I am left off-balance by the contradictions. Winds of change are blowing. Creating a Facebook page for the Union of the Unemployed Thinktank was a wrenching experience. It grew quickly to 183 members, and now it is pretty quiet. Little leverage, and the main Union of the Unemployed acting director Rick Sloan can have a wonderful article in Huffington Post that mentions his position with the IAM but not a single peep about the Union of the Unemployed that he ostensibly heads. I carry two things with me from the experience. First, jobs CREATION, not jobs ENCOURAGEMENT, is what we have to be demanding at every point. Second, I am a lot less patient with bullshit. Perhaps that is a character flaw. I am very far from being okay.
Oh yeah, I mention contradictions. Winds of change. Demonstrations for jobs are starting to pop up like springtime daisies. New organizations are forming. The Bull Moose Movement in New York. An unemployed council in Oregon. Bart Stupak and Blanche Lincoln are being challenged. The emperor has no clothes, details at 11. There is now a steady patter of “primary them all.” Contradictions. The Full Court Press is not benefiting from this. That’s okay. We are starting to see something like movement.
The most striking statement I’ve seen was by Jane Hamsher, who reports:
91.7% think it’s ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that a health care bill include a public option, and 76.3% think members of Congress who break their pledge to vote ‘no’ should face primary challenges. A full 79.7% think it’s ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that the health care bill contain no restrictions on abortion coverage, and 82.3% think that any member who casts a vote to restrict abortion coverage should face a primary.
I questioned, and still question, how far she will take this when all the Kool Kidz start “targeting the worst” — again — in 2012. But the statement is significant in any event, because it draws a clear line in the sand. And it makes an implicit concrete threat.
So should I now drop the Full Court Press? Yes, the Full Court Press has 5 points, Hamsher is only asserting 2, but given that most of the House and Senate Democrats would in fact be threatened, it would be a very good question. If … if it were certain that Hamsher was going to continue to call for this, or better yet, use her prestige to actually organize for it. that would be worth at least consideration. I am personally dubious. Some of these target incumbents are, if not friends of hers, friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends. It’s through these webs that the Democratic Party holds itself together. On the other hand, she did co-sign that letter with Norquist, and that pissed off a lot of these same people (for which I defended her in The Jane Hamsher Front — Strike the Empire Back). We’ll keep our powder dry.
But Jane Hamsher isn’t really my point. It’s lines in the sand. These calls to primary them all are becoming more frequent. 50-state strategy and all that. People keep telling me this or that group is doing just what you’re doing, you should join them (because they’re bigger than you). And I do check them out. They aren’t doing what I’m doing. They’re doing the ActBlue tactic with a somewhat broader avowed scope. I look at who they’re talking about targeting, and I look at why, and I look at who they’re actually supporting, and what they stand for. What’s not so okay is that people’s minds are getting churned into peanut butter.
It’s not like I’m looking for Trotsky’s 1938 Transitional Program. But the criteria are things like “well-liked by progressives” or a good position on this or that, or so-and-so is against the war. But it’s always vague (he or she’s a good guy), and never consistent. THIS IS WHAT PROGRESSIVES HAVE BEEN DOING FOREVER! (pardon my shouting) This is our current Congress, only a little younger.
The Full Court Press has 5 points:
WPA-style jobs program — government directly creating jobs
Medicare for all
Repeal Hyde, no Stupak or Nelson
Repeal DADT and DOMA — support gay marriage
U.S. troops OUT of Iraq and Afghanistan
You might say that some of these aren’t politically “realistic.” Can’t be passed. Whatever. But pray tell, which of these are truly radical? Which hasn’t been put forward at one time or another by Democrats sitting in Congress at this minute?
That’s the very goddamn point. They have broad support among the Democratic base. They are reasonable. And they can’t be passed. But insisting on these makes me rigid? It means I don’t understand the need to compromise? Gimme a break.
You think you have a better 5 points? Or 4 points? That would be an interesting discussion. No, I’m not interested in broad programs, but something simple, the 2010 Bread, Land and Peace. In their rhetorical flourishes, people have all kinds of points. But when it comes to actual support for actual candidates, a vague term like “solid progressive” is quite good enough. Some other progressive said so, and let’s not dig too deep. Even if a candidate did meet all my highest expectations, this doesn’t translate into broader criteria.
But bringing up points brings up another question. Who’s the we? What’s the process? It needs more discussion.
Jane Hamsher. Interesting character. There’s something of a “we” around her, some of it personalistic, some of it based on her being a fighter. Does our future hinge on some version of a cult of personality? Will we get ourselves another Eugene McCarthy? History sometimes moves this way. Grayson?
I’m getting a sense that some “we’s” are developing. So ephemeral that I can’t nail it down. But I’ll trust my gut on this. So why am I not okay?