The Party that isn’t, and the debating society

CounterPunch gets it right.


If there was a real
party of opposition, maybe those who mandated the new torture system
would face some sanction. If Democratic Party leaders had made an issue
of it, some fiber would have been given to the calls for punitive
sanction of the engineers and administrators of the torture systems.
But top Democrats were silent. Torture was not an issue in the Kerry
campaign. And the grunts were abandoned as surely as Kerry abandoned
the rednecks of Appalachia and the working poor across America.

Thus it is that with each month that passes the Democratic Party seems
to have touched bottom. Then it promptly sinks even deeper into the
ooze of cowardice and irrelevance.

The Iraq War (which an overwhelming majority of citizens now oppose)

You would think
that on the most elementary precepts of political self-advancement,
congressional Democrats would have been besieging the [Sept. 24]
rally’s organizers for a speaker’s slot. But the Democrats have not
only forgotten how to fix elections, they’ve lost the simplest
political instincts of all, opportunism and grandstanding.

More cowardice. The reason congressional Dems didn’t speak on Sept. 24
was “AIPAC put out the word that any member of Congress who appeared at
the protest, where some speakers were to represent pro-Palestinian
views, would face their political wrath.” That most their constituents
would have cheered them had they spoken, escapes them completely. Then
again, maybe it’s not cowardice. Maybe it’s that members of Congress
are part of the ruling class, and support the war because it furthers
their class and financial interests.

The reason support for the Palestinian Right of Return was a unity
point on Sept. 24 is because of the ANSWER Coalition. “There are many
things the ANSWER Coalition will negotiate about, support for Palestine
is not one of them”, a view which makes us untouchables to the Dems,
but hey, at least we have something we stand for. The Democrats should
try that something. Y’know, actually take principled stands on issues,
rather than caving to every right wing gust. Then people might respect
them again.

Desertion of their base

You want further
evidence of Democratic collapse? How many of them went to New Orleans
to protest the most glaring exhibition of racism in America since Bull
Connor wielded his cattle prod? Shaquille O’Neill, who air-lifted tons
of aid to the Crescent City, couldn’t even assemble a full basketball
team out of the paltry number of big-time Democrats who came to New
Orleans in its hours of crisis.

This is why I find sites like DailyKos so baffling. They appear to
believe that by writing letters, donating money to candidates, etc.,
they can effect genuine change in the Democratic Party. Their viewpoint
is that change must come from above, that we must petition the Dem
leadership, and once they realize the validity of our views, they will
graciously change. Yeah right, like they’ve shown the slightest
inclination to do that, like President Hillary would end the war…

They need to resign from the debating society. Too many liberal blogs
spend inordinate amounts of time posting long windy responses to
something the loony right has said. Wow, how incisive. One wonders, are
they blogging in hopes of helping create real change in the country, or
is it to post cutesy rebuttals that’ll boost their hits and get them
increased ad revenue?

Organizers know that arguing with counter-demonstrators is a pointless
waste of time. Focus on those interested in what you say. Convince them
of your point of view. Then, after a few weeks or months, you may
turn them into organizers. This process is a completely different
process from that of liberal blogs/talk shows screaming at

Mass organizing. People in the streets. That’s how change happens. You
do not petition Congress to listen to you. You force them to. Change
comes from below, it is not a favor granted from above. Women’s
sufferage, the labor battles and gains of the 30’s, civil rights, the
anti-Vietnam war protests – all these movements began and became
successful because masses of people got in the streets.

It’s important to realize that all these movements were initially
opposed by the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party. The
massive societal changes these movements createad didn’t happen because
people politely and meekly waited for the major parties to respond.
They happened because first thousands, then hundreds of thousands, got
in the streets, and then the politicians were forced to implement their

A Congress composed of multi- and sometimes centi-millionaires will, no
surprise, act to defend their class interests. If that means unending
wars for oil based on lies where children of others die, oh well.
Couple that with a comatose, timid Democratic Party that has no
apparent values they will fight for, well then, we have to do it
ourselves, don’t we?

And like I said, lots of social movements in this country have done
just that. One major reason for their success is they resigned from the
debating society and got into the streets instead.

PS Kos has a heartfelt post on
what Democrats could stand for, and it’s a genuinely inspiring list of what could be. However,
it’s not the reality now. If the party establishment really stood – and
fought for – for the values enumerated here, I’d be a Democrat in a
flash. Problem is, they don’t, not even slightly. Which is a crystal
clear example of the disconnect between Dem leadership and the rank and