The second reason that peace leaders fail to criticize the leading pro-war lobby is because of the influence of pro-Israel ‘progressives’ in the movement. These progressives condition their support of ‘peace in Iraq’ only if the movement does not criticize the pro-war Israel lobby in and outside
the US government, the role of Israel as a belligerent partner to the US in Lebanon, Palestine and Kurdish Northern Iraq. A movement claiming to be in favor of peace, which refuses to attack the main proponents of war, is pursuing irrelevance....
I agree completely with the statement: "A movement claiming to be in favor of peace, which refuses to attack the main proponents of war, is pursuing irrelevance...."
This question of "progressives" supporting the pro-war, right-wing policies of the Israeli government and the right-wing Israeli lobby here in the United States is a very basic and most important question, in my opinion, also.
I don't think it is so much real "progressives" that we are speaking of; but, rather, people who are posturing as "progressives" and who are opportunistically using the term "progressive" in order to cover-up their real agenda which is, in fact, a corrupt, reactionary, big-business agenda right down the line from supporting the war in Iraq and the Israeli bloodbath and subjugation and repression of the Palestinian people to a host of other reactionary items on their agenda that have nothing at all in common with progressivism which they are trying to pass off as "progressive" in order to hoodwink, us, and the American public.
Why might anyone be so dishonest?
Because, did you ever hear of anyone putting forward a "reactionary" agenda and getting elected to public office? Republicans have already cornered the market on "conservative."
In the Democratic Party, these reactionaries, which are clearly aligned with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Walter Mondale, Minnesota's United States Senator Amy "Republican Lite" Klobuchar and other opportunists of this ilk can get no where by describing themselves as "moderate," [a label they in fact attach to themselves] which means absolutely nothing to most people... other then they just kind of stand in the middle of the road like fools waiting to get run over... ever heard of anyone putting forward a "moderate" agenda and actually getting elected? Again, the distinction between the "moderate" label... and a "moderate agenda." Moderates never run their campaigns claiming a "moderate agenda," this would be the kiss of death at the polls. Instead they look to pass themselves off as liberals or progressives... the American electorate is clearly beyond, and to the left of liberalism, and is insisting on nothing less than a more radical progressive alternative to the reactionary Republican agenda. Hence these moderates have tried to hijack the progressive label in using it to dishonestly hide their real aims.
Obviously, if these people wrapped themselves in the "conservative" label, where they and their reactionary ideas and their pro-war agenda really belong, they couldn't make it to first base among Democratic voters... they would strike out at the polls every time; which had been occurring for many years if you recall.
Take a look at what these people have done... they hired a linguist, George Lakoff, who advised them, for a very handsome fee, that "packaging" is everything. Use slick packaging making any outlandish claim for a product, wrap it in fancy, smancy packaging and you will sell it.
In his popular little booklet which has paid off handsomely for Lakoff, "Don't Think of an Elephant!" Lakoff is very clear. Lakoff is only for "framing" issues for the purpose of bringing into the political debate progressive sounding policy directions, AND he emphatically advises these "moderate" Democrats to never, ever put forward any specific solutions to any problems. Read the book; see for yourself; this is all spelled out very clearly... and, very cleverly in order to try to suck us all in to "winning." What is won, though? The war goes on just like people go without health care working for a minimum wage that insures a lifetime of poverty.
Lakoff would like us to believe progressives can't really win on a genuine progressive platform which provides concrete solutions to the very real problems in our country and the world. Is Lakoff correct…? I say he isn't.
In fact, contrary to Lakoff's "theory" aimed at making a mockery of the science of linguistics, progressives can win; and, when putting forward intelligently framed progressive policy directions accompanied with real solutions to problems progressive do win in the United States like they do in any other country in the world. There are numerous current and historic examples.
With this book, "Don't Think of an Elephant!" Lakoff has hoodwinked many real progressives who should know better... however, real progressives have been desperate for finding a way to bring their ideas forward into the mainstream of American politics so even many real progressives have bought into Lakoff's advice dished out explicitly for this bunch of so-called "moderate" democrats... I can't stress this enough--- Lakoff's advice is tailored to these so-called moderates… not to real progressives except to lure us into a sinking ship. Moderates, who, if we examine their positions in regard to race issues, women's equality, peace, environmental and global warming, and most especially labor issues and on capitalism, we find these so-called "moderates" to in fact be very reactionary... again, Hillary Clinton is our prime example... in fact all the announced and leading Democratic candidates for President in the double-digits are prime and classic examples.
They could never get elected on their real pro-business, pro-war, anti-labor reactionary agenda. This is why, for real progressives to continue to advocate for the "lesser of two evils" is a losing proposition because all we end up getting is evil in one form or another; corrupt politicians whose goal is to drive down our standard of living and carry forward the aims of U.S. imperialism which means a never ending cycle of wars, along with social and economic injustices.
Maybe we should clearly define the basic hallmarks of real progressivism.
Real progressivism is based on a world outlook which holds that all life is sacred and war, in our modern world, is not a solution to local, regional, or international problems. Real progressives believe as Lincoln did--- that labor is to be respected and all forms of human exploitation, be it chattel slavery or exploitation of labor in any form must be rejected, and that labor is the superior of capital. Real progressives would never tolerate the Israeli occupation of another people's homeland and sit in silence in the face of the continued Israeli campaign of carnage and repression against the Palestinian people.
Jimmy Carter, who is among these "moderate" politicians has had the courage to break ranks and take a genuinely progressive stand on the Israeli-Palestinian question and has the moral courage to bring forward the concept that Palestinians are human beings like any of us... he hasn't really brought forward a specific "progressive" solution into the debate; at least not yet; however, and this is a very important "however," he does insist that dialogue is the solution to the problems in the Middle East rather than war... obviously for progressives, too, this is the basic, fundamentally necessary first step towards a lasting peace in the Middle East. We can live with a moderate who has the courage to join with us in advocating the first step towards peace.
Yet, Jimmy Carter has been viciously attacked by his moderate friends for taking this courageous stand.
For bringing forward my ideas about peace in the Middle East and speaking out against the continued Israeli carnage I have been targeted for the most vicious attack aimed at trying to silence me and drive me from the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party; this attack is pretty much summed up in an e-mail I received from a sitting judge, who wrote: "Maki, you must be fucking an Arab bitch." This was in response to my suggestion that a special meeting of the State Central Committee of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party be called to have a dialogue, discuss, and debate what our position should be on ending the carnage and bloodbath in the Middle East.
Unlike Jimmy Carter, we have a life-long, true and very real progressive like George McGovern who has brought forward in his "Blueprint" to end the war in Iraq which embodies very specific progressive solutions backed up by progressive policy directions which have been framed very well.
McGovern's "Blueprint" is like poison to these "progressive" posers and impostors who have deceptively, opportunistically and dishonestly wrapped themselves in the "progressive" label in the very same way the so-called patriots wrap themselves in the American flag and send everyone else off to fight their dirty wars as they reap the spoils and profits simply by clipping their Wall Street coupons without dirtying their hands.
To these "progressive" impostors and posers, George McGovern has committed the deadliest sin of all according to George Lakoff who specifically warns against: framing an issue from a progressive policy position, and then putting forward a real solution; solution is what we need to hone in on.
It would seem to me real progressives need to find a way to mature to the point where they can work with moderates like Carter when he brings forward a progressive viewpoint which sets forth a progressive "first step" solution aimed at ending this bloodshed in the Middle East on the basis of self-determination along with advocating full respect and equality for the Palestinian people... and who knows, Jimmy Carter may find an eventual home in the real progressive movement--- stranger things have been known to occur... he has displayed many exemplary humanitarian traits that coincide with real progressive ideals on numerous occasions since leaving public office.
Anyone can contrast the views of Jimmy Carter to those of his former Vice-President--- Walter Mondale, and see a very significant difference. Mondale has called for more wars... war against Iran... a pre-emptive strike against North Korea; continued unconditional support for the bestial and inhuman policies of an expansionist Israel. When it comes to being a "progressive," Mondale is the embodiment of a worthless charlatan and a fraud. Jimmy Carter on the other hand has been moving in a genuinely progressive direction on numerous issues... if he doesn't make the complete turn to progressivism; it is not for lack of trying… it may be for the lack of progressives reaching out a hand.
Getting back to George McGovern... the "progressive" impostors and posers have done a real number on McGovern--- so, what is new, they have been smearing him for years, five decades in fact... because he was an unflinching progressive political proponent of the New Deal and political ally of Frances Perkins, the feisty progressive Secretary of Labor in the New Deal government of Franklin Roosevelt who wasn't afraid to have friends like Communist Party leader Earl Browder; the heroic Communist Party member and leader of the West Coast Longshore Union, Harry Bridges; and, Minnesota's real progressives, socialist governors Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson and the Communist Party member of the United States Congress from the Iron Range, John Bernard--- all three overwhelmingly elected on the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party ticket in the 1930's.
In fact, when reactionaries tried to rattle her cage by quoting to her from Karl Marx' Communist Manifesto, a liking it to the social programs she advocated, Perkins responded by humorously saying she was glad to see someone agreed with her.
How do these "progressive" posers and impostors attack McGovern's "Blueprint" for ending this dirty war in Iraq? They again turn to smearing him; claiming "we" can't be associated with such a "loser" when in fact, long-time serving, continually re-elected United States Senator George McGovern, who wore his progressive label on his shirt sleeves and in the legislation he authored and in every speech he delivered, in every discussion with constituents would have won the presidency had not these very same "moderates," who now make the claim--- a knowingly false and dishonest claim--- of being "progressive;" if they would not have sat out the election twiddling their thumbs and picking their noses as they with-held the resources of the Democratic Party from McGovern which he would have needed in order to be elected President--- these "progressive" posers were responsible for McGovern losing and throwing our Nation to the vultures and the wolves who were already circling over us as if we were road-kill… as a result--- for over thirty-five years now the New Deal has been under attack, rolled-back, and pulverized.
In fact, these "moderate" Democrats now posing as "progressives," gave us, and the world, Richard Nixon--- not to mention giving us tens of thousands of American G.I.'s returned from Vietnam in body bags while killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese in who knows how many My Lai Massacres which has left our country deeply in debt to this very day.
Since then they have rolled over and acquiesced to the Republican big-business agenda.
It is not true "progressives" advocating support for the right-wing, warmongering policies of the Israeli government which fronts for U.S. imperialism like corrupt Native American tribal officials front for organized crime in the casino industry... and note who is among the first to endorse Hillary Clinton and who has been among the foremost defenders of the right-wing, warmongering, Israeli government here in Minnesota politics... one Melanie Benjamin... the head of a casino empire where thousands of workers are employed in casinos filled with second-hand smoke, without any rights under state, federal, or tribal labor laws and without any voice at work or in the communities where they reside--- all receiving poverty wages--- as the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party turns over its home page website to Ms. Benjamin to pontificate and lecture about human rights!
Imagine that... one who denies thousands of casino workers their most basic and fundamental human rights and calls for continued support for the reactionary policies of the Israeli government... and, what label is attached to Melanie Benjamin by herself and her friends in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party? You guessed it... she is a "progressive!" Not just any "progressive," but a "PROGRESSIVE!!!!" Melanie Benjamin is touted as a "progressive supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton." She joins Walter Mondale in being anointed to "progressive" standing in the MN DFL.
Now, figure this out... Minnesota DFL state representative Bernie Lieder boasted to the news media just days before the election that he was more conservative than his Bush-Cheney, war supporting anti-single-payer, universal health care loving Republican opponent, yet Lieder's campaign literature stated that he was a "progressive."
Progressives have in fact been a dominant force in American politics when truthfully asserting their progressive agenda for peace and social justice. Under the progressive banner the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party dominated the political landscape in Minnesota for years with a legacy that cannot be destroyed. Even Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty was forced to acknowledge in his keynote address before the last Republican State Convention that he could not break through this barrier of progressivism in Minnesota which has become, what he described, as a "tradition."
The New Deal Administration of the 1930's and into the 1940's was truly "progressive" representing Americans from all walks of life and was a marvelous progressive undertaking; brought to an end by Harry Truman--- the idol of these "moderate" Democrats.
There are the examples of progressivism from North Dakota and South Dakota; Wisconsin and New York and California.
We need to be careful we do not fall into the trap of allowing these phony politicians the opportunity to hijack real progressivism in the name of political opportunism. In fact, we don't even need the Hillary Clintons and this bunch of "progressive" posers and impostors.
What we do need to do, is carefully lay a firm foundation for a truly progressive movement with a well framed progressive agenda which includes real solutions to the real problems people are experiencing; again, I stress… "solutions." People are looking for solutions to all these problems.
Here in Minnesota the reactionary leadership of the Minnesota DFL which has deceitfully and dishonestly wrapped itself in the cloak of "progressivism" has tried to manipulate and control the peace movement by insisting that those who support the rights of the Palestinian people be excluded from the peace movement, as well silenced in the MN DFL if they dare to stand up and criticize the warmongering, racist, and repressive policies of the Israeli government.
The specific methods they use include forcing the "Progressive Caucus" to agree to support all candidates endorsed by the MN DFL. Why anyone would be so week-minded to agree to such shenanigans I will never understand.
We saw this at the last MN DFL state convention when the well known peace activist Charley Underwood decided at the last minute to challenge the nomination of Amy Klobuchar for United States Senate… he was given a "loyalty oath" which he agreed to: "Will you support the nominated candidate of the MN DFL if you do not receive the endorsement of the convention?" He responded, "Yes." Even though he knew that in spite of his excellent speech condemning this dirty war in Iraq--- even though he did not dare to criticize Israel's warmongering policies--- he knew he was not going to be nominated, and Amy "Republican Lite" Klobuchar would get the nomination. He and others from the Progressive Caucus and members of the State Central Committee were repeatedly warned they would be removed from their positions should they do otherwise. Well, I am still here; not only did I not endorse Klobuchar, but I urged people not to vote for her and I didn't vote for her myself. Even the popular, truly progressive, anti-war and pro single-payer, universal health care candidate, Ford Bell, who had been challenging Klobuchar, was done in by the Israeli lobby in the MN DFL.
Given that this is the way these "progressive" impostors and frauds maintain their control together with smear and hate campaigns progressives are going to have to consider some alternatives.
In my opinion, what needs to be done is that progressives need to use more tact. What we need to do is remain active inside the Democratic Party without fearing going outside of the Democratic Party to pursue our progressive agenda. Democracy requires such an approach. One way of doing this is for progressives to get behind a candidate in the primaries and, if not successful, have another candidate ready to move into the general election.
In fact, in West Michigan, a similar tactic successfully led to Richard Vanderveen being the first Democrat--- a progressive anti-Vietnam War Democrat--- in years to attain the 5th District Congressional seat after Jerry Ford held the seat for many years. (Vanderveen lost after the professional political hacks got their clutches on him and convinced him his populist progressive message was a fluke and he wouldn't win again without moving to the center--- sound familiar?; well it was losing advice; when he asked me what I thought, I told him he would lose if he budged from his progressive agenda.)
As progressives we should consider this tactic; it works. People have a right to vote for candidates that reflect their views… in the United States today people want to have a real progressive option… this is evident with the clear signs of let-down and disappointment when Democrats continued to cave in to Bush and Cheney after the last election.
There was clearly a time when there was the need to consider the lesser of two evils, in my opinion. This is not such a time. As progressives, we have the majority of humanity in all countries now moving along the progressive road--- this is our "protection." We need not fear the danger from the right to the extent we have to hold our noses every time we enter the voting booth whether it is for drain commissioner, county commissioner, state or federal elected officials; or the president.
What we need to do is strategize; and, we need to serve notice on these frauds and impostors posing under the guise of "progressivism" that we really do dare to step outside of the two-party system, and we dare to do so in a way where we dare to win… not worrying if these progressive impostors lose.
Part of our strategy that should be considered is running in very close and hotly contested races so that these progressive fakers know that we mean business. A big part of politics is demonstrating having the power to make or break other candidates. It is not of our making, or our fault, that these "progressive" posers can not win elections without our support… and, they can't.
There is no reason why peace and social justice organizations shouldn't be seeking ballot status. For instance, why shouldn't "Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice" be on the ballot, and be fielding candidates for public office? I think the time is now.
I have been mulling this over for quite some time… anyone else thinking along these lines? If so, let's talk. We can get together around your kitchen table, or mine.
Alan L. Maki