Friday, May 25, 2007

Conversations on Independence

Let's talk about some of the psychological/cultural issues of the day. Ish has many good points in Three Scenarios posted on The Seminal, commenting on The Forgotten Reality in Reality-Based Politics by Kagro X on The Daily Kos--Ish's premise:
"Many in the Democratic base feel trapped between a party elite that has all but betrayed them on the one hand, and on the other a gaping political void whose depths they are reluctant to explore...."
Outlining 3 scenarios, 2 likely, and one that many independents are beginning to wish for, Ish goes on:
"The bind that Kagro X and many other Democrats find themselves in is real: the Elite doesn’t care if they are unhappy. The only way to make them listen, it may turn out, will be to vote for someone else en masse."

But, Ish says, grassroots Dems and Dem elites alike are afraid to move left....

Well put! At what point does someone decide to get out of an abusive marriage? Is what's "out there" more scary than staying put and putting up with continued abuse? Will your sister let you come live with her? Is there a knight on a white horse coming to take you out of there?

Fred Newman talks about independents and movement building this way this week in Talk/Talk "Apocalypse Now" :
"The fight going on is the people on the outside, whatever you want to call them – the people who are doing something new – to establish their group existence. It’s partly a psychological issue. In social therapy, we always talk to the group about building the group. But that’s very hard to do, because the individuated members are concerned with themselves, so creating a group is hard, even from the point of view of the people who are trying to build it. So, if you multiply that by millions, it’s hard to build a movement. The individuals – Perot, Bloomberg, whomever – who come and go for their own purposes aren’t going to build a movement. It’s got to come, somehow, from the millions of people “on the ground.” How do you acomplish that? How do you get independents to function as a mass movement? That’s very hard. And the Establishment is not going to give an inch on this. Not an inch. Independents are 40% of the electorate today. It could go up to 50%, 60%, 90%. It won’t make a difference...."

Can we build somewhere else to go? Can independent voters, who "swung" left and put the Dems in control of Congress in the midterm elections, join with grassroots Dems to lead America to a new place?

4 comments:

jeff roby said...

"Can independent voters, who 'swung' left and put the Dems in control of Congress in the midterm elections, join with grassroots Dems to lead America to a new place?"

Yes yes yes! But a first step would be for those independent forces who ARE actually organized to seriously take up the issues of grassroots Dems. Currently, organized independents (e.g., CUIP, or IPNY) abstain from organizing against the war or for universal healthcare or in defense of abortion rights, for instance, lest potentially independent Republicans be offended. They are going to have to go beyond highly technical ballot access issues, as important as they are, to touch the hearts of grassroots Dems. ("Sorry, we don't do social issues." "Sorry, we don't do foreign policy.")

I consider myself an independent Democrat, but I find it a sad state of affairs that corruption-personified Teddy Kennedy touches my heart more than most independents.

J-Ro said...

Thanks for the link, and I'm with you here. I don't know about the abusive relationship metaphor, but I'd hope that at some point a large block of voters would get pissed off enough to send a message. I think many are still concerned over what happened with Nader (which is unfortunate, because I don't think the Dems deserved it back then like they do now), and that is turning them off from voting for a third party. All I can say is, if someone like Hillary gets the nomination, representing the Democratic elite instead of the will of the people, I will be taking a long hard look at walking away.

jeff roby said...

j-ro,
I appreciate the sentiment. But I don't think it will make much difference either way. Whether you walk away, or several million progressives walk away -- if you do so as one individual or several individuals.

The point Newman is raising is how to create a mass movement of independent progressives. And that requires positive activity not constrained by the terms of whether to vote or not vote for the Democrat.

I will have no problem voting for Obama, Edwards or Clinton. But even if all 3 espoused a full socialist transitional program, that would not solve the problem of the lack of an independent progressive movement.

I consider expanding this dialogue to be one of many possible small starts.

N. Hanks said...

Jeff - thanks for your comments. As to What's an independent to do, for leverage, since they're not building a 3rd party: Well, seems that some folks figured out what to do in 2006--vote strategically, not out of loyalty to a Party but out of a need to give expression to the opinion of many many Americans that the country is
going in the wrong direction. Other things to do: organize a movement at the grassroots, build partnerships that position independents and all voters so we can speak out on our own behalf, insist that all voters have a right to vote their conscience not ideological or party loyalty, run for office, talk to our neighbors, family and co-workers, start blogs, comment on blogs--there are plenty of things independents can do to increase our leverage and build our movement so that we have the political clout to make some demands about what we want. Is there a quick fix? No. Is there a historical moment to seize? Yes. There always is!