The Prospects for Progressive Politics

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.


More articles by:

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

March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Sam Husseini
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us