Ernest Partridge: Eyes On The Prize
Eyes On The Prize
By Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers
May 23, 2006
Among the thousands of internet and media articles that I have read during the three and a half years of co-editing The Crisis Papers, one passage stands out in my mind as especially repugnant:
"[I]n the 20th century the rich were the class most persecuted by government. The class genocide of the 20th century is the greatest genocide in history."
By this account, Bill Gates and Donald Trump are more pitiable victims of injustice than Anne Frank, and New Deal/Great Society regulation of commerce is a greater atrocity than the extermination of millions of innocent victims in the Nazi holocaust.
The author of that scrap of moral garbage is Paul Craig Roberts, a libertarian, former contributing editor for the National Review and the Wall Street Journal, and formerly an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan.
Roberts is also a steadfast and eloquent critic of the Bush Administration and an invaluable ally in the ongoing struggle to overthrow Bushism. I read his frequent articles with great interest and appreciation, and usually with almost complete agreement. Thus I was shocked when I encountered those abhorrent words in his essay, "Who Will Save America?," an essay which is otherwise quite admirable.
Oh well, nobody's perfect!
Many of the more than one-hundred respondents to Roberts’ posting of the article in The Smirking Chimp, found such sentiments, or his former affiliations, to be reason enough to serve Roberts a dishonorable discharge from the army of opposition to the Busheviks.
This response typifies the combination of uncompromising self-righteousness and strategic myopia that might well lead to another Democratic debacle next November, and again in 2008.
For myself, I would say to Paul Craig Roberts: despite our disagreements, let's work together to throw the rascals out in November and then to restore the rule of law and a civil, responsible politics. Then we can move on and deal with our differences in open and honest debate.
The triumph of Republican regressivism in the past quarter century has been due to a number of factors familiar to most of us:
- A ruthless disregard of civility, traditional political decorum, and even (when they could get away with it) the law, in a relentless determination, as Tom DeLay put it, not merely to defeat, but to destroy their political opponents.
- Concentration, intimidation and control of the mainstream media.
- A formidable advantage in campaign funding.
- Extraordinary party discipline in the Congress.
- Consummate political salesmanship, including the framing of political debate and the manipulation of language, which succeeded in persuading millions of middle class and poor Americans to vote against their self interest and to sanction the flow of their personal wealth to the very rich.
- And finally, the ability to keep intact a coalition of unlikely allies. In contrast, the leadership of the Democratic Party (such as it is) has proven incapable of imposing a truce among its many factions and redirecting their attention toward a common purpose.
While I have written extensively about each of the above factors, in this essay I will focus attention on that final factor: coalition-building.
Will Rogers famously remarked, “I belong to no organized party – I am a Democrat.” And to be sure, Democrats have been often shown an uncanny ability to form circular firing squads.
Two personal experiences exemplify this problem.
Several weeks ago, I was drawn into an e-mail chat group devoted to the issue of election fraud, an issue about which I am profoundly concerned and have written extensively. Soon thereafter, my In-Box was flooded with messages from within the group, the vast majority of which were trivial responses back and forth. Most notable, however, was the acrimony within the group: defenders and critics of Rep. Rush Holt and his election reform bill, defenders and critics of Bev Harris and her “Black Box Voting” web site. And most heatedly, advocates of hand counted paper ballots (HCPB) vs. defenders of Optical Scan Voting. As long as such in-group bickering continues, the RNC and Karl Rove can only smile, as the privatized “fix” of our elections proceeds without challenge. However, once this enthusiasm and energy are directed outward to state legislators, prosecutors, and the media, they can provide a lever of significant reform.
Three weeks ago, I posted an essay: “The 9/11 Conspiracy – A Skeptical View.” In the essay, I examined both the “official view” (OV) of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001, and the more prominent of the “conspiracy theories” (CT) which accuse agencies within the US government of planning and implementing the attacks. While I found problems of evidence and inference in both OV and CT and was convinced of neither, I was strongly inclined to accept the official account of a Boeing 757 hitting the Pentagon, and slightly disposed to accept the official explanation that the World Trade Center towers fell solely as a result of the impact of the hijacked airliners.
That essay prompted over five-hundred replies, by far the largest response I have received to any of my previous 135 internet essays. Yet these individuals, united in their opposition to Bush, Inc., were bitterly divided over the question of the “real” causes of the 9/11 attacks. Many of the CT advocates regarded me as a “tool” of the Busheviks, while a few even suggested that I was a “disinformation agent.” Yet virtually all of these critics were, like myself, steadfast and determined opponents of the Bush regime and its policies. Numerous websites are devoted exclusively to conspiracy theories and to a debunking of the official view, staffed by resourceful and energetic advocates of their theories – individuals whose talents will thus be unfortunately lost to the urgent business of ousting the GOP Congress in November and restoring the White House to the Democrats in 2008.
Numerous disputes among the Democrats and Progressives are openly argued with more heat and passion than disputes with the regressive Republicans. First of all, and most significantly, is the animosity between the “Washington DC Democrats” and the rank and file Democratic voters beyond the Beltway. The DC Democrats, it seems, are much more concerned about keeping peace within the non-partisan Washington High Society than they are about responding to the concerns and serving the interests of their constituencies outside The DC Beltway. The paradigm examples of the DC Democrats are Hillary Clinton, Joseph Lieberman and Nancy Pelosi (“let’s all get along and hear no more of this ‘impeachment’ talk”). This helps explains why, however low the ratings of Bush and the GOP, the Democrats seem not to fare much better.
Then there is the tension between the centrist (“GOP-lite”) Democratic Leadership Conference and the Progressive Democrats of America – Howard Dean’s liberal “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”
Next is the ongoing competition among traditional Democratic interest groups. Most environmentalists share the concerns of the peace group and endorse the aspirations of the poor and minorities, and, conversely, most peace activists and civil rights advocates are concerned about the environment. The dispute arises over priorities, and the resulting competition over scarce resources: resources such as cash contributions, legislative agendas, media attention, etc.
Finally, as noted above, many progressives demand total agenda agreement and ideological purity among their allies before facing outward and taking on “the enemy.” And because many of these internal disputes are interminable, the GOP and the regressive right often get a free pass.
And yet, the divisions among the Democrats are trivial compared with the issues that should be ripping apart the Republican coalition. This GOP alliance includes: Christian theocrats and libertarian atheists; small government, fiscal conservatives and the “borrow and spend” corporate raiders of the federal Treasury, the traditional isolationists and the neo-con imperialists; the greedy corporate owners and management and the “follow-along” cultural conservatives that they employ and exploit; the anti-government libertarians vs. the “unitary executive” proto-fascists.
At long last, this unhealthy and unnatural GOP alliance appears to be breaking up due to its internal contradictions and not, in any significant degree, because of attacks from the Democrats or from a critical media.
The DC Democrats, who should now be vigorously facilitating this break up, appear to be content to be spectators. Meanwhile, as they anticipate their fully anticipated Congressional takeover, the Democrats make hypothetical committee assignments and plan their legislative agenda, paying scant attention to the prerequisite task of winning the election or addressing that little problem of election fraud that deprived them of their victories in the past three elections.
“Good God!, why should they mock poor fellows thus,” said Shakespeare's King Henry before the Battle of Agincourt. “The man that once did sell the lion’s skin while the beast lived, was killed with hunting him.”
This is no time for complacency or for petty intramural squabbles.
Instead, the Democrats, and all others who are fed-up with Republican greed, corruption, lawlessness, and international bullying, must unite and keep their eyes on the prize: the overthrow of Bushism.
The Democrats should now be making alliances with the disaffected Right: libertarians, Christians (emphasizing the forgotten moral teachings of the Sermon on the Mount), and the “lost Democrats” of labor and the middle class who had defected earlier to Ronald Reagan.
This opposition must no longer oppose knives with bare knuckles. We all know now that the GOP fights dirty. No need to descend to their level, but it is imperative that the Democrats fight hard and fight smart. Expose the dirty tactics and turn them against the GOP. “Frame” the issues and mobilize the language into an effective weapon. Coordinate the attacks. Take the offensive and never yield it.
And of course, fire the defeated generals -- Bob Shrum, James Carville, Paul Begala, Donna Brazile, John Kerry – and install some new faces with fresh ideas.
Expose the election racket, demand fair and verifiable elections. And do it now. Time is of the essence.
Above all, we must unite! Put aside intramural differences, form alliances with former adversaries, focus on common concerns and aims. Let’s take back our government, then we can duke out our differences, as fellow citizens in a restored republic under the rule of law.
Keep your eyes on the prize!
Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the
field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has
taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in
Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website,
"The Online Gadfly" ( http://www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits
the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (
www.crisispapers.org). His book in progress, "Conscience
of a Progressive," can be seen at www.igc.org/gadfly/progressive/^toc.htm
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