Dump Bush—Build Independent Politics
Dump Bush—Build Independent Politics
â€œThose who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are those who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its water. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.â€ -Frederick Douglass,
Itâ€™s a fact: there is a broadly-based, if loosely-connected, independent progressive movement in this country. It is by no means as coherent as it needs to become, but my assessment is that there are hundreds of thousands of people around the country who see themselves as activists for social change who are clear that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are the answer for the deep crises we are facing today.
Many of these people are members of the Green Party, or the Labor Party, or one of several local or state â€œthird partiesâ€ around the countryâ€”the Progressive Party in Vermont, the United Citizens Party in South Carolina, Progressive Dane in Wisconsin, the Peace and Freedom Party in California, the Mountain Party in West Virginia, the Green-Rainbow Party in Massachusetts, the Working Families Party in New York, or others.
Probably more independent activists are not members of one of these parties, for various reasons. But these people tend to vote for independents on election day and to speak up in opposition to the corrupt and depressing reality of our corporate-dominated, two-party political system.
Just about all of us, I would guess, participated in the historic, world-wide, pre-war peace movement late last year and early this year. That movement brought out upwards of a couple of million people in this country to at least one street demonstration over that period of time.
Now, two months after that war was supposedly endedâ€”or, more accurately, that â€œbattleâ€ in the planned on-going warâ€”the Bush Administration is facing serious problems. They are contending with growing insurgencies in both
We in the independent progressive movement can help this process along. We can build a significantly stronger mass popular movement over the next 16 months leading up to the November 4, 2004 election.
What should be the major objectives for our movement over that period of time? In my view, there are three: 1) replacing Bush with a Democrat (since weâ€™re not yet strong or organized enough to replace him with a Green or an independent), 2) seeing the Republicans lose control of at least one house of Congress, and 3) contributing to these objectives in a way which maintains our political independence, keeps the Green Party out there nationally as a visible political player, and strengthens our unity and organization.
It is critical that we not get absorbed into the Democratic Party. We need to function independent of it because we cannot depend upon that big money-dominated institution, left to its own devices, to accomplish either or both of those first two objectives. We also need to function independently because we all know that whoever is in office come
Here are some proposals for how we can best accomplish these three objectives:
BUTTON-WEARING: We should all be wearing anti-Bush buttonsâ€”Dump Bush in â€™04; Bush Must Go; Dump Bushâ€”Build Independent Politics; Bush Must Goâ€”The People Yes!; other creative slogans--everywhere we go, as much as possible. This is a small but very important way that movements are built. We should carry a few extra with us and recruit others to buy and wear them. WE NEED MASS VISIBILITY OF ANTI-BUSH SENTIMENT!
BUMPER-STICKERING: Same thing as with buttons. Letâ€™s get them up not just on the back bumpers of our cars but on poles, walls, wherever people will see them.
TRUTH SQUADS WHEREVER BUSH GOES: When Bush, or others from his campaign, are speaking publicly we should be there, in the largest numbers we can mobilize, as loudly and visibly as possible.
REGISTER THE â€œSLEEPING GIANTâ€: The â€œsleeping giantâ€ for our movement is those potential votersâ€”50% of them--who are so turned off that they donâ€™t come out and vote. We need to carry voter registration forms and do organized voter registration in low-income communities and among youth, two major disaffected groups. We need to agitate about the importance of this upcoming election and the need for people to come out and vote for anybody but Bush and for progressive candidates in other races.
POPULAR EDUCATION: We need to be about using language and putting together educational materials that are accessible and understandable by masses of people. What about the organizing of peopleâ€™s theatre groups to put together short skits and perform them in parks, on the street, wherever there are people? What about dump-Bush concerts where voter registration and sign-ups for grassroots organizing are prominently pushed? We need to think creatively and think popularly. This is not the time for small-group, leftist discussions on ideological fine points.
PUMP UP AUGUST 29th, 2004: Coming out of United for Peace and Justiceâ€™s national conference three weeks ago, it looks as if this could become a day that â€œThe World Says No to Bushâ€ the way February 15th was a day the world said no to war. There will be a massive demonstration on this day in
DEFEND THE VOTE: The so-called â€œHelp America Vote Actâ€ requires every state to computerize, centralize and purge voter roles before 2004. This opens up the possibility of more Jeb Bush/Katherine Harris-type purges of black or other non-Republican voters in Republican-controlled states. There is also growing concern about electronic voting machines with no paper trail to guard against tampering or illegal programming. We need to stay on top of these issues in our various states.
LOCAL UNITY-BUILDING: We must consciously work in our localities to counter hostility between Greens or other third partyites and rank-and-file progressive Democrats, people who are in general agreement on issues but who may disagree tactically over what to do as far as electoral politics. It is one thing to have dialogue and debates; this is already happening. But we need to find ways to maintain connections and to find common projects to work onâ€”such as voter registration, watchdogging local election boards to counter possible skullduggery, and agitation around issues, including issues related to clean and democratic elections.
LOOK TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHERâ€™S ACTIONS: One of the positive aspects of the pre-Iraq war peace movement was the minimal amount of public antagonism between the three major coalitions, UFPJ, ANSWER and Win Without War. This politically mature approach needs to be continued and, if possible, built upon, such as through open dialogue about differences in politics and strategy, at the same time that events initiated by one groupâ€”such as a projected UFPJ Peopleâ€™s Convention next springâ€”are supported by others.
A SAFE-STATES GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Iâ€™ve written about this in a past column. The Greens should run a Presidential candidate and put him or her on the ballot in as many states as possible. But the tactics of that campaign should be about concentrating and focusing resources in those 30-35 or so states where it is known well in advance of election day whether Bush or the Democrat is going to win that stateâ€™s electoral votes.
16 months. Thatâ€™s how much time weâ€™ve got to accomplish these three goals. This is more than enough time if we apply our collective energies, intelligence and dedication in a way commensurate with both the urgency and the promise of this coming period.
â€œThank God our time is now when wrong Comes up to face us everywhere, Never to leave until we take The longest stride of soul (we humans) ever took. Affairs are now soul size.â€ -Christopher Fry
Ted Glick is the National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network (www.ippn.org), although these ideas are solely his. He can be reached at futurehopeTG@aol.com, or at