Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Secret Plans...I'm Still Waiting

It's been interesting to see the response to my blog post about the Bernie Sanders campaign rally on Monday in Portland.  Counterpunch posted it on their site which dramatically increased readership and debate around the growing critique of the Sanders campaign.  We've had a bunch of really great comments here on this blog as well.  As I told one woman on Fazebook who complained about my article.... "Democracy can be a real pain."  Many would rather we just fall in line without question.

I tried doing that when I was a Young Republican who joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War.  I blindly followed the crowd during the Jimmy Carter campaign for president when he said, "The arms race is a disgrace to the human race" and went on to build the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base in St. Marys, Georgia once elected.  I've tried to learn over the years to separate wheat from chaff. (I also fell for Nixon's 'secret plan' to end the Vietnam War during the 1968 campaign.)

One man criticized me for expecting Sanders to have spoken about such "narrow interests" during his Portland speech.  Narrow interests?  US foreign and military policy which eats up 55% of every discretionary tax dollar - US military empire with more than 800 bases around the world - endless US war making on behalf of corporate interests - the Pentagon with the planet's largest carbon bootprint - all narrow interests!  Excuse me while I faint from lack of oxygen!

One person suggested that Sanders was just holding back - waiting for the right time to spring his opposition to the US military empire on the unsuspecting corporate oligarchy that he acknowledges runs the show in Washington.  I've heard similar talk about Obama for years - he has a secret plan in his second term to do all the progressive things he promised during his previous two campaigns.  Now that the clock is running out on the Obama administration he must be waiting until the last couple of weeks to unpack the 'secret plan' for us.  Similarly, I suppose, we should all be patient and wait for Bernie to offer his 'secret plan' to pay for all his social spending promises.

You see my big problem is that I bought the 'democracy line' fed to me during my early days attending military run schools on Air Force bases.  I still believe that citizens should be well informed, they should ask candidates critical questions about policies (especially if they are not being articulated during campaigns), and that we should have healthy (stimulating and non-violent) public debate with one another during campaigns which results in better education and politics for all of us. Democracy is supposed to be active not passive.

But sadly in our consumer oriented society we been taught to open our mouths, tilt our heads back, (yes like a little birdie in a nest) and take the worm that is handed to us from on high.  Many, many Americans have learned to do politics this way - take what the corporate media and the well paid Madison Avenue public relations teams feed us as the gospel truth and then go and spit it back out to our fellow citizens.

Like some others I now choose to do things a bit differently.  I will ask questions, expect reasonable answers, and then I can sit down and do some deep thinking about what I have heard.  I might even write a few blog posts to see what reaction I get to my own analysis.  That to me is what real democracy looks like.


Blogger Lisa Savage said...

Yes, great to see all the comments on your post reporting on Bernie's "town meeting" in Portland and good to hear that Counterpunch reposted it. I just had email this week from the international writers' group The Pen wanting to know what slogan I thought the "peace team" should use to promote Bernie's candidacy. I suggested they read that blog post of yours! Or this one would be good as well.

7/9/15, 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I think about it, it seems to me that Sen. Sanders is similar to the Obama campaign in 2008. Obama promised everything to everyone. So, while promising very vague notions of change and hope, he also promised to do several things that would raise the defense budgets and continue on with the policy of empire. Sanders is slightly different in that he's promising change and hope, but not really mentioning the military budget and the other costs of empire. And, yes, I thought the 'stealth' campaign idea was bs back in 2008 and I still don't believe in it.

Here's one clue to watch for .... if this is really going to be a movement that can/will change anything, then the Sanders movement needs to be organizing primary challenges from like-minded people to run for the House and Senate. If you really see a lot of Democratic incumbents being challenged in primaries, then you can start to hope that this is for real. If you don't see that, its all smoke and mirrors. Because even if the system let Sanders win, he'd still be stuck with all the Right-of-Reagan Democrats that currently occupy the Congress.

That's been my basic sign of life in the Democratic Party that I've been looking for during the last decade and a half. You usually see one token 'progressive' primary challenge an election cycle. If the Democratic Party is really going to change from within, then you'll need to see hundreds of such primary battles across the country. Until you start to see that, any sign of hope in the Democratic Party is just a mirage. As there's no real sign that there's even a fight going on.

7/9/15, 3:54 PM  
Blogger Zachery d Taylor said...

It would be real Democracy if the vast majority of speech wasn't controlled by a small percentage and they allowed Instant Run-Off elections so they couldn't force us to choose between the so-called lesser evil which keeps getting worse.

I want to believe in someone, like Bernie, as much as others and hate to choose between exposing the bad or politically expedient choices which backfire. But still believe for all his flaws he's better than other unless Jill Stein has real chance.

BTW, if you don't mind going off topic, I have noticed that some veterans are among the most concerned about veteran shootings and doing most to draw attention to them even though others act with outrage. This actually makes sense since other veterans and their families are leading victims of both the shootings and military hazing that almost certainly contributes to it.

This is also related to high suicides; and those that deal with it best might be part of the solution.

7/10/15, 12:37 PM  

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