NOTE: I still have some dates free for speaking gigs this fall, please contact me if you’re interested in a visit.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Democrat. Naturally, I hold the Republicans in the same regard as I do pigeon poop. And last evening’s news of President Obama’s Rolling Stone tantrum against progressives that David Deyen summarized as “Don’t be stupid, quit your bitching and vote for me,” perfectly explains the essence of the Dems’—and the left’s—dilemma.
After having noted in his interview that he has already accomplished 70 percent of his campaign promises (yikes!), Obama added:
“One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we’ve got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.
The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.”
Evidently the president is pissed off at the uninspired millions who voted for him who are now standing amidst the rubble of an economy with a real unemployment rate of 22 percent, according to economists at Shadow Government Statistics who actually count the officially uncounted discouraged and those working an hour a month. Add to them those hanging on to jobs, but who had the audacity to hope that when the president promised to end torture, war and LGBT inequality he might actually do so.
Aside from the fact that this is a rather bizarre campaign strategy, the president has become—as my mom would say—Cleopatra, queen of denial. I will leave it to shrinks to plumb the depth of his psyche, but what is at question for the broad left right now is whether or not the dyspepsia we all feel will lead toward a solemn march to the polls to vote for Dems who have delivered nothing but a pale reflection of the Republican agenda or to a break with a political party that has reduced every debate with the right into a battle between cut ‘em off at the hips or cut ‘em off at the knees.
I don’t reside on Planet Cuckoo and can appreciate that this is no small or short-term endeavor. Building a left alternative to the Democratic Party will take time, energy, commitment and backbone against a shitstorm of attacks from the Dems who take it as a god-given right to own the fealty of progressives. This is not simply or even primarily an electoral question. The fight for jobs, peace, genuine universal health care and a foreign policy that abandons imperial might will not be on the ballot this November.
But there is a stirring in this country and a sense that what we have sucks and what we want we may actually need to fight for. I suggest that those of us who can start by getting on those free union buses to Washington, D.C. this Saturday morning, Oct. 2, and meet up at 10 a.m. at 12th and Constitution (NW), to strategize at the united socialist contingent, pulled together by various forces on the left. For those who can’t make it, write me and I’ll do my best to hook you up with like-minded folks in your area.
Sherry Wolf is a public speaker, writer and activist who is available to speak on Sexuality and Socialism, How Can We Unite and Fight the Right and other topics at your campus, community center or union hall for a moderate fee. Wolf is the associate editor of the International Socialist Review and author of Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation (Haymarket Books, named one of theProgressive’s “Favorite Books of 2009”). Contact Sherry at: sherrywolf2000 at yahoo.com or find her on Facebook. Check out the video of Sherry speaking with Cleve Jones and the cast of Hair at the National Equality March.