Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Did The Left Go Left?

When I was growing up in the late 60's and early 70's...The Radical Left, The Moderate Civil Rights Movemant, The Anti-Vietnam movemant were all mass grass roots organizations that were manned by passionate people, both Black and White that influenced an entire generation and actually did some good. They ended a war, because of these movemants, we got the civil rights act passed, equal rights for women, and a slew of other measures....These people changed our conversation about sex, race, politics, economics...birth control, everything...

In 2008...We elected the nation's first African-American President, which would seem to be the culmination of the Left's dream right?  Well, with his election...the last vestige of that passion has gone...The pendulum has swung and all of the passion seems to be on the right with the dreaded Tea Party....Where did the Left's passion go?

 On one level, the Tea Party is no more than a front for big-money corporate interests such as the notorious Koch brothers and the hedge fund managers who shower contributions on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

These fat cats' interests are the ones truly served by the Tea Party's refusal to ask the wealthy to pay a far share of the costs of the commonwealth. But on another level, despite all the wrongheadedness of its reactionary populism, the Tea Party is an authentic mass movement with grassroots support and a set of (admittedly wacko) principles that its troops can rally around, remaining unified even in the face of harsh opposition to its nonnegotiable demands. Their relentless determination and refusal to compromise gives them enormous power.You don't defeat a movement like that with conventional politics.

Comedian Bill Mahr joked on his HBO show Real Time the other night that you don't "fight crazy with educated and mild mannered Doctor's and Lawyers and academic types..(Which seem to make up the Left) now of days...You fight crazy with crazy."

He was joking...but he's right...Where is the Rap Brown's of today on the left? Why is every one I see on TV that is passionate about their politics from The Tea Party?

See ,You beat the Tea Party by building a movement of your own -- one that's larger, more unified and uncompromising on principle, while it eschews the self-destructive brinkmanship the Tea Party espoused during the back-and-forth over raising the debt ceiling last week. The aim is to build a new America, not burn the old one to the ground. As Villanova professor Lara M. Brown wrote in the New York Times, "Democracy does not mean having your way. It only means having the opportunity to fight."

Among other things, such a movement would help translate into policy the view of the majority of Americans, who, poll after poll has shown, favor President Obama's balanced approach to solving the nation's debt crisis over the Tea Party's no-new-revenues stance.(That's a fact Tea Partiers...Read the polls!) It would fight hard to protect the most vulnerable people as we address needed reforms of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It would look more like Dr. King's movement than President Obama's campaign.

That seems to be the goal of such incipient activist groups as the American Dream Movement, founded by Van Jones, who was President Obama's adviser on green jobs until he was forced out under criticism from right-wing pundits, spurned on by who else? The Tea Party and their sympathizers.

"We can learn many important lessons from the recent achievements of the libertarian, populist right," Van Jones wrote in February. "A popular outcry from the left could just as easily shatter the prevailing bipartisan consensus that America is suddenly a poor country that cannot possibly help its people meet our basic needs."

That's the right sentiment for the left to follow, but again, while certainly not knocking Van Jones, it remains to be seen whether a high-profile ex-White House figure like  Mr. Jones is the right person to revive a progressive mass movement. The objective is not to help President Obama; but rather to help the people most in need  and get the country back on track.

We're not going to accomplish it as long as the populist right ,such as the damned Tea Party has cornered the market on passionate political protest. As the leaders of the old civil rights movement used to say, "We need to organize, organize, organize. "That's a lesson the Tea Party didn't forget, and  one we need to relearn and implement.

The Left has got to come back.....I can't take much more of these right wing wackos!

1 comment:

Arlene said...

Great question, Keith, where has the left's passion gone? It looks like our "exceptionalism" is for a certain group of people only and they're afraid of people who look like us! Hence their attempts to dismantle public education, to thwart access to healthcare, and to promote foriegn policies that use war as diplomacy with the result in casualities disproportionate to minority populations. [Many minorities rely of the armed forces for jobs because the laws of the military protect to some degree against discrimination.]
Today, we need a Nat Turner!! Gabriel Prosser, where are you brother?


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