Water Man Spouts

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Message to the Grass Roots

{1} "Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you’ve got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. Once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how to get yours straight." -- Malcolm X; 11-10-63; King Solomon Baptist Church, Detroit.

In the past two weeks, I have had phone calls from two democratic groups, asking me for another donation. Since 2000, I had increased my number of democratic groups and individual candidates that I have donated to. That was especially true in 2006. I am not foolish enough to think that my individual contributions is of great significance; rather, I recognize that my contribution is important in the sense that it is part of the grass roots democratic movement.

In the 2006 elections, the American public – especially the grass roots – made a clear statement about the Bush-Cheney military occupation of Iraq. The democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate. Yet since taking power over the institutions that the Constitution tasks with the control of the nation’s purse strings, they have given this administration a huge surge in funds, which allows the president to increase the number of troops and the level of death and destruction in Iraq.

Thus, when asked for further donations, I made it clear that I will not give so much as a penny to any politician , or group that funds politicians, that has betrayed the core values of the progressive grass roots that helped bring that democratic majority to power. I’m still a democrat: I’m a grass roots progressive who believes strongly in the Constitution of the United States of America. I will donate my money and invest my time in the campaigns of those politicians who I believe share those same values.

{2} "I say again, I’m not anti-Democrat …. I’m just questioning their sincerity, and some of the strategy that they’ve been using on our people by promising them promises they don’t intend to keep. …But it is true – you put the Democrats first and the Democrats put you last. Look at the way it is. What alibis do they use, since they control Congress and the Senate? What alibi do they use when you and I ask, ‘Well, when are you going to keep your promise?’ … This is pitiful. But it’s not pitiful for us any longer …. It’s time now for you and me to become more politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; (and) what we’re supposed to get when we cast a ballot …" – Malcolm X; 4-3-64; Cory Methodist Church, Cleveland.

Both of the people that I talked with on the telephone told me that they are having an increasing number of grass roots democrats refusing to give another penny to fund candidates who have voted to provide more money to fund the violent policies of this administration in Iraq. Both were decent and sincere democrats, who I am convinced share the progressive values of the democratic grass roots. But both had a job to do, and they attempted to use the pre-packaged talking points that those who want to avoid telling the truth about the war had prepared for them. But those talking points are meaningless when compared to the actions of those elected officials who funded the increase in violence in Iraq.

When those people spoke of our "shared values" on social issues, I simply brought up LBJ’s progressive social values that were the foundation for his dream of a Great Society. But as LBJ would come to recognize, he could not afford to invest in the madness in Vietnam and in a sane domestic policy at the same time. While I did not care for Bill Clinton as an individual, it must be said that he had economic policies that gave the United States the ability to at least consider addressing our social problems. That opportunity evaporated when the US Supreme Court put George W. Bush in office. We know that from his first month in office, his administration began to focus its efforts on finding a way to occupy Iraq. And while this policy has benefited the very few, it has put this nation in debt to an extent that should be cause for concern for every rational person who cares about this nation’s future.

When the people on the phone talked about how the democrats in Washington were actually positioning themselves to confront the president’s madness in September, I said that I refuse to allow that lie to go by without response. I am retired now, but I used to be part of a team who provided psychiatric "services" relating to the criminal justice system. When there were thugs who engaged in actions that put the community at risk, it would have been wrong for us to have given them more money to buy more weapons, and to pretend that we were actually engaged in a clever plan to confront their violence in the future. No, our responsibility was to confront the thug’s violent behaviors and to help coordinate a systematic response to protect the community. I couldn’t imagine calling people to ask to be rewarded if I had betrayed my duties in the manner that those politicians in Washington are.

The two people I spoke with understood what I was saying. I think that they share the same progressive grass roots values as the people who went to the voting booth in 2006. And, again, both told me that they were hearing much the same thing from a lot of the people they were calling.

{3} "Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, twentieth-century Uncle Toms, to keep you and me in check, to keep us passive … It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and because you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer – peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening." – Malcolm X; Message to the Grass Roots; 11-10-63; Detroit.

The democrats in Washington have had control of both the House and Senate for 6 months. In those 6 months, they have spoken against the war, while taking actions that have increased the US military occupation of Iraq.

Polls are indicating that the public is frustrated with the congress. The public isn’t turning against the progressive values of the democratic grass roots. They are upset because the politicians are not keeping the promises they made in 2006. As Malcolm said in Detroit, " they’re playing that old con game. One of them makes believe he’s for you, and he’s got it fixed where the other one is so tight against you, he never has to keep his promise."

Now, isn’t that exactly what our modern Tom, the dental assistant, is telling you and I? That while the elected democrats aren’t being true to their word – much less to the Constitution – that if we don’t fund them, that we are actually supporting that republican who is so tight against us? We see the apologists for the "house" democrats making every excuse possible for not only their failure to take positive steps towards restoring our Constitutional democracy, but attempting to justify their support for the increased violence in Iraq.

"They have a con game going on, a political con game, and you and I are in the middle," Malcolm told us. "It’s time for you and me to wake up and start looking at it like it is, and trying to understand it like it is. And then we can deal with it like it is."

Invest your time and money in those democratic candidates who actually do those things that they say they are going to do. Don’t be fooled by the novocaine-peddlers, no matter if they are telling their lies on a cable news show, or on a progressive internet discussion site. The more we do this, the more we can expect the apologists to try to confuse and distort the issues, and to display the paternalistic attitude that grass roots activists don’t understand the "realities" of Washington, DC. But that’s okay – they are starting to get the message. The progressive grass roots can send a very powerful message by being very selective in which democrats they support.


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