Retaking Our Party, Three: A Three-Election Strategy
The youth of today
The youth of today
We’re under heavy heavy manners, yeah.
We’re under heavy heavy manners, yeah.
– Musical Youth, “The Youth of Today”
"Non-cooperation is a protest against an unwitting and unwilling participation in evil."
– Mohandes Gandhi
Can you hear that?
The Democratic Party’s guilt machine is grinding back to life, once again hoping to cajole the faithful – and we who have lost faith – into giving the party just one more chance to do the right thing.
It’s really no different than the come-on of a TV evangelist, and until we, who make up this country’s Left, resolve to view the party as we do when considering whether, say, a local business has earned our patronage, it will continue to cow us into voting for it at election time, and to abuse us unremittingly for the ensuing 18 months.
Some believe the only answer is a viable third party, and there is nothing I’d rather see – along with equally viable fourth, fifth and sixth parties. The kind of coalition building such a paradigm would require could only increase the quality of our political discourse in a time when erstwhile intelligent people are taking the Glenn Becks and Rahm Emanuels of the world seriously.
In three weeks, we progressives have an opportunity to take a huge step toward righting the ship, whilst simultaneously pushing ensconced Democrats back where they belong: to the Left.
Every four years we elect a president. Every two we elect all representatives and one-third of the senate. Midterm (a.k.a. off-year) elections are the perfect opportunity to register our dissent – or pleasure – with both Congress and the President. But for too long, we’ve failed to seize it.
Instead, the minority party, be it the Democrats or Republicans, usually makes gains in the midterms, after which the majority (or former majority) party embarks on "soul searching." The script has played out so many times, people my age – I’ve been a voter for a full generation, 33 years – have it memorized.
It’s time for a rewrite, and I herewith present a strategy for doing so – with a heartfelt tip of my cap to all who have help shaped it, as detailed in parts One and Two of this series.
Election One: November 2, 2010: Take a VOW
First and foremost, go to the polls this November. Lack of engagement will not get this rewrite done. If we keep doing things the same way, the media will stick to the same old script.
In the voting booth, in each race for U.S. House or Senate, do one of the following three things:
1) Vote for true progressives: Candidates from third parties like the Greens, Socialists, Working Families or other decidedly Lefty parties.
2) Only vote for Democratic candidates who have ousted incumbent Democrats in the primaries by running to the left of those incumbents.
3) Write-in the words “PUBLIC OPTION” (or, if you prefer, “MEDICARE FOR ALL”, where the option exists (its availability will vary from state to state). Phrases like "Obama Sucks" could come from anyone; we must be sure to clearly state independent Lefty and registered Democrat anger. Relating that anget to the party’s most visible failure during its two years of congressional and White House control is the most media-savvy way to do it.
Progressives turned out in droves two years ago. Since then, we’ve been disappointed. We must depart from our predicted behavior of staying away and instead turn out, just we did then, to quantify our disappointment. If each of us shows up and exercises one of the above options, the combined votes for this VOW will do just that – and might, maybe – wake this self-described progressive president up.
1) Vote for any IncumbaDem, no matter how persuasive the party guilt machine might get. We voters did not squander control of the congress for the last two years, and must now demonstrate our power by purging from congress those who did. And that’s all of them.
2) Buy into any notion that the departure of Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers, nor the appointment of Elizabeth Warren, has changed a damned thing. Proving or disproving that is a day-to-day process that will play out over the next two years. And speaking purely for myself, and as long as Bernanke and Geithner and Gibbs and Kaine are still in the picture, it’s a long shot that anything has changed – or that it will, over that period.
3) Worry about any "Dump Obama" strategy during the next three weeks. Worry about it – and begin using as a threat to his incumbency – on November 3.
Election Two: November 6, 2012: Dump Obama?
We will know pretty quickly after these midterms whether this president has had his moment of clarity. Campaign 2012 begins in spring of next year, and if threats of primarying him are necessary, we need to make them – and to begin searching in earnest for his opponent.
Simple as that.
In the interest of exploring all possible scenarios, let’s say – and this is the longest of shots, as most of us realize – but let’s just imagine that Barack Obama reverses his current course in the coming two years, to such a degree that it warrants re-election and another chance at a majority in Congress in 2012. Let’s say he fires Gibbs, Geithner, Bernanke and Kaine and replaces them with true progressives. Let’s say he and the expected Democratic congressional minority re-opens the health care debate, even if the GOP blocks any bill from the floor. Obama ends DADT by Executive Order. Closes Guantanamo. Brings the troops home from Afghanistan.
Even if all this and more occurred, and we were to re-elect him in 2012 with a fresh majority in Congress, the two years between 2012 and 2014 will show us how much he’s learned, and whether the Democrats have finally awakened. But…
Election Three: November 4, 2014: Which Will It Be?
No matter who is in the White House or who controls Congress, the Left must begin to always view midterms as its opportunity to penalize bad Lefty/Democratic party practice and reward good practice.
So in 2014, and in every off-year election thereafter – regardless which party controls congress and the White house – we progressives must pursue the same strategy of holding Lefties (and DINOs) responsible to the Lefty ideals we favor.
This is how our electoral system was intended to work. By simply repeating the steps detailed above in the appropriate electoral contests (midterms and presidential) our influence will be quantified – and new parties will rise to fill the persistent voids.
But it can’t happen – can’t even begin – as long as we are willing to patronize the Democratic Party, no questions asked.
Will You Commit?
The two quotes at the top of this diary point to what’s next – what must be next – if our rewriting of the script that keeps us down is to succeed.
“Heavy manners” is synonymous with “state of emergency.” First used in Jamaica, it refers to Prime Minister Michael Manley’s imposition of martial law in 1976 in order to allow his party to retain power. Eventually, that repressive regime was defeated.
Though more subtle, the Democratic Party has used “heavy manners” in trying to contain the progressive movement that seemed ready to be unleashed with the election of Barack Obama. The turnout that took place in 2008, led largely by the youth of today’s America, must now be repeated on November 2, and we must enlist those same youth in making that happen.
The Gandhi quote, of course, speaks to the difference between NOT participating and non-participation. If we don’t go to the polls at all, if we don’t participate, we can’t be counted. If we go but make non-participation in the co-opting of the Democratic Party our message, we reject unwitting and unwilling participation in evil (even if some insist it is the lesser of two evils!).
If you can see the sense in the above-detailed strategy – and are willing volunteer perhaps 20 minutes for each of the next 20 days in order to further it – we can begin to consolidate at the national level the same kind of change progressive activists at the state and local levels have pursued and continue to pursue to great effect.
If you worked on the Obama campaign, you doubtless had contact with many of the youth to which I refer. Will you commit to tracking them down, conveying our strategy to them, and then asking them to make the same commitment to contacting and informing others?
November 2 is not far off, but here in the Internet age, there is still time. We waited too long for the chance to bring fundamental change to America to let it slip away now, overtaken by a narrative from the same old mainstream media script.
It’s said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing time and again but expecting different results. It would therefore follow that only a new approach, created by the generation that is all too familiar with the old-hat system which has kept progressivism down and passed to the next generation – which seems poised to play into that same old system – stands a real chance of producing different results.
I hope we progressives still retain an ember of the optimism we felt on Inauguration Day, 2008, and will fan it with e-mails and phone calls to the youth of today, who so inspired so many of us.
Will you join this effort?
themalcontent is Anthony Noel, an award-winning writer, editor, and former small-town journalist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.