James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Desperately needed: A new political party

Count me among the growing number of people who believe support of the Democratic Party, as such, is not merely a waste of time but, worse, a deeply negative activity.

Support for the Democratic Party leads to continued degradation of the United States and great harm to all citizens who are not wealthy.

The same has to be said about support for the Republican Party, but that does not mean rational people must therefore throw in with the Democrats. In plain language, they're about equally bad for America and its people.

We desperately need a new party, and there is a logical place to begin forming one: With the long list of genuine liberal organizations that were given birth by the Internet. More of that shortly.

Barack Obama should not be re-elected. At any time before the mid 1990s, his actions in office would have identified him clearly as a Republican who leans dangerously to the right. What he claims to believe in while campaigning and what he has done while in office have almost no positive connection. He has capitulated on major issues before any “negotiations” have begun; he has, whenever possible, given the money elite what it wants on everything of importance.

He is as much a war monger as the younger Bush; he has expanded the Bush wars, put us into the Libyan conflict, inflated the already insanely oversized Pentagon budget, reneged on all of his promises to curb military adventurism and war profiteering. He has enthusiastically supported extension of the grotesquely misnamed Patriot Act and otherwise continued the Bush program of diminishing individual freedoms.

Equally bad for all of us who are not very rich, Obama has actively supported or meekly acquiesced in most of the measures that are pushing us at breakneck speed toward the destruction of the middle class and the creation of a class of tens of millions of proles who will be locked hopelessly into a state of perpetual poverty.

There are five people looking for work in this country for every job that becomes available. Since the financial collapse of 2008, more than two million Americans have sunk into what is officially recognized as poverty -– which is to say, desperate poverty.

More than 43 million Americans now live below the official poverty line. More than one fifth of American children now live in poverty, which is more than twice the percentage of poor children in Great Britain or France. Five percent of Americans live with what is officially called “extreme food insecurity” -- which simply means that they don't know from day to day whether they will have anything to eat, and sometimes they don't. That population is expanding daily.

A huge number of Americans have lost much or most of the wealth they accumulated through their working lives, because that wealth was invested in their homes.

In Minneapolis, my home town, home values continue to fall, are down 8 percent from a year ago, and almost half of all homeowners are now “underwater” on their mortgages. Nationally, residential real estate has fallen in value by more than $6 trillion (trillion, with a tr) since 2008.

Our “liberal” president has yet to offer any serious programs or begin any crusades to turn any of those problems around.

He does continue to talk about “compromises” with the Republicans, who are desperately trying to placate and tame a constituency of utter nutcases and clowns, some of whom are multi-billionaires. He's willing to talk about cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and other programs essential for relative security for millions of Americans. His “compromises” thus far have meant capitulation.

The great majority of Democrats in Congress are as bad or worse. And a substantial number of them care far more about preventing gay Americans from achieving full citizenship than they do about the millions who are facing homelessness and starvation.

(As just one of hundreds of examples, take the Minnesota Democrats' “liberal” favorite, Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Please. She joined with 16 other Democrats and all Republicans in trying to gut the Clean Air Act. She votes for anything pushed by the National Rifle Association, no matter how far outside the realm of sense or decency, and she does the same for AIPAC, the American lobby for the right wing government of Israel. She has never seen a “defense” bill she would not support and has few, if any, quarrels with the big banks. And that's just for starters.)

Once again, we're seeing the beginning of the flood of missives telling us that we MUST give money to and vote for the Democratic Party.

We are being told again, as we have been told during every election cycle for the past 30 years or more, that the Republicans are just ever so much worse and the country will go entirely to hell if we don't do our part for the Democrats. Never mind that the majority of Democrats in office are in thrall to the corporate elite to the same degree as their Republican colleagues and the country already is headed rapidly to hell – hell for everyone but the rich.

Corporations and the very wealthy get everything they want from Democrats, though it may take just a little bit longer than when Republicans control everything. They pretend it's otherwise (wink wink, nudge nudge) so that traditional Democratic voters can go on pretending there is a big difference

There still are a few “liberal” Democrats. My own congressman, Keith Ellison – yes, the Muslim -- is a marvel of honesty and courage in supporting positions that benefit the American people rather than war profiteers and other giant corporations. I haven't made a count, but there may be 20 other Democratic members of Congress equally steadfast in doing what is right for the country and the people. Maybe. On a good day, possibly 30 or even 40.

The percentage seems to be higher in state legislatures, although those institutions also harbor an excessive number of Democrats who are owned by the economic elite. Again, I am blessed in having an outstanding liberal state representative, Frank Hornstein, and a pretty good state senator in Scott Dibble.

That is not enough, and they are too few.

We do desperately need a new political party at the state and national levels. And, no, it will not come from the various tiny socialist organizations.

“Socialist” is a negative word in this country, made so largely by the hunters for communist witches who held such a grip on this country in the 1940s and '50s and well into the '70s. In fact, the commie hunters are making something of a comeback recently –- see Newt Gingrich -- even though you probably couldn't find 100 avowed communists in the entire country.

The right wing long ago successfully equated “socialist” with “communist,” which meant Soviet-style communist, and that remains stuck in the national psyche. And that's true even though a large and obviously growing number of people in this country favor (shhhhhhh) a goodly number of socialist policies and programs.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, among the surprisingly many. Just don't tell the people who love them that they are practical socialist ideas.

Sadly, many Democrats of today are hell bent on joining Republicans in getting rid of as many of those programs as possible, except where it works (for the moment) to their electoral advantage to support them.

Anyway, socialist parties in this country generally have been pretty light on political sense, although I've been seeing more of the socialist press of late, and have to say they seem to have considerably more gravitas than they once had.

Clear-thinking individual socialists always have offered rational ideas, of course, but the parties frequently have wandered off into obscure byways, arguing odd doctrinal points when they should have been actively supporting workable programs for improved health care and citizen rights.

The politically and socially liberal organizations that were born of the Internet have a more obvious claim now to be the parents of a new party.

They have the advantage of already having enormous experience and talent at communicating with the public and with organizing hundreds of thousands and, in some cases, millions of people for political action.

Unfortunately, they also have the drawback that has been cited in dismissing socialists: Too many egos, with too many people who want to be top dog and are unwilling to take a lesser role.

In fact, we almost certainly wouldn't have so many such organizations if it weren't for the egos of their founders, a majority of whom could just as well have joined an existing organization.

Still, there are some first-rate organizers among them, and many are people of considerable courage, willing to stand up to the big-money power structure, far more honest than the corporate media moguls and their increasingly dimwitted troops, and eager to fight for what they believe is right for this country and its people.

If anyone wanted a list, I probably could name two dozen organizations that would serve the purpose as a starting point, or as a piece of what could be the start, of a new party. And that leaves out the likes of MoveOn and other organizations that are barely camouflaged unofficial arms of the Democratic Party.

What I don't know is how to get them together, get them into a conference specifically aimed at the formation of a new party. We need to think about that, but quickly, and to get them moving.