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Dump Bush, Build Independent Politics
I t’s a fact—there is a broadly- based, independent progressive movement in this country. It is by no means as coherent as it needs to become, but 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 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 “third parties” around the country—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 independent 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, worldwide, 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 ended—or, more accurately, that “battle” in the planned on-going war—the Bush administration is facing serious problems. They are contending with growing insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Their lies about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” have been exposed and could blow up in their faces. Combined with a sputtering economy and massive federal indebtedness two years after a multi-trillion dollar surplus, there are ample grounds to expect Bush’s poll num- bers to continue to slide.
Those of us 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 we’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 (and others) out there nationally as a visible political player, and strengthens our unity and org- anization.
It is critical that we not get absorbed into the Democratic Party. We need to function independently because we cannot depend on 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 January 20, 2005, we need a strong and more unified independent progressive movement to press for genuine, positive, fundamental change.
Here are some proposals for how we can best accomplish these three objectives:
- 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 visibly as possible.
- Register The “Sleeping Giant” : The “sleeping giant” for our movement is those potential voters—50 percent of them—who are so turned off that they don’t come out and vote. We need to do organized voter registration among the disaffected.
- Popular Education: We need to put together educational materials that are accessible and understandable. What about the organizing of people’s theatre groups to perform wherever there are people? What about dump-Bush concerts where voter registration and sign-ups for grassroots organizing are prominently pushed?
- Button-Wearing: We should all be wearing anti-Bush buttons everywhere we go, as much as possible. We need mass visibility of anti-Bush sentiment.
- Pump Up August 29, 2004 : Coming out of the June United for Peace and Justice’s national conference, it looks as if this could become a day that “The World Says No to Bush,” the way February 15 was a day the world said no to war.
- Defend The Vote: The so-called “Help America Vote Act” 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. We need to stay on top of these issues in various states.
- Local Unity-Building : We must work to counter hostility between Greens and other third partyies and rank-and-file progressive Democrats, people who are in agreement on issues, but who may disagree tactically over what to do as far as electoral politics.
Presidential Campaign: The Greens should run a presidential candidate and put her or him on the ballot in as many states as possible. The tactics of that campaign should concentrate resources in those 30-35 states where it is known well in advance whether Bush or the Democrat is going to win that state’s electoral votes.
We have 16 months to accomplish these 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.
Ted Glick is the National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network (www.ippn.org), although these ideas are solely his.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.