Full Court Press: Creating the Points, Part One

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

After taking time out from blogging, I decided that it’s time to start crafting the points discussed by Jeff Roby in his entry, “For a Full Court Press“.  This obviously isn’t going to be completed overnight.  It should be designed with as much input as is reasonable and with time enough to include all the relevant details while listening to all interested parties.  But we do need to get the ball rolling now.  Already, some states have seen their filing deadlines for Congressional races pass.  If we’re to lay the groundwork for the Full Court Press, and test it out on at least a smaller scale this year in preparation for 2012, this is the time to do it.

And so, without further adieu…

Before delving fully into this first entry on developing the points of issue required to implement the Full Court Press, I’ll sum up what it is and what we hope to accomplish with it.  Simply put, we on the left will craft a set of issues-based points that will be drafted into a pledge for all members of Congress to sign.  Those who refuse to sign the pledge, or who sign it and then renege, will face both stiff primary challenges and independent opponents from the left.  Jeff Roby’s original idea focuses on the House of Representatives, but we can start testing this plan by targeting Democrats who are up for re-election in both the House and the Senate.  This effectively cuts the number of races we can influence roughly in half, making the Full Court Press an easier task in 2010, since we know from experience that no Republican is likely to respond positively to any kind of public pressure.

In order to get things going, we need a pledge to take to elected officials to sign, one that by putting their names on paper will obligate them to adhere to progressive policy positions and fight for them vigorously.  Again, those Democrats who sign the pledge we will leave alone unless they renege, and those who refuse we make every effort to defeat.  Yes, this will mean that we risk Democratic seats going to (or back to) Republicans, but considering that most if not all of the Democrats elected to Congress in 2006 and 2008 have legislated like Republicans, there’s really no legitimate reason to think that we can expect any worse should that happen.  In order to win any conflict, one must often risk losing.  Many a campaign, be it political or in the theater of war, has been lost because of timidity.  Just as the conservative movement hijacked both the Republican and Democratic Parties, we on the left must use our own movement to retake at least one of the two dominant political organizations.  By restricting ourselves to working solely within a partisan operation, we have lost the ability to influence the Democrats.  The Full Court Press allows us on the left to regain that power by recreating left-wing movement politics.

Alright, so which policy point do we tackle first?  Health Care?  Civil Liberties?  Re-Regulation of the Economy?  There are many issues to choose from, but you may be surprise to find that many of them are related to one another – indeed, all of them are related when you break it all down, but for the sake of organization we will divide the issues important to Americans into a slightly larger set of related categories.  Bear in mind that when the final pledge is presented to elected officials and other candidates for public office, the points thereon will not necessarily be in any particular order of importance; each and every one is as important as all of the others, and adherence to the pledge must be absolute.  No deviations must be tolerated, or else what’s the point of making public officials sign any kind of pledge?

So let’s pick an obvious one: Peace, Not War.  Sounds pretty easy, right?  Not as much as you might think.  Shall the left demand full and timely withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and anywhere else the U.S. is actively involved in combat operations?  If so, what will take their place – especially in the case of the effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and finally dismantle al-Qaeda?

I can list some ideas, but for the Full Court Press to be a truly movement-based effort, reader participation is required.  The left must be united in this effort, because otherwise we cannot stand against the far right (which has been united for decades).  That means everyone who wants genuine change must be willing, able, and ready to put in ideas and vote upon the final set of issue-points.  I’m only one person, as is Mr. Roby, the originator of the Full Court Press idea, and I can’t think of everything that needs to go into the pledge.

Here is what I propose (please use the comments section to add your own ideas):

  • Full military withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and other active combat zones – an end to warfare in our time.
  • Redirect efforts in the so-called “war on terrorists” to law enforcement, international cooperation (intelligence-sharing, Interpol operations, and diplomatic agreements, among other actions) to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and end al-Qaeda.
  • Reduce the Pentagon budget by a factor of one half by 2020.

That’s a start, but it’s obviously not everything that can go into the first point on the pledge.  Again, please use the comments section to add your own ideas.

26 comments

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  1. though I don’t necessarily fully agree.

    The left must be united in this effort, because otherwise we cannot stand against the far right (which has been united for decades).  That means everyone who wants genuine change must be willing, able, and ready to put in ideas and vote upon the final set of issue-points.

    Actually, I developed the FCP in part because the left will never be united in this effort.  Never has, never will.  What the FCP offers is a way that a rather small number of people, ordinary people, can have significant impact.  The issue is leadership.  People have to step forward and take risks even if they don’t know if other progressives will have their back.

    If it works, further progressive forces will be brought in.  But it would be fatal to WAIT for that unity.

    As far as issues, I’ve provisionally narrowed it to four:

    WPA-style jobs program

    Medicare for all

    Repeal Stupak and Hyde and their ilk

    U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan

    I appreciate the need for a more developed program.  But tactically, I can’t urge too strongly that we need to keep it small and simple.  Otherwise, it mushrooms, as there are so many worthy issues.  It will never be finalized.

    I understand the pull.  Progressives need a broader framework.  The list put forward in the comments to the General Strike essay are very interesting in that regard.  For that matter, progressives need a broader organization that functions as such.

    I envision the FCP as a small part of a much broader radical framework.  But I would not want to distort a very narrow tactic into something it is not.

    I also do not want to discourage activity and ideas by others.  Much of what you put forward is important.  In the meantime, I have questions.

    That means everyone who wants genuine change must be willing, able, and ready to put in ideas and vote upon the final set of issue-points.

    How would such a mechanism be put in place?  How would we define “everyone who wants genuine change”?

    At this point, I am putting forward the points I think best, and seem to have the acquiescence of the people committed to the FCP.  I think the ultimate power should reside with the people willing to actually work on it.  It is a sticky question.

    Did you read my pieces on method, pts one and two?  I know they’re rather long, but I attempt to lay out a way to develop the points you are raising.  I feel awkward tooting my own horn, as it were, but I think it will add to our discussion.

  2. I think talking to local PDA chapters would help both FCP and PDA grow. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts at least 25% of PDA’ers would support an FCP effort, except in the (apparently rare) cases that a PDA-endorsed candidate is running in the same primary. Also, I’ll guess that a likely level of support is 75%.

    FCP can ask the PDA for both 1) candidates and 2) campaign workers. In return, FCP could steer new FCP recruits into the PDA, as well. Also, we can let them use FCP’s networking tools. They basically rely on email and conference calls. Very web 1.0. 🙂 (Jeff: the networking module was said to be in it’s last day of beta testing, today, so I’m expecting it’ll be released, tomorrow.)

    PDA chapters, with contact info, is given here. The PDA’s core priorities, given here, are:

    * End War and Occupations, Redirect Funding

       ** Israel/Palestine Action Group

    * Healthcare for All

    * Economic and Social Justice

    * Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections

    * Stop Global Warming/Environmental Issues

    * Accountability and Justice

    Although the PDA sticks to it’s principles, it’s conceivable that the national organization wouldn’t go for FCP because, having an ‘inside-outside’ strategy, they don’t want to upset the Dem establishment too much. Note, though, that they’re leading a revolt against Woolsey, a member of the PDA Advisory board (!), since she’s supporting Harman over a progressive challenger. Also, even if the national leadership doesn’t like FCP’s guerrilla tactics, that doesn’t mean that the local chapters won’t.

    The way to find out what the situation is, is to ask.

  3. Since it is from that that all other issues flow — it’s not so much that it’s more important in a vacuum in my mind than that if we don’t get accountability, none of the rest of this will matter — they will ALL defect on their pledges.

    We need to abolish non personal donations to Congress and the Presidency and enact full financing of all federal elections.  Only non-incumbents may accept any donations at all (incumbent elections would be federally financed) and non-incumbents would receive such financing as well about a certain percentage threshold in any primary.

    I would also make it a bribery charge to accept such donations or in-kind gifts on the part of a Congressperson or the President.

    • RUKind on January 14, 2010 at 5:53 am

    We need the same to put the fear of God in the DINO crowd. In 1994, Newt had his Contract on America (which got Clinton impeached for a BJ). It’s way late for a 2010 Contract on DINOs but we could scare enough of the to get their attention.

    God only knows, anything and everything from the Right makes them tremble. I say we put them in a sandwich for 2010 and give them a view of what 2012 might look like.

    BTW, the Repug landslide in 2010 is pure BS. History does NOT always repeat itself. There’s an excellent chance for the Dems to gain seats if they can get a simple fucking message together.

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