May 24, 2013
Want Hope and Change? Build a Real Left
Posted on Sep 6, 2012
By Alan Minsky
Toward a Real Powerful Left
It’s time to unclench our teeth, breathe out and really assess where we are. It’s fine to catalog the sins of Obama, but it’s a largely meaningless parlor game unless we offer a coherent vision—in which many different political tendencies can participate—that outlines a winning strategy for a real, powerful left. And we must not have any illusions about how much transformation will be required—first for such a vision to compete as viable, and second for real social change to commence.
Attending both political conventions with a mind for investigating who really holds the reins of power betrays, in all its naked glory, that America has truly become—or maybe it always has been and remains—an oligarchy, papered over with a thin veneer of democracy. Someone in Obama’s position could only ever be there because he has figured out how to present himself as an attractive leader to the people who really rule this country or he’s been hand selected by a subset of the elite as the perfect frontman. In this regard, there’s an uncanny continuity from Reagan through Obama.
Does this mean that Obama is a horrid soul? Who’s to say? Perhaps he has concluded that he can take the helm of the leviathan and do some marginal good. After all, there is no powerful social justice movement to overturn the status quo; who knows, maybe Barack and Michelle would join us if there were. But really, such speculation is largely superfluous. None of us can read another person’s mind. The truth is, we are all living in a globalized economic system where power and wealth are accumulating into fewer hands, and the financial shocks of the past few years have only accelerated this process.
So we readers of the left blogosphere desperately have to move beyond registering poignant critiques of the evils of Romney and Ryan, and the betrayals of Barack and Biden. When political power is concentrated in the hands of the few, the rest of us have virtually none of it. We need to stop turning a blind eye to this reality, study history and understand what it takes to build a movement that captures the imaginations and hearts of the tens of millions who, only four years ago, exhibited a deep desire to change these conditions and improve their lives. Real change, in contrast to hologrammatic optimism, requires real courage.
Hope and Change
“Strange things are happening like never before … like courage becoming befuddled and nonfundamental.”—Bob Dylan, 1993
At long last, a silver lining: There is nothing that Obama or Biden or Romney or Ryan is really going to give to the rank and file of this country that even comes close to what they need and want. And there are only so many more swings of the pendulum that people can be fooled by. Then again ... The rank-and-file attendees of the Democratic National Convention are fine people with whom to start building a serious social justice movement in the United States, but ...
... But, indeed. The kindheartedness and generosity of spirit I found in Charlotte are inspiring, but if these people’s political activity still revolves around Obama, aren’t they missing the bigger, more important picture? Sure, but when there’s no other game in town, ameliorating the system so it causes less damage is not something that should be entirely dismissed. Would I vote for someone other than Obama in a swing state? I live in California so it’s not an issue, but I know come early November if I were faced with a choice between the only two candidates who could win and they were in a neck-and-neck race, I’d vote for the less reactionary one. But I’d never lose sight of the fact that the two main political parties are too far down a path to address the nation’s problems in the way they must be addressed. This is not to say we’ve lost hope, not if we recall that the major political parties have never really been the vehicles for progressive change. The New Deal, the Great Society, hell, even the right to vote in this Godforsaken political system were won not by politicians and their big-money backers, but by tremendous social movements that rocked the world. We need hope and change; it’s up to us to produce them.
1 2 3 4
Previous item: Democrats Show Republicans How It’s Done
Next item: Truthdigger of the Week: Glen Ford
New and Improved Comments