Most of you probably don’t know this, but the US military (using well over 15 million of your hard-earned dollars) has recently opened up a center for teenagers to have “the army experience” by playing video games and going through “simulations” of Humvees and “operation centers.” It’s called The Army Experience Center (AEC), and it’s a 14,500 square foot recruiting tool located in the Franklin Mills Mall in northeast Philadelphia. It’s something that the military industrial complex – excuse me, I mean the army – wants to replicate across the country.
Today I went to a protest in front of the AEC that was meant to shut it down for the day and hopefully lead to it shutting down for good. Go below the fold to see what happened, how I might be on national television, and some pictures.
This entry builds on what Something the Dog Said and rossl wrote in their own entries. Before I get to the meat of my own text, I just want to summarize what each of the previous entries state. Starting any political party, or building an existing one, is going to be a lot of hard work and progressives are going to face an uphill battle regardless of what we do. If we’re going to break away from the Democrats, however, it’s worth the effort; there are parties such as the Progressives (currently in Vermont and Washington) and the Greens, among others, that have made substantial progress at local and state levels.
That’s the short version of what Something’s and rossl’s entries have to say. I highly recommend reading them both in full. Now, on to my own contribution to this subject. Because I want to provide a real-world context to the topic at hand, I’m going to pick an existing political party (The Progressives), though feel free to substitute your own. I’m going to lay out some first steps that can be taken to get the ball rolling.
One more thing before I begin: know WHY you are forming a new political party, know what your goals are, and have realistic expectations about what you hope to accomplish. Don’t hold any illusions. Unless either the Democrats or the Republicans implode, chances are you’re not going to replace one of them on the national stage. At most, and if you do things right, you’ll force the Democrats to shift back to the left. That’s it. If a new political party does rise to prominence, great, but that is only icing on the proverbial cake. All you’ll want to do is force one of the major parties to experience an ideological shift to the political left. Expect at least a generation to pass before you get this result. It was twenty years between the 1912 election, when Theodore Roosevelt led the Progressive Party and split the presidential election three ways (thus handing it to Democrat Woodrow Wilson) and that of 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the New Dealers to power. It was another generation before the Republicans built their party back up to the point where they could begin taking back political power in government. Finally, don’t let the progressive movement become subservient to your party – make the party subservient to the progressive movement. David Sirota explains why far better than I can, so I’ll let his words do it.
KABUL (Reuters) – Roadside bombs, gunbattles and a suicide strike killed five Americans and dozens of Afghan civilians, troops and police, officials said on Saturday, a bloody day that showed how unrest has spread across the country.
Afghanistan is mired in a drawn-out dispute over election fraud that could test the patience of U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders contemplating whether more troops are needed to defend its government.
Attacks took place in all corners of the country, not only in southern and eastern areas that have long been violent but also in the north and west, which had been comparatively quiet until recent weeks.
I never really “chose” to be on the left side of the political spectrum. I just ended up there because the traditional left was more logical than right and center if you come at life from the point-of-view implied in the founding documents of the American Republic (alas, now past). In America the left is really fulfilling the role of conserving the ideas and ideals of the American Revolution. Generally we believe in the rule of law rather than the law of privilege. But most importantly we believe in using principles established during the enlightenment that reason and science should be appealed to in setting public policy. Religion does not work as a foundation for public policy because people differ in religious principles. We, in the West, did not invent reason but we were the first to realize that appeal to reason was the only way to wars like the Thirty-Years War which devasted much of parts of Europe (mainly Germany) much as Afghanistan is devasted now.
Because HERE we can say Fucking! And that is almost reason enough to exist.
Docudharma is not what I thought it would be when we launched it two years ago today, but that’s okay, I knew it wouldn’t be! Because while the administrators of any semi-free form group effort can TRY to shape what that effort produces, they cannot control it. And though some structure is necessary, too much structure from the top inevitably kills creativity.
Though of course the anarchy-ist of us undoubtedly would complain that there IS too much structure….no matter how much structure there is…or isn’t! That is sort of who we are, or what DD has become. An expression of, to steal a phrase…The Left of the Left. Well more technically, the Left of the Left that is still making SOME effort to participate in The System.
And the Left of the Left (for once the critics are right, in this) IS never happy. We always want more. The Left of the Left can be summed up in one quote from RFK: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
When you can see the potentila of this world, this country, and then you see how dreadfully far we are from fulfilling that potential, you will never be satisfied….until the day that potential is fulfilled. And we are a LONG way from there.
The true Left of the Left has no interest in participating in the system. They have either given up on The System, rightfully complaining of its corruption and refusing to participate. And the Best of The Left of the Left have found ways to bypass The System and found other ways to serve the world.
And that leaves us! Vacillating constantly between saying…
…and working our hearts and asses of to change The System that oh so frustratingly tiny little… BUT HUGELY AND INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT bit that we can, by participating it.
The Left of the Left are Fucking Heroes.
Knowing that we will almost certainly NEVER get exactly what we want…but knowing too how infinitely much more The System would completely and horrifically suck without us. Without us trying to pull the whole thing as Far Left as we can….even while we know that we will never pull it far enough to suit us.
I don’t want to sound like we are some kind of martyrs or try to paint us as some Noble and Pure Saints, anyone who has tangled with us knows we aren’t saints, lol. But yeah…imagine America without the Left of the Left. (shudder!) Imagine it without the pressure we bring on the entire system.
I don’t have the heart…or the time!… to detail how that America would look, and it really is too scary to think of it!
Because, despite what our legions of detractors say, (and to go ahead and paint us as Noble and Pure Saints anyway, even after saying I wouldn’t, lol) …all of the pressure we bring, all of the causes we promote, and even all of the nastiness we sometimes sling in our efforts to keep pushing America to The Left really DO come from one place, one principle, one central tenet.
And not even our critics can honestly say different, can honestly find or ascribe a different motive for what we do. Though Goddess knows they try!
We represent the Principle of Love in American Politics.
The principle of compassion, the principle of equality…which is essential to love, the principle of justice for all of this planets creatures, right down to snail darters and spotted owls.
We represent Love for the victims of torture, love for our Afghan and Iraqi brothers and sisters, love for the poor of America and the world, love for the downtrodden and under-represented, love for the migrant workers coming to America, love for the Underdog everywhere and in every form.
We ARE Purists…to that extent. We NEVER want to uncompromisable away from Love. Even though we know that everyday, we will have to. And despite what the folks who are eager to compromise say. There is NOTHING wrong with that form of “Purity.” Nothing wrong with it at all.
We fight hate and injustice and inequality every fucking day, each in our own unique and often weird ways.
AND IT IS ESSENTIAL that we do so, that someone do so. And right here, right now…WE are the ones doing that. (Among others of course)
It is NOT an easy job. An easy fate, if you will, to be compelled to fight for love in this world. And in the time that Docudharma has been in existence we have seen the world transform (though not…though never….as much as we want, not even close!) We started in the last year of perhaps the most UNloving, most destructive, most powerful antithetically opposed to love political administration since WW2. And we saw the end of that administration, that reign of terror.
And now our job is to move through the horrible mess that they left the world and as we move through it to try to sow as many of the seeds of love…and justice..and equality, in the soil of this new world rising from the ashes of the old world…as we possibly can.
In a world that seems to have largely forgotten that the concept even exists!
Not an easy task at all. But….AN INCREDIBLY ESSENTIAL one.
And we show up everyday to do it.
Magnifico, mishima, Robyn, Ek, NPK and many many other “irregulars” wake up everyday and work hard for love. Every essay written here everyday is either about love or about countering hate. Everyone who participates here Brings The Love….in their own unique, and sometimes incredibly unconventional, way.
And I thank you for it.
And the planet thanks you for it. And the poor and oppressed and the children of future generations thank you for it.
We are FAR from perfect in our execution and even occasionally even in our intent. But then again, we are human. Humans ARE imperfect…or we wouldn’t have to fight for Love in the first place!
But….We Fucking Try.
And that in itself is an immense and marvelous and wondrous thing, when we look around and see the task that has been chosen for us or that we have chosen. To see the world as it is today and to even TRY to bring more love into it IS a hard and Noble thing. In a world that constantly pounds on us and beats us down and INSISTS we surrender to despair or indifference or hate…WE still work to sow the seeds of Love.
And I guess that when it come right down to it, after two years, that IS what Docudharma has become. A place where a few imperfect humans do what they can how they can, to bring a little bit more love into the world….even though we are sometimes, lol, assholes in the process. But we DO try. And the importance of that can neither be fully appreciated, understood….or overestimated.
And I thank you…and love each and every one of you (yes even the assholes!) for trying.
I grew up in the state of New York. On 9/11/01 I was in New Jersey, and I could see the smoke from there.
On that tragic day more brave Police Officers and Fire Fighters lost their lives trying to help and save others then I care to count, though each life lost that day should never be forgotten. The war that was launched in Afghanistan to bring justice to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and the false war based on lies in Iraq that prevented the job of catching Osama bin Laden from being brought to justice has claimed thousands of more lives. All of these men and women are heroes. This is true not only of the innocent victims of 9/11, but also of those who ran into those buildings in order to save the lives of their fellow citizens. The brave fallen soldiers of those wars and the emergency workers of NYC were and are true heroes.
And today, the Corporate media, the Republican party and their Right Wing base, in order to remember that day and recall the national unity we Americans felt afterwards, are going to protest that same Government who employed, fed and buried the heroes who gave their lives on 9/11 and the wars that were launched in the days and years after..
One night, a few months or so ago, I went scavenging through some of the earliest essays of DD. I forget what I was hunting for, or maybe I was just trying to get a better feel of the place, I don’t know. But, oh! what gems I found! (see the “ha!” link above, a great one from On The Bus!!) Alas, I did not bookmark them other than in my own brain, so I’ll have to see what else I come across anew, as I meander through my day today.
If any of you have fun ones you’d like to add, please linky-winky in a comment and I’ll update.. (Rusty, I know you’ve got a goldmine hidden!)
I encourage anyone new-ish to go see On The Bus’ original Blog Blessing posted (before the launch) on AUG 18, 2007.
In my last diary, I asked the Progressive Caucus to explain, precisely, what constituted a “robust public option.” Is a “robust public option” the one currently in HR 3200, or is it the one originally demanded by Jane Hamsher among others?
But I don’t think anyone in the campaign to defend a “robust public option” understood what was at stake, for none of them took the time to define the term for me. If the “robust public option” is the public option now in HR 3200, then it can be anything one wishes; co-ops, triggers, whatever.
Real News CEO Paul Jay talks with Executive Director Jessy Tolkan of Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 leading youth organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada, at the Momentum ’09 Conference of the Tides Foundation in San Francisco.