FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Progressives are Reaping the Harvest They Planted in 2004

by KEVIN ZEESE

Recently, progressives who supported the Democratic Party in 2004 are expressing dissatisfaction with how Democratic elected officials are voting on the funding of the Iraq war, minimizing bankruptcy protections for working families, weakening the right to file class action lawsuits against abusive corporations and shying away from environmental protection as well as how the party leadership is moving away from fully protecting a women’s right to choose.

Progressives need to recognize they just can’t blame the Democrats for this — it is the liberal intelligencia that led them down the path of supporting a candidate for president who opposed progressives on many important issues who deserve a large share of the blame. By giving their support to a candidate who openly disagreed with progressives they sent a message that Democrats will get their vote for nothing — in other words, progressives could be taken for granted.

Norman Solomon said it well in a recent article criticizing MoveOn.org for not taking on the Iraq War: “When a large progressive organization takes the easy way and makes peace with war, the abdication of responsibility creates a vacuum.” Sadly, the same criticism could be applied to Solomon in his making “peace with war” during the recent presidential election when he led support for a pro-war candidate.

In a recent column, Ted Glick formerly of the Independent Progressive Politics Network and a supporter of Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb — who advocated a safe state’s campaign: the Anybody But Bush approach to third party politics — criticized the Democrats in a column entitled Democrats Do It Again and Again: “how about all those House Democrats who voted for the $81 billion to continue the Iraq war, not even attempting to put any conditions on it?”

It is not a surprise that the vast majority of Democrats voted to continue to fund the illegal occupation of Iraq. The peace movement, perhaps more than any, gave its support to Senator Kerry without any demand. Even the fearless, aggressive and vocal Medea Benjamin urged support of Kerry in swing states. Many peace activists stopped their anti-war work and went to work for the Kerry campaign. When Kerry said on numerous occasions including, during the first presidential debate, he wanted to manage the war better and was in it to win — much of the peace movement leadership remained silent. When Kerry mocked Bush for backing down on Fallujah — much of the peace movement leadership remained silent. When he said he would send more troops if that was needed to win — much of the peace movement remained silent.

What was the lesson the Democrats took from this — the peace movement leadership will not criticize them for supporting, indeed saying they will escalate, the war. They will not only vote for Democrats, they will remain silent and work for pro-war Democrats. The Democrats learned a lesson — take the peace movement for granted.

Hopefully the peace movement also learned a lesson: Democrats need to be opposed for engaging in war just as pro-war Republicans need to be opposed. The anti-Vietnam War movement removed LBJ from office because of his support for the Vietnam War. Today, pro-war Democrats should be removed from office for supporting the Iraq War. We need to stand firm on our principles especially when it comes to the illegal war in Iraq that is destroying or damaging the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, killing or maiming tens of thousands of Americans, torturing prisoners by rendition or in Guantanemo Bay, Afghanistan or Iraq, isolating the U.S. from the world and making us less safe from terrorism.

The anti-war movement is only one example. Labor, civil rights, civil liberties, anti-corporate globalization, fair taxes, women’s rights — indeed every progressive movement is taken for granted by the Democrats. Why? Because progressives let them.

Does standing up for progressive principles mean that the Democrats will lose? Of course not. The issues progressives stand for are populist issues. Opposition to the war, a living wage for full-time work, health care for all, prosecuting corporate crime, fraud and abuse, a women’s right to choose, equal justice for all, protection of constitutional rights, a more vibrant democracy, investment in the necessities of the American people rather than the military industrial complex — are all popular issues. If we push political leaders to stand for them they will win more often, not less. It is when Democratic politicians mimic Republicans that they lose and lose and lose.

My view is the Democratic Party is not savable, it is time for progressives to leave and start a new Party and a new political movement. Others, are still trying to work within the Party to reform it. While I wish them luck, I urge two things for them. First, recognize that those of us on the outside pushing can help you on the inside by letting Democrats know you have somewhere else to go. Second, and most importantly, do not support Democrats who are wrong on the key issues. You will fail in your reform efforts if you give your support to candidates you seriously disagree with. In fact, you need to oppose those candidates — not only in primaries but in general elections. Otherwise, the lesson you will be teaching is — progressives can be taken for granted and ignored.

Progressives are reaping the harvest from the seeds they sowed in 2004. Hopefully, most will learn the lesson and not repeat the mistake in 2006 and 2008.

KEVIN ZEESE served as the Press Secretary to the Nader-Camejo campaign in 2004 and currently works with the Stop the War’ campaign at DemocracyRising.US.

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Zeese is an organizer at Popular Resistance.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail