Dump Bush, Build Independent Politics




I

t’s
a fact—there is a broadly- based, independent progressive movement
in this country. It is by no means as coherent as it needs to become,
but there are hundreds of thousands of people around the country
who see themselves as activists for social change who are clear
that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are the answer for
the crises we are facing today. 


Many
of these people are members of the Green Party or the Labor Party
or one of several local or state “third parties” around
the country—the Progressive Party in Vermont, the United Citizens
Party in South Carolina, Progressive Dane in Wisconsin, the Peace
and Freedom Party in California, the Mountain Party in West Virginia,
the Green-Rainbow Party in Massachusetts, the Working Families Party
in New York, or others.


Probably
more independent activists are not members of one of these parties,
for various reasons. But these people tend to vote independent on
election day and to speak up in opposition to the corrupt and depressing
reality of our corporate-dominated, two-party political system. 


Just
about all of us, I would guess, participated in the historic, worldwide,
pre-war peace movement late last year and early this year. That
movement brought out upwards of a couple of million people in this
country to at least one street demonstration over that period of
time. 


Now,
two months after that war was supposedly ended—or, more accurately,
that “battle” in the planned on-going war—the Bush
administration is facing serious problems. They are contending with
growing insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Their lies about
Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” have been exposed
and could blow up in their faces. Combined with a sputtering economy
and massive federal indebtedness two years after a multi-trillion
dollar surplus, there are ample grounds to expect Bush’s poll
num- bers to continue to slide. 


Those
of us in the independent progressive movement can help this process
along. We can build a significantly stronger mass popular movement
over the next 16 months leading up to the November 4, 2004 election.
What should be the major objectives for our movement over that period
of time? In my view, there are three: (1) replacing Bush with a
Democrat (since we’re not yet strong or organized enough to
replace him with a Green or an independent); (2) seeing the Republicans
lose control of at least one house of Congress; and (3) contributing
to these objectives in a way which maintains our political independence,
keeps the Green Party (and others) out there nationally as a visible
political player, and strengthens our unity and org- anization.
 


It
is critical that we not get absorbed into the Democratic Party.
We need to function independently because we cannot depend on that
big money-dominated institution, left to its own devices, to accomplish
either or both of those first two objectives. We also need to function
independently because we all know that whoever is in office come
January 20, 2005, we need a strong and more unified independent
progressive movement to press for genuine, positive, fundamental
change. 


Here
are some proposals for how we can best accomplish these three objectives: 



  • Truth Squads
    Wherever Bush Goes:

    When Bush—or others from his campaign—are
    speaking publicly, we should be there, in the largest numbers
    we can mobilize, as visibly as possible. 


  • Register
    The “Sleeping Giant”

    : The “sleeping giant”
    for our movement is those potential voters—50 percent of
    them—who are so turned off that they don’t come out
    and vote. We need to do organized voter registration among the
    disaffected. 


  • Popular Education:

    We need to put together educational materials that are accessible
    and understandable. What about the organizing of people’s
    theatre groups to perform wherever there are people? What about
    dump-Bush concerts where voter registration and sign-ups for grassroots
    organizing are prominently pushed? 


  • Button-Wearing:

    We should all be wearing anti-Bush buttons everywhere we go, as
    much as possible. We need mass visibility of anti-Bush sentiment. 


  • Pump Up August
    29, 2004

    : Coming out of the June United for Peace and Justice’s
    national conference, it looks as if this could become a day that
    “The World Says No to Bush,” the way February 15 was
    a day the world said no to war.  


  • Defend The
    Vote:

    The so-called “Help America Vote Act” requires
    every state to computerize, centralize, and purge voter roles
    before 2004. This opens up the possibility of more Jeb Bush/ Katherine
    Harris-type purges of black or other non-Republican voters in
    Republican-controlled states. We need to stay on top of these
    issues in various states. 


  • Local Unity-Building

    :
    We must work to counter hostility between Greens and other third
    partyies and rank-and-file progressive Democrats, people who are
    in agreement on issues, but who may disagree tactically over what
    to do as far as electoral politics. 


  • Safe-States
    Green Party

    Presidential Campaign:

    The Greens should run a presidential
    candidate and put her or him on the ballot in as many states as
    possible. The tactics of that campaign should concentrate resources
    in those 30-35 states where it is known well in advance whether
    Bush or the Democrat is going to win that state’s electoral
    votes. 


We
have 16 months to accomplish these goals. This is more than enough
time if we apply our collective energies, intelligence, and dedication
in a way commensurate with both the urgency and the promise of this
coming period.

 







Ted
Glick is the National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics
Network (www.ippn.org), although these ideas are solely his.