No SDUSA members attended the Democratic National Convention as delegates, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t present. SDUSA was represented among the thousands who gathered at FDR Park in Philadelphia to mount various rallies and protests. Our Vice Chair Michael Mottern (in the photo, on the left) tells me about the experience.
Rick: It sounds like FDR Park was the rallying point for all the various protest groups. Tell me about that.
Michael: Actually the meet-up location was City Hall. All the visiting groups were coordinated through philly.fyi. The field organizer was Jamhar James and he did a great job. The big march was on Sunday, from City Hall to FDR Park. FDR Park is across the road from Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic Convention was held. It was about a 3 ½ mile parade down Broad Street. The march included many different groups: socialists, environmentalists, black lives matter, legalizing pot, etc. Black Men for Bernie surprisingly had a very large presence. Altogether, I don’t know how many people were there; I’m no good at estimating crowds, but many thousands of people were there. The newspaper would give a better estimate.
Rick: The press liked to focus on some of the outlier groups, like the ones burning the US and Israeli flags. What was the general tone of the rallies?
Michael: I didn’t see any flag burning. It may have been a small group. There were so many people there, it would be easy to miss something. Overall, it was very peaceful. The police were very good. Polite, easy going. Based on what I saw at FDR Park, I would even say many of them were supportive.
Rick: We heard that hotel rooms were costing into the thousands of dollars during the convention. Protesters don’t have that kind of money.
Michael: I stayed at a cheap hotel on the other side of the river in Camden. Not a very safe area. But the hotel was full of protesters and we traveled on a bus to and from the hotel to Philly each day. We didn’t have any trouble and I met a lot of great people. Philly.fyi had bottled water to keep everyone hydrated and they had porta-johns everywhere. Maybe the city gave them the money to take care of the protesters? Philly.fyi did a great job. There were a lot of people that were trying to overnight in the park, but they weren’t allowed. Police had to evict them, but I didn’t hear of any violence or serious incidents. There were lots of food trucks for people to get something to eat, and Food Not Bombs was giving away hummus sandwiches and fresh vegetables. I and everyone else appreciated it.
Rick: How were your interactions with other socialist groups?
Michael: I spoke with some DSA people. They are kind of “cliquey”. They think highly of themselves. One said to me, “You guys are still around?” in a smart ass way. I also spoke with a member of Socialist Alternative. She asked me how we could have a Hillary voter as a member. I said, “We’re a democratic organization. We try to influence how our members vote, we don’t mandate how they vote”. She smirked and walked away. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of democratic centralism on the left.
Notes: Here is the website for philly.fyi.
It’s probable that portions of Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention were lightly rephrased versions of passages from a Michele Obama speech. If this was done by a speech writer, Melania is not really guilty of anything. If it was done by Melania, it suggests that maybe her view of the Obamas is more favorable than that of her husband, i.e., if she drew from the speech so much, she must have really liked it on some level. In either case, Hillary would be advised to cut her some slack by, say, issuing a statement that she doesn’t doubt that the speech expresses the sincerity of Melania’s belief in her husband.
The key point has already been made–that this incident is yet more evidence that the Republicans and the Trump campaign are in disarray. To keep the issue alive serves no useful purpose. I say this not because I have a fondness for models (even a model from a former non-Stalinist Slovenian communist family), but because it’s the smart thing to do–it helps to show that Hillary’s the adult in the race who wants to keep things focussed on what matters.
Bernie has been saying that he wants to start a grass roots political revolution. Most of his followers aren’t listening.
Our cult of celebrity culture makes it appear that there is only one election in America— the presidency. Thousands came out to see Bernie at rallies all over the country; like a rock star. And now that he’s lost the Democratic primary, they are disgruntled and angry. Bernie, however, wants to keep the movement going. Having been in politics for most of his life, he knows that a movement is not just one election. He says that we need to harness that energy and put it to work in local and state politics. I am not optimistic that this will happen. Ask most Bernie supporters if they are willing to run for office, or even for a seat on their local Democratic Committee. It’s a 4 year commitment. Most people today cannot imagine agreeing to do something for 4 years, let alone 6 or 8. Most political activity today consists of FB clicking. Bernie will be very disappointed if he thinks he can channel that into a movement.
Regarding voting for Hillary and the concept of least worst candidate. As we live in a democracy, by definition we will always be picking the least worst candidate. There is no perfect candidate, there is only the candidate who best aligns with my policies and is most competent. The term “least worst” is just a sarcastic way of saying “none of the candidates is my ideal candidate”. Welcome to democracy. You will recall that many social democrats and progressives were turned off by Bernie’s position on guns. There is no perfect candidate. If Bernie had won we would be elated, but there would be millions of other voters who feel that they would be forced to pick the least worst between Bernie and Donald in November. That’s the way elections work. I will vote for Hillary, and I won’t hold my nose while doing so. I have listened to Jill Stein and in no way, shape, or form, is she ready to represent America on the world stage as diplomat and be commander of our military. The only political office she has ever held was Town Meeting Seat in the town of Lexington, Mass. Her only qualification for president is that she is not Hillary Clinton. I respect your right to disagree and that’s what elections are for.
And that brings us back to the fact that the presidency is not the only election. Congress makes the laws and appropriates money, and Congress is run by Republicans. They do a piss poor job and we the voters have allowed that to happen. We got to this point by thinking that only the president is important and ignoring Congressional elections. We must break that mentality! The majority of voters in my state are registered as Democrats. In 2008 there was a massive turnout to elect Barack Obama. But was weak turnout for the 2010 Congressional and State elections. As a result the Republicans took control of our state government and gerrymandered the Congressional districts in their favor. Consequently, we now have 13 Republican House Representatives in Congress and 5 Democratic Reps (in a majority Democratic state!). This is how people like Paul Ryan get to be Speaker of the House. All of that because democrats in my state didn’t show up to vote for their state legislator. I know that many social democrats believe the Democratic Party is unfixable and they want to leave. But if they are leaving just because Bernie failed to gain the top spot, they’re making a mistake. Creating a party large enough to elect a president is a huge undertaking. You have to become the majority party in a majority of states. Growing the Green Party to that size will take decades and I don’t believe there is political willpower amongst that masses to make that happen. However, a Sanders’ revolution in the Democratic Party at the local and state level could result in Social Democrats becoming a majority of the party in 5-10 years. And that is an achievable goal.
This is good news. Prof. West won’t be disrupting the Democratic Party Convention from inside and trying to turn it into a hate fest against Zionism. Probably, he’ll try to become Dr. Nader Redux’s vice presidential candidate. Maybe his cult-leader friend Bob Avakian (aka God) will send the zombies of the so-called Revolutionary Communist Party to join the fun.
I didn’t realize how “out there” Jill Stein is until I saw her being interviewed Friday night about how the Greens are the “revolutionaries” fighting against the “counterrevolutionaries” (Hillary and now presumably Bernie). After she used the word “counterrevolutionaries” she gave a little smile that reminded me of Gilda Radner’s character who’d always follow her odd statements with a “neVERRR mind.”
In the not completely impossible event that Stein draws enough votes from the Foolish wing of the Left to give Trump the White House, one thing will be sure: she’ll never admit any regrets or acknowledge the suffering she will have helped to cause for hundreds of millions of Americans. Just as Nader will never come down off his own pedestal of self-righteousness to accept any responsibility for the eight years of Bush and Cheney.
As for me, I firmly believe there is a time and place for Lesser Evil Politics. If that makes me a “counterrevolutionary,” so what?
Note, July 15: Scratch out the word “heroine” above. Ginsburg has now apologized for daring to speak out against Trump — a candidate whose racism, authoritarianism, and support for torture and mass box-car deportations should motivate EVERY PERSON OF GOOD WILL IN THIS ENTIRE COUNTRY to stand up and denounce him publicly. It looks like Ginsburg is no Eartha Kitt, much less a new Ida Wells or Emma Goldman. Did her co-liberals on the Court tell her, please, we beg you, back down, you’re embarrassing us? But sometimes people who back down have already raised issues that won’t go away. The Justices of the Supreme Court in this age of polarization are neither objective nor neutral (if indeed they EVER were: John Jay, while serving as our first Chief Justice ran for Governor of New York as a Federalist). To pretend they are neutral is a lie! There was nothing neutral about Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito boycotting President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. And there was nothing neutral about the actions of these and the other Republican-appointed Justices who voted for Citizens United and for the gutting of the Voting Rights Act — cases which had been brought before the Court for the clear purpose of gaining for the Republicans a grotesquely unfair advantage in electoral politics. Certainly these two decisions show a far greater spirit of partisanship than is embodied in Ginsburg’s denunciation of Trump. Ginsburg was talking about the soul of the Republic; these conservative justices were crafting (essentially) an excuse for ignominious cheating at the ballot box. Do we want Justices who lie and deceive us, or rather do we want Justices who tell us forthrightly where they stand? I still honor Ginsburg for the issue she raised and the example she set prior to her tactical retreat.
The front page of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has a headline today (July 14) accusing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of “‘Supreme’ bias” for blasting Trump. And the Post includes a moronic photo of her in a Darth Vader helmet with the words, “Darth Bader.”
A number of cowardly liberals in the media have also said she went too far, and that the Supremes should always remain neutral and above the fray.
Bull****! Justice Ginsburg should be regarded as an American heroine for thrusting aside the objectivity myth. She did what Muhammad Ali and Eartha Kitt did during the Vietnam War–speak truth to power AND to the people. She should keep it up and the other liberal justices should join her. Maybe they could even get a majority of the eight to speak out against Trump–now THAT would be a blow to his sinister campaign.
The liberal Supremes could even invite Rep. John Lewis to amble down the street and show them how to launch an anti-Trump sit-in. In other words, they could do now what the Court’s liberal minority SHOULD have done in 2000 when they sat back and let the Republicans fix the election by way of Scalia, Thomas & Co. (I know there won’t be any sit-ins at the Court, but it feels good to suggest it.)
As to Rupert Murdoch, the man behind Fox News, he has no basis for accusing ANYONE of “bias,” he who has been whipping up racist hate for years and now is on the verge of helping usher a proto-fascist into the White House–a proto-fascist who has the support of every closet Neo-nazi and white supremacist in America, as well as the open ones such as David Duke.
The Republicans have caved into Trump; they are ready to do anything he says. To them, the relatively trivial matter of Hillary’s emails has become the biggest issue in the world–to divert attention from the disastrous consequences of a Trump presidency.
Trump’s entire career reeks of lies, fraud and corruption. The Post concentrates on Hillary and ignores the vast mass of evil deeds and statements that prove Trump is unfit to be President under any circumstances. Now THAT’s real bias.
Editor’s note: Socialist Currents has a new blogger. Dennis King was born and raised in North Carolina, but has lived most of his life in NYC. King is an investigative journalist and author of Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism (1989) and of Get the Facts on Anyone (1991, 1995, 1999). His articles have been widely published in local and national newspapers and magazines. As with all bloggers, the writer’s opinions are his own.