By Walter Davis
December 17, 2016 (San Diego) -- It was a crisp Los Angeles day in the spring. I had a press pass and a special pass to park in the press lot. Humping my crew and equipment into the Coliseum was still a task that brought cool sweat to my forehead.
Cartoon credit: ArcaMax.com
Busloads of people were arriving and long throngs of pedestrians were converging and arriving in an expanding sea of people. There were people of all age groups arriving. One could not help but notice the large number of young people; they were excited. T-shirts flew off of the display stands. People clung on to me when they saw my press pass and wanted to share their opinions. I could barely carry my equipment and get signed in.
This was a Los Angeles Bernie Sanders event.
Once inside, I met my press contact and got a very nice seat right near the stage. While setting up my equipment, it did not take long for the coliseum to fill up. Imagine, 30,000 people inside. The atmosphere was electric, celebratory. We all loved Bernie and to see older progressives, celebrities, young people…all cheering, clapping, smiling…lifted my heart.
My mind began to race. The possibilities were powerful. Optimism, was high. Even without as much comparative press coverage and celebrities to attract attention, this crowd was huge. 10,000 people, including busses from Las Vegas had to be turned away and impromptu rallies erupted in the parking lot.
Bernie’s delivery was electric and motivational, as usual. I had watched Bernie for years on the Thom Hartmann show on Free Speech TV, each Friday. I knew what kind of man he was and finally, someone was speaking my language as opposed to the Neo Liberal “I feel your pain, now, here is some more.” Finally, someone was addressing poverty and injustice; student loans and war hawk imperialism.
These feelings of optimism were greeted in short order with the crony politics of the Democratic Party. A party dominated by leaders who believe that they know better than the grassroots. A party that has clubs that endorse candidates before the primaries then, inhibit campaigning of grassroots candidates that are not on the inside. A party leadership that prevents candidates that have not been endorsed by them from distributing literature to their base, once they make an endorsement, before the primaries. The Bernie movement was stopped by political engineering.
This is not the first time Democrats devastated the hopes of those of us on their left. In his book and movie THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, Oliver Stone with Peter Kuznick wrote this: “(Vice President) Henry Wallace had incurred the wrath of party (Democratic) conservatives by calling for a worldwide “people’s revolution,” toward which end the United States and Soviet Union would work together, and by championing the cause of labor unions, women, African Americans, and the victims of European colonialism. His enemies included Wall Street bankers and other anti-union business interests, southern segregationists, and defenders of British and French colonialism.” These groups flocked to the Republican Party during the Southern Strategy period.
Although Wallace was the people’s choice, the party leadership interfered and put Truman on the ticket with President Roosevelt. Roosevelt and Truman won the presidency and with Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Truman ascended to the Presidency.
Truman, was a racist and failure at business; the KKK rejected him when he applied due to his support for Catholics. This obscure, weak man ended up with his finger on the atomic trigger and the left began its long descent into losing power. The ruling class was determined to undo all of the gains made by the New Deal, as Professor Richard Wolff describes so well.
Democratic leadership failed to identify that one of its main goals was to defend the gains made by the New Deal that buoyed poor and middle class Americans. This election of 1945 is similar to the election of 2016 in this respect.
Hordes of poor and middle class whites voted for Trump including women who abandoned Hillary. Many young white males abandoned the Democratic Party to vote for Trump to avoid what they perceived as more of the same neoliberal nonsense, right of center.
The apathetic just stayed away and that accounted for nearly 50% of the electorate. Even though most voters identify with the Democratic Party, the party has not remained loyal to them and they perceive that the party has abandoned its’ most intrinsic values.
Instead of embracing a candidate that spoke out against corporate tyranny, a perceived corporate insider was chosen (Hillary Clinton) over a revolutionary (Bernie Sanders). Had Bernie Sanders run as an independent and Donald Trump won, he would have been accused of spoiling the election for Hillary. I cannot help but think that if the nation had heard Bernie’s positions, he would have won in a landslide and driven voter turnout to record levels. His message resonated with the young of all races and income levels. This fact can be observed at all age levels based upon the attendance at his rallies.
The Democratic leadership failed to understand that this was a revolutionary referendum. As a result, the corporate media had a field day promoting THEIR candidate, Trump.
One cannot escape this fact when we see how frequently Trump was featured on lame stream media shows.
The Democratic Party was soundly defeated on both a state and national level. The Republicans now control the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government on the national scene as well as many state governments.
In view of this, there is a silver lining. Historically, the policies embraced by conservatives cause massive failure of the economy, world peace and domestic well-being.
Millions of people are going to lose their lives as a result of the conservative victories.
There will be wars. We will have more regime change and spread democracy movements. There will be more support for Palestinian apartheid and economic support of Communist China while Communist Russia, Cuba, Haiti and other 3rd world pawns are demonized for lack of human rights.
There will be more mass incarceration. Privatization will result in removal of regulation and safety. Poverty and crime will increase as previously incarcerated people will become part of the “Get tough on crime” fallacy as well as the “Law and Order” police militarization movement as opposed to the “Get Smart on Crime” movement.
So, you must be thinking, where is the silver lining. I reiterate, conservative policies have failed historically. While the Democrats have an uphill battle, proper management and insight of the powerful assets at hand present an amazing opportunity.
By taking these steps, progressives can prevail in future elections.
- Bring the mission focus back to opposition of Corporate Tyranny. The Corporate Coup that has taken place is obvious with all the millionaires that Trump has included in his cabinet and other appointments. After Roosevelt died, the corporate elite went to work immediately to dismantle The New Deal, according to Dr. Richard Wolff. They have been chipping away at The New Deal tenants a little at a time. It was the socialist and communist parties that proposed legislation to end 12 hour work days, child labor, seven day work weeks and social security for starters. Embracing the far left is necessary if the Democrats are to regain the trust of the working, the poor and the middle class.
- Fire the old leadership. We have the same election losing leadership in position over and over. Grassroots activists must be allowed to emerge. Democratic Clubs need to get out of the business of endorsing and allow potential candidates to speak and distribute information to Democratic Party voters up to the primaries. The Democratic Party needs to adopt democratic reforms.
- Mind map solutions. By mind mapping solutions input can be obtained, documented, evaluated, disseminated and acted upon. New ideas can be acted upon. An environment of participation can be fostered as opposed to crony leadership.
- Teach members the art of nonviolent communication. Practicing nonviolent communication techniques is integral to conflict resolution. Marshall Rosenberg is an excellent source of information on this topic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Rosenberg. He developed this concept and the Nonviolent Communication movement is based on his teachings. When discussing difficult topics, these techniques are integral to successful management of volatile conversations.
- Develop digital communication. Young people must be engaged via digital communication. Even old geeks like me can be reached this way. It is the least expensive method and beats handing out flyers hands down. Websites must be kept up to date. Often I see websites with “Upcoming Events” listed in 2009, and it is 2016! Blogs must be used to document victories and failures. Trump has already broken campaign promises. Progressives must document, and share information. This information must be stored in a manner that is retrievable years later. On my blog, you can find President Obama’s inauguration from 2008 and 2012. Try doing this on a Facebook page or, via your memory. Blog postings can be emailed quickly to candidates needing factual information. YouTube playlists can be used to compile and email lists of hundreds of videos, several hours long. This can be used to document facts captured on video then used to educate electorate and candidates. Mobile apps must be combined with CRM systems. Podcasts and webinars must be used to counter charges from the other side and to promote victories. All websites must be MOBILE COMPATIBLE and that means viewable on tablets and smart phones. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Google+, Blogger, Hangouts On Air, Socialoomph, Buffer…and others must be used to convey digital messages against the onslaught of lame stream media MANUFACTURED REALITY. We must have conversations and actions with regard to Net Neutrality. The corporate elite want to destroy our power to communicate freely on The Internet. We must use and protect The Internet. We have failed to do this with Public Access TV and it has been shut down in many areas.
- The electorate must be educated and engaged frequently. Documentary movie screenings have been VERY effective for the Sander’s campaign and MoveOn.org. FREQUENT webinar house parties and podcasts are integral. Schedule fun events and push branding. When people come, they should see a sea of blue. Branding must be used extensively. When attending events, one should see a sea of blue ball caps, blue jackets, blue shirts, (Blue Coat Democrats to identify the progressive left). Trump supporters had on “Make America Great Again” t-shirts and ball caps. They were visible going to rallies. They were visible to each other, even away from events. Progressives need this too! Selling “blue things” could be an excellent fund raising tool as opposed to torrents of begging emails. We need and army of blue or…a Blue Army! I saw my first Hillary sticker on a car AFTER the election was over.
- Crossover language and issues need to be identified. Most people do not enjoy hurting babies. Prolife people want to limit a woman’s right to choose. Pro-choice people want to have unbridled access to abortion. What if we take a cue from Ralph Nader in his presentation of Left Right Punch where we decide to vigorously oppose the factors that cause women to get abortions in the first place. We could site poverty, mass incarceration, and income inequality for starters. This focus could reveal that conservatives and progressives are not so far apart after all in what we want. I have successfully demonstrated this with my columns and speaking on conservative platforms in many locations and receiving rousing applause. Conservatives want the dismantling of the Federal Reserve. This would solve our budget balancing argument instantly. The inequality in the court system has resulted in rage on the conservative side but little noise from the Democratic side, especially with regard to family court. My blog at http://www.citizensdemandingjustice.org is replete with entries by conservatives complaining about family court. Republican congressional reps and state assembly reps have been responsive to our cash for kids plight. Democratic congressmen, have not responded despite repeated correspondence from numerous agencies. We are not talking about minor reports here either. We are talking cash for kids programs similar to Judge Ciavarella in Pennsylvania and the Shawn McMillian in his victory against Orange County. Georgia Republican Nancy Schaefer was murdered while she was uncovering and exposing corruption in CPS. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Schaefer . Families and lives are being destroyed by a corrupt social services system, created by Walter Mondale.
- Alliance building on the left is integral to winning. Neo liberalism must be put to rest. No more support for regime change conflicts. No more too big to fail politics for banksters. No more allowing fracking and alliances with big business in ALEC or unfair trade agreements. Alliances with MoveOn.org, Progressive Democrats of America, The Socialist Party, The Communist Party, The Green Party, and others left of center is must be executed with vigor in order to offer an affective front to Corporate Tyranny. If we want to cut the military budget and pursue peace, what better ambassadors do we have than veterans. People from the left and right respect their opinions as they sue for peace. Veterans for Peace is an excellent organization to partner with. We must cut military spending that amounts to more than 60% of our budget.
- Craft a message focused on the issues, not media spin. Progressive voters must be familiar with Corporate Tyranny, Inverted Totalitarianism, Manufactured Reality, Manufactured Consent, The New Deal, Democracy in the Work Place, Weaponized Anthropology. I have found very few progressives who can articulate the tenants of the New Deal. This speaks to the failure of Democratic leadership to educate their electorate on core mission values.
- We must focus on getting law enforcement to focus on their mission to protect us. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay has produced an excellent movie titled 13th that shows how the mass incarceration movement is destroying our communities. We need to get this movie into the hands of law enforcement officials all over. They are militarizing to use extreme force on us. We must head this off. Alliances with the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, All of Us or None, the Innocence Project and others is critical. Republicans have beat progressive candidates with the law and order position over and over. Instead of embracing progressive values, the Democratic Party has moved to the right in order to win elections, and lost anyway. This has resulted in a race to see who can be the most tough on crime (not smart on crime). The United States has now become the nation with the most prisoners on earth with one citizen being arrested every 38 seconds due to some drug charge. The prison population is increasing by 10,000 people every month.
Fear operates on both the hero and the coward. The hero is motivated to do something while the coward is depressed and cowers. The time for cry ins and bemoaning election results is past.
As I watched the election results pour in last month, ice water flowed through my veins as my greatest fear was realized with a Trump victory. I could not watch the news for many days. The ice water was replaced by hot rage and a sense of resolve. Action must be taken if the Democratic Party is to survive. Voices are emerging from the left that threaten to further split progressives. The “Alt Left” is impatient and furious. Let’s hope that Democratic Party leadership recognizes this and takes action to harness the energy as opposed to being relegated to an irrelevant position.
Here is a list of resources that can be used to educate and assuage corporate media brainwashing:
Ari Berman - http://ari-berman.com/ Voting Rights
A Convenient Truth (Curitiba) - http://mariavazphoto.com/curitiba_pages/curitiba_dvd.html Environmental
AlterNet - http://www.alternet.org/ Progressive Media
Ava DuVernay - http://www.avaduvernay.com/ Progressive Media, Black Progressive Media
Bernie Sanders - https://ourrevolution.com/ Political Action
Bertha Foundation - http://www.berthafoundation.org/ Philanthropy
Chris Hedges - http://www.truthdig.com/report/category/hedges Progressive Intellectual
David Pakman - https://davidpakman.com/ Progressive Media
Democracy at Work http://www.democracyatwork.info/ Income Inequality
Democracy Now – http://www.democracynow.org Progressive Media
Drug Policy Alliance - http://www.drugpolicy.org/ Anti-Drug War
Free Speech TV – https://www.freespeech.org/ Progressive Media
Global Climate Movement (350) - https://350.org/ Environmental
Greg Palast - http://www.gregpalast.com/ Voting Rights/Progressive Media
Harvest of Empire - https://harvestofempiremovie.com/ Immigration
Jeremy Scahill - https://theintercept.com/staff/jeremy-scahill/ Progressive Media
John Perkins - http://johnperkins.org/ Progressive Media/Income Inequality
Laura Flanders - https://www.linktv.org/shows/laura-flanders-show Progressive Media
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - http://www.leap.cc/ Anti-Drug War
LinkTV – http://www.LinkTV.org Progressive Media
Michelle Alexander - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Alexander Anti-Prison Activist, Author, Progressive Intellectual
Noam Chomsky - https://chomsky.info/ Progressive Intellectual
Ralph Nader - https://nader.org/ Progressive Intellectual, Consumer Safety
Ring of Fire Radio - https://trofire.com/ Progressive Media
Robert Reich - http://robertreich.org/ Progressive Media, Income Inequality
The Nation - https://www.thenation.com/ Progressive Media
Tim Wise - http://www.timwise.org/ Anti Racist
Tom Steyer - http://thenextgeneration.org/about/people/tom-steyer Progressive Intellectual, Philanthropy
Thom Hartmann - http://www.thomhartmann.com/ Progressive Media
Truth Dig - http://www.truthdig.com/ Progressive Media
Veterans for Peace - https://www.veteransforpeace.org/who-we-are/our-mission/ Anti War
Who Killed the Electric Car - http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/ Environmental Movie
Zeitgeist Movies and the Venus Project - http://sdmegacoalition.blogspot.com/p/zeitgeist.html#.WE4E3tUrKM8 Progressive Intellectuals/Futurists
The opinions in this column reflect the views of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. We respect civil dialogue reflecting a diversity of views.