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

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Friday, April 06, 2007

SUBMERGED DEMOCRACY

The theme for today is submerged democracy.

What this means is that despite the raging opposition to Bush and his illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq the Democrats keep enabling the mess to continue.

For example, Nancy Pelosi says that impeachment is off the table. In response (see the photo above) citizens turned out by the thousands in her district on a San Francisco beach to call for impeachment hearings.

Pelosi, supposedly the liberal who was going to change things once the Dems took power, had this to say yesterday in the New York Times: "There is no division in policy between us and President Bush -- be it on Israel, Palestine or Syria," Pelosi told reporters at the Damascus Airport after concluding her meetings with Syria's president.

One can only assume she refers to Iraq too as we watched her recently lead the $124 billion war supplemental through the House. Many arms were twisted to make sure that funding for Bush's war continues. (Fortunately for us in Maine Rep. Mike Michaud from the 2nd district was one of the few with enough courage to vote against the war funding bill.)

Here in Maine, in today's Portland Press Herald, we see the leader of a liberal social justice group criticizing Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for voting against the Democratic party war funding bill in the Senate.

Jessie Graham, executive director of the Maine People's Alliance, was unhappy with the senator's vote.

"We were disappointed last week that Senator Collins, when given the opportunity to vote for legislation that provided funding for the troops in Iraq as well as a plan for withdrawal, voted nay," Graham said.

The Maine People's Alliance (MPA) has not been involved in anti-war work in Maine during the past four years that I have been here. But just recently the group has been holding news conferences around the state to support the Democratic Party position on the supplemental bill that just passed. They've taken out TV ads to blast Sen. Collins (who is a total war supporter) for not voting with the Dems.

But the truth is that the MPA's champion, Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) who is planning to announce next month that he will be running against Collins for her senate seat, has his hands deep in the pasta.

Rep. Allen just voted to fund the $124 billion Iraq occupation supplemental. In fact he's voted eight straight times to fund Bush's war. So he is doing the very same thing that he, and the Democratic Party controlled MPA, criticize Sen. Collins for doing - supporting the war. The truth is that both Collins and Allen are wrong!

This is how the public has become so cynical. Real discussion, real debate, real democracy, real differences have been submerged. Political integrity has been drowned. You have organizations like MPA that say they are against the war now undercutting the peace movement in Maine by going out and supporting politicians who keep voting to fund the war. And they do it because they want the Dems to take power. That's all that matters.

So the truth gets submerged. It gets destroyed in the process. And groups like MPA become agents of politicians and give up their roles as representatives of the people. Maybe they do it because they get extra funding to support the Dems. Maybe they do it because they think they will have a "special relationship" with the Dems.

Either way, in the end, what happens is that the movements to end war become fragmented and the public becomes very confused about what is going on. And few want to publicly speak about the confusion for fear they will be accused of being disloyal to the Democrats.

Howard Zinn said it very well last week after MoveOn sold out the peace movement by coming to the aid of the Democrats just before the vote on the $124 billion supplemental. Zinn wrote, "When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them. We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress. Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house, smashed everything in sight, and terrorized your children a timetable for withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If they are in fact doing the opposite—provoking civil war, hurting people, perpetuating violence—they should withdraw as quickly as ships and planes can carry them home."

The Democrats, MoveOn, and MPA say withdraw sometime in late 2008. But in fact, at this very moment, the Democrats in Congress are working on the fiscal year 2008 supplemental for Iraq and they want to provide Bush with $145 billion.

The occupation of Iraq will not end until the truth can surface in Maine and around the nation. A submerged democracy is a dead democracy.

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