Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Why do you rely on the Democrats?"

I get e-mails, phone calls, and comments from people every day along the lines of this question; some people, in fact most people, come right out and ask me why I even bother working in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party at all. I find more and more people losing what little bit of confidence they had in the Democrats at the time they voted on November 7; actually no matter what kind of spin Brian Melendez wants to put on the election outcome... the only real assessment one can make is that people voted in opposition to the Bush/Cheney agenda of war in Iraq and the big-business assault on the living standards of working people here at home... in overwhelming numbers voters and non-voters are for single-payer, universal health care as an alternative to the present mess they understand is the creation of money-grubbing insurance companies, profit hungry pharmaceutical companies and greedy doctors who would rather be at the country club playing golf with the CEO's of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies than helping people get well and stay well.

Let us be clear in understanding the outcome of the November 7 elections... the Republicans lost the election; the Democrats didn't win it... in fact, the Democrats, with a few notable exceptions, never put forward a single solution to any problems working people are experiencing--- let alone campaign for single-payer, universal health care. Here in Minnesota the majority of DFL candidates for state and federal office didn't even have the moral or political courage to run on their own party's platform that included massive and overwhelming support for single-payer, universal health care--- only days before the election DFL candidates and long-time state Representatives Huntley and Lieder campaigned in opposition to single-payer, universal health care by putting forward a bunch of Band-Aid "solutions" to this mess. Not once during the election campaign did Brian Melendez, the leader of the Minnesota DFL, encourage DFL candidates to campaign on the single-payer, universal health care solution--- rather he encouraged these candidates to use the meaningless, nice progressive sounding "affordable health care for all." Well, there is no such thing as any health care being affordable to anyone in this country anymore except for the wealthy... we all know that; and there never will be any such thing... there never has been any health care in America that was ever affordable except in the minds of those on the board of the American Medical Association.

It is easy to see why so many Minnesotans lack confidence in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party to implement change. I understand this lack of confidence completely. What I don't agree with is giving these dumb donkeys free reign to continue down the road of appeasement and "moderation" without opposition because these dumb donkeys will always take the easy road; that is the nature of this beast... capitulating to the warmongers and big-business is the easy road... resistance requires some thought and extra effort... again, I stress, we are dealing here with a bunch of dumb donkeys... dumb donkeys like Walter Mondale who in the midst of a campaign to break the stranglehold of the Republicans where the desire for peace on the part of the American people is overwhelming, that this dumb donkey would come out and advocate a "pre-emptive" military strike against North Korea as if it wasn't bad enough that he and Hubert Humphrey supported the bloodletting of the Korean War and then turned right around and were stupid enough to support the Vietnam War--- after so much death and destruction that resulted from the Korean War... but again, what can one expect from dumb donkeys? They are hard to teach... at least you can teach an old dog new tricks... it is hard to ever teach a dumb donkey anything.

It is not a matter of having any kind of blind faith in the National Democratic Party or the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. I think we have to keep the pressure on the Democratic Party/MNDFL and not let them off the hook... and make no mistake--- to withdraw from working with or within the Democratic Party would be a big mistake, in my opinion--- after all, if we are going to expect government to heed our demands to end this dirty war in Iraq and for single-payer, universal health care, or to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog, or stop the criminal actions of United States Steel's Minntac operation in contaminating the streams, rivers, lakes, aquifers, and lands of northern Minnesota we are expecting the Democratic Party/MNDFL to act... certainly the Green Party isn't where we go when we want action from state or federal legislators, and I don't see any of the other left/socialist/communist parties with any legislative clout... not yet.

Often when I talk to people about the need to take concrete action to do the necessary things to bring pressure to bear on local, state, or federal officials and casino managements--- be they elected or appointed--- people will say they will do something and then they don't follow through, be it making a phone call, writing a letter, or sitting down to talk with the appropriate person/s. Then we get together later and go through our check list of what everyone agreed to do and many of the things that we agreed to do haven't been done. This is no way to build movements for social change; nor does it convey the message to Democrats or anyone else in government that we are serious about what we say--- in effect, we let these people off the hook.

Should we have to pressure Democrats to cut off funding for this dirty war in Iraq? Or to begin impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney? Should we have to pressure anyone to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog? Should we have to pressure anyone to halt the contamination of the waters and lands of northern Minnesota? Should we have to pressure public officials into seeing to it that 20,000 of our fellow Minnesotans who go to work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state or federal labor laws at poverty wages, that this denial of human rights be corrected? The answer to all of these questions is rather obvious... "NO!" we should not have to lift a finger in order to expect that something right and just be done by any public official... elected or appointed... the sad reality is such that we have to do a great deal.

The reality is quite different from what any caring, considerate, and thinking person would expect from our fellow human beings in these positions of power and authority that are supposedly derived by the consent from the rest of us. Sometimes I am forced to wonder if some of these people are human beings at all with the emotions one would expect from a human being--- compassion, sympathy, empathy... SHAME. Quite frankly, I do not often find these emotions on the part of Democrats any more than from Republicans. I think this is very sad... but it goes with the domination by big-business over the political process. One only has to look at where the campaign contributions come from for these politicians to understand why there is such a lack of concern by politicians for the problems working people are experiencing... in fact, most of these problems that we have as working people are the direct result of the big-business drive for profits--- think about this: problems on the job usually are the result of management's drive for profits; threats to our environment, again come as a result of a corporate quest for greater profits; the health care mess... there you have it again, big money to be made; casino workers without any rights or a voice at work... big, big, big money there; people losing there homes because they can't meet their mortgage payments... the banks profit.

Often when I ask people, "How do you expect change to happen if we don't get together and educate ourselves and others around us about the nature of our problems and organize into powerful movements in the face of such opposition by such extreme wealth?" I receive the reply, "We have to 'hope' things will change." Or, when I ask how something will get done if we don't act on it, the response is, "All we can do is 'hope' that someone will do that." Movements for social change aren't built on "hope." Movements for social change are built on the concrete activity of individuals who join together for action on issues.

The sad fact is, that under capitalism, hope is only for the hopeless; for those who have given up; for those who expect a dumb donkey to one day smarten up.

I do not "hope" the Democratic Party/MNDFL will do a goddamn thing for working people. I know that the Democratic Party/MNDFL will not take the required action to end this dirty war in Iraq, bring forward legislation for single-payer, universal health care let alone initiate legislation for a minimum wage that is a real living wage, halt the peat mining in the Big Bog or the contamination of our streams, rivers, lakes, aquifers, or land by United States steel, or stop the injustices casino workers are subjected to daily...

I do not "hope" the Democrats/MNDFL will do any of this... it is simply too much to expect from a bunch of dumb donkeys who only move when they smell corporate money.

In response to the question, "Why do you rely on the Democrats?" my response is, and always has been: I don't. We need an alternative to the present political parties... be it the Democrats, the Republicans, or their junior wannabe the Greens whose politicians seem to only jump when offered money to work for Democrats... these Greens will only squawk enough to create a little noise to get the attention of Democrats or Republicans who then purchase their silence with cushy jobs... classic example: Elizabeth Dickinson in St. Paul.

I would suggest that until these politicians of every political stripe begin seeing "Red" things are not going to change much in this country... the "Red" that I speak of is the "Red" of the real Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and the "Red" Finns of the Iron Range.

I have no illusions what-so-ever that the Democratic Party or the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is going to do what is morally or politically right for working people... however, I do understand the wisdom of socialist Governor Floyd B. Olson who said, "The only way to make these capitalist politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties listen is when you bring a crowd." And bring a crowd he did!

We don't have an alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties nor their junior Green Party organized right now, do we? "Hope" is not going to create such a working class political party... if you want to know who is going to undertake this task... go look in the mirror. "Hope" is the refuge sought by those who have been beaten down and given up.

Until this "hoped" for development of a working class political party takes place that provides a real alternative, I and many other liberals, progressives, socialists, and communists will continue to work with one foot in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and one foot outside of it--- ready, eager, and prepared to come into an alternative political party that will address the needs of working people and our living environment... we will come into that party with both feet. Until that time we are not going to give these politicians free reign to help the corporations squeeze every last drop of blood from working people and rob us of the air to breathe and clean water to drink, nor to exploit us without opposition... if you want to sit and "hope" for something better than the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party to come along before finding a way to participate in the struggles of people for a better life and a healthier environment... just come home from work, sit at home in front of the television and "hope," drink a little beer and smoke some weed. But do not twist my activity into something that it is not... I do not rely on the Democratic Party to do anything... in fact, if there is anything I "hope" for from the Democratic Party it is that they will just sit and do nothing rather than vote to send more troops and piss away more money on this dirty war in Iraq... with my involvement I try to insure the Democratic Party will take action to end this dirty war in Iraq and implement single-payer, universal health care... if everyone sitting at home "hoping" for something better or for someone else to do something would take the initiative to act we just might be able to end this dirty war and get single-payer universal health care.

First step... sit around the kitchen table and talk to your family, friends, and fellow workers about the problems... put your ideas in letters to the editors... send those letters to the editors that you write off to your legislators and the MNDFL... distribute your letters as leaflets in your community and at work or wherever you go... initiate petitions followed up with peace vigils and organize forums and conferences to discuss these issues. And remeber the advice from Governor Floyd B. Olson... always take a crowd with you.

First step... discussion around the kitchen table.

Remember, there will be those like the leaders of the Minnesota DFL who will first tell you they only need your money and your vote; then when you get involved and make an issue so it is no longer out of sight and out of mind they will tell you to get lost... and if you don't get lost they will start to call you names... so what, ignore them... get involved.

If we can initiate kitchen table discussions in every "podunk" community in Minnesota we will be well on our way to building the kind of movement required for the kind of real change that we want to see... and we just might be able to stop this dirty war in Iraq... in the process, if we work together in turning out a big enough crowd, we just might be able to attain single-payer, universal health care.

Think about this: one little snow-flake doesn't amount to a hell of a lot... but when we get a blizzard all those little snow-flakes sure add up... each of us is like one little snow-flake, the politicians can ignore us when we are alone... but together we are like a blizzard.