OK, so I’m fresh off the FDL Member Webinar featuring Josh Koster, Dan Ellsberg and Michael Moore, and as requested in this diary’s comments, here’s my take.
After Josh Koster gave a roughly five-minute presentation on the efficacy and cost-efficiency of Internet advertising for political campaigns as compared to traditional media, Dan Ellsberg laid out his thoughts on a third-party challenge in 2012. Put succinctly (and I’m totally paraphrasing here) he said, “Protest electorally in the 40 or so states where you can build a movement, but not in swing states. There really are degrees of evil and despite how we all like to say there is no difference between the two major parties, there is. A Republican administration taking over again in 2012 would be far worse for the country than keeping this one in power, building a movement in the 40 or so non-swing states, and then seeing what we can do with that in 2016. Otherwise there’s a good chance that any dissenting party will steal enough votes to give the GOP the win, and will be ‘blamed’ for the loss, just as Nader was in 2000.”
Then it was Michael Moore’s turn, and he was nothing if not totally convincing as to his own indecisiveness. “How I feel about trying to put together a primary challenge and even a third party in 2012 depends on what day you ask me,” he said. (That was a pretty good approximation of the quote. What follows now will, as with Mr. Ellsberg above, be a paraphrased compilation of Moore’s major points.) “I totally understand how upset people are. More people than ever in my lifetime, I don’t know about before I was born, but I guess 1948 was close, more people are disgusted with both parties than ever. Even if we were to follow Dan’s suggested path [which, Ellsberg had explained, is essentially the one Ralph Nader pursued in 2000, prior to his decision to challenge Gore in FL, and a path Moore supported], there’s nothing saying that millions of people on the Left, progressives, liberals, won’t be angry enough to screw it up anyway [he meant this in a positive, not accusing way, and indicated a kind of okayness with the possibility].
Jane Hamsher raised the question of who might be possible primary challengers, and as Dan Ellsberg thought about it Moore repeatedly said, “Matt Damon,” which, Jane reported, got several positive IMs of support. Ellsberg thought Elizabeth Warren would be good, but quickly conceded that Warren or Russ Feingoold would likely never do it because they’d be excommunicated from the party post haste.
Donna M., one of the attendees, blunty challenged Ellsberg over his apparent support of lesser-evilism, but Ellsberg said he is not advocating for Obama. He said he has never heard a criticism of Obama that has gone too far, and regretted if his comments did not adequately convey that, but that he was trying to look at the question of third-party creation in the current climate objectively, and to think about how best to build something to replace the Democratic Party. Moore said he would support building a “New Democratic Party” and offered an electorial scenario that might produce the needed fragmentation of the electorate to do it, saying that if the Tea Party runs a candidate and splits the conservatives, it would open the possibility of a liberal third party to win the White House with perhaps 33 percent of the vote. He even at one point mentioned the NDP in Canada as a good example of a party that overtaken the neoliberal excuse for progressivism in that country.
There was of course much more in this hour-plus conference – and I was (of course) disappointed that my question wasn’t taken. It went like this: We always hear that THIS is not the year to build something new, to upset the apple cart. But don’t the past 50 years show that following that prescription has only made us more ill?
In closing this update, I’d like thanks Jane and the FDL staff for putting this together and encourage you to join FDL, so you can be on the line for future Webinars. I think they represent an important opportunity to get dissent in this country back to its rightful place. Front and center.
Athena1 has written a nice diary. It shares a letter Michael Moore posted Friday at his website, which seems an effort to reach the younger contingent of the Democratic Party that was so instrumental in Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 – and that stayed away from the polls in droves last November.
Athena1’s post is probably just the reaction Moore was hoping for. But there’s a problem: Michael Moore has no more snapped out of denial than he’s given up donuts. He is perhaps sneaking up on snapping out. Maybe. But not yet.
One piece of evidence in favor of his possibly snapping out of it is, as Athena1 notes, his mention of October2011.org But when one reads between the lines, it’s clear that for all his bluster, Moore is no closer to getting beyond the Left/Right rhetoric routinely used by the powers that be to keep us divided – and conquered – than he’s ever been.
The following, buried deep in the letter, has all the trappings of a bold statement, I’ll grant you that:
We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money — or step aside.
The problem is, Moore has been saying this same thing for years – and it’s as far as he ever goes.
Don’t misunderstand. Moore’s work is trenchant and often hilarious (albeit in a what-a-fucking-shame kinda way). But he always always always tells his stories from the Dems-are-better, Republicans-are-the-enemy perspective, when he knows all too well that the enemy is the corporate cabal that owns BOTH parties, every elected federal official within them, and all the old white guy yes-men in both parties’ administrative operations.
And telling stories in a way that infers that supporting one wrong can make a right is, I’m afraid, the definition of lesser-evilism.
To wit, Moore’s listing at the end of his diatribe. It includes not only October2011 (good) but the AFL-CIO, and this no-words-minced comment: “They’ve learned their lesson and have a good president now.” The list also includes MoveOn, another perpetual Dem Party apologist that, like Moore, talks a great game – but never quite jumps completely out of line. And jumping out of line is exactly what these times demand.
The AFL-CIO and its “good president,” Richard Trumka, hasn’t learned anything. Trumka was all for a public option – meaning an option available to ALL THE PEOPLE – in the health reform
shit sandwich bill. Until, that is, he decided protecting his organization’s members’ “Cadillac” insurance plans was more important, upon which making a deal to do just that, Trumka ran from WE THE PEOPLE faster than a – well, than a just-inaugurated Barack Obama.
And MoveOn? Puh. Leeze. In short, they haven’t MovedOn. Just spend a few minutes on their site and it’s clear they too are still stuck in the Left/Right mud they leveraged in founding their little
false prog gravy train Democratic Party cheerleading org during the Clinton impeachment.
Whether it’s MM, corporatist “Unionists” like Trumka, or false prog orgs like MoveOn, pretending to call Democrats on the carpet for their bald-faced conspiracy with the corporate cabal that fills their campaign coffers simply won’t cut it anymore. Again, I love MM’s work and hope he will snap out of it and call openly, right now, for all to STOP VOTING FOR EITHER MAJOR PARTY in federal elections.
But until he does, he’ll continue hurtling toward irrelevance faster than a – well, you know.
Anthony Noel facilitates the New Progressive Alliance, a 100-percent volunteer organization founded online at MyFDL in 2010. The NPA is dedicated to uniting, through electoral activism and public dissent, all Americans who oppose war, value hard work at a living wage, and seek to stop corporate ownership of our government.