Will you still love me tomorrow?

I am left off-balance by the contradictions.  Winds of change are blowing.  Creating a Facebook page for the Union of the Unemployed Thinktank was a wrenching experience.  It grew quickly to 183 members, and now it is pretty quiet.  Little leverage, and the main Union of the Unemployed acting director Rick Sloan can have a wonderful article in Huffington Post that mentions his position with the IAM but not a single peep about the Union of the Unemployed that he ostensibly heads.  I carry two things with me from the experience.  First, jobs CREATION, not jobs ENCOURAGEMENT, is what we have to be demanding at every point.  Second, I am a lot less patient with bullshit.  Perhaps that is a character flaw.  I am very far from being okay.

Oh yeah, I mention contradictions.  Winds of change.  Demonstrations for jobs are starting to pop up like springtime daisies.  New organizations are forming.  The Bull Moose Movement in New York.  An unemployed council in Oregon.  Bart Stupak and Blanche Lincoln are being challenged.  The emperor has no clothes, details at 11.  There is now a steady patter of “primary them all.”  Contradictions.  The Full Court Press is not benefiting from this.  That’s okay.  We are starting to see something like movement.

The most striking statement I’ve seen was by Jane Hamsher, who reports:

91.7% think it’s ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that a health care bill include a public option, and 76.3% think members of Congress who break their pledge to vote ‘no’ should face primary challenges. A full 79.7% think it’s ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that the health care bill contain no restrictions on abortion coverage, and 82.3% think that any member who casts a vote to restrict abortion coverage should face a primary.

I questioned, and still question, how far she will take this when all the Kool Kidz start “targeting the worst” — again — in 2012.  But the statement is significant in any event, because it draws a clear line in the sand.  And it makes an implicit concrete threat.

So should I now drop the Full Court Press?  Yes, the Full Court Press has 5 points, Hamsher is only asserting 2, but given that most of the House and Senate Democrats would in fact be threatened, it would be a very good question.  If … if it were certain that Hamsher was going to continue to call for this, or better yet, use her prestige to actually organize for it. that would be worth at least consideration.  I am personally dubious.  Some of these target incumbents are, if not friends of hers, friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends.  It’s through these webs that the Democratic Party holds itself together.  On the other hand, she did co-sign that letter with Norquist, and that pissed off a lot of these same people (for which I defended her in The Jane Hamsher Front — Strike the Empire Back).  We’ll keep our powder dry.

But Jane Hamsher isn’t really my point.  It’s lines in the sand.  These calls to primary them all are becoming more frequent.  50-state strategy and all that.  People keep telling me this or that group is doing just what you’re doing, you should join them (because they’re bigger than you).  And I do check them out.  They aren’t doing what I’m doing.  They’re doing the ActBlue tactic with a somewhat broader avowed scope.  I look at who they’re talking about targeting, and I look at why, and I look at who they’re actually supporting, and what they stand for. What’s not so okay is that people’s minds are getting churned into peanut butter.

It’s not like I’m looking for Trotsky’s 1938 Transitional Program.  But the criteria are things like “well-liked by progressives” or a good position on this or that, or so-and-so is against the war.  But it’s always vague (he or she’s a good guy), and never consistent.  THIS IS WHAT PROGRESSIVES HAVE BEEN DOING FOREVER!  (pardon my shouting)  This is our current Congress, only a little younger.

The Full Court Press has 5 points:

     WPA-style jobs program — government directly creating jobs

     Medicare for all

     Repeal Hyde, no Stupak or Nelson

     Repeal DADT and DOMA — support gay marriage

     U.S. troops OUT of Iraq and Afghanistan

You might say that some of these aren’t politically “realistic.”  Can’t be passed.  Whatever.  But pray tell, which of these are truly radical?  Which hasn’t been put forward at one time or another by Democrats sitting in Congress at this minute?

That’s the very goddamn point.  They have broad support among the Democratic base.  They are reasonable.  And they can’t be passed.  But insisting on these makes me rigid?  It means I don’t understand the need to compromise?  Gimme a break.

You think you have a better 5 points?  Or 4 points?  That would be an interesting discussion.  No, I’m not interested in broad programs, but something simple, the 2010 Bread, Land and Peace.  In their rhetorical flourishes, people have all kinds of points.  But when it comes to actual support for actual candidates, a vague term like “solid progressive” is quite good enough.  Some other progressive said so, and let’s not dig too deep.  Even if a candidate did meet all my highest expectations, this doesn’t translate into broader criteria.

But bringing up points brings up another question.  Who’s the we?  What’s the process?  It needs more discussion.

Jane Hamsher.  Interesting character.  There’s something of a “we” around her, some of it personalistic, some of it based on her being a fighter.  Does our future hinge on some version of a cult of personality?  Will we get ourselves another Eugene McCarthy?  History sometimes moves this way.  Grayson?

I’m getting a sense that some “we’s” are developing.  So ephemeral that I can’t nail it down.  But I’ll trust my gut on this.  So why am I not okay?


Skip to comment form

  1. Saturday?

  2. … of the disenfranchised is more how I’m seeing it.

    I’ve been blogging about the immigration issue — a number of organizations have gotten together for a march on March 21 — in DC — Obama has met with some of the heads of these groups and encouraged them with his continuing commitment to immigration reform.

    lol … Jane’s not the only one I’m not holding my breath for.

    It’s those folks … the ones who aren’t mentioned … who are in our union, imo.

    I very much see that kind of movement going on.

    Good essay, jeff.  Well done.

  3. It seems like every day, we all in this country get farther and farther afield from what either party professes to be about.  The problem is that people believe in these ideas, that are expressed in the party platform, but are becoming ever more disenchanted with the prospect of either party even caring about their own platform.

    The Democratic and Republican parties, absent massive change that I don’t expect, are doomed.  Both parties have a common interest which revolves around, very simply, keeping anyone else from having any power that matters.

    This is the way they operate 90% of the time, and the American people are both simultaneously having none of it and are also, childishly, closing their eyes and wishing it just weren’t so.

    As long as the little dances can be kept going, and a fair number .. say, a plurality of the people don’t see or don’t agree that this is what the parties are about, they will keep trying to sell us all on the idea that the Republicans and Democrats really do care about the principles espoused in their party platforms.

    As soon as this is NOT the case, though, we’re in it and we’re in it deeply.  The mask will come off, and the very naked and totally unprincipled insistence on maintaining power will begin.

    I don’t know what your frustration is about, but although I go along, I really think that the primary is one accepted mechanism by which the American People can vent frustration, but without actually any major risk on the part of the two major parties of changing anything inimicable to their self interest in keeping themselves the major arbiters of all that might go on in America at any given moment.

    We as a people sense there is a trap here, and they are starting to feel the bars.  There is no way to really change the government using the generally prescribed legitimate means.  Primaries might get rid of one or two people, but changes the calculus of government not a whit.  Even having 10 people in congress that are of third parties which would be success beyond our wildest imaginations wouldn’t change what the government is doing, which is selling its citizenry as serfs to the corporations.

    I have no problem with going along with it, but I don’t feel anything like FCP would really work at all or has any hope.  Maybe this same sensation from others is why you feel a wrongness.  Because it’s the mechanism by which power is maintained which dictates that an FCP like movement would either be coopted or shut down in the end.

  4. We’ve been a commercial republic at our best, which was never as good as billed, and a corporatist empire at our worst, which has been far bad then is normally let on, and Economic Independence is better.

    Peace is built on Economic Independence.

  5. I think there are some serious problems with this approach.  I think that trying to get the electoral system to work is a major problem.  And I think that a list of 4 or 5 “lines in the sand” is a major problem.

    Let me try to explain.  The issue for the Unemployed Union is jobs.  Job creation.  And there are other issues, too, when people are out of work: extensions of UI benefits, offering of food stamps and other support, holding off foreclosures, assuring that people have medical care.  These are critical issues and they need to be hammered on constantly.

    When you add to that the wars, HCR, I/P, the whole laundry list of issues progressives care about, you make the Unemployed Union weaker. By diluting its focus.  Yes, you seem create connections with other progressives, but there are already people working those issues.  And a lot of them are diluting themselves by adding other issues rather than focusing.

    The Democratic party is the grossest example.  It has something on every issue.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t focus on any of them.  It doesn’t do anything.  It’s the extreme case of coalitions that are paralyzed.

    To me this means picking an issue (or maybe two) and working those issues.  Organizing on those issues.  Raising money on those issues.  Hammering away on those issues until there is movement.  Forget the words, the titles that describe political orientations.  Just batter away on the issues, make up some new framing, be appreciative of other people’s issues and movements, but stay on topic.  Stay on your one or 2 issues.

    Obviously, others can and shold disagree with me on this.  But I think this is one of the few things that will work, making things sharper and more focused, keeping away from the broad brush.  Don’t search for or try to enact the “grand synthesis.”

Comments have been disabled.