Fire Under Their Seats – Pt 4: Progressives & The Democratic Party

This is the fourth and last segment of Paul Jay’s interview of journalism professor Jeff Cohen of FAIR and the Park Center for Independent Media.

In Part 3 Cohen talked about the struggle for power and direction within the Democratic Party from the days of the Viet Nam War to the present, and wound up with “Frankly… I would love to see a primary challenge to Obama when he’s up for re-election… Because unless you build a base through elections and then you hold the officials accountable, then you’ll never get anywhere.

Here in the conclusion of the interview Cohen expands on those ideas and fills in some of the outlines to draw a rough set of guidelines or roadmap of how to get from where things stand now with the Democrats as out and out corporatists to a world of the kind of progressive populism they have been well known for at various points in history, and how it is going to take a no more Mr. Nice Guy approach from progressives and a lot of very hardnosed and fearless aggressiveness, of the kind that I think  Muhammad Ali meant when he noted so many years ago “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.



Real News Network – February 6, 2010

Cohen: Far right Republicans are dangerous, but also need to primary against corporate Democrats

Part 1 of this interview is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

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    • Edger on February 8, 2010 at 4:13 am
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    light some very hot fires under their seats.

  1. Cohen says a lot of good stuff, and then he calls on progressive leaders of groups like MoveOn to take leadership.  But they haven’t.  And they won’t.  So Cohen is left beating his head against a wall.  MoveOn calls on Congress to do this, do that, but Congress doesn’t.  So how is Cohen qualitatively better than MoveOn?

    Or is he really talking to us, that we should be calling on progressive leaders of groups like MoveOn to take leadership, i.e., beating OUR heads againsts that brick wall?

    In previous parts, Cohen does call on people to start running more Dem primaries.  That’s specific.  But then run in more primaries by who, and with what?

    We have to break out of this trap of abstraction.  We call for things, but there is no transmission belt.  No connection between our words and action.  

    In the 30’s, similar-SOUNDING words had a different meaning, because there was a fighting union movement, there were unemployed councils blocking evictions, there was the Communist Party, there was John L. Lewis.

    But MoveOn or NARAL or NOW don’t fill the bill.  He mentions PDA, Progressive Democrats of America, almost in passing.  That meets my specificity test.  Better to say “Join the PDA chapter in your state.”  They’re a good organization.  But it needs to be hammered, not just mentioned.

    We have to start engaging HOW we talk, not just what we talk about.  We have become used to decades of impotence.  But now that the times they are a’changin’, our mode of discourse is still trapped in that mode of impotence.

    How we talk has to have the possibility of being actualized.  So don’t call for a general strike, call for a pro-union neighborhood council.  Don’t just shout Repeal Hyde!  Primary a congressman who voted for Stupak.  Don’t holler about the war in Afghanistan.  Urge they join Cindy Sheehan’s tent city in DC this March, or if you can’t go, get your neighbor to go, or send Sheehan money, or write a letter supporting Sheehan.

    See the difference?  It’s not the size of the action.  It’s the specificity of the action.

    Small change is better than big words with no change.

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