On some recent corporate TV show, a character made the comment that Washington is the 'ultimate you-don't-get-something-for-nothing town'.
How very true.
Yet, for most of my lifetime, the progressives, the left, or whatever you want to call the majority of Americans who are to the left of Obama, have acted like Washington just hands out favors like candy to kids. The left has acted like all they needed to do was to make a little noise, then Washington would come running to them with the goody basket and start handing out treats.
You don't get anything in this country without political power. Period. I'll repeat it just to make sure it gets through. You don't get anything in this country without political power.
The left has consistently conceded political power to others. The left has consistently given its votes away for free to Democrats who don't support any of the views, issues or policies of the left. The hasn't even tried to cut deals to try to get anything concrete in return for those votes. Instead, the left has just lined up and voted for the candidate with a (D) after their name. Then the left sits back and waits for the Democrats to come around with the goody bag.
The really strange part is that even though the goody bag never shows up, the left keeps repeating this behavior election after election. Even children would become skeptical of the Santa Claus myth if there weren't ever any presents. But the left seems to continue to believe the myth that the Democrats are progressives year after year.
The left needs political power. It needs to develop and build political power. The current powerlessness of the left stems directly from its inability or unwillingness to build real political power.
To have political power, that means a group is a 'player' in elections. To be a 'player', you have to have the ability to effect the outcome of the election. If what you are doing has no impact on the winner of the election, you have no political power. And those who trade in political power will ignore you. Just like the left is ignored in Washington today.
But, lets just imagine that the left organized strong, independent campaigns in a selection of the closest House and Senate races in 2010. When those campaigns threaten to pull enough votes away from the Democrats that the Democrats become in danger of losing those elections, that means that progressives are effecting the results of the elections. That means that progressives have political power. That's the day the left becomes a 'player'.
When the Democrats are looking at races across the board that are losing because of strong independent campaigns to the left of them, then the Democrats will come to us and ask 'what do we want?' That's the day we have political power. That's the day we can accomplish at least some of our goals. For instance, if we really want to end these wars, that's the day they will end.
We now know that electing Democrats will not make a difference. We now know that electing Democrats does not lead to 'change'. The wars continue. The domestic spying continues. The torture continues, albeit in a slightly altered form. The wars continue. This is after electing a Democrat President, a decent sized Democrat majority in the House, and a huge Democrat majority in the Senate that has been at times filibuster-proof.
With the Democrats holding all of that power, the left has gotten nothing. Nothing at all. Not one single major leftist issue or goal has even been addressed. There is not even an 'anti-war' voice amongst the Democrat leaders. 'Health care reform' has been revealed as the Democrats putting health insurance company profits ahead of the health of our citizens. So far, after electing all those Democrats, the left has gotten nothing, nada, zilch. The Democrats rarely even bother to make any symbolic gestures to the left.
This is because the left has no political power. This is because the left has abandoned and just plain given away its political power. Yet, it is easy to pick it up again. The majority of Americans hold views to the left of Obama and the Democrats. We are the majority. We need to start acting like it. And most of all, we need to organize.
We have to become both active and independent in politics. Sitting on the political sideline is the one strategy that is sure to continue to keep the left powerless. Backing pro-war, pro-corporate Democrats who don't support our views has been proven to be completely useless.
The 2010 elections are one year away. We need to be organizing strong, independent campaigns to challenge the Democrats. We need to target the Democrats who are in the closest races. Those are the races where we can garner the most political power. A 'safe-states' style of strategy has been proven to be an ineffectual strategy. We have to get into the middle of the closest races, because this is where we'll find political power.
When the Democrats are starting to look at close races in 2010, or at races that appear to be sure losers because of growing independent campaigns, that's when the Democrats will come to us and ask us 'what do you want?' That's the day we have political power. That's the day we start to be able to change the course of this country.
The sorts of grassroots campaigns we need take time to build and develop. The time to begin is now.
And, what if we've can't build all of this in time for 2010? Well, then we've started on our work for 2012. In fact, we need to get into the mode of thinking of ourselves as a political movement that is a force in every election cycle. The work we do now building campaigns for 2010 should roll over easily into 2012.
For 2012, there's a very simple slogan.
PEACE NOW! ... OR NO SECOND TERM!
If we are strongly organized around independent peace candidates, if we are strongly organized around candidates that support "National Health Insurance", then we'll send a shiver of fear up the Democratic spines. And that's the day we start to get what we want.
That's the day we start to build the America that matches our vision of how great this country can really be as a peaceful and free nation.
PEACE NOW! ... OR NO SECOND TERM!
NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE NOW! ... OR KISS THAT DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY GOODBYE!
Right now there are millions of disillusioned people out there. People who voted for Obama, but are now disappointed with what he's really turned out to be. These people need to organize. They need to realize that they control the fate of the Democrats. They need to realize that they literally have the Democrats 'by the short hairs', and that its time for them to start demanding what they want.
This is the perfect time to do this. Right now. We need to start organizing. We need to build political power. Organizing disillusioned Democrats into independent campaigns in the closest House and Senate races in 2010 is the way to build that political power.
PEACE NOW! ... NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE NOW! ... OR KISS THAT DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY GOODBYE!