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This Revolution Could Be Televised On Fox


By Dave Lindorff

Now even the New York Times is saying it. In an editorial on Oct. 20, the Times wrote, “Every now and then, we are tempted to double-check that the Democrats actually won control of Congress last year.” Noting how the Democratic House and Senate had rolled over and given the president permission to massively spy on Americans without showing any probable cause, the Times concluded, “It was bad enough having a one-party government when Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. But the Democrats took over, and still the one-party system continues.”

There is no question about it. The Democrats, after persuading voters to hand over control of Congress to them last November, have been worse than failures. They have betrayed the trust of the voters.

Although the party clearly has the power to end the Iraq War by simply refusing to approve funds for continuing the mayhem and madness, it has instead given the president every dollar he’s asked for to continue it, and then some. Although every leading Democrat admits that the president has been torturing the Constitution, not one member has submitted a bill calling for the president’s impeachment, and the one bill submitted calling for Cheney’s impeachment, submitted by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, has been pushed off on a siding by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her gang of “leaders.” More recently in the Senate, where 41 Democrats could stop any presidential appointment, 53 senators instead approved a new attorney general, Michael Mukasey, who refuses to say waterboarding is torture and illegal, and who, even worse, says that in his view the president has the power to ignore laws passed by the Congress. The Democrats in the Senate had the votes to stop this outrageous nomination, and didn't.

I would go the Times one step further. There is no need to check to see if Democrats won control of Congress. It doesn’t matter. The Democrats have simply ceased to be an opposition party. The party of Franklin D. Roosevelt is now simply a collection of incumbent hacks who are looking to their own re-election, and who stand for nothing.

So what is to be done?

Various left-leaning activist organizations, like Democrats for America and Progressive Democrats of America, and pseudo-progressive organizations like Move-On and DailyKos, argue that liberal Democrats need to work within the party to elect more progressive candidates and party officials. But this strategy is doomed for several reasons. First of all, the leadership of the Democratic Party doesn’t want real liberals or, heaven-forefend, lefties. It wants candidates who can appeal to the corporations that bankroll both parties. And second, the leadership undermines those liberals who do have a chance of replacing the hacks who currently hold Democratic seats in Congress.

As I have written before, we have seen more than 50 years of betrayal of liberal and left voters and their issues by the Democratic Party, and despite the efforts of would-be reformers, the situation has been getting worse, not better.

The answer, I submit, is to tell Democratic incumbents and party officials that we’ve finally had it. We are not going to be ignored or walked over or taken for granted any longer.

How to do this? By mass resignations from the Democratic Party, at which it is made crystal clear that there are two reasons for the actions: Congress isn’t stopping the war funding, and Congress isn’t initiating impeachment hearings.

I am proposing that left and progressive organizations, civil rights groups, Church groups, anti-war coalitions, labor unions and other progressive and liberal groups start organizing mass actions that involve marches to the local board of elections or voter registrar’s office, for collective de-registration from the Democratic Party. Here in Philadelphia, we could have a mass march from Independence Hall to the Board of Elections, for example.

This is a strategy that would hit the Democratic Party leadership like a bucket of ice water—or a brick--in the face.

The beauty of the idea is that it will garner enormous press coverage, even if the numbers are relatively small. Thanks to the overall pro-Republican bias of the media, news outlets like AP, CNN and especially Fox TV, will find the idea of Democratic activists marching on voter offices and quitting the Democratic Party irresistible. And as other groups across the country see these protest actions, they will want to join in.

In no time, Democratic incumbents in Congress, at the DNC, and in city halls and Democratic clubs across the country will see their most loyal voting base eroding.

If that should happen, they will be in a panic. Just watch how fast they start impeachment hearings and stop passing war funding appropriation bills!

Now whenever I’ve suggested this scheme, after the wild applause subsides, there are always those who raise the question about voting for progressive candidates in primaries, and about electing progressives to party office. I agree these are important steps, and that they should be attempted, but mass party quitting doesn’t preclude doing them.

In many states, first of all (CA, NH, VA, MA, and SC, for instance), you don’t need to be registered in a party to vote in that party’s primary. But even in those states like my own Pennsylvania, where you do need to be registered in a party to vote in its primary, it is an easy thing to re-register in time to qualify for the primary. Just check with your voter registrar and learn the deadline. Then, after you’ve voted, just quit again. The same for party caucuses. Those who are elected to positions like county committeeperson should stay in the party, where they can try (good luck!) to make change.

The important thing is those mass quit events.

The other thing I hear is the argument that people should not be just urged to quit; they should be urged to join a third party.

I disagree. As soon as you start trying to get agreement about joining a third party, you are introducing division into a movement that should be narrowly focused on the two issues of getting the Democrats, now, to end funding for the war and to initiate impeachment hearings. Anything else is a diversion.

Besides, getting significant numbers of progressive-minded people to cut their ties to the Democratic Party offers the potential of creating a new base out of which a genuine mass party of the left might come. The first step though, is for all of us, who have been tethered to the Democratic Party for most of our adult lives, to cut the leash.

If desperate Democratic officials respond by according us the same attention and support that they regularly accord to hedge fund managers and health insurance companies, if they meet our demands to end the war and defend the Constitution, so be it. Maybe we will back them in November ‘08.

If they don’t, then we’re free to go somewhere else, or to found a new party.

One thing is clear: If we don’t do this, we will no longer live in a democratic state. We will live in a one-party state.
______________________
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative journalist and columnist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net

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In any correspondence or communication that I have with any Democrat I never hesitate to say that there is no way in hell that I will vote for or support any Democrat come next election if the Bush-Pelosi war and occupation of Iraq is still going and if little George Stupid and Dick Cheney have not been impeached!

This is a hard pill for many to take, and I've lost alot of friends over my views, but *someone* has to say this.

The problem is that our leadership is impotent, bereft of ideas and not beholden to us. Frankly they don't need us, they don't care about us. They have all the power and money they need.

All of the anger in the blog-world is meaningless if we can't generate change at the ballot box. That's the bottom line: we can't win. Make no mistake: we didn't win the last Congress, the Repugs lost it.

I myself started looking at Independent and 3rd party candidates after Gore lost in 2000, because 'Hate Bush' did not strike me as a viable or sustainable strategy. I thought it was a bad idea then and it's only gotten worse.

I read yesterday that 40 (FORTY!) attempts at impeachment have come to nothing. NOTHING PEOPLE. What the hell is our leadership thinking? If we can't do it- dump them, and make it stick- we look like idiots. And we are idiots! Impeachment will never work! The public is not engaged in it... in fact, they view it as a distraction by the fringe of our party. The public may not support the war, but impeachment in the middle of it (when our case looks to them to be flimsy, at best) is out of the question. And don't lecture me about 'principle'. We're not winning hearts and minds here.

For all of our foaming-at-the-mouth rhetoric in the past 7 years we have not made the case that Bush should go. I say it that way on purpose, because for all of the noise we've made we have nothing to show for it. And I believe it's because the public (probably rightly) believes side does not have the will to protect the country from terror attacks from within or without. Say what you want, but most people feel that we're not done with 911 yet. The Repugs are skillfully exploiting that fear.

How to fix it?

I think Barack Obama has the best hope of leading us down the right path, but I am sorry to say that the tilt of our party is such that Hillary will probably get the nomination and go up against Giuliani.

She is too caustic and divisive to win; her nomination will only inflame the hatred on the right and bring down all sorts of negative on her, instead of focusing on policy.

She will lose, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Dave's take is right on and so is his remedy except it may only address a portion of the problem. His analysis of our woes tends to remain at the level of blaming bad leaders who have betrayed the people's trust which, although containing an element of truth, does not penetrate deep enough to get at the more fundamental causes. If we don't go deeper and uncover the underlying causes for the failure of our political system we may change the actors but continue shackled to the same script.

My suggestion is that we focus on the relationship between our capitalist socio-economic system and our electoral political system for clues as to why we have become a one-party state, why elected officials pursue policies detested by voters, and why barely 50% of registered voters bother to enter a voting booth during national elections (that doesn't count the substantial number of people who though qualified don't even bother to register to vote, and the numbers for local elections are downright pathetic like below 20% in my neck of the woods for local elections).

To know the why we must understand the what. The what here may be the imperatives of the capitalist socio-economic system in which we exist. There may be a causal relation between our socio-economic system's endless drive for increased profits concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the political phenomenon of concentrating political power in fewer and fewer hands. It would seem absurd to think that living under such an imperative would not have significant impact on the formation of the legal and political apparatus we now see failing us. So, deeper change must mean more than addressing the actors, more than reform - it may mean we have to address the socio-economic system that imprisons us.

My take on what action to take right now is to work consciously to further discredit the electoral process in order to change it by building a massive movement to not co-operate in a corrupt bankrupt process by refusing to vote. Not voting becomes a way to buck our reflexive obediance to the myth that U.S. electoral politics represents democracy. Let's just stop voting as an act of civil disobediance and refuse to lend support to a corrupted system that's steadily moving toward fascism.

I'm proposing a tactic here to get this 110th Congress to act to cut funding for the war and to start impeachment hearings. I'm not talking about a strategy for revolutionizing our electoral system and political system.

We don't have time for that right now.

Both things need doing. Right now hundreds of Americans and thousands of innocent Iraqis are dying and there's the prospect of a war with Iran. We need action in Congress now.

Columnist and investigative reporter Dave Lindorff is author, most recently (with Barbara Olshansky) of The Case for Impeachment (St. Martins, May 2006). His work is available at Counterpunch.org and at www.thiscantbehappening.net

sounds to me like if the democrats split even more then guess who's gonna win the election next year? do you really want another four years of Bushism/Republican rule?? not me!!
i like your ideas but here in the US, i find it hard to believe it will work... i'd much rather see Hilary or Osama win the elections next year rather than Giuliani!! that's for sure...

I know there's a ton of Ron Paul discussion on the web these days, but this article is another showcase of public outrage over how the Democrats have rolled over on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE that has come up between them and The Boy Prince George.

Like many Americans, I thought that once the Democrats took Congress, they would have the marbles to at least cut off war funding, even if they didn't have the necessary votes to bring the troops home. Over the past year it's painfully clear that the Democratic party is only interested in keeping BuschCo in business in hopes of "locking in" their candidate for 2008. Better yet, EVERY front runner Democratic candidate refuses to commit to ending the occupation in Iraq.

If you want change, please consider supporting mainstream candidate that wants to make it happen: Vote for Ron Paul.

David,

Voter turnout is already around 50% of the electorate. Your proposal, if it succeeds, would only discourage voter turnout, which I'm not sure would dismay politicians at all - it just means they must work that much less to ensure their election. But I'm not convinced that your proposal WOULD work. The Democrats have been largely successful in advancing the argument, that they are marginally better than the Republicans, and so we MUST stick with them, or abide more Republican intransigence. This argument has their constituents trembling with fear, and explains most of why third parties are so reviled.

A MUCH, MUCH better alternative is circumventing politicians entirely. Mike Gravel, Presidential candidate, proposes a way to do this via his "National Initiative". You may have heard of it; if not, check out http://ni4d.org/. Basically, it allows a federal-level ballot initiative process to pass federal laws. Imagine how easily campaign finance reform could be passed by the electorate, compared to getting it through Congress. This is real power we should all fight for, not delegated authority that can be stolen by corrupt officials.

i know what else this movement needs. BUMPER STICKERS, im all for delisting and relisting come elections, We need to let them know we are not happy with people currently in office. we need to come together not apart, nothing has changed since mid-term.

lets get the word out, now how can we get this delisting stuff to fit on a sticker :p

Saurabh's enthusiasm about ballot initiatives is misplaced. Just look at the history of this political form and weep - it is laced with exactly the same money and marketing influences that propagate corruption in the election of corrupt officials. The problem is not corrupt individuals but a corrupted political system. Besides this suggestion cannot address the immediate question of how to end U.S.criminal genocide in Iraq. David's approach does and if the Dems don't respond then the credibility of the political system tumbles even further downward which to my way of thinking increases the opening for fundamental change in our political process. I will be talking to folks about doing some kind of mass resignation in my hometown.

It's true they're plagued with marketing and money influences, Cameron, but they are NOT the same: through lobbying, corporations are able to directly buy the votes of "representatives", whereas this cannot be done with ballot initiatives. The playing field is far more level there. Furthermore, if you'd read the National Initiative proposal, it advocates a number of steps to counter this influence, including a debate process centered around initiatives.

Anyway, you might be interested in reading some research on the subject. Studies of the initiative process find that special interests fare quite poorly in general at passing ballot initiatives, and those promoted by grassroots groups do much better. In addition, the initiative process encourages people to be civic-minded, encourages their involvement in the political process, and gives them actual hope of reforming the system.

This Cato Institute article has a good point/counterpoint on the subject.

David's proposal addresses the immediate question, but it is not a viable solution. The credibility of the political system could not be much lower, I'm afraid. What we need is not more cynicism, but less - we need some hope for real change. Citizen democracy is one way to achieve this.

This is much more intelligent and potentially effective than nominating a pig at the convention! Let's do it!

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