Left in the wings
The looming fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Fights over a political party's future are common after the party loses a big election. But John Kerry figures to face a fight over control of the party from fellow Democrats even if he beats George W. Bush on Nov. 2.
Influential figures on the party's left wing are planning a long-term campaign to move the Democrats to the left, just as right-wing activists took over the Republican Party and moved it to the right over the past 30 years.
If the left's campaign is successful, it could transform the political landscape of the United States, changing the terms of debate and bringing dramatically different policies on local, national and international issues.
After George McGovern's landslide loss to Richard Nixon in 1972, some centrist Democrats argued that Democrats had become too liberal to win national elections.
The accusation was repeated after Michael Dukakis' lopsided loss to George Bush in 1988. Leading the charge was the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of centrist Democrats who subsequently pushed the party rightward on crime, economics and foreign policy during the presidency of Bill Clinton, himself a council supporter.
Now, leftist Democrats are planning to challenge the centrists' control. The leftists argue that many Democrats, especially the party establishment in Washington, have become too much like Republicans and too afraid to stand up to right-wingers like George W. Bush.
In the short run, the left-wingers are working hard to elect Kerry, even though they regard him as representing the party's cautious center. In the primaries, most of the left preferred Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, whose populist, anti-war candidacy threatened to wrest the nomination from Kerry, to the horror of the party establishment.
The left is uniting behind Kerry out of a widely shared conviction that a second Bush term would be an unmitigated, perhaps irreversible, disaster. "Four more years of George Bush would destroy the country," Dean said in announcing last summer that he would campaign hard for Kerry.
If Kerry defeats Bush on Nov. 2, the left will probably demand significant roles and influence in the new Kerry administration -- a Cabinet position for Dean, for example, or Kerry's acceptance of the left's position on trade, health care and other issues.
To support its demands, the left will argue that Kerry could not have beaten Bush without its help. And it will have a point, on both ideological and organizational grounds.
After all, it was Dean's clear, forceful criticism of the war and other Bush policies that taught Democrats that standing up to the president and the right wing was not only possible but popular with voters. Without Dean's example, it's doubtful Kerry would ever have found his voice against Bush.
And left-leaning activists are mounting an unprecedented grassroots campaign to educate and turn out voters for Kerry.
The nation's largest labor union, the Service Employees International Union, has joined with the Sierra Club, the NAACP, the National Abortion Rights League and other groups to organize "the largest voter mobilization in American history" through the newly minted alliances America Coming Together and America Votes.
Other supporters to Kerry's left include Democracy for America, the organization Dean created after the primaries to channel the energies of his grassroots constituency, and the AFL-CIO, whose get-out-the-vote work was crucial for Al Gore in winning the popular vote in 2000.
And perhaps no one has attracted more attention than MoveOn, the Internet- based group whose television ads and in-your-face opposition to Bush has driven right-wingers crazy, even as its small-donor fund-raising model has challenged Big Money's hold over democracy.
Call them the Beat Bush Brigades. Collectively, these groups boast a combined budget of perhaps $100 million and tens of thousands of staff and volunteers. And as much as they may obey federal laws that prohibit them from coordinating with Kerry, in effect they operate as an unofficial "Kerry for President" campaign.
Whether they succeed in electing Kerry or not, key leaders see the newfound unity among these groups as a first step toward building the kind of political movement any president, whatever his party, must heed.
"It's self-interest that's bringing us together," says Deborah Callahan, the executive director of the League of Conservation Voters, a nonpartisan environmental organization that has endorsed Kerry.
"If we don't cooperate, we'll certainly fail to put a progressive in the White House in 2004. But if we succeed, we can build relations and trust that will continue beyond the election and result in something much larger than ourselves. Look at how the right-wing took power in this country: By following a long-term vision of building a movement of like-minded organizations. We're finally doing the same."
Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, argues that the Dean campaign has already pushed the Democratic Party -- and thereby the national political debate -- to the left.
Speaking in May to an auditorium of cheering activists from MoveOn and kindred organizations, at a conference titled "What We Stand For," Trippi said, "The Democrats weren't really going to take Bush on in this election."
They only did so, Trippi told the crowd, "because of what you did" -- that is, because they saw how Dean's opposition to the Iraq war and the right- wing agenda gained him a huge surge in poll numbers, grassroots energy and financial support.
"We had to show Kerry and the Democrats how to stand up to Bush in the primaries, and now we have to show them how to win in November," added Trippi. "If we have to, we will carry John Kerry on our shoulders across the goal line. "
With Bush vanquished, the Democrats' internal battles will begin.
"We're going to celebrate with John Kerry the night of Nov. 2. But the morning of Nov. 3, we're going to start organizing to take the party away from him, because we have serious disagreements about what the party should stand for and where this country needs to go," said one activist at the "What We Stand For" conference, Bertha Lewis, co-chair of the Working Families Party in New York state and a leader in the grassroots antipoverty group, ACORN.
"In 2004, we have to elect anyone but Bush," said a veteran labor strategist working to link unions with other progressive groups. "But if we keep working and build on the lessons learned and the partnerships we're forging during this fight against Bush, we can elect somebody we really like four or eight years from now."
All this signals a historic shift in the American left's approach to national politics. In the past, left-wing groups and individuals would moan about a Democratic nominee's perceived deficiencies and defect to a protest candidate, such as Ralph Nader or Jesse Jackson.
By contrast, the Beat Bush Brigades are showing a new patience and maturity. They are working in the short term to elect a Democrat they see as imperfect in order to build their movement's strength over the long term.
Ironically, the left's strategy is consciously modeled on the campaign that right-wing activists mounted to take over the Republican Party, explained Robert Borosage, the director of the Campaign for America's Future, at the "What We Stand For" conference.
Beginning in 1964, said Borosage, after conservative Republican Barry Goldwater's landslide loss to Democrat Lyndon Johnson, key right-wing figures decided to rebuild the conservative movement from the ground up.
They recognized the importance of thinking big, planning long-term and building enduring institutions. Thus they went on to invest in think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and grassroots organizations like the Christian Coalition.
By 1980, the right had gained sufficient influence within Republican circles for its champion, Ronald Reagan, to win first his party's presidential nomination and then the general election.
Soon, the combination of Reagan's charisma and the right's continued activism -- and especially its subsequent creation of a right-wing media infrastructure dominated by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh -- had shifted the entire nation's political center of gravity to the right, in ways that remain obvious today.
The left now hopes to copy the right wing's success.
If Bush wins on Nov. 2, the battle for control of the Democratic Party will probably come quickly. Leftists will argue that Kerry and the centrists forfeit any right to leadership if they cannot defeat the most vulnerable incumbent since Jimmy Carter.
If Bush is defeated, the battle will unfold more gradually. The left will probably cooperate with Kerry on some issues and fight him on others, while it focuses on building the media, research and grassroots institutions that can swing the party in its direction.
In any case, none of this new thinking and activism on the left would have happened if Bush had not pursued such an extreme course as president.
Thus the threat of four more years of Bush may end up calling forth a genuine American left for the first time in a generation -- an ironic accomplishment for this most right-wing of presidents.
They'll never give up.
Neither would we.
The future of our country and the world is at stake...vote for BUSH on November 2nd!!!
No kidding. This election is huge, for both sides. And if we win all the marbles.............oh baby............
Jesus! How can you be more Left that that fucker?!?!?!?!
I love how every Republican president is considered "conservative" by the media. Nixon:conservative, Reagan:Devil conservative, Bush41:starts wars cnservative. But Democrats are all moderate.
If Kerry gets elected he will go hard left by February 1st.
I thought John Kerry IS the left wing of the Democratic party! He IS the most liberal Senator in Washington!!!
ETA - How much worse can it possibly get?
Just because it cant be said enough.
Kind of like Trotsky/Bronstein criticizing Stalin for betraying Communism. There are always the true fanatics.
Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, how much further can they move left than they have already?!?
The only step remaining is to give up the sham and simply come right out and rename themselves "The Democratic Socialist Party". I mean, after all that's what they REALLY ARE in all but name only.
Fine, let them melt down. Let them run over that cliff in lemming like style. There still are enough sane people left in this country that will balk once they FINALLY know the TRUE agenda of the Democrats.
This bullshit can't keep going on forever. There HAS to be a breaking point where either we pull enough people together that see the dangers this nation (and world) face or we fragment into some sort of civil war, or worse, just plain devolve into anarchy and be picked apart by the Muslims and the Chinese.
Just in case no one noticed, this is an out right admission that Kerry Flip-flopped on Iraq because Dean was kicking his ass in the primaries!
Even as the left has gotten more divisive, so have the right. Some of us a) want to pay no taxes, b) want to keep the republicans out of our bedroom, c) want to keep the democrats away from our wallets, and d) want to keep the liberals away from our guns.
I guess living in flyover country has made me politically insignificant.
The more Left wing they get, I believe the harder it will be for them to win any elections.
The range of views they hold is too schizophrenic and impossible to please. They are all malcontents. I don't care what you give these people, they will be bitching. Just look at the silly headlines you see in today's papers - idiots with lawyers suing over stupid things on a daily basis. The American people have some realization that if this idiocy is allowed to go on, we will consume ourselves.
You will start seeing groups like the Brownshirts again, riding these people out of town on rails.
I can't read the whole thing, it is too frightening!
One can always have a dream...
He flip-flops a lot.. that brings him toward "moderate" according to them.
"In the short run, the left-wingers are working hard to elect Kerry, even though they regard him as representing the party's cautious center. "
These crazy bastards believe Kerry is a moderate.
(edit: +1 to the above who noted this already ).
Read David Horowitz's book " RADICAL SON" The seeds of the whole clinton , kerry, kennedy , etc generation in the "new left" is laid out. These people have tried their best to hide their leftists roots and connections.
You mean they're NOT !
Interesting theories. What I agree with is that the democratic party is in sad shape and needs to be revamped. What I disagree with is the writers theory that Kerry is some kind of democrat centrist. My god, you can't get more liberal than Kerry and the thought of even more ultra-liberal minions waiting to wrest control of the party from Kerry, should he win, is both stupid and scary.
You know, I don't know who said it but I'm starting to think that it's true. The Soviet Union ended because it was no longer needed. The seeds of Communism had taken root in the West so it was time for it (Russia) to become something else.
Read carefully and make your own assesment as to how much has come to pass and how much of this is embraced by the Democrats (and a large number of the sheeple).
CURRENT COMMUNIST GOALS
1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)
12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a "religious crutch."
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].
39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use ["]united force["] to solve economic, political or social problems.
43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.
<BR>The Ten Planks of the Communist Manifesto
(more details in the above link)
1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transportation in the hands of the State
7. Extention of factories and instruments of production owned by the State, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liablity of all to labor. Establishment of Industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in government schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc. etc.
Isn't Clinton worse than him? She's the next worst thing than total communisim if I'm not mistaken.
Perhaps you have read 'Communism and the Conscience of the West'.
It is from the late forties as I recall, definitely one that will make you consider its validity, considering our times.
Kerry is so far left he's a real threat to our nation's freedom, he is merely being presented as a centrist at the last minute, his voting record speaks for itself.
If the extreme left moves to gain power and control within the government, some people might think it was time to oppose such a movement with a right wing/small government movement of equal or greater forcefulness. That could be complicated.
The terrifying thing is that the article virtually nails the current and future paradigm of the Left vis America.
Did anyone else sense the similarties and undercurrent of Leninism and his methods and tactics as you were reading this? I certainly did.
The ONLY way the Left in our country has ANY chance is with the help of their willing accomplices in the media and the foolishly disconnected brains of the electorate. The Left's message simply does NOT resonate with the majority of Americans. That being a fact...then the ONLY way they win is by lies and guile...fooling the electorate. Kerry is doing that right now.
I am NOT saying, as does the Left, that our fellow citiizens are STUPID...or SHEEPLE. Rather, they are unaware of the incredible danger that lurks within...and they are foolishly not paying attention.
We are at risk my friends..from without AND within.
Imagine Kerry or Hillary in the White House?
Just tell me when and where to show up for the next civil war please. I'm tired of watching these assholes hold my nation hostage.
Actually Hilary is posistioning herself as a conservative Democratic hawk. She realizes Bill painting himself as a New Democrat won him eight years.
If she keeps this up, she will win in 2008.
They are stronger than they've ever been...but, we are still stronger than them, just vote Republican to keep it that way.