Whatever Happened to the Left?

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

This is an essay about observations, so it’s not going to be sourced to the Mainstream Press that has served as propagandists and gatekeepers to the political status quo for too damned long. These are observations of political trends I’ve noted over more than 40 years of certifiable adulthood, strong interest in all things political, several oaths to protect and defend the Constitution (thus Laws of the Land), and a 40-year marriage to a political sci-guy who is even more obsessed with politics than I am.

The last time the left side of the political spectrum wielded significant political power was back during the dark days of VietNam in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It gained effective – though not much status quo – political power through the efforts of activists who motivated the young in high schools and on college campuses across the country, where the cannon fodder for the right’s dirty little opium war could be Shanghai’d by the draft. This meant that your average Mom and Pop America had a personal stake in the war, and they were darned sick of flag-draped coffins and burying pieces of their children shipped home from rice patties in a far-away country they couldn’t even find on a map. For no better reason than somebody’s terror of dominoes that might interfere with the drug supply and the M-I complex’s desire to make a fortune battle-testing cool shit like Napalm and 2,000# bombs and fancy new fighter jets. Hey, they’d been shafted by the end of the space race, and had to do something to justify their incestuous existence.

Oddly enough, it turned out to be Tricky Dick’s very own generals (plus spooks) who ended up taking him down, even though he made a valiant effort to save himself by abruptly ending a war nobody on this side of the Pacific ever could have ‘won’. That was back in an era when most of the military old-timers – the career officers who served at the Pentagon and commanded the conscripted troops – still took their oaths of service seriously, and they didn’t like what was going on any more than the students who had no choice or their parents did. You don’t really believe it was just a “third-rate burglary” at the Watergate that did Nixon in, do you?

Now, Tricky Dick was smarter than your average right-wingnut bear. His primary claim to fame was not being Eisenhower’s Veep, or as the loser to JFK (who was then conveniently assassinated). It was his eager participation in HUAC as a vocal ally of McCarthy. Thus ultimately his strongly anti-democratic, fascist leanings as a politician during the Good Old Cold War. Historians have often been fascinated with the unfathomable reasons he allowed his conversations to be taped for posterity, given his penchant for tyrannical tendencies. Not realizing that he was PROUD of his tyrannical tendencies, and honestly believed there was nothing wrong or unAmerican about them. A little like Dick Cheney, for whom Nixon was a beloved mentor.

There came a time of rampant student unrest in the last years of the war in ‘Nam when Nixon decided he really had to do something to quell the resistance to his plans to decimate the Constitution and replace it with something more to the liking of the M-I crowd (who had their own issues with leftover Nazis). He ordered the military to re-fit and re-open some of the WW-II POW camps in the heartland, and drew up plans for declaration of martial law that would allow him to incarcerate anybody he deemed a ‘troublemaker’ in the broadening popular resistance to the war and his tyrannical policies. This is what ultimately turned the generals.

Obscure history notes that the Joint Chiefs did come down hard on Nixon’s plans for martial law, and when he won a second term the machine for impeachment moved into high gear via ‘Deep Throat’ – who turned out to be high-level FBI. It had been firmly decided years before that this guy was too dangerous to keep in power, so they went with a minor dirty trick as their public reason for removing him.

Take all that with the large salt lick it deserves, but it’s a story that illustrates there was not – at that time – all that much ideological difference between We the People and the military machinery of this country. Back then being on the left didn’t automatically make one a traitor to the country, or even necessarily anti-military or anti-government. Sure, there were your various Black Panthers and Weathermen and such, but there were also those cookie-baking Quakers and regular college students worried about the future, and businessmen and Moms and Dads all over the place. Real people, real citizens, real concerns that were not ignored or put down with force or prejudice. Things were very wrong, and people across the board found themselves agreeing about that. As well as agreeing to help each other make it right.

Then, once the war was finally ended and the right-wing party (GOP) lost power to Jimmy Carter, the draft was ended and the M-I complex got busy making sure such a thing as what happened to Nixon would never happen again. They kept the revolving door going, of course, but became much more selective based on ideology of who they allowed to go through it. They shifted their emphasis toward the industrial side of the equation – along with the Wall Street henchmen who really ran things – and determined that it was economics that was their most lethal weapon against the Constitution and the people rather than the military.

Of course, they steadily did a job on the military too, which didn’t become apparent for awhile but definitely got rid of the Constitutionalists who took their oaths too seriously. Thus it was the economy (stupid) as much as it was a sabotaged military operation in the desert that nixed Carter’s bid for a second term and brought the ‘Pugs back into power with Saint Ronny the Reagan and his puppeteer, George the First (ex-DCI). Between the acting ability of a B-movie cowboy who based his decisions on Astrology and the nefarious plans of the Bush-Cheney-Negroponte-Poindexter crowd of lustful CIA/military sponsored torturers and genocidal maniacs in Central America, they managed to fool almost all of the people almost all of the time. For a time.

Suddenly being on the left side of things was likened to treason and sold wholesale to the public. No more were such insanities as equal rights, civil rights, or even the Constitutional rights of the populace a serious consideration. Union-busting (remember the Air Traffic Controllers?), wage-stripping, tax ridiculosities, offshoring loopholes, Wall Street-managed decimation of industrialized America, etc., etc., etc., became the new reality. A permanent majority of feudal serfs held to indentured servitude to their betters. Oh… and if they dared to jump ship or exercise their freedoms, they’d be relegated to the die-quick crowd of those who could not afford health care.

Slave owners owed their chattel more than that! And, as observation, the only Dem that has held power since was a player. Clinton talked a good game but did as he was told. So does every other Dem these days, including Obama. They’re a wholly owned subsidiary of ‘Wingnuts-R-Us’ and can never be anything else.

Thus is the left these days marginalized by all propagandist and possibly legal means, targeted and demonized and ignored completely after being so badly used with lies and more lies designed to appeal to our Constitutionalist tendencies and our wish to escape from slavery. That will not be allowed by the Powers That Be, which includes at this point in time the entirety of the Democratic Party playing footsies with the wingnuts and taking their orders.

Meanwhile, the populace has been center-left all along, despite how the media portrays things. A majority of people didn’t vote for GW Bush in 2000, probably didn’t in 2004 either (we’ll never know). In 2006 they sent Dems to Congress to put an end to wars of aggression we were lied into, which they dislike nearly as much as they did VietNam despite the all-volunteer label. But nothing changed. They elected Barack Obama in 2008 and kept Congress Democratic too (just to ease the road), and still we get nothing. There is unrest afoot, but it won’t take the same form it did back in Nixon’s day. This time we’ve better tools, and more resistance to the propaganda machinery of the mainstream media muppets.

Their worst nightmare is that we may organize something truly independent of their consolidated machinery. That we may tap the popular unrest and unhappiness and build something that can actually challenge their power. We no longer have the military, but we can still hope some of them – maybe Guard – will be reluctant to shoot down their parents, brothers, sisters and friends on the streets of America just because the status quo is threatened by people who believe in Democracy and freedom and the rule of law. The people no longer care what Wall Street has to say about anything, since Wall Street crashed the entire world’s economy by stealing us blind one last time. We could put them in prison instead, which is where they belong.

A majority of Americans are against the bailouts. A majority of Americans want the wars to end post haste. A majority of Americans want health care rather than health denial. A majority of Americans want tax relief (tax the rich, you idiots!). A majority of Americans are NOT teabagger wingnuts who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. All we need to do is find a way to encompass the middle of those majority of Americans, the middle-left Obama has abandoned. We’ll get the rest of them automatically.

Because despite what you keep hearing on FoxNews and ABC and CBS and reading in the WaPo and NYT and such, the middle’s been moving left for at least three generations. They tell us otherwise because that’s how the machine is designed to work. Now we’ve got the blogosphere/internet – Kos is NOT the only player – we could pick up whoever Markos decides to ban (or merely alienate) for being too left-leaning on his now middle-right status quo defense machine.

Yes, it’ll take some convincing to recruit those who still remain Dem in good faith, refuse to see that good faith isn’t the game being played. That’s going to take some tolerance and some sensible argumentation. Not pie fights or barroom brawls.

We can do it, but the question is whether or not we will. We have the tools, we know the public leans this way, we just have to make it happen. That’s what activism is all about. We need gifted speakers, admirable representatives, insightful investigative journalists, effective debaters, committed workers. Plus some excellent candidates we can field against the status quo and support from dog-catcher to state legislature to Congress to the White House. Oh… and a name.

I suggest “Progressive Party.” Any other suggestions out there?

34 comments

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    • Inky99 on July 12, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    because, as it turns out, what used to be called “liberalism” is just common sense.

    I always considered myself a moderate, but lately, the only people talking sense are those who are considered “far left”.

    The truth is, that’s how far the Poweres That Be have managed to steer the country to the right.  

    Moderate IS now “far left”.   I haven’t really changed.  Moderation hasn’t really changed.  It’s everything else that’s changed.

    Common sense is where it’s at.  Common sense for the common good.  

    But yeah, I’m with you.  

  1. Power to the People Party, righton!  

  2. …is a nice one.

    I don’t know if the pie fights/brawls are actually avoidable.  They certainly are not new to political activity, on either side of the spectrum :}  At least the person I want to punch out is is on the other side of a screen, far away, so if we both keep our heads (or regain them) there seems less damage done.  There are people I’d never speak to again (as a minimum) on dk, who after a year or so I have mellowed toward (and visa versa).  I worry more that this form of political activity is somewhat restricted to the housebound or town-bound, and is hard to translate into power.

    I’d like to share your sense that we are somehow speaking to the majority.  I don’t know, from here, if that is true, and above all I need to believe true things as antidote to despair.  But it is worth speaking for human rights, the immanent value of human beings (and the natural world), the importance of peace.  

    When I read one essay by someone who is in great pain, and writing not because they want to convince (or have any great hope of it) but because they must, because telling the truth from here is an affirmation of my humanity and theirs, my time in blogworld is paid back a thousand times over.  I kind of hope that helps move us left, but…

    • Joy B. on July 13, 2009 at 12:33 am
      Author

    Even though the guy who actually won in 1960 did get conveniently assassinated, the fellow who then took over and won in 1964 – one Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas – wasn’t ashamed to be a liberal. i.e., on the left side of the spectrum. For all his personal faults, his foul-mouthed style and his ever-increasing embroilment in the Great Shame that was VietNam, LBJ did some notably leftist things that no Democrat has even come close to emulating in all the years since. Things like the Civil Rights Act, the “War on Poverty,” etc. place him as the last real liberal power-holder in America in the 20th century.

    By the time Carter came along, those nefarious Powers That Be (The Family and all such purportedly bipartisan offshoots and upstarts) were well established and calling the primary shots for both sides of the aisle. We no longer had a two-party system, but had managed pretty much what all those assorted and sundry SSR satellites had: a single ideology under two different names that made people not paying much attention think they had a choice.

    • Adam on July 13, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Too many too tied up in their building their Facebook Mafias.

    Too fat stuffing their faces eating slow food diets.

    TV only really captivates the hardcore Springer morons now. The people too dim to notice they’re watching their 7th episode of CSI this week. TV ratings are crap.

    The people who would have been the left are now all gadget geeks in search of the coolest new iPone fart sound ring tone.

  3. can’t say there was much of one.  The end of the 60’s there were more but the times and the draft caused some of that.  Then things seemed to settle until Bush came along, then all of a sudden, everyone and their brother is left.  Many of those people don’t know what left is.  Now, Common Sense may be something better to strive for, because the true left can’t win this alone.  

    Left, Left, Left Right Left

    I left my wife and forty nine children

    A starving at home with only some gingerbread

    Left, Left, Left Right Left.

    (Sorry, but it was used back in the day!)  

  4. somewhere about the time we as a nation went on a ‘Screw you I’ve got mine’ tear, which equated freedom with capitalism and the ‘free market’ concept. Winning here and in the world at large, became the only value we respect, and as we played this out we lost our very purpose. The equality part the common good and the historical struggle that moves humanity forward were lost in the perceptions of fear and greed.  

    Now were at a point where the Constitution is quaint and strength is measured by violence and greed. The structures and avenues we the people had to keep the most vicious in check have been blocked. While we are a center left people as a whole we seem to believe the fictions used by those in power are true. Even polls we love so much are rigged by design and block out in real opinion, your options are as in voting our way or our way.

    I too think the time is ripe for a third party a real one that is viable and is in actuality founded on coalitions that work for common good and representation. The tricky part is getting enough people to believe that this is possible and doable. If Obama was able to rally the people to a movement for ‘change’ and the fierce urgency of now surely a third party that was not just a hype could. What would it take to break the lock hold of the present one party system which gives us only the illusion of choice and delivers nothing but the same agenda and leaves the same assholes in power.          

  5. on the ‘left’ blogesphere and wanted to add that right now the left seems to be tearing itself apart. Unity it seems is not necessarily a liberal value. If the left wants power then it better take a look at what it supports in the name of winning and stop thinking that this is all we can get representation wise because as I was just told we need to grow up this is how things work. brother how can change be enacted if you don’t believe as a famous man said “YES we Can. People are caught in a defeatist mentality that sees no other way then the one they ‘know’ which isn’t working as far as being an active part of a democracy and only clamors for support the pols, they can’t enact change , how illogical is this? Too big to fall and terrorists are fictions wake up people!    

    • jamess on July 13, 2009 at 5:38 am

    for the very insightful retrospective,

    and call to action. Leaves me with some hope.

    I remember the 70’s and the protests to end the war —

    The young and their parents, did indeed know something

    was wrong in ‘Nam.  

    And we weren’t afraid to speak up about it —

    I attribute a lot of that to being knowledgeable

    about Civics and the 3 Branches of Govt.

    (such teaching was required back in those days)

    Center Left country now, fits with my experience —

    too bad our Media, and our Corporate Employers —

    all tend to lean far right.  They cherry pick the news —

    and what to “inform the masses”. (Actually calling it news

    is much too generous.)

    The progressive movement should make use of more

    serious news sources, like:

    Pro Publica

    Democracy Now

    Bill Moyers

    and CSpan

    Oh and regarding re-branding the Progressive Label —

    Lately I’ve been partial to “Wellstone Patriots” —

    Although something based around “Green” would probably be more practical:

    Perhaps, The Earth Party, eh?

    (that has a nice ring to it, imo.)

    Cheers!

    carry on, as CSNY might say:

    CSNY Ohio 1974



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  6. stamped out in the McCarthy era — and it started right after WWII. They took away peoples jobs–not just famous people, the one’s that Hollywood likes to remember, but regular folks.

    I had two uncles that were blacklisted-one was a newspaper editor in a small town, who never worked again & ended up a suicide. The other was a founder of a union who also never worked again.

    The left was shocked to silence by these sorts of things, and the Rosenberg’s case scared everyone.  

    The unions were destroyed from within.

    Prior to that, the left was very strong.

    The 60s?

    You know there was some real ideas/stuff there, but for other participants, it was just a fashion–or they wouldn’t have gone so far right so easily later on. My stepmother for instance joined SDS because she ‘liked the boys and the clothes’ and is today a fundy low level  politician who thought that her friend Kathleen Harris got a raw deal.

    I think for this era, we need to look further back than the 60’s–maybe the 30s, maybe much before.

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