Fascism’s new day in America

Good morning,

To my fellow veterans: On this Veterans Day I thank you, brothers and sisters, for your devotion to our country. To my fellow Marines: happy birthday! To my fellow social democrats: our failure this week is an opportunity for us to gather our strength and resolve, and set a course for the next two years. Do not let your remorse paralyze you; we have much to do.

It is a beautiful sunny day here in Pittsburgh. The fall colors are brilliant, even as they portend the coming cold winter. As the leaves fall, so did Leonard Cohen, and one could imagine that he scripted it that way. Despite the disaster of the election, we must remember that every day is new opportunity to do good. It is also important to remember that as leftists, we believe in the inherent goodness of people. We recognize that most Americans are not evil. Most Americans are good hearted people who love their family, neighbors, and country. Despite that, we have have been reminded once again that “Fear Trumps Love”. This week some bullies took over our country by tapping into fears and frustrations of Americans who see the two major parties doing absolutely nothing to stem the growing economic inequality in America. They did that the way fascists always do— by identifying scapegoats and then inciting violence against them. It’s an old formula and it works. We need to respond rather than wallow.

We know that protest is important, but by itself is ineffective. On Nov 19 we have an event planned in Buffalo which will bring together activists from labor and the broader left. See the story here. This could be a model for future events in your community. But even that type of activity does not necessarily translate into electoral action. Our members are split on our relationship with the Democratic Party; one that we have held since 1960. That may be the biggest issue that we have to address as a result of this election. I know our stance has become controversial with leftists, but election law in many states restricts the success of third parties. See this story on WFP. The goal of electoral action is to win elections. Protests are protests, elections are elections. Will Labor and the Left walk away from the Democratic Party after this stunning defeat? We will talk about that more in the weeks ahead.

 

SDUSA and the Democratic Convention

SDUSA marches at the DP Convention in Philly

SDUSA marches at the DP Convention

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.

Michael with the traditional rose of the left

Michael with the traditional red flag and rose of the left

protesters assembling at City Hall

protesters assembling at City Hall

Optimistic marcher

Optimistic marcher

Michael, our endorsed candidate Bernie, and the SDUSA torch

Michael, our endorsed candidate Bernie, and the SDUSA torch

Lots of signage

Lots of signage

More signage

More signage

Bernie supporters in large numbers

Bernie supporters in large numbers

Environmentalists

Global warming was a hot topic

Assembly at FDR

Assemblage at FDR Park

Red rose, red flag, alongside American colors says it all

Red rose, red flag, and American colors