If most of the apocalyptic prognostications are realized, the GOP/Tea Party coalition is going to win big next month. And, typically, those of a progressive, liberal, Democratic persuasion are saying, “We can avoid the tsunami of Tea Party crazies by sticking with the Democrats. The Dems may be bad, but the Tea Partiers are even worse!”
And I ask you, how does voting fearfully, ignorantly, and irresponsibly (sticking with the Democrats, voting for the lesser of two evils, voting against someone) advance the Progressive agenda? And that is what we are concerned about isn’t it? Advancing the Progressive agenda?
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Like you, I’ve already heard the arguments, variations on a theme of fear and ignorance:
- We would be throwing away our vote and probably enabling the opposing party to win.
- (If we don’t stay with the Dems) there is a huge chance that the right wing will win.
- There is no way I would knowingly put the future of my grandchildren in the hands of those irrational bigots.
My point is: We’ve already been doing it this way for years and look at the mess we’re in. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. If we continue to vote this way, how will things end up different this November?
My suggestion? Walk away from the Democratic Party and back progressive, third party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.
The means for meaningful change is to put pressure on the Democratic Party to make them stand up for our (the Left’s) stated positions. But how are we going to do that by always giving our elected officials our money and our votes because we fear something worse on the right? How does that give them any incentive to take our peace, justice, love, generosity and environmental sanity messages seriously? As Rabbi Michael Lerner says, “We need to let them know that these positions of ours are not just ‘preferences,’ but rather they are our bottom line and that we won’t support those who support war, militarism, injustice, and a worldview of domination and power over others, even if they tell us that deep in their hearts they believe something quite different.”
People worry about “throwing away our vote and probably enabling the opposing party to win.” What opposing party? There’s no fundamental difference between the two parties anyway! There’s no qualitative difference in a GOP or Democratic win! Both parties:
- sold out health care, financial systems, and political campaigns to the corporations;
- support torture and keeping Guantanamo open; warrantless wire-tapping and internet snooping; two wars; screwing veterans, women, workers, consumers; jeopardizing public safety (the totally inadequate responses to hurricanes and oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico), etc!
- have helped gut all of the New Deal except for social security and they’re both working on that. (After all, it was Alan Simpson, Obama’s appointee to the Deficit Commission, that said Social Security was a cow with 310 million teats!)
As far as I’m concerned, we’re just going through the longest presidential administration in US history: the 8-term Reagan-BushI-Clinton-BushII-Obama one. As Jim Hightower wrote:
“The sad truth is that none of George W’s agenda would be hanging around our necks without the complicity and often the direct support of national Democratic leaders. They’ve ditched the Red Wing boot bunch and thrown in with the wing-tip crowd, going all wobbly on the whole concept of why America needs a Democratic party.”
Or, as Chris Hedges puts it:
“The failure of the American left is a failure of nerve. It has been neutralized and rendered ineffectual as a political force because of its refusal to hold fast on core issues, from universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans, to the steadfast protection of workers’ rights, to an immediate withdrawal from the failed occupation of Iraq to a fight against a militarized economy that is hollowing the country out from the inside.
“Let the politicians compromise. This is their job. It is not ours. If the left wants to regain influence in the nation’s political life, it must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party and back progressive, third-party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.
“Political and social change, as the radical Christian right and the array of corporate-funded neocon think tanks have demonstrated, are created by the building of movements. This is a lesson American progressives have forgotten. The object of a movement is not to achieve political power at any price. It is to create pressure and mobilize citizens around core issues of justice. It is to force politicians and parties to respond to our demands. It is about rewarding, through support and votes, those who champion progressive ideals and punishing those who refuse. And the current Democratic Party…has betrayed us.”
This year, I’m putting my actions where my mouth is. I left the Democratic Party (rather, they left me) after an adult-life-long affiliation and joined the Socialist Party USA this year. For the first time since I’ve been eligible to vote I will not vote a straight Democratic ticket. I will only vote for my US Congressional rep, Keith Ellison. The rest of the candidates aren’t looking for a solution, they are part of the problem, and undeserving of my vote, a right I fought to preserve in Vietnam! And I help publish a Progressive e-zine that reaches 33,200+ readers worldwide.
Am I uncomfortable with what I’ve done and planning to do? Damn right! Am I scared of what we’re going to be looking at the morning of November 3? Damn right! Can it be anything fundamentally worse than what we have right now? Hell no! As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got nothing further to lose and everything to gain, a possible reversal of this country’s self-inflicted path to destruction and a way out.