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Neither Grand, Nor a Bargain


Liberal groups have been organizing protests of the looming "grand bargain" (a bargain between two political parties aimed at saving us from the fictional "fiscal cliff" by giving more of our money to the super-rich and the war machine). But they've been doing so only in Republican Congressional districts and with messages placing all the blame on "the Republicans," thus telegraphing the message that all shall be tolerated if labeled "Democratic." 

We're supposed to be against a bargain, but only against one of the two partners to the bargain. Any bets on how well that'll work?

Meanwhile Obama's senior advisor David Plouffe hypes the danger of the "fiscal cliff," calls for lower corporate taxes and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, but says not one word about military spending. He also claims to want to end tax cuts for the wealthy but is much more passionate about the danger of ending those cuts across the board, suggesting — as did Obama's statements and silences at his first post-election press conference — that the White House will not in the end refuse to extend the "Bush" tax cuts for everyone, including the multi-billionaires — just as it's done before. At the same press conference, Obama volunteered that we need "deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes."

Liberal groups have written to the president politely suggesting what they'd like, but with nothing in the way of consequences if they don't get it. And what they'd like is slightly higher taxes on the super-rich, and no cuts to Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. Or else . . . or else . . . they'll be sadly loyal until death do them part. 

Neither Plouffe nor Obama nor any liberal activist group mentions that half of discretionary spending goes into war preparations. None proposes to raise corporate taxes, restore the estate tax, remove the cap on Social Security taxes, tax financial transactions and capital gains, tax carbon emissions, massively and urgently invest in green energy jobs, or cut the $1.3 trillion war preparations budget in half.

We are not broke. We are being robbed.

I get emails every day now on the "This isn't what we voted for" theme. "TPP is not what we voted for."  "Drone kills are not what we voted for."  As if you can ignore the candidate's platform and vote for your own fantasy under his name, and then "pressure" him to become what you fantasized even while swearing your allegiance to his party come hell or high water or hurricanes. Well, guess what, the Grand Bargain is what Democrats and Republicans voted for. But that doesn't mean we have to stand for it. Having voted against it wouldn't have stopped it. Only getting out of our houses and nonviolently resisting it now will stop it.

The peace movement is ready to take to the streets and the suites, but worried that it doesn't have the size to do the job. Of course it does have the size to start something big if it merely finds the determination. But imagine what could happen if Tahrir Square inspired us all again and more seriously, and with four years rather than two years to work with before the next debilitation by the latest "Most Important Election of Your Lifetime." Imagine if liberal organizations and labor unions openly recognized where all the public money is (in the war machine) and demanded it for useful purposes. 

The peace movement is in favor of everything they're in favor of: the right to organize, civil liberties, an end to for-profit prisons and drug wars and racism, affordable housing, a living wage, education, healthcare, and a sustainable environment. The enemy of these things is the military industrial complex, and if it remains beyond challenge, a just society will remain unachievable. When Dr. King opposed "racism, extreme materialism, and militarism," he didn't mean for us to ignore the third one. He didn't mean for us to imagine that the three were separable and that we could oppose one or two of them effectively without opposing the combination.

Let's stop obediently opposing the worst bits of a Grand Catastrophe and begin denouncing and resisting the whole charade, replacing it with a grand vision of our own devising. RootsAction.org, created just last year, is already approaching 200,000 active members, and has been flooding Congress and the President with this message:

"Here's a grand bargain we want: expand Medicare and Social Security, invest in green energy, raise taxes on the rich and corporations, and cut military spending back to the level of 12 years ago."

The message is editable, meaning that you can and should add your own comments.  I encourage everyone to do so, to ask friends to do so, and to be preparing for serious nonviolent action.  

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