Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Democratic Party Best Place for Progressives

First published as a Guest Editorial in today's Beyond Chron

Dotty LeMieux 02.NOV.05

At the October 2005 Executive Board meeting of the California Democratic Party, a quiet but important event occurred. The Progressive Caucus received official recognition of its bylaws and newly elected Executive Committee. This Caucus had been a long time coming and proved to be a hard sell for the half dozen Democratic activists who started it last year. As one of those activists, I am especially gratified to have been a part of this momentous achievement. Why was it so difficult to persuade Democrats that a Progressive Caucus was not only viable but necessary to Party growth?

Some viewed us as divisive, at a time when Democrats were courting moderates in an attempt to capitalize on the many scandals and foibles of the Bush and Schwarzenegger Administrations. When the Kerry campaign faltered, many of us were left saying, “I told you so,” having begged the campaign to appeal to the progressives in swing states, not move toward the middle in order to appease phantom moderate voters.

As we saw, people would rather vote for someone they perceive as standing for something than someone whose principles are difficult to detect. Even in the face of the upset Dean election as Chair of the DNC, our road to official recognition was a rocky one.

We persevered and ultimately won through force of numbers. We were the Caucus with more than 400 people in attendance at the State Convention in April. We are growing by leaps and bounds, as we take on issues like single payer health care and clean money election reform. We were instrumental in passing a resolution to end the Iraq War, which received only token opposition on the Convention floor. Without progressives bringing big ideas forward, it’s questionable when or whether our Party would get around to it.

So progressives have shown we are a catalyst for growth within the Party. I hope we can also be a catalyst for coalition building with other like-minded individuals and groups. As a campaign consultant and activist trainer in the Bay Area, I urge those I work with to reach out beyond their base for allies in their cause.

It’s just as important to recognize who your base is. Sometimes, it’s not just those of the same Party affiliation, but those who care deeply about the same values and issues. So it was especially exciting to read about Green Party activists joining with Ron Dellums. The Democratic platform, especially in California, is filled with lofty ambitions and high-sounding principles. We share many if not most of them with those of the Green Party.

Isn’t it only natural for us to join forces when a progressive candidate of either Party (or oh horrors, an independent like Vermont’s Bernie Sanders) steps forward with a real chance of moving our shared values forward? We need to do more than denounce the Bush Administration, which we can never do enough in my opinion. We need to offer a clear, well-defined alternative. Not just “don’t dismantle Social Security.” And not just our own version of “fixing it” either. But a clear unapologetic vision for where we want this Country, this State, and our localities to go.

Randy Shaw in his Oct. 12 comments in Beyond Chron poses the question: “Does the backing of Democrat Dellums signal a strategic shift by Greens?” And answers it this way: “That depends on whether progressives join the Greens because they believe Democrats are the greatest evil (the Camejo view) or as a signal to Democrats that they risk losing votes unless they promote a progressive agenda.” I like to think it’s the latter, and that people join the Democratic progressive Caucus for the same reason.

We can transform our Party into the Party of its potential, not the Party of its mistakes. I believe a part of this potential is the very real and necessary task of building coalitions with other progressives, whether Greens or like-minded Independents, those ‘decline-to-state’ voters, who trust no political Party to represent them. Progressive politics is popping up all over; I must get two invitations to join new groups every couple of days. Progressive weblogs are sprouting like mushrooms. Clearly we’re on to something.

Progressives need to avoid burnout just like any other activists. Working together, rather than splintering into a thousand different directions will be key to making this a movement for real lasting change in our State and our Country.

Dotty E. LeMieux Dotty E. LeMieux runs political campaigns for progressive candidates and causes in Northern California and is an officer-at-large in the California Democratic Progressive Caucus. Her Blog is

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Or "George Bush Learns a Tough Lesson"

George Bush announced today that he was dispensing with that pesky institution, the Supreme Court, altogether.

"I have so damned much trouble getting my nominees through, even though they're all good God fearing strict constructionist judges," he complained to a rapt audience of worshippers at this morning's Texas Businessmen's Greed and Gospel Society prayer breakfast, that I am turning this whole thing over to a higher power. See I learned something in AA."

He continued, "from now on, we're going to be getting our Constitutional interpretation from the Supreme Being, not the Supreme Court."

Gasps could be heard throughout the crowd, as well as murmers, ranging from "he's really lost his marbles this time" to "should I sell that strip mining company before this happens do you think?"

Some in the crowd urged caution. In the words of one pork belly trader, "George, do you really want to go that far? I mean, the Supreme Court justices have to answer to you after all, and their stock portfolios of course, but God doesn't have those sort of allegiences."

The President looked miffed, saying, "Isn't this what we've always wanted, no more separation of Church and State? Everything according to the Gospels?"

"Well, yeah, but we're in the Gospel and Greed business, George," protested an oil man sporting a ten gallon hat with flashing neon oil wells in the band. "It's just good for business, and what's good for business is good for America. Putting the big guy actually in charge could wreak havoc with our corporate culture."

"Pish tush" barked George, "I talk to God all the time. He likes me. He likes business. He likes war and famine and flood and all that good stuff. Who do you think directed me to Iraq in the first place and then chose Halliburton to clean up that mess? Now you boys just sit back and let me take care of everything."

While the few reporters who had snuck into the breakfast disguised in gray suits and power ties scrambled for their cell phones, a mighty wind was heard blowing outside the Convention Center. It grew louder and louder until the windows were shaking and the building itself was rocking on its foundations.

The surprised business tycoons were busy ducking soaring glasses of juice and dodging flying vats of scrambled eggs, as they sought shelter from the storm in rapidly cracking doorways and under collapsing tables.

"Hey!" shouted Bush, tumbling across the tilted stage grabbing the velvet curtains to slow his slide. "What is going on here? Is that a hurricane? Someone call FEMA. I thought this place was rated to withstand a category 5."

"Sorry, Sir," said a Halliburton executive who was trying to stop the President from disappearing into a hole that had opened up in the floor of the stage. "We had to keep up the profits, so this little old project got a discount on materials. It's a government building after all. That's just standard operating procedure."

"What is this hole I'm falling into, for Chris' sake. Get me outa here!" wailed the rapidly disappearing President.

As he slipped out of the grip of the Halliburton exec, his voice wafted through the now silent hall, "Who the hell authorized a no-bid contract for a place I was speaking in?!"

"Don't worry, George, we'll sue," shouted Dick Cheney, peering into the hole. "Someone will pay.... Urk!" Cheney was soon sucked into the vortex himself. Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and Karl Rove were fighting over a limo out in front of the building as the storm waters rose around them.

As George Bush slid down below the sub-basement, he mused, "Fat lotta good that'll do without the Supreme Court to rule in my favor. I shoulda stuck with Texas baseball and cocaine. Hey, which Supreme Being have I been talking to all these years anyway.....?"

Dick Cheney, flopping end over end like a fortune telling fish, yelped, "Watch out for the brimstone, George. It's hot!"