Stirrings on the Left: A Turning Point?

By Dennis Loo

Several recent developments bode well for this country, the world, and specifically for the political left. The fact that they are all occurring so close in time to each other is also salubrious. For those of us who have been wondering when things were going to break in this direction, these developments are extremely welcome and very promising. 
As I wrote on February 28, 2010 regarding the Tea Partiers and the need for the Left's response: 

"The Tea Party movement also reflects, in part, the relative strength of the forces of the reactionary Right and the relative weakness so far of the Left. Imagine the impact if the genuine Left (needless to say I'm not speaking here of the Democratic Party as the Left) had the equivalent of Fox News and the pulpit that that network alone is. We don't have its equivalent, obviously, and we're not going to get it, either. But what we can do with even a modest increase in funding and participation in the Left by new forces is immense..."

This growth of new forces on the Left that I spoke of we are now seeing the beginnings of. 

Some background to this: When Obama ran for the presidency, he rode a wave a revulsion against the disastrous and malignant Bush White House, promising change. Millions were taken in by his promises and his charisma and the stark contrast between his persona and that of his predecessors, smirking George “We do not torture” Bush and the dark lord himself, Dick “waterboarding is a no-brainer” Cheney.
Millions thought that they could put this horrid period behind us by supporting and voting for Obama. Millions are now waking up to the fact that Obama isn’t delivering as he promised. Millions are waking up to the fact that “bipartisanship” means that the GOP gets to block anything that they don’t like, and that fascist acts like Limbaugh and the murderer of Dr. George Tiller and his apologists get to be on TV, radio, on the Internet and in print constantly polluting the air (which is worse, global warming or these guys and gals?), bringing shame and opprobrium upon this country.
Obama’s election has also triggered a reaction among those who “want their country back,” by which many of them mean, taking it out of the hands of a BLACK president, the very idea of which causes them fits. The Tea Party movement of which I speak represents an amalgam of sharply contradictory tendencies, some of which are reactionary, and some of which are actually progressive.
Now, to the items:
Item 1: The Coffee Parties. Begun a few days over six weeks ago by Annabel Park on Facebook, the Coffee Party movement mushroomed nearly overnight. Its unifying elements: revulsion for the Tea Partiers and anger about the failure of the Democratic Party, Obama in particular, and the media to curb the outrageousness that Bush, Cheney, the GOP and Fox News et al so concentrate. They regard the two-party system as a failure.
From the March 13, 2010 CNN report on the Coffee Partiers:
Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing
Coffee Party leaders held 350 to 400 events Saturday across the country
"Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation,” founder says
Group's first action will be April 27, during Congress' Easter recess
Washington (CNN) -- The new Coffee Party movement deemed its official kickoff Saturday [March 13, 2010] a "huge success," with dozens of talks held at coast to-coast coffee shops as members came together to discuss the issues most important to them.
Billed by many as an answer to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. While the group has become an instant hit online -- it boasts more than 141,000 Facebook fans as of Saturday -- gauging the success of this weekend's coffee meetups was predicted to be an indicator of the group's strength.
A statement released by the party said "today's coffee houses have been a huge success -- both for Coffee Party USA and for democracy. All across the U.S., Americans from all political sides sat down for civil conversation and, of course, coffee."
At Java Monkey in Decatur, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, coordinator Stacey Hopkins said turnout far exceeded expectations, with around 60 people participating at the "very productive" meeting where health care reform was the overriding issue.
"We had kids there, we had college students, high school students, and we had retirees," she said. "It went across a very broad spectrum age wise and racially, and this is that we'd like to see."
"I think the biggest thing to come out of it was people were tired of being labeled and divided," said Jernigan, who added that a Tea Party member was among the attendees. "They do agree on a lot." 
Coffee Party founder Annabel Park, who worked as a volunteer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia's 2006 campaign, says the group is not "aligned" with any party and calls the two-party system out of date.
Park said the bitter battle over health care is an example of how government is not working.
"We feel like the health care debate showed not only that we are a very divided country, but there's something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process and realize there's something very broken. I think that's what we're responding to."
"Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now. We don't feel represented by our government right now, and we don't really feel represented well by the media either," Park said last week on CNN's "American Morning." "It's kind of a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control over their future and demand representation. And it requires people standing up and speaking up."
Item 2: On March 9, 2010, Bill Quigley of Truthout.org ran an OpEd entitled: “Time for a US Revolution – 15 Reasons.” This article is notable given the fact that Truthout is and has been a strong supporter of the Democratic Party, but is now broaching the “revolution” word. This reflects a shift, even though what Quigley means by “revolution” is not armed struggle but a “revolution in values” a la Martin Luther King, Jr. A few months ago this would have been unthinkable. A lot has happened since Obama’s ascension, however, and even one of his strongest cheerleaders, the Truthout group, has become increasingly critical of him and the Democratic Party. (Alternet, by the way, in reprinting the article, substituted the word “revolt” for revolution. While this reflects reluctance on Alternet to broach the term, it also underscores the significance of the difference between a revolt and revolution and the fact that Truthout is daring to use it now.)
Item 3: At Reader Supported News, begun by one of the founders of Truthout, Marc Ash, whose split from Truthout I don’t know the inside story of, John Cory posts an article entitled “I am Angry,” on March 6, 2010. In it Cory says that he’s going to throw up if he hears the word “bipartisanship” one more time. The fury he articulates is coming from a thoroughly fed up supporter of Obama.
The article sparked a petition signed by thousands so far based on it. It has received over a thousand mentions on Facebook and 95 Tweets.
While Cory’s argument remains within the confines for now of calling for the Democratic Party to stand up against the reactionaries, the anger he is showing at the Democratic Party’s actions will have to find other outlets as the Democrats will not shift the course they have been on to date. The Democrats may and probably will adjust their approach some in an attempt to mollify people like Cory, but they won’t fundamentally do what he is calling on them to do. This spells trouble for the Democrats and for those in the ruling circles of this country whose backing of Obama represented a major gambit to try to still the outrage about Bush and Cheney’s policies and direct it within the safe confines of business as usual and electoral politics, under the leadership of a man who so many thought was going to be different, but who the PTB knew wasn't. 
“I am Angry” by John Cory at Reader Supported News http://readersupportednews.com/opinion/75-politics/1174-i-am-angry
I am angry.
I'm tired of pundits and know-nothing media gasbags. I'm tired of snarky "inside politics" programming. I am sick of the bigotry and hatred of "birthers" and faux patriotic cranks and their GOP puppet masters. And I'm really pissed at the Democratic Party that confuses having a plate of limp noodles with having a spine.
I'm going to vomit if I hear the word "bipartisanship" one more time.
It was "bipartisanship" that gave us this activist conservative Supreme Court. A Supreme Court that says money is free speech and corporations are persons except when real people try to hold them accountable for their greed and poisonous ways.
"Bipartisanship" gave us the Patriot Act and FISA and illegal wiretaps and two wars and "free speech zones" and "no fly" lists. God bless bipartisan America.
I get nauseated every time the Senate explains how it takes a super majority to do anything for the American people. Tell you what Senate Bozos, if it takes 60 votes to pass legislation then it should take 60% of the popular vote to get you elected. 
When some Tea Party crank says, "I want my country back," I respond, "No madam, you want your country backward."
When a deficit-mongering politician says, "How do we pay for this?" Why not ask, "What did you Republicans do with the surplus we Democrats left you?"
When a compassionate conservative says, "Healthcare reform is socialism," why not answer, "No, sir it is the moral and American way to care for people."
Yes, I can hear it now: "You are naïve and simplistic. These are complicated matters and require sophisticated solutions. Democrats are a big tent and strive for balance. But Republicans block our path at every turn. We are thinking and considering new ways to work in harmony with everyone."
Bite me.
The only thing you get with "harmony" is a Barbershop Quartet.
Democrats stop being Republican Lite. Stop whining about that mean GOP and their nasty messaging. Grow a pair, get a message, get a bumper sticker and hang it out there. Get some strong vivid talking points.
G-O-P = Greed Over People.
Greed Kills - jobs, people and the economy.
Terrorism is Viagra for Republicans: The more fear - the more excited they get.
When a soldier dies for America, who dares ask if they were gay or straight?
Don't act so shocked, Democratic Party. Have you looked around lately?
You're losing the young vote that showed up to elect Obama. You're losing those old enough to remember real Democrats. Why? Because you don't talk to them any more than you talk to me. You talk at me. You talk around me. You talk down to me. You talk about me. You don't talk with me. And you don't inspire and you don't champion and without that you are nothing more than an arbitrator of compromise and abdication.
You are facing a bully. Deal with it!
Republicans want the country backwards. They champion superstition over science because it entrenches ignorance and bigotry and captures the easily frightened.
Republicans treat the Constitution the way they treat the Bible, with selective interpretation and selective application to others while exempting themselves from judgment and accountability.
Republicans preach the gospel of fear because fear is darkness and darkness covers their theft of civil liberties and Constitutional principles.
For thirty years the Republican Party has claimed the mantle of law and order but now quake in dread of the American judicial system when putting terrorists on trial. How criminal is that?
Torture is illegal. Period. John Wayne and Jack Bauer were not our Founding Fathers - only in the make-believe world of Republican drugstore-patriots.
DADT needs to be repealed. Now. It is unconscionable, immoral, and disgusting.
Empathy, compassion and equality are not pejoratives. They are American values proven again and again throughout our history.
Republicans believe that bake-sales and cookies for chemotherapy best determine the value of life and healthcare because life is a pre-existing condition and the "free market" should not have to take on such a high risk - after all, no one gets out alive, so why should the corporation be left holding the bag? Unless of course the price is right.
Republicans believe that government should keep its hands off healthcare but should put its hands inside a woman's body.
Republicans believe in small government - small enough to hold the "right" people and small enough to be owned and operated by the "right" people. And who are the "right" people? Them. Not you.
Democratic Party, DNC, DLCC, DSCC or whatever your acronym - I have only one question for you: Really?
You can't win against these guys? You can't get your message out against these guys? You can't give America leadership against these guys?
Really?
Item 4: On March 10, 2010, actor James Cromwell (“Babe,” “LA Confidential”) was interviewed on KPCC on Patt Morrison’s show about the play that he is starring in called “The Einstein Plan” that is opening in LA on March 27.th  The play is by Donald Freed, who was on Nixon’s Enemies List, and is based on a proposal by Einstein that if 2% of the American people were to engage in civil disobedience that they could bring the government to a halt. Cromwell’s father, by the way, was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the play, Cromwell reads the Einstein plan and in the second half of the play, the audience converses about ways to make this happen. As Cromwell states in the KPCC interview, movements that change society don’t need more than one or two people to start something that can grow the way the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement did. The fact that civil resistance is being promoted this way is a very welcome development and by people as prominent as Cromwell and Freed, a very good thing. Cromwell makes clear that the government and media are not doing what the people want and that it is up to the people now to do what must be done. This makes this item one of the most advanced expressions of what is afoot now. 
Item 5: The powerful, large, and determined March 4th demonstrations in 100 places nationwide and in several other countries on behalf of public education. These demonstrations are causing people like Glenn Beck fits as they rail against the spoiled students who outrageously think that government subsidy of public education – imagine that! - is a right rather than, as Beck and others such as the top administrators of California’s University system think, a PRIVILEGE. These complaining folks like Beck should know privilege when they see it, since they are among the most privileged of our society. It would be much better to have only those who can pay a ton of money for higher education be able to go to college and beyond, don’t you agree? We don’t need a highly educated workforce in America, do we? No, drones will do fine in this fine neoliberal world. Best of all, if we can make sure that even college educated students are trained via methods like No Child Left Behind so that they can’t really think for themselves but have learned to memorize answers, then those who really run things can get their way indefinitely.
Item 6: On the seventh anniversary of the US attack upon Iraq anti-war demonstrations will be held on March 20, 2010 in many US cities, including D.C. The resurgence of the anti-war movement cannot come too soon.
All in all these items spell major trouble for the powers that be and for reactionaries everywhere. At this point the movements from the left are in their embryonic stages. But what they portend is extremely significant. The genie is threatening to get out of the bottle that the Democratic Party and the media in general have tried to stuff it in. Obama's candidacy was the ace in the hole played by the PTB. They don't have another ace up their sleeve like Obama. Part of the genie is, in fact, already out of the bottle. These developments tell us that the political dynamic that has been dominated so much by the right, in which the reactionaries have had the stage almost entirely to themselves, is now going, finally, to turn into a two-sided fight. These developments represent an extremely important turning point.
I can hardly wait.