on the counsel including the mayor.  That is how Dem cadrre define winning; electing ‘Progressives.’  and what were the policies implemented by this Elected group?  He doesn’t say.  It is not important to him, it is out of hs field of expertise.  His idea of Progess is electing Dems to office. 

And once they get there they will sell us out.  They will identify with money and power rather than the people ruled by power.  To maintain their positions and to pursue their political careers.  For which they need money.  Lots of money.

That is why Cann4ing’s idea about electing new Dems to office is pointless in changing policies.  But he is also quite right in not supporting third parties, for the same reason it is useless to support dems.  They will sell out if elected.  For the same reasons Dems do.  The political cultural is too corrupt at a time historically when the power structure is dispowering the population and stealing their resources.

What is needed first is a political movement that transforms the way Americans think aboaut people and power. It is not only necesssary to politicize personal life, it is necessary to moralize and spirtualize political life.  political decisions are moral choices just as personal decisions are, and the moral values of the American population have been perverted by oppressive obscene power.  That is the reason Americans are passive in face of torture and imprisoning children for life.

That and fear.  Americans are afraid not only to protest, but to think. A movvement must make it easier to think morallly decent political thoughts, and to protest oppressive ones.  BEFORE a party is organized.

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By herewegoagain, September 5, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Folktruther writes: “Anarcissie is quite right.  Historically, this is not a time for parties in the US, but for movmements.”

Yet there seems to be a movement on both the left and the right to switch to Independent. Voter affiliations with both parties have been declining for years.

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By KDelphi, September 5, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

StuartH-“I think the main ingredients were the dedication to work constantly on
brokering issues with as many neighbors as possible.  Thus, the coalition was
able to gain a working majority in the voting population.  THere were meetings
that lasted from 9 in the morning to around 5 in the afternoon on Saturdays. 
There were meetings to endorse candidates that really were deliberations on
the issues.  When candidates were endorsed, they were aggressively promoted
through huge efforts to recruit volunteers and push the campaign into the
neighborhoods.  When candidates were elected, there were lots of meetings to
keep up a back and forth on what was being learned inside the process and
provide feedback.” 

Stuart, how in the world are you going to build a working peoples’ movement on that? If people have regular 80 hr a week jobs, they simply cannot dedicate that much time and energy to achieve such modest ends. And, for that matter, why should they? I dont see what is wrong with expecting elected officials to do the right thing, or, at least, do as they promised—if most working people fell down on the job that much, they would no longer have a job.

The Dems have promised working and poor people much and delivered the opposite. NAFTA, “welfare reform”, deregulation, poor peoples wars, and uniquely ‘Merkins markets, even for life and death “industries”.

It is not always easy to organize against something, although it is often said, as is “if you cant say something nice dont say anything at all” and sometimes it is very necessary.

Organizing vs BIG CORPORATE money will be more than difficult. And, btw,as most know the Supreme Court is about to make another huge decison on that issue—-everyone, in their gut , knows that a corporation is not a person. Sotomayor is “fine” (and we needed a female and a Latino)but, Bush II instinctively knew what he was doing appointing a Roberts Court—-young, healthy, “christian’ white guys, which will skew the court Right for many decades. When Dems get power, we get moderates.

“It is necessary to get Progressives to stop thinking in terms of electoral politics.  If elections would change anything they would be illegal.  Neither the civil rights movment, the anti-Vietnam movement, or the union movement under Roosevelt would win elections.  New politics are implemented by rank and file movements, not by voting for a pre-selected choice of candidates.”

I agree with Folktruther on this one.

cann4ing—the problem with just electing Dems and expecting that some will be progressive, is that we are doing that now—Kucinich campaigned on very different things than he ended up telling us to vote for Obama for. He was also cut off at the DNC—how in hell can we get ‘ideas” to shift our way if those few that represent them are not even allowed to speak when they are in positons of power—they always end of cowing to the Dem party. Sen Sanders, for all his good intentions, knows he is a minority and, when the chips are all on the table, he is a Democrat.

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By ardee, September 5, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie was right but perhaps no longer??

If you have enough votes to form a successful third party (33%) then you have more than enough votes to take over one of two existing parties (25%).

Excepting that the work of the two parties goes on in traditional “smoke filled rooms” behind closed doors and neither is all that susceptible to movements, uprisings or revolts. I do note how the GOP was overtaken by radical extremism, but even that was made possible in a top down fashion, say Karl Rove.

However, “progressives”, leftists, etc., do not form anything like even 25% of the electorate, so party politics does not seem like the way to go.  A small minority advances its cause better by making trouble about various issues and hoping the mainstream, which is dominated by professional political opportunists, will pick up on some of their ideas.  (This is assuming you’re going to play the government game, which is strictly about power and coercion.)

But in rebuttal I note that “the times they are a-changing”:

For years, traditional public opinion polling has broken down ideology into three distinct groupings: liberal, moderate, and conservative. Based on this categorization, there has been remarkable stability in ideological orientation, with roughly one-fifth of Americans identifying themselves as “liberal” and about four in 10 classifying themselves as “moderate”
or ”conservative,” respectively, according to Gallup polling from 1992 to 2008.

In this study, however, the electorate is broken down using a more expansive five-point scale of political ideology that reflects the variety of approaches people ascribe to today. Employing this more calibrated measure, 34 percent of the country identifies as “conservative,” 29 percent as “moderate,” 15 percent as “liberal,” 16 percent as “progressive,” and 2 percent as “libertarian.” After moderates are asked which approach they lean toward, the overall ideological breakdown of the country divides into fairly neat left and right groupings, with 47 percent of Americans identifying as progressive or liberal and 48 percent as conservative or libertarian. The rest are unsure or scattered among moderate and other approaches.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/03/political_ideology.html


and

The rise of progressivism in America today is reflected most directly in public ratings of various ideological approaches. Today more than two-thirds of Americans rate a “progressive” approach to politics favorably, a 25-point increase in favorability over the last five years, with gains coming primarily from those who were previously unaware of the term. “Progressive” now equals “conservative” in terms of overall public favorability (67 percent, respectively). Both the “liberal” and “libertarian” labels enjoy much lower overall favorability, with only a plurality of Americans rating each positively. (As a side note, conservative elites might want to rethink their Ayn Rand obsession: a mere 35 percent of self-identified conservatives rate the term “libertarian” favorably, only 10-points higher than their rating of “liberal.”)

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=progressivism_goes_mainstream

A good example is the Civil Rights movement, the most successful leftist effort in the last 100 years or more.  It can hardly be said to have won many elections.

Wrong again, the Civil Rights movement won many elections for the GOP as the South broke ranks with its traditionally Democratic position….Yeah , I know…...

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By freedem, September 5, 2009 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

The problem is that we do not have a real Two party system. We used to, but one of the parties was subverted and cannot respond to any pressure a movement might bring and therefore there is the dual problem of first getting Democrats in a position to do anything, and then actually getting them to do it.

I was never thinking that just getting us free from the Gang Of Pirates would bring on all the positive things that need doing. Not being under the open dictatorship is only the first step. We had climbed up out of a thousand years of ooze with huge difficulty, only to discover the ooze climbing up after us. It will not stop just because we made a step in the right direction.

Thee has been a great deal of disappointment that promises are not kept as we would like, but that is still better than promises we do not like that are kept. Desperate as so much is, and good as it would have been to do the right thing easily, to have not expected sneaky, ruthless, determined opposition no matter how evil is naive. We can be neither ham handed or short term. The first bloody nose is not defeat, but only to increase determination.

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By cann4ing, September 5, 2009 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

By myxzptlk, September 5 at 12:02 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

I used to subscribe to the idea that change could come by influencing elected Democrats.  Then I believed that change might come from replacing DINOs with more progressive candidates.  Now I see that the Democratic party is as resistant to change as the Republican party.
______________________

It is not a matter of seeking to “influence” elected Dems.  The corporate sector of the Democratic Party is bought-and-paid for—it is immune to logic, persuasion or the will of the vast majority of the electorate.

Instead, true progressives should strive to replace corporate Dems with true progressives.  We don’t nee to persuade.  We need to replace.

So the corporate sector Dems are resistant to their replacement.  Did you think that power would be readily conceded?

Third party politics, short or long term, are an exercise in futility.  They are a prescription for splintering the movement, between those who vote for Democrats—any Democrats—regardless of the corruption endemic in the corporate sector of the Party—because the alternative is fascism, which is what the 21st Century Republican Party represents, and those who blindly lash out at the entire Democratic Party instead of focusing upon “whom” within that party is responsible for the betrayal of the working class.

Instead of blindly lashing out against an entire Party whose grass roots are far more progressive than its leaders, target the corporate corrupted leaders for replacement by true progressives.

Don’t seek to influence; seek to become.

Progressives must choose to become history or, as those who bandy back and forth at TD constantly do, simply spectate. 

Many who post here at TD are real good at engaging one another in ideological discussion, and not much else!  Which is why I’ve tired of engaging their Utopian fantasies.

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By voice of truth, September 5, 2009 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

The problem with a political party is twofold.  First, it tries to cater to as many as possible, thereby diluting their specific messages.  Secondly, they are “lead” by politicians.

By their nature, the vast majority of politicians are naricistic egomaniacs bent on building and preserving their own power.  Most really do not care about anyone other than themselves and their ability to remain in their positions.  And their “power” is the ability to tell the other 280 million Americans how to live their lives.  It is the condo association writ large.

To those inside the beltway, politics is literally a game.  For the politicians, lobbyists, moneyraisers, the media, its all about who won this week, how good was their spin on something, what will they have to say the next time.  Policies, people, laws, whatever, it’s all just pieces on a chessboard, or chips in a poker game (I’ll trade you a public option for an airport in my district that no one will every fly into).

Look at Charlie Rangel.  By his own biography, after being in the army (not a high paying career), he eventually went to law school and worked for a law firm in NY where he “made little money in private practice, but did get a positive reputation for providing legal assistance to black civil rights activists”

He worked in the government from then on, again, not a high paying career.  So how in the world does this man now have a net worth so high that he “forgets” about assets over $1M?!?!  And this man is the head of the tax writing committee.

Do you see my point?  He is not there to help the little guy, no matter what he professes.  He is there to enrich himself, and be the Big Man, so the media can always refer to him as “the powerful” this and that.

It’s no different on the Republican side.  The same way that liberals (I refuse to use that stupid “progressive” term) feel betrayed by Democrats, so did I feel after the Republicans squandered their 1994 victories.  No where in Newt’s Contract with America is there a mention of school prayers, abortion and other sops to the Christian Right.  It was all about fiscal and personal responsibility, things which I believe in (I’m not religious and I don’t care who prays to what or when).  Then they let power go to their heads.

Anyway, I hate to sound fatalistic, but the entrenchment of our two party system, and that little thing called the Constitution, virtually negate any chance of change.  Dems and Repubs may float a bit more to the left or right, but essentially they are after the most votes.  And when you realize that more Americans can name every contestant on American Idol’s current season than have even heard of Cap and Trade (never mind what it means), it’s already over.

Those of you with children in public schools today realize very quickly that they are not being taught anything about how this country really works or anything remotely usable about the world around them.  And that is how the government wants it to be.

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By StuartH, September 5, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

It should be noted that it is way easier to organize against something or
someone that a lot of people have come to dislike than it is to figure out a
positive policy to support.  Mostly, that is human nature.  It is true on the right
and on the left.

Progressives have a generally harder time organizing, often compared to
coordinating cats, because they are usually intellectually independent and not
ready to be regimented.  By disposition, many identify with the Marlon Brando
character in The Young and The Restless who, when asked what he was
rebelling against, said “What you got?”

The success of the conservative coalition that elected Bush was just the
opposite.  They are intellectually dependent and need regimentation.  That’s
why evangelical church congregations were central.

Also, it is a lot easier to organize around self interest where profit is the goal. 
That is the glue that holds Republican coalitions together.  Progressive will tend
to sacrifice their own self interest and even go without eating to promote what
they thing is the right thing to do.  Principle versus Profit.  People who are
exhausted and poor have a harder time maintaining an effort over time than
people who really have no passion beyond making money and staying
comfortable.

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By G.Anderson, September 5, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

The Republican and Democratic party are close to merging already. Both are really servants of the owners of this country, the coporations.

Eventually there will be a third party, that the Republicans and Democrats will unite against, it’s only a question of how bad it’s going to get in the meantime.

Poltical parties come and go, they serve a need, but when they no longer serve political change, well then that is the stuff of revolution.

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By StuartH, September 5, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

I once worked with a local progressive coalition building effort that won
elections, largely at the city council and state legislative levels.  The effort
required a lot of very intense meetings.  It grew out of campaigns to elect
progressive city council members through the 1970s into the 1980s.  Some of
the prominent members in this effort had been working grass roots politics
since the 1930s and some had been involved in the civil rights struggle in the
1960s. 

By 1990, this coalition had been successful in gaining all seven seats and the
mayor’s seat on the city council and members in a variety of elected and
appointed slots as well. 

What it took was a huge effort on the part of a lot of people and accidents of
place and time.  To me, the model can work nationally. 

I think the main ingredients were the dedication to work constantly on
brokering issues with as many neighbors as possible.  Thus, the coalition was
able to gain a working majority in the voting population.  THere were meetings
that lasted from 9 in the morning to around 5 in the afternoon on Saturdays. 
There were meetings to endorse candidates that really were deliberations on
the issues.  When candidates were endorsed, they were aggressively promoted
through huge efforts to recruit volunteers and push the campaign into the
neighborhoods.  When candidates were elected, there were lots of meetings to
keep up a back and forth on what was being learned inside the process and
provide feedback. 

After about ten years, the hard working core of the effort tended to disperse
and the fire kind of went out.  It seemed that the energy of the specific
individuals involved and the inspiration of those that got elected was crucial
and this was continued to some extent.  But any effort has its ups and downs
over time. 

It also was putatively non-partisan although almost everyone involved was a
Democratic activist.  This made the focus about issues and how to enact
policies that could actually work and survive the test of time. 

That is harder to do on a national basis, obviously.  With the rise of the
netroots, this, however seems to be a prospect as the whole cohort of those
online learns how to operate a large scale process. 

The effort to try and organize such a cohort, I would date to the establishment
of the Daily Kos community website, a little before the 2004 election.  That is
not a long time ago.  Considering that, the future could be very interesting in
terms of a national progressive coalition. 

My personal prediction would be that this will not lead to a third party
necessarily, but will more likely lead to reforming the Democatic Party. 
Anything can happen, however.

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By myxzptlk, September 5, 2009 at 9:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I used to subscribe to the idea that change could come by influencing elected Democrats.  Then I believed that change might come from replacing DINOs with more progressive candidates.  Now I see that the Democratic party is as resistant to change as the Republican party.  So I no longer view voting as a binary choice. 

If change is even possible, it will take a long time to emerge, and will come only after years of intensifying propaganda, misdirection, national turmoil, and decline.

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By the worm, September 5, 2009 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

To Annarcisse: The very real consequences of Obama’s policy decisions to ‘save’
the financial system, give away carbon credits, throw billions more into
Afghanistan and cut back on a real stimulus bill that would have helped workers
are the decline of family incomes, loss of IRA and savings, continued job loss and
the worse and worsening unemployment rate.
The very real prospects are not that folks will bolt for a third party, but that they
will simply not vote ... i.e. not vote for Obama and the Democrats. Some may float
over to the Repubs, but I think it’s much more likely that those who previously
supported Obama will ‘sit out’ the next election.
Obama’s previous supporters included more than simply ‘liberals’ and
‘progressives’ (though they came out as never before); many, if not most, are sure
to be absent from the next election.
More’s the pity, but, let’s face it, they got hoodwinked.

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By Folktruther, September 5, 2009 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie is quite right.  Historically, this is not a time for parties in the US, but for movmements.  The left is not united enough for a new party yet, and must be defined by opposition to the existing policies and power structure to become united.  Notably to capitalist golobaliation and the War on Terrorism.

It is necessary to get Progressives to stop thinking in terms of electoral politics.  If elections would change anything they would be illegal.  Neither the civil rights movment, the anti-Vietnam movement, or the union movement under Roosevelt would win elections.  New politics are implemented by rank and file movements, not by voting for a pre-selected choice of candidates.

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By Anarcissie, September 5, 2009 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Kesey Seven:
’... But over the long term we probably will have to either seriously threaten to vote for a third party or go all out and vote for third party candidates. ...’

If you have enough votes to form a successful third party (33%) then you have more than enough votes to take over one of two existing parties (25%).

However, “progressives”, leftists, etc., do not form anything like even 25% of the electorate, so party politics does not seem like the way to go.  A small minority advances its cause better by making trouble about various issues and hoping the mainstream, which is dominated by professional political opportunists, will pick up on some of their ideas.  (This is assuming you’re going to play the government game, which is strictly about power and coercion.)

A good example is the Civil Rights movement, the most successful leftist effort in the last 100 years or more.  It can hardly be said to have won many elections.

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By Rob, September 5, 2009 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Patty T talk about how the case for instant runoff voting is “spin” based on the fact that in San Francisco, the top vote-getter in first choices has gone on to win the IRV races.

Three things:
1) In San Francisco, a number of those top; vote-getters were targets of bigger spenders and corporate independent expenditures. But IRV makes those attacks much less effective. Anyone who knows San Francisco politics will tell you that its Board of Supervisors is remarkably progressive.

2) Getting the most first choices is easier when people aren’t worry about whether they’re wasting a vote. They can vote their conscience.

3) In Burlington’s mayoral race this year, the Progressive Party mayor trailed after the first round to a Republican who outspent him - indeed, the candidate raised the 4th most money among the candidates. But due to IRV, the votes coalesced around this candidate and he won the final round instant runoff.

Instant runoff voting isn’t proportional representation, which allows third parties and independents a much better chance to WIN rather than simply compete without being attacked as spoilers. But being able to compete provides a much greater opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom and hold major parties accountable - when the electorate’s ready to move to a new majority, those challengers can win.

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By herewegoagain, September 5, 2009 at 6:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

cann4ing writes: “Instead of constantly splintering into insignificant factions (e.g. Greens, Socialist Workers’ Party etc.), a mature American Left must come to realize that it is essential to create a united front, operating through organizations like Progressive Democrats of America, which could be used as a vehicle for targeting the corporate-owned sector of the Democratic Party, replacing them, one-by-one, with true progressives.”

It’s the eternal argument…is progress most likely to happen by changing the system from within, or building a completely new system…

And I honestly don’t know. In some situations, one might work better than the other. The deal with remaking the Democrats into the “People’s Party” is that they all run on very progressive platforms, but once they get in office, they have to “pay back” all those corporate contributions.

Again, the key is funding and electing only those politicians who don’t take a dime of corporate money. Right now, that would mostly be third party or independent candidates.

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By Ivan Hentschel, September 5, 2009 at 5:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We must remember that the moment an idea or message or movement becomes institutionalized, it has already probaby undergone embalming, and will never come back to life.

And, like fundamentalism in any religion, any message which becomes perpetuated as “the word” (i.e.the Bible the Quoran or other sacred text), the word and adherence to someone’s interpretation becomes far more important than the original message itself.

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By ardee, September 5, 2009 at 5:21 am Link to this comment

Kesey Seven, September 5 at 12:59 am #

ardee

You’re really starting to annoy me because you say what I’m thinking except better.

Hardly, Kesey but thanks much.

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By Ouroborus, September 5, 2009 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, September 4 at 12:35 pm #
“Pollution, energy loss, water shortages, fires,
droughts, food, disease, climate changes all
happening at once. Difficult to think when you have
so many problems going at once. This which also hides
what sabotage from within by those who want our gov’t
to fail—-so that they can come in with their own form
of gov’t to take over. “To save us.””

====================================================

It’s nice to see a coherent statement about the
present reality. It is said a solution comes from
fully understanding the problem; therein lies the rub
as too few understand the problem. Even when shown;
it is not believed. But, thanks anyway.

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By Kesey Seven, September 4, 2009 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment

My two cents about third parties:  Think long term.

Nader was making a simple point. Democrats will continue to ignore progressives-liberals-whatever-the-hell-connotation-suits-you as long as progressives reflexively vote democratic.

As it stands now, Democrats are taking our votes and then giving us the finger.  And that’s okay for now.  Obama is a mainstream moderate and much better than a McCain Palin White House (imagine what a nightmare that would have been).

But over the long term we probably will have to either seriously threaten to vote for a third party or go all out and vote for third party candidates.

It took a long time to create the mess we’re in. It will take a long time get out. Hopefully, we will have time to work things out before we face an environmental or military catastrophe.

Asides:
“Nadar.”  Classic.

I ain’t looking for no miracles.  I voted for Obama from the far left with open eyes and he has not disappointed me yet because I did not expect him to do much. His recent condemnation of Israeli settlements, however, is a welcome development.

JFK’s foreign policy was a freaking nightmare. We’re lucky he didn’t get us all killed.  Read The Dark Side of Camelot. The man was dangerous. He was not qualified physically or emotionally for the presidency.

Just to be clear:  Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican while president. When he ran as a Bull Moose candidate, he lost.

Night Gaunt, you got style, and you got “skeels,” too.



Green Ferret, you’re debating the connotative meaning of words, not the denotative. One man’s donkey is another man’s jackass. It’s like arguing about ink blots.  But you go. It’s amusing.

Beerdoctor:  Keep his feet to the fire. Nothing like blisters to make a man tread lightly.


ardee

You’re really starting to annoy me because you say what I’m thinking except better. 


Is it just me or is the best blog on the Web or what?  The overall quality and civility of the comments continues to impress.

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By cann4ing, September 4, 2009 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

By doublestandards/glasshouses, September 4 at 8:32 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

If Obama puts 25,000 more troops into Afghanistan,
which is what the generals want, there will be more US
troops there than the Russians had at the height of
their 1980 invasion and they were forced to retreat.
Can he be that blind?

___________________

There are already more troops, that is if you count highly paid private mercenaries as “troops.”

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By Nighthawk, September 4, 2009 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment

Progressives (Well, okay: Communists) stay loyal for the same reason that sane folks stay with Republicans.

Attempting to go with another (third) party merely weakens the whole.

We all remember what got Bill elected with about 40% of the vote.

And yes, I ‘d like to thank the author and all of you here for supporting my statement in another thread.

Obama’s popularity is dwindling because of his base and the independents.

Consider the vandalism at the DNC in Denver.  First reported as “Right Wing” extremists.  Then proven to be an anti war (and transgender) activist on the dime of an anti war lobby.

Of course, the Colorado DNC chair still “Right Wing” extremists.

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By MeHere, September 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

David Sirota:

Thanks for a great article.  I’d like to comment though that what you call “progressives.” I call “assorted liberals.”  Most of these people do not have a comprehensively progressive view on issues.  That’s why Obama became the one size that fits all.

We need to have many more true progressives to change anything. It is interesting to read books and articles on political/social issues. But I must say that I get a great deal out of talking to random people of various education
and economic levels whenever I get the chance.  They tell the story plain and clear. Most may recognize the injustice and fraud in our political system but very rarely I find anyone who is ready to abandon the traditional two party politics. It is an incredible phenomenon to hear hard-working people (many of whom call themselves liberals) accepting the lack of good labor laws, the absence of reliable health care coverage, the lack of protection for their food, the insane wars that are killing their own children, etc.

thebeerdoctor said in a post on this site something to the effect that people want to cling to the idea of The American Dream. That seems to be the case. Solutions to troubling political issues will not happen as long as illusion keeps winning over innovation.

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By ardee, September 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

Purple Girl, September 4 at 6:27 pm

Attacking someone whose name you cannot seem to spell correctly makes for the obvious question; do you even know Ralph Nader’s platform, political stances and reasons for his candidacy?

I fail to understand this attack upon someone who is not responsible for any of the ills that beset this nation. Someone whose belief system seems eloquent, practical and necessary to the salvation of our government.

Ralph Nader could have accepted a partnership position with any top law firm, made many millions of dollars and lived a life of leisure and luxury. Instead he worked for the consumer lives simply, and works tirelessly for the American working family.

You dredge up the"epithet” spoiler as if it had merit, which it does not. In order to believe this canard one must be a democratic loyalist or someone who fails miserably to understand the right to run for office, the fact that ones vote belongs to noone, instead it is earned by that candidate who best offers ones own vision for this nation. For me, that candidate is and has been Ralph Nader.

In other posts you seem to favor third party politics yet adopt the typically wrongheaded vision of the Democratic loyalist when speaking about the most well known of those non mainstream candidates. I ask you to go to Nader’s website, nader.org and find, in his writings, politics and editorials anything unacceptable to a supposed lefty as you proclaim yourself to be.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, September 4, 2009 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Obama puts 25,000 more troops into Afghanistan,
which is what the generals want, there will be more US
troops there than the Russians had at the height of
their 1980 invasion and they were forced to retreat. 
Can he be that blind?

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By ocjim, September 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Is there a viable party that represents the interests of the people? It is not Repuglicans and certainly not Democrats. So where do you go?

You go to the party that isn’t totally repugnant like the Great Other Party of Corruption.

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By Big Jess, September 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wanna indulge in a fantasy about 2012?

Imagine Rachel Maddow as a candidate.

Can you picture her in the debates—tearing both the limp questions and the opposing candidates into itty-bitty little bite-sized morsels?!

No chance it would happen, and no chance she’d get the nomination, but boy, oh boy, would this be Pat Buchanan in reverse, or what?!

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By cann4ing, September 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

I think Sirota confuses “party” with the corporate-owned politicians who have wrested control of the Democratic Party. 

You cannot blindly associate members of the progressive caucus, like a Dennis Kucinich, with the likes of the Clintons and Barack Obama. 

If the American Right is indifferent to the plight of ordinary citizens, the American Left can always be criticized for its inability to count.

Instead of constantly splintering into insignificant factions (e.g. Greens, Socialist Workers’ Party etc.), a mature American Left must come to realize that it is essential to create a united front, operating through organizations like Progressive Democrats of America, which could be used as a vehicle for targeting the corporate-owned sector of the Democratic Party, replacing them, one-by-one, with true progressives.

Unless and until that happens, the American Left will remain a spectator to the course of history.

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By Purple Girl, September 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

Like ‘Progressives’ had a choice!
Please should they have utterly caved and just voted for McCain instead?
Or do should we have wasted our votes on a well known spoiler for the Dem candidate - Nadar. Come on Now if Obama can’t get through these compromised proposals how the hell do you expect Nadar could have gotten anything through?? If you beleive what nadar Claims, he is a Socialist- that would have played Better ah? But I don’t beleive Raplhy boy is what he claims- he hasn’t bothered to run for any office But the Presidency- Great Public Service attitude. And don’t bother with spouting off his ‘consumer advocacy’ He hasn’t made an impact on that in Decades.
Ya Know who the Far Leftt Fringe Reminds me of- the Religious Zealtos on the Far Right. both Looking for miracles, for instantaneous gratification and a ‘savior’. What soldifies this analogy even more is the fact that both the fanatical ‘Chrisitans’ nor the Progressive comprehend the fundmentals of their own philosophies. Christianity is about Empathy and Charity. Progress is the movement forward through a process.
FYI- From a Lefty who voted for Kucinich in the Primary.
Obama never promised an immediate withdrawl from afghanistan.
Obama never agreed with Gay ‘marriage’- onlylegal unions.
Obama never said coal, oil, gas or nuclear energy would end.
Thinking and believing Obama was going to be a ‘Lefty’ is as ridiculous as thinking Christ wants you to become a soldier in his army.
I wonder if other christians see their zealots as annoying, and counterproductive to their causes, as I see ours on the far left.

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By P. T., September 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

David Sirota writes:  “In this vacuum, movement building has been left to underfunded (but stunningly successful) projects like Firedoglake.com, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and local organizations.  And that’s the lesson:  True grass-roots movements that deliver concrete legislative results are not steered by marble-columned institutions, wealthy benefactors or celebrity politicians—and they are rarely ever run from Washington.”


But what are the concrete legislative results they have delivered?

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By StuartH, September 4, 2009 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

The problem is counting.

Most of us like to argue some aspect more complex than that, but that is the
core problem.

Counting to a majority means creating some sort of structure that enough
people can agree with, setting aside some minor disagreements, to count past
50%.

The problem that a lot of people have with political action is that the idea of
coming to an agreement is anethema.  Some people disagree with people they
agree with, strictly on the basis that they just would rather not give an inch. 

Being for something doesn’t generally coalesce into a movement until there is
enough history of disappointment and opposition to clarify into motivated
mobilization.  Then, something can happen.  But arguments in the abstract
about how the world sucks are too general. 

That is why the “Big Tent” theory works and why so far, third parties haven’t.

If the Democrats currently in Washington create enough opposition a third
party movement is somewhat possible, if the terms of disapproval reach
enough of a consensus.  Most likely, however, the usual splits among liberal
voters will create an opening for Republicans who tend to get the votes of
suburban swing voters who aren’t at all ideological. 

If there is to be a successful “Bull Moose Party” that works, there needs to be a
critical mass of voters, truly articulate and knowledgeable candidates, and a
way of cutting into the swing vote population. 

Unfortunately, what that dynamic does usually is recreate the status quo.

The hard truth is that most people who have been willing to step out as third
party candidates have not appealed to those with enough experience to be
opinion leaders in their communities.  Doesn’t mean it can’t happen…

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By ardee, September 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

rfidler, September 4 at 8:52 am

isagree with you ardee in your assertion that the right enjoys any kind of solidarity. From my perspective on the right, radical right-wingers have marginalized themselves into irrelevance within the Rep party and are just as fed up with the two party system as any disappointed progressives.

Thanks for the response. I did note the dissatisfaction of which you speak in my first effort on this thread. I do not have enmity for true conservative politics and feel there is some common ground between them and the Progressives. The reason for the “solidarity ” comment is due to the selling out of the GOP leadership to the radical right.

As Emerson noted;“There is a certain meanness in the arguments of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its facts.”

Rontruth, September 4 at 11:29 am
The point here is that what our government needs are people like JFK. People whose wealth means that they do not need any special interest money with all the strings attached to it.

I would remind you of Arnold Schwartzenegger, a man who noted that he would not need special interest money because his worth approaches a billion dollars. His first act upon attaining the Governorship of Calif. was to raise more special interest money than any preceding governor before him.

I would think we need more poor folks in government frankly.

race_to_the_bottom, September 4 at 11:28 am #

I want very much to oppose your thoughts on the difficulty of third party growth but I cannot. It is a hard road and a difficult task, but do you believe it more or less difficult than attempting to rescue the Democrats from themselves?

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