A striking thing occurred last night during FDL’s Virtual Town Hall with Rep. Alan Grayson.
Not so striking, perhaps, to dyed-in-the-wool Democrats who toe the party line no matter what. But to a lifelong Independent like me, it was not merely symptomatic, but downright diagnostic as far as what precludes even the slightest gains for the kind of common-sense, people-first Progressive reforms that have been shown to be favored by a majority of Americans for generations.
The virtual town hall was an online event for FDL members, the second in recent weeks (the first opened the discussion on what FDL’s 2012 strategy should look like). These are highly informative, interactive sessions where members discuss the topic at hand after a PowerPoint presentation and some discussion amongst the presenter and FDL staff.
Last night, Rep. Grayson gave an eye-opening presentation based on a government report about who has wealth in America. The stark numbers – most notably (for me, at least) that 25 percent of Americans have a net worth of $1,000 – were presented by Grayson in the straightforward, sarcastic, often darkly humorous style for which he is famous. After taking a few questions from FDL staff, the floor was opened to firepups, who did their usual stellar job of cutting right to the chase.
What stuck me was how, after several questions and Rep. Grayson’s characteristically direct answers, the one question he did not have what I could consider a “good” answer for – indeed, the correct answer – was some variation of: “So what do we do to change things?”
Now, let me just state that I have nothing but praise for Grayson’s presentation and his terrific interactions with FDL members last night. And at one point, he came very close to that “correct” answer, the one each of us, in our heart of hearts, knows that someone of Grayson’s stature must eventually stand up, boldly state, and unashamedly own. Responding to Jane Hamsher’s question, “Well – so, what can we do?,” Grayson replied: “We have to put one of us [meaning a Progressive] in the White House.”
At other points in the conversation, Grayson had high praise for Dennis Kucinich –
perhaps the only true progressive we have in the House at present; and for Elizabeth Warren, the woman who would lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – if only our sold-our president had feet of something other than clay. Grayson waxed nearly poetic about these two incredible public servants’ dedication to bettering the lives of common people, and their selfless work in trying to make the headway we so desperately need for them to make.
But in the end, Rep. Grayson gave his pitch for re-electing Barack Obama, stating that anything other than an Obama victory in 2012 will mean the last gasp for the middle-class and poor Americans. Bluntly, the same old lesser-of-two-evils crap.
I have no absolutely no doubt that Grayson, Kucinich, and Warren have only the best intentions. But when Rep. Kucinich gets on Air Force One in Cleveland opposed to the Health Insurance Giveaway and gets off in Washington prepared to vote for it; when Professor Warren refuses to see the handwriting on the wall – that she is not going to be doing anything of real consequence for Wall Street as a member of the Geithner/Obama syndicate; and when Rep. Grayson says we need a Progressive in the White House one minute but endorses the fatally flawed justifications that have taken us to the edge of cataclysm, intentions become meaningless.
All three of these leaders were among 10 selected by “MyFDL” readers last fall as preferred opponents to Barack Obama in the 2012 Democratic Party primaries, the same process in which the New Progressive Alliance was born. Without mutinous behavior – i.e., REAL leadership – on the part of such outlandishly bright, capable, deeply caring people as these, their good intentions will serve only to pave our Road to Hell.
Here’s hoping one – perhaps all – of them will step up to the challenge we now face. That they will take faith from the political winds – now blowing the world over, from Cairo to Madison – which portend the rise of common people against the oligarchs and plutocrats whose grip on power in this country must be released, if we are to have any hope of leading secure lives, in peace, on a healthy planet.