No doubt this position taken by Tim Carpenter (see letter--- Next Steps Following our Week from Hell at very bottom) is going to be that of all those supporting Barack Obama…
Tim Carpenter states, in this letter to me, one of the biggest myths, fallacies and hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people for so long… this very serious delusion that:
“We're building a movement here, and we don't just discard leaders within the movement because they were unable to force our issue through. We force out the opposition, the Rahm Emanuels, Joe Liebermans and Max Baucuses of the world, and replace them with progressive candidates. Once we have a Democratic progressive majority, then we can discuss firing the leaders who fail to represent our values, at the ballot box.”
Question: Is Barack Obama a “leader within the movement?” Leaders have names; let’s have the names of these “leaders” in Congress.
“Once we have a Democratic progressive majority, then we can discuss firing the leaders who fail to represent our values, at the ballot box.”
This is not just about “values.” For crying out loud; we are talking about solving very urgent problems people are experiencing from not having access to health care to people dying in wars and people being forced to live in poverty and all that entails. We are talking about institutionalized racism and the failure of the Obama Administration to enforce affirmative action in hiring.
Progressive politics at its very core is about the politics and economics of livelihood… working class politics. About solving the problems working people are experiencing in the day-to-day struggles for survival. Our “values” are doing things that solve these problems not protecting those who are making problems worse or do nothing. This question of progressive “values” is a question of the most fundamental and basic questions of ethics and morality in politics which requires accountability.
Do I detect that Tim Carpenter is responding to my suggestion that we withhold our votes to coerce “accountability” from these Democrats?
In fact, it is not possible to ever build a Democratic majority that is “progressive” in the United States House or Senate--- a progressive Democrat here and there, yes; but, no progressive Democratic majority like Tim Carpenter and PDA keep telling us about. This has never, ever been accomplished any place in the United States at a state level, let alone a national level; and, it has never even been accomplished at any local level unless one is willing to twist, distort and pervert the meaning of the word “progressive;” as apparently Tim Carpenter and others are willing to do.
There is a reason why workers in other countries have always had to go outside of the corporate controlled parties in order to bring forward a “progressive” agenda to win real progressive reforms.
Make no mistake, the term “progressive” in politics, today, implies:
Peace; peace is not “successful” occupation of another country.
A public health care system.
Pro-labor; a real living minimum wage.
Anti-racist, pro-affirmative action.
Even many labor parties dominated by right-social democrats are not “progressive” while most are a mixed bag containing a great deal of liberal and some progressive to left thinking in their programs and legislation when they successfully come to power... none have ever achieved political AND economic power.
Even under the very best circumstances, as in the 1930’s with huge mass movements demanding progressive reforms (and for sure during the struggles against the Vietnam War) there never has been a “progressive” majority of Democrats in power in any state; not at the national level, either.
In fact, not even Democratic liberals, never mind Democratic progressives, have ever dominated the United States House; for sure not the U.S. Senate.
In Minnesota, where socialists--- and make no mistake, socialists are progressives--- achieved political power through the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, progressive Democrats had to join with the Farmer-Labor Party because progressives in the Minnesota Democratic Party were a very tiny miniscule minority among what was otherwise a thoroughly corrupt, anti-people political party--- which the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party has become today with its politicians completely ignoring the mandate of the people on just about every single issue. 72% of the State Convention delegates voted for a resolution for single-payer universal health care. With the exception of one member of Congress; all the rest rejected single-payer before the last delegate cleared the Convention floor.
In fact, one could make the case that Barack Obama has the best Congress in American history to work with right now; for sure as “good” as it will ever get with Democrats and Republicans in the majority.
In fact, if there wasn’t one single Republican left sitting in the U.S. House or Senate things would be no better for the working class; because the Democratic Party is controlled politicians bribed by big-business to look out for their interests--- want to try working with big-business? Good-luck.
Many labor-based political parties such as the New Democratic Party in Canada from time to time take wrong positions on issues; but, not because these politicians have been bribed by big-business to do so--- the wrong positions are a result of disagreements, primarily in the house of labor or views held by middle-class intellectuals who don’t think working people have the ability to think, reason and act upon problems and they need someone to do their thinking for them. These problems usually work their way out to the satisfaction of all concerned.
In fact, when I asked Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone if he was a “liberal” or a “progressive;” he told me that he was “a liberal with some progressive ideas.”
And there hasn’t been as good of a liberal as Paul Wellstone in either the House or Senate for many years… one would have to look back at George McGovern, Claude Pepper, Vito Marcantonio, John Bernard and Elmer Benson… the problem is, Vito Marcantonio, John Bernard and Elmer Benson were not Democrats!
And George McGovern got his start in politics in the Progressive Party of Henry Wallace. And Claude “Red” Pepper; he got his start in politics right out of Earl Browder’s “People’s Front.”
In the Obama Administration there isn’t one single progressive--- not if we hold them up to Frances Perkins who was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor. The Obama Administration has a liberal or two, maybe three at the most--- but no progressives.
We need to note that Tim Carpenter does not EVER talk about electing “progressives” who are not Democrats; yet, where are those “progressive” Democrats? They don’t exist with only a few very notable exceptions. And Tim Carpenter would never consider supporting a non-Democrat “progressive” running against a Democrat.
Let’s be clear.
“Progressives” do not take bribes. Tim Carpenter considers John Conyers a “progressive.” He used to be a “progressive;” not any more since taking corporate bribes for votes and to make policy and to do favors. No progressive would have had Cindy Sheehan arrested for what she was doing: went to talk to Conyers about impeaching Bush and Cheney and she went and tried to talk to Conyers the way any good progressive community activist would do, she “brought along a crowd.” Cindy Sheehan got arrested; but, so far, neither the bribed nor those doing the bribery have been dragged off in hand-cuffs.
And, what kind of progressives allow a politician who has been bribed by corporations to lead their struggles for health care reform with the millions of dollars a day insurance company lobbyists are passing out to these politicians like suckers to children at a bank.
Why doesn’t Tim Carpenter provide us with a list of all of those he considers “progressives” in the House and Senate he is referring to? I have repeatedly asked him for a list; he ignores this request and goes on talking about “progressive Democrats.” Carpenter says that we need to “elect more progressive Democrats like our progressive friends in Congress.” If one has “progressive” friends in Congress, one should be able to name those friends. Friends usually have names.
In fact, most of the time when you find progressives running in nominating conventions and primary elections challenging these Democrats who are opposed to health care reform they are for war, too; these progressive challengers will tell you that they don’t even consider themselves Democrats!
Tim Carpenter and the Progressive Democrats of America along with most of the labor leaders at the national and state levels who are gung-ho backers of the Democrats have some pretty screwed up priorities if you ask me because they are more concerned about Democrats winning elections than what those Democrats do once they win.
When was the last time any of these labor leaders ever talked about flexing labor’s muscle to assure “accountability?” In other words, “we want something for our votes.”
Accountability is something so fundamental and basic to democracy we often forget to talk about it. Of course, there are a whole lot of very powerful people making big profits who are very comfortable that “accountability” hasn’t become part of the political and democratic process and the mainstream media owned by huge corporations isn’t going to broach the issue of accountability.
The fact that Tim Carpenter and this entire bunch who refer to themselves in one way or another as “progressives for Obama” prove they are opposed to accountability in politics by refusing to criticize and demand anything from Obama out of fear Obama will kick them aside--- Obama only needs them so long as they “go along to get along” with Wall Street and this entire corrupt and rotten system Wall Street has spun into this web where most of humanity is its prey; anything for a buck.
Tim Carpenter has people like me in mind when he says:
“While anger motivates many people to action, it is too easy to over-react when angry—we need to cool down and assess the situation. This is just the first act in a three-act play…”
In other words, if you read what Tim Carpenter is saying, he won’t engage in demanding accountability from even those elected public officials he less than dubiously claims are “progressive” by telling them:
No Peace; no votes.
No single-payer universal health care (Canadian style); no votes.
No jobs at living wages; no votes.
In a P.S. at the end of his letter, Tim Carpenter writes:
P.S. Read John Nichols latest article, Six Smart Progressive Complaints About House Health Bill.
There is a problem in reading what has been written here by John Nichols because it implies real progressives are willing to support Obama’s health insurance reform package “if it isn’t too bad.”
None of those quoted suggest “accountability:”
“No single-payer; no votes.” This is “accountability.”
All, including Kucinich, are prepared to “go along to get along” because to do otherwise implies that the solution requires working people to free themselves from this “two-party trap.”
Since when did progressives ever say they were for health insurance reform?
As I recall, progressives have always been for health care reform; perhaps Tim Carpenter will correct me if I am wrong.
And, the only health care reform anyone has ever proposed in great detail is single-payer universal health care, which they go on to describe, when asked, as being “like they have in Canada.”
There we have it, the Canada Health Act. Legislators need only get a copy of the Canada Health Act… delete the word “Canada” and replace it with “United States;” very simple… any dumb donkey should be able to figure it out.
Tim Carpenter wants us all to take a big, deep cleansing breath; or, as he puts it, “inhale and exhale.” In other words, don’t let your anger at this Democratic Party sellout on health care lead you to look for solutions beyond and outside of the Democratic Party…
… Carpenter thus spits upon democracy by refusing to demand “accountability.”
Now is the time to serve notice on Obama and these other Dumb Donkeys:
No peace; no votes.
No Canadian style health care reform; no votes.
Single-payer universal health care, yes; but, with a vastly expanded public health care system which includes:
Tim, now take a big, deep breath--- inhale and exhale; this is what the American people want in the way of health care reform--- nothing less; the wealthiest country in the world should be able to provide the workers who created the wealth with a whole lot more.
Any country that can squander trillions of dollars on military spending and wars, finance a global network of more than 800 U.S. military bases dotting the globe protecting Wall Street’s interests and fund the Israeli killing machine sure as hell can afford to provide its own people with health care--- a basic and fundamental human right.
Tim, here is something for you and all the so-called “progressives” for Obama to think about. Take another big, deep breath and read what most Americans are thinking right now:
From the Boston Globe...
“It’s beyond belief to me,’’ said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. While Obama and Congress inherited “a big mess’’ from Bush, Haynes said, “there aren’t any excuses anymore. If you can’t deliver health care, and you can’t deliver jobs, and if you can’t deliver [card check legislation] , and you can’t figure out how to take care of the working people of this great city and country, you don’t deserve to stay in office.’’
Tim; are you still with us? Are you still breathing?
Next step… A-C-C-O-U-N-T-A-B-I-L-T-Y
The time is long over-due for grassroots and rank-and-file action to teach these dirty birds a lesson.
If Obama and the Democrats don’t know the meaning of this word, give them a dictionary; not your vote.
Yours in the struggle,
Alan L. Maki
P.S.- Tim Carpenter and all you “progressives” for Obama.
So far Barack Obama has brought us nine-trillion dollars of long-term debt bailing out Wall Street banks and manufacturers, expanded the wars and now pushes very expensive mandated health insurance premiums down our throats… got any idea what his “green economy/green jobs” legislation will bring?
Oh, and the home foreclosures and evictions continue.
“Expressions of frustration?” Come on Tim, enough with the excuses… this anger results because people did not get the “change” they voted for.
P.P.S.- As far as those who keep telling me that demanding “accountability” is some kind of a far out, radical demand I suggest they check out some American history… perhaps by reading Howard Fast’s, “Citizen Tom Paine.”
P.P.P.S- Either you can elect a majority of progressive Democrats to the U.S. House and Senate or you can’t. Why hasn’t it ever been accomplished?
Letter I received from Tim Carpenter and the Progressive Democrats of America…
Next Steps Following our Week from Hell
Rest assured, we certainly would have done things differently if it had been up to us; yet the events of last week are instructive, albeit incredibly disappointing. That said, Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Eric Massa need to hear from us for their brave stand against the corporatocracy when they voted against HR 3962 for the right reasons.
We’ve heard from many of you--particularly over the cancellation of the Weiner amendment vote. The PDA community is angry and rightfully so. Your national team is upset and angry, too. Most responses were an expression of frustration--some called upon us to excoriate members of the CPC or run candidates against them.
We will not always agree with what progressive members of Congress do, but we do not face the immense pressure exerted on them by a centrist White House beholden to special interests.
We're building a movement here, and we don't just discard leaders within the movement because they were unable to force our issue through. We force out the opposition, the Rahm Emanuels, Joe Liebermans and Max Baucuses of the world, and replace them with progressive candidates. Once we have a Democratic progressive majority, then we can discuss firing the leaders who fail to represent our values, at the ballot box.
While anger motivates many people to action, it is too easy to over-react when angry—we need to cool down and assess the situation. This is just the first act in a three-act play:
Next, the Senate passes a bill. We need to get ready to support Bernie Sanders in his single-payer fight in the Senate.
Third is the reconciliation process. We need to get the Kucinich amendment inserted in the bill, and we need our progressive Congress members to make this happen. Details are forthcoming.
The reason we're active is because we recognize the system is working against the people--our democracy is broken. Our opposition is not within the progressive movement but the corporations who control our elected officials. We need to go after the cause--not the effect.
At this point, we should focus on electing candidates who are not beholden to corporate interests and are running against the Blue Dogs, not replacing incumbent progressive members of Congress.
We all need to work for candidates like Marcy Winograd and Mike Capuano and wherever else they may be, in the upcoming election--true progressive candidates. We need to get out the vote, or we could lose our majority. While having the majority has proved to be frustrating for us, it's still better than the alternative--imagine a few more Michele Bachmanns getting elected in the midterms.
Mostly we need to stay focused on the prize and get single-payer established in the states. This will do more to move our progressive candidates and us forward than focusing our ire on Congressional single-payer advocates who voted for the bill.
Later this week, look for an email in which we’ll be announcing the Brown Bag Vigils as part of the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign.
Until then, inhale and exhale.
Tim Carpenter for the PDA National Team
P.S. Read John Nichols latest article, Six Smart Progressive Complaints About House Health Bill.
This is a digital leaflet distributed in the American tradition of Tom Paine’s “broadsides” posted in opposition to British tyranny.
Feel free to read it, print it, discuss it, delete it, post it or pass it on.Alan L. Maki
I would be interested in hearing what you think.
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