portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

political theory

Time to Crash the Party

Instead of bemoaning the Bush election victory and calling Canadian Immigration, progressives should be busy organizing and planning to take over the Democratic Party, so this kind of debacle will not happen yet again.

A group of MoveOn activists in my town, Upper Dublin, just north of the Philadelphia city line, gathered earlier this week at a local bar to discuss--and to some extent to celebrate--their performance in the campaign.

They had a right to be pleased, even though their main man, John Kerry, had conceded the presidential election. Upper Dublin, which has traditionally voted Republican, and which has more Republican than Democratic voters, went for Kerry by 40 votes. The MoveOn crew, by diligent door-to-door legwork aimed at a targeted group of Democratic slackers--party registrants whom records showed had voted, but not in every election--and by calling those few voters on their list who had not shown up at the polls by evening, had brought in 160 voters, many of whom probably would have sat the election out if left alone.

The district had also gone for Allyson Schwartz, the Democrat who won the Republican-gerrymandered seat that had belonged to Rep. Joe Hoeffel, who had left to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (Hoeffel lost by 7 percent).

"So what do we do now?" asked the local MoveOn coordinator, Lee Wenkos.

Across the country, activists at organizations like ACT, MoveOn and other groups are asking the same thing.

Here's a suggestion: Instead of moping about the last election, and waiting around disconsolately for the next primary season, how about starting a campaign right now to take over the Democratic Party from top to bottom, so that next time around, progressives won't be in the position of doing all that grunt work on behalf of a weak-kneed and compromised candidate who barely qualifies as a liberal?

How about starting from the bottom up and sweeping Al From, Terry McAlliffe and the entire corporate-whore Democratic Leadership Council out the door?

Every election season, progressives are faced with the same bitter debate--whether to support the mealy-mouthed, sell-out candidates offered up by the party machine, or to step away and support a quixotic third party candidate.

Both alternatives are terribly demoralizing. Campaigning and voting for the lesser evil of a Democratic candidate is what brought us Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and then Al Gore and John Kerry. If the DLC has its way, next it will be Hillary Clinton or, god forbid, John Kerry or Al Gore again.

As for the third party route, the system is so structured in favor of the two major parties that there is little chance of a third party breaking into double digits in our lifetime, so that will always be just a protest vote.

But the Democratic Party, a desiccated carcass that only exists because the political structure keeps pumping air into its corpse, is waiting there to be revivified by a progressive takeover.

If even a fraction of the energy and numbers of activists that labored heroically on behalf of Kerry's doomed candidacy this fall were to be turned to the task of conquering the Democratic Party, it could be accomplished easily.

Progressives should check out the party rules and caucus schedules, and start now organizing to take over those caucuses. We progressives should be flooding those caucuses and voting in our people. We should be running candidates for local office and for state party positions, and getting ready to take on the national leadership.

Never again should the party leadership be in a position to undermine a popular candidate like Howard Dean, as was done in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.

For the rest of this column, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .

homepage: homepage: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

How about leave the corporate party and joint the Greens? 18.Nov.2004 15:37

Brian Setzler

I've heard the same thing for 15 years and have yet to see it happen even on a small scale, let around the entire country. You can't reform the unreformable. Join the Green Party if you believe in Peace, Justice, Ecology and Democracy.

www.gp.org
www.pacificgreens.org

Lotsa luck 18.Nov.2004 16:40

Lynn Porter

I don't think the majority of Democrats, as evidenced by comments on this website, understand what is wrong with their party. The activists tried to take back their party in the Democratic primaries, with the Dean and Kucinich campaigns, and were rejected by the voters. How do you get past that? The primary voters ARE the party.

Lindorff writes that Democratic activists were faced with supporting a candidate they didn't believe in, John Kerry, or going the third party route, which he thinks is impractical. So they threw their support to Kerry, who said in the debates that he wants to "win" the war in Iraq. The activists abandoned their principles, and loudly demanded that the rest of us do the same. If they had simply refused to support Kerry's campaign, they would have sent a powerful message to the Democratic party that the party has to change its ways. They could have sent an even more powerful message by supporting the Nader campaign.


Hmm... 18.Nov.2004 16:44

NW Paddler

Brian,

Although I agree with the Greens 100%, I personally think that the fastest way for change would be to infiltrate and take over the Democratic party in the same manner that the Neo-Cons successfully took over the Republican party.
You claim that you can't reform them, but... by trying to strengthen the Green party, you must not only convince the general populace to THINK in a progressive manner, but you will ask them to pledge allegience to a new party. Although I am behind the Greens ideology 100%, I personally believe that the fastest way to change to occur is to change the Democratic party.
PLEASE try and sway me. All I want is what is best.

Peace

TO SUCEED WE MUST SECEDE! 18.Nov.2004 18:07

blogstompmo


"- Dean and Kucinich campaigns, and were rejected by the voters-" 18.Nov.2004 18:46

Sheepdog

Negative.
They were killed by the corporate media whores.
Dennis by avoiding him like the plague or Dr. Dean by attack dog news and editorial.

No thanks, it would be far better to destroy the democratic party. 18.Nov.2004 19:58

@

Who would want to take over a sinking ship? It's time to build a new ship.

I agree with @ 18.Nov.2004 23:00

MKULTRA

I must admit prior to NAFTA and the destruction of social welfare I actually thought the dem's represented me,



Don't rock the boat, sink the fucker!

Upper Dublin? My god! 18.Nov.2004 23:14

Red neck

What a hellhole! You might think of moving on. Not only has the Democratic Party failed you, you have been completely bulldozed by capitalism. Even thinking you could reform the Democratic Party is almost too naive to
comment on. Do you really think these big wheel wheeler-dealers are going to let a bunch of snot nose, starry-eyed, kubayah moonbeams come blow their deal ??? We're talking big money, big power. The only thing they're going to listen to is the sound of a rebellion on their hands. When they realize their donkey shit doesn't fly no more, then they might start talkin'. Have you ever realized that MoveON is funded by George Soros, that man who is dedicated to destroying the Left. Replace it with a pale imitation, American style do-nothing liberalism. That's why it burns me up that we don't treat these people as our dread enemies. Especially after what they have done to this movement this year.

Upper Dublin? My god! 18.Nov.2004 23:21

Red neck

What a hellhole! You might think of moving on. Not only has the Democratic Party failed you, you have been completely bulldozed by capitalism.
Even thinking you could reform the Democratic Party is almost too naive to
comment on. Do you really think these big wheel wheeler-dealers are going to let a bunch of snot nose, starry-eyed, kubayah moonbeams come blow their deal ??? We're talking big money, big power. The only thing they're going to listen to is the sound of a rebellion on their hands. When they realize their donkey shit doesn't fly no more, then they might start talkin'.
Have you ever realized that MoveON is funded by George Soros, that man who is dedicated to destroying the Left. Replace it with that pale imitation, American style do-nothing liberalism. That's why it burns me up that we don't treat these people as our dread enemies. Especially after what they have done to this movement this year.

wait a minute 19.Nov.2004 01:53

...

> I personally think that the fastest way for change would be to infiltrate
> and take over the Democratic party in the same manner that the Neo-Cons
> successfully took over the Republican party.

Er, would that be by paying yer dues as cheap thugs running errands for the rich family running the CIA? Maybe I'm missing the analogy here ...

Third party possible 19.Nov.2004 06:01

Middleman

I believe the only viable way to get a third party into power is if the moderate Democrats and Republicans formed a new party leaving the Left, Right and Middle as seperate political entities. The Middle may very well win, but It would at least give a chance to the Far Left, and reversely the Far Right a chance at the Presidency.

The Democrats Already Have A Progressive Caucus, Do They Not ? 19.Nov.2004 07:12

alsis38 alsis35@yahoo.com

And what have those people managed to do to curb the worst excesses of their own party's leadership ? Not one damn thing, far as I can tell, unless you count the fact that Harry "Pro-Life but I get along okay with NARAL lobbyists" Reid is the new minority leader to replace Daschle. Oh, yeah. I feel filled with confidence in the Dems. [snort] And ten minutes after she was sworn in two years ago, Speaker Pelosi was busy cooing about how much she "supported Bush and the troops." Yeah, that's great Progressive leadership all right. [rolleyes]

I'm also frankly sick of hearing about how Dean coulda' been our great white hope. He talked a mean game, but his record on paper didn't look all that different from the neo-con shit espoused by Clinton. Dean figured out he could use the anti-war movement to further his career, but his own policies could hardly be construed as anti-war. There's a difference, you know.

If the so-called "Progressives" in the Democratic party had any stones, they'd walk out on the Democratic Party and start anew under a banner that still has the potential to mean something real. I have a hard time taking them seriously because they simply can't cut the cord, no matter how corrupt their leadership repeatedly demonstrates it is willing to be. We are left to face the consequences of dirty air and water, a monstrous deficit, lost healthcare, crushing work hours (or no work hours at all), the shame of being complicit in a brutal oil war, etc etc... but so-called big-name progressives and their followers just can't bear to flip the bird at McAuliffe, From, and their sick-in-the-head neocon cronies. They can't bear the thought of being considered a "crackpot" or "kook" or worst of all "not a team player" by a bunch of rich sociopathic assholes. They can't bear the thought of losing their perks and prestige and actually having to live as us "kooks" do. They can't bear the thought of Randi Rhoades shreiking at them on Air America that they've lost their minds. Tsk tsk.

Fuck 'em. They should put up or shut up. Their leaders make them eat shit and they just keep grinning and waiting eagerly to open their mouths for the next heaping spoonful. Why should I respect that ?

Reform the Democrats by "rising up through the ranks ?" Yeah, right. Why not try to reform the Vatican or DuPont or Microsoft by "rising up through the ranks" ? Your chances are about the same. The system will change you long before you ever have a shot at changing it. Or the system will diffuse and expel you. Just ask the Rainbow Coalition. :(

That pretty much sums it up. 19.Nov.2004 12:27

Red neck

If we had more hard-hitting commentary like this we would have a whole lot less foolishness in this movement.
"They can't bear the thought of losing their perks and prestige and actually having to live as us "kooks" do" That is what happened this year. A Whole lot of these radical/progressives talk a mean game. But when the Party
comes rolling around, they jump in line. I didn't come into this movement with any delusions. I know what we're dealing with. When I showed up at my first Anti-Global demonstration I was like-yeah,these people are going to save the world. (and I still have trouble taking it all that serious)
But the dedication and sacrifice of the hardcore won my respect and admiration. The demonstrations turned out to have a bigger influence than I could have ever imagined. Especially in 'Latin' America where revolution is breaking out virtually everywhere. We're apart of that, but for some reason we don't want to celebrate that. We just want to get bogged down with Bush. letting the Liberals drag us down in their defeats.

"Democrats" "understanding what's wrong with their party" 19.Nov.2004 17:39

???

uuuhh,

the ONLY reason anyone would call themselves a "Democrat" is because they wanna be on the

"Blue Team"

(as 'opposed' to the "Red Team")

any mainstream, uninformed 'Liberal Democrat' of the card-carrying variety DOESN'T UNDERSTAND POLITICS.

they only understand the A vs. B dichotomy of the orchestrated multibilliondollar sham called US electoral "politics".

THAT IS ALL THEY UNDERSTAND - NOTHING ELSE.

it's just: "hmm, I wonder who my (Democrat) party has approved for consumption this year?"

in order to understand 21st century American "politics", one must understand SOCIAL CLASS and CORPORATE MEDIA OWNERSHIP, first and foremost.

then maybe - JUST MAYBE - they might begin to understand who funds and conducts their own "Democratic Party".

p.s. -

any American who hadn't picked up sometime in the 1980s that GeorgeBush41 was former director of the CIA is a lost cause, as far as attempting to understand the "politics" of their own country . . .