Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive!
CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Prospects for Progressive Politics

by RALPH NADER

San Francisco.

It was a packed house at the historic old Roxie Theatre in this city’s Mission District. A diverse group of citizens gathered here between Christmas and the New Year to listen and discuss the prospects of progressive politics following the Democrats’ victory in Congress and the election of a Green Party candidate as Mayor of the troubled nearby city of Richmond (population 102,000).

Gayle McLaughlin–the Mayor-elect–demonstrated why she defeated Chevron (which operates a refinery in Richmond) and other corporate interests, winning decisive votes from the African-American and Hispanic communities that make up a majority of the city’s population.

Going door-to-door since March, she and her volunteers conveyed specific improvements through a mobilized citizenry that hit home with the residents.

Matt Gonzalez, who narrowly missed winning the mayoralty of San Francisco in 2003 as a Green Party candidate, spoke of his decision to vote only for the candidates whose record and agenda he believes in, regardless of Party affiliation. Since leaving the Democratic Party in 2000, he would no longer be trapped into voting for the “least worst” major Party candidate. Mr. Gonzalez has a bright state-wide political future in California.

As an elected member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, Ross Mirkarimi–a long time Green Party leader–spoke of what it will take to create a new politics of sustaining vision with its feet in the neighborhoods and communities.

Introduced by Peter Gabel–former president of New College and a veteran leader in public interest law–I commented on the roles of citizens in the home district of the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

I urged the audience to constitute themselves as a non-partisan Congress Watchdog organization to leverage, through their newly empowered Speaker Pelosi, the start of important changes for our country, led by an end to the U.S. war-quagmire in Iraq and fundamental corporate reforms.

Clipboards were passed through the aisles for people to sign up and many did. It was an enthusiastic, uplifting gathering with more than a few seasoned citizen activists in attendance, as the discussion period showed.

One of them, Medea Benjamin, quickly took responsibility to get this watchdog effort off the ground. Known nationally as a demonstrative peace activist against the Iraq war, Ms. Benjamin is a cunning counterweight to the war-mongering and corporate pressures sure to come down on Speaker Pelosi.

If Medea Benjamin were to have a middle name, it would be Medea “here, there and everywhere” Benjamin. In 2004, she submarined the head of the California Green Party, Peter Camejo, splitting his delegation and providing the critical votes at the Green Party Convention to a nominee she supported precisely because he would receive only a few votes, while she urged Greens to vote for John Kerry in the close states.

She then played a shadowy role with the Democrats in this close state strategy, while still protesting inside the Democrats’ Nominating Convention in Boston against the war.

Speakers of the House almost never experience their districts’ organized in any way to watch their performance, much less to press them toward more progressive agendas. Speakers get the expected free ride and very easy re-elections.

This tradition will be up-ended if Medea Benjamin and her associates become responsible for a growing progressive “Pelosi Watchdog” group in her backyard.

Speaker Pelosi should welcome such pressure because starting in January, 2007 all kinds of grasping commercial lobbyists will be knocking on her door looking to retain or enlarge their unconscionable privileges and immunities.

She would be advised not to turn her back on Medea Benjamin who is “here, there and everywhere” in more ways than one.

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail