Mark Rudd : Thoughts on 2012

‘The Republicans are leaving Obama with a mess…’ Drawing by Doug Potter.

Obama’s second term: ‘a diverse group of people are working on a progressive agenda within the Demo Party that demands a second New Deal.’
By Mark Rudd / The Rag Blog / October 9, 2008

I’m thinking a lot about the 2012 election, for Obama’s second term. All of his advisors are Clintonites, ie., Republican lite. They did nothing to reverse the privatization, anti-union, free market trend begun under Reagan, quite the contrary. They laid the basis for the current wars, accomplishing next to nothing toward diplomacy and international law. They will inevitably fail to rescue the economy from depression and will win no war in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

But meanwhile, a diverse group of people are working on a progressive agenda within the Demo Party that demands a second New Deal (with disarmament and international law). That’s our four year goal. It will take that long to set up an infrastructure for the Demo Party that will do what the right-wing think tanks did for the Republicans. They took power and held it for twenty years and dominated the intervening eight with a network that included university endowments, publications, prizes, fellowships, radio and tv stations, internet outlets. They even had whole universities of their own with schools to feed them.

Of course one big difference is that the Repubs for the last 35 years have had a single unifying concept, to shrink government (except for the military) and let the markets rip. The strategy was to create a coalition of ideological conservatives and Christian conservatives. What’s the left’s unifying concept? What’s its winning strategy? The most common formula I hear is the reversal of Reagan’s dogma: the state, as the concentration of the democratic whole, has the responsibility to use its resources to help the citizens and the planet. The coalition to achieve power for this concept is much less clear.

People in the progressive political class are beginning to build a progressive infrastructure in the Demo party. Good examples are Media Matters, the Center for Independent Media, with a network of ten statewide online newspapers. There are funding organizations coming into existence behind them. Many other institutions and outlets are in place, mostly small and on the young side, which is great. But this infrastructure needs to expand very quickly to challenge the center-rightists of the party, who have been in power since at least 1992, actually longer. They’re a legacy of the McGovern defeat of 1972. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver I saw no indication that this new progressive infrastructure was even noticed by those in power. Not even a tip of the hat. Tom Hayden says that not one Obama foreign policy advisor is an anti-interventionist or of the peace camp.

The Republicans are leaving Obama with such a mess that free-market, trickle down remedies will fail and will have been exposed as bankrupt, corrupt, and insufficient: the wars will continue, at least in Afghanistan, if Obama makes good on his campaign promise. So the reelection campaign four years from now will be an historic opening for the progressive agenda. This will be equally true if, perish the thought, McCain/Palin are elected. But in that case the right-wing populist movement—racist and militarist—will be much stronger than had it not been nurtured by the government.

Sooner or later there will be a power struggle within the Demo party between the progressives and the rightists, the Clinton/DLC wing. It won’t be pretty, but it has to be, just as the conservatives had to wrest the Republican party away from the Rockefeller wing. It’s still not clear who “we” are. This election will go far to solving that problem.

For over a year, Tom Hayden’s been urging people to think about the movement necessary to push Obama to the left. That’s our goal. The Obama field campaign has been making good progress at building actual grass-root electoral organization. I haven’t seen the peace movement do anything comparable in the last five years, have you? The top down, progressive infrastructure model has zero chance of working unless there’s a movement at the base. Obama has built that structure and will maintain it. We’d better be in it or near it or we’re out in the cold.

Is all this obvious and known by everyone, or does it bear further discussion?

The Rag Blog

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8 Responses to Mark Rudd : Thoughts on 2012

  1. Mariann says:

    Intelligent thinking! The Left hasn’t been ahead of the curve in the USA for a long time now, if ever — while the multinationals plan way in advance. So yah, thinking now about 2012 is a great idea, hopefully culminating at some point in some kind of People’s Congress (electronic or otherwise).

    Voting on an agenda is also a novel idea — I am sick of popularity contests and beauty

  2. RogerB says:

    To me, the last paragraph posted by Mark contains some key issues.

    History indicates that the public will have high expectations of Obama. I think a sober look at our economic mess indicates that things will probably get worse. This in terms of average living standards, largely due to energy costs, even if not due to economic fallout from financial mismanagement.

    These are

  3. Jay Jurie says:

    Mark made some very good observations though his optomism hinges upon Obama being elected for a first term, which is not yet a certainty…Mark’s observations are all in keeping with a realignment strategy as Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has advocated for three decades. Some assessment is still needed as to why that hasn’t worked better. Maybe for starters the timing wasn’t right,

  4. Tom Hayden says:

    One thing we need is a source of $ and/or institutional resources like great lists in order to headquarter a kind of network where these ideas can bubble up, be discussed, find greater outlets, and include a good list of Dems and media around the country. Given who we are, it has to be outside/inside. And it doesn’t have to be very far left: keynesian, environmentalist, anti-war at core. A new

  5. Paul Buhle says:

    Folks: it is always, ALWAYS, good to hear from Mark Rudd. As we Senior Citizen Radicals watch the meltdown of our retirement savings in TIAA/CREF, etc., we need something else to think about (if only this had happened 25 years ago! when we were considerably more eager and able to dash into the streets at the first opportunity, etc etc)……other than how great SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE is…..
    <

  6. The Shaman says:

    Nice to see your name again Mark. I was young then too. I’m older and more cynical now. But I still have hope that inside of humans there is a common kernel that can germinate.

    I got my money out the night after I lost quite a bit of it. The bankers would have taken it all by now if I had not acted.

    I’m just moving on and hoping to die without discomfort.

    Dave

  7. Alan L. Maki says:

    I don’t believe anyone really thinks the left is going to gain influence in the Democratic Party.

    Obama has already caved to big-business and Wall Street on every issue… my hunch is that he will be driven from office by the very youth supporting him now once the draft cards start getting sent out.

    I can’t believe the way Obama has sucked all of you in.

    I sent the following open letter to Obama:

    An Open Letter to Barack Obama…

    From:

    Alan L. Maki

    Director of Organizing,
    Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
    and
    Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party activist

    October 12, 2008

    “The vision of working class Minnesotans for the change we need”

    Barack, speaking for casino workers who are forced to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights, some of us have already decided to vote for you, others among us could possibly be persuaded, while others among us— including myself— we may be voting for other candidates like Cynthia McKinney; and some people who feel completely disenfranchised by the present state of politics in our country where government is not responsive to their concerns and problems, very unfortunately— but understandably so— sadly, may not vote at all… however, we all share a common vision for the kind of change we need; and, that vision is one where the problems of working people need to be solved before the interests of bankers and the Wall Street crowd…

    Barack, you began your political career as a member of, and with support from, the socialist New Party in Chicago. We expect that as President you will adhere to this vision of people before corporate profits. You are campaigning in Minnesota where socialist politicians Governor Floyd B. Olson, U.S. Senator and Governor Elmer A. Benson and United States Congressman John Bernard are held in very high esteem… when campaigning in Minnesota, we expect you to address the concerns of working people:

    1. Single-payer universal health care as a step towards socialized health care.

    2. Public ownership of the Ford Plant and hydro dam to save two-thousand jobs.

    3. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now; no war in Pakistan—redirect money to things people need.

    4. Moratorium on all home foreclosures and evictions; renegotiate the mortgages.

    5. For an end to the robbery at the pumps.

    Barack, we expect you to open up the “Compacts” which have created the Indian Gaming Industry to include provisions for the protection of the rights of casino workers— we are talking about basic human rights and dignity, the right to decent jobs at living wages in a fabulously profitable multi-billion dollar industry.

    Barack, we expect you to work for an end to poverty as called for in the United Nations’ Millennium Statement, and we expect an Obama Administration to work towards the full implementation of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights which will observe its Sixtieth Anniversary on December 10, 2008; here in the United States we have a very long way to go in fulfilling its goals and objectives.

    Barack, socialism isn’t just for solving the problems of the bankers, investors, financiers and the Wall Street crowd… in the case of socialism solving problems, what is good for the goose is even better for the gander.

    Barack, I have been involved in the Democratic Party in one way or another for over thirty years… I have petitioned, I have chaired campaigns and raised funds; I have served in various capacities in Democratic Party organizations over the years in three states; from trustee to local precinct chair to being a member of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Central Committee— I have supported Democratic Party politicians— and those of other parties, also— for every office when they advanced the cause of peace, civil rights, the protection of our environment and rights of working people… and, quite honestly, in the case of others like Valerie Solem, Matt Entenza, Mike Hatch, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, when they sought to restrict the rights of working people and encouraged war— I opposed them.

    Barack, in your case, I probably am not going to be voting for you, but, I wish you well in your pursuit of the Presidency… In saying this, I speak for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council and our Organizing Committees at casinos in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. I believe— based upon my travels and discussions with many people from all walks of life— I also speak for many other voters in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.

    Barack, you continue to speak to the concerns of the “middle class;” we are concerned with the problems of the working class.

    Barack, let me be perfectly frank and up front with you. There is a short time left until Election Day. What we want is something in return for our votes. Please think about this.

    Barack, you write me often and I appreciate the opportunity to stay in touch; you can expect that I will be keeping in touch with you, too, as you have requested, and I appreciate that you indicate you are very open to communication and I trust that you are sincere in wanting change; so we have a great deal to discuss.

    I have always believed in building bridges because I seldom find that burning bridges solves problems.

    Sometimes building bridges is tough work because of the swift, turbulent and murky waters.

    Good luck and best wishes.

    Yours in the struggle,

    Alan L. Maki

  8. As long as the U.S. Big Media conglomerates are able to rig the U.S. presidential elections by excluding anti-imperialist third-party or independent candidates from the televised debates and daily news coverage,the U.S. government’s policy of bi-partisan militarism ain’t likely to change much in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.

    With the collapse of U.S. imperialism’s banking system (which, ironically, was caused, in part, by the financially reckless subprime mortgage lending that the failed Superior Bank engaged in during the years when Obama campaign finance director Penny Pritzker sat on the Superior Bank board), there’s actually more of a possibility that an anti-corporate, anti-imperialist grassroots-left movement for a pacifist U.S. foreign policy that’s independent of the Corporate-sponsored Democratic Party can quickly grow now.

    It also makes no moral sense for supporters of full national self-determination and human rights for the Palestinian people to support a Democratic presidential candidate who is backed by APAC and (unlike Noam Chomsky) supports continued military aid for the militaristic Israeli government and economic sanctions against the people of Iran. In addition, there doesn’t seem much evidence yet that an Obama administration is going to immediately free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal on January 21, 2009 and grant amnesty to all currently still-imprisoned Movement activists from the 1960s.

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