A Midnight Thought on Progressive Solidarity

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Excerpted from Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Solidarity,

in the Burning the Midnight Oil blog-within-a-blog, graciously hosted by the good people at Progressive Blue.

Progressive Solidarity … its a core concept for building a progressive change coalition. It is, indeed, a core concept for Progressive Populism itself. It says, “You got such a great idea for fixing things? Don’t just put it out there and then blame people for not ‘getting it’. Go out an earn their attention by finding out what they say they need and working for it.”

Its not exclusionary. If someone is willing to step forward on an important issue … even someone who is not going to be a partner in the change coalition … even a moderate conservative like Colin Powell who was and continues to be wrong on one of the central foreign policy decisions in our nation in our time … accept it.

When Colin Powell says, in his endorsement of Senator Obama for President:

But right now we’re also facing a very daunting period.  And I think the number one issue the president’s going to have to deal with is the economy.  That’s what the American people are worried about.  And, frankly, it’s not just an American problem, it’s an international problem.  We can see how all of these economies are now linked in this globalized system.  And I think that’ll be number one.  The president will also have to make decisions quickly as to how to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan.  And also I think the president has to reach out to the world and show that there is a new president, a new administration that is looking forward to working with our friends and allies.  And in my judgment, also willing to talk to people who we have not been willing to talk to before. Because this is a time for outreach.

… I have no doubt that the economic solutions he would most prefer and those that I would most prefer will not be the same solutions … I have not doubt that the foreign policy stance he would most prefer and the one that I would most prefer will not be the same stance … I have not doubt that the terms on which he would wish to “work with our allies” would not be the same as the terms that I would favor.

Colin Powell is, after all, a “moderate Republican” in a time when being a “moderate Democrat” would be considered a center-right political position in most of the industrial world. We almost certainly have different views on how things should be done.

However …

However, when it comes to defending the small-r “republican” ideals upon which our government was founded … there we have a substantial basis for common ground. When later in in the same interview, Colin Powell says:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian.  He’s always been a Christian.  But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.  Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?  Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

… well, the only difference in our position is that he is calling out the Know-Nothings in his own party, because opposition to Know-Nothingism trascends partisan politics.

As does sacrifice in defense of the nation, even when the current political authorities are pursuing a wrong-headed, foredoomed policy of overseas military adventurism:

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine.  It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave.  And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone.  And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death.  He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.  And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey.  He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.  Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way.  And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know.  But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

Progressive Solidarity

The life of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was sacrificed in defense of the principle that, no matter how wrong-headed the policies of the civilian leadership, the armed forces do not make policy. That is every bit as much a cornerstone of the liberty of a Free People in a Free Republic as Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Arbitrary Detention or Freedom of Assembly. He died in defense of our freedoms, even though fighting in a war that should never have been fought.

And it is necessary and urgent to speak out against the Know-Nothingism that would make Kareem RS Khan Un-American because of the religious symbol on his tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery.

But it is not sufficient.

We must do more than speak out against and fight the Know-Nothings. We must also develop and advance a program of change that can channel populist rage against the actual sources of the manifold outrages visited upon ordinary working families in this country.

And, while the alluring prospect of a victory by Senator Obama seems more and more likely, we must not forget that electing a moderate Democrat as President is not the end of the struggle. In quite a number of ways, it is simply one more beginning.

And so, the Midnight Oil keeps burning …

Midnight Oil – My Country (live)

Was it the time of year, that makes a state of fear

Methods were the motives for the action

Now who can stop the hail

When human senses fail

Did I hear you say

My country right or wrong

My country oh so strong

My country going wrong

My country right or wrong

I hear you say the truth must take a beating

The flag a camouflage for your deceiving


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    • BruceMcF on October 19, 2008 at 22:27

    From small seeds, towering giants of the forest can grow.

    Oh, ok, also small bushes and prickly weeds. But the prickly weeds likely don’t view themselves as weeds.

  1. Colon Fowl is an awful coward.

    He sat there at the UN and lied, knowlingly lied for the nit wit president and he did it because he’s a coward.

    1 million Iraqi’s dead and it’s his fault and all the American people fault too…for allowing this ridiculous fool, Bush to continue for 8 years…and now they are considering McCain another worse fool and the polls are tightening….

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