But that day hasn't come yet. Direct action, as effective as it has been in many countries, is not our only possible means of resistance. We've hardly even begun to tap the potential for creating a large, dynamic, growing political party of working people. We'd be downright irresponsible not to try to bring that potential to life.
What's more, it's not very likely that the millionaires and billionaires who have taken over the government will be content to liveand let live. They've shown disrespect for the rule of law and contempt for the general welfare of the people. They attack us without provocation. They attack union members, journalists, and peaceful protestors. We can't just wish 'em away. We have to take action.
When Malcolm X toured Africa in 1964, he saw that several nations on that continent had won their freedom the same way the United States had won its own freedom from Great Britain: They made up their minds they wanted independencefrom their colonials overlords, and then they threw them out. They marshaled their own power. "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression," said Malcolm upon his return to the U.S., "because power, real power, comes from conviction which produces action, uncompromising action."
Electoral politics is one means of asserting power. It is lawful. It is constitutional. It is non-violent. And it has the potential to be very, very, very -- well, powerful.
If people who call themselves "progressives" really do want progress, they have to take the struggle to the next level. They have to assert themselves. They have to compete with those very rich, pathologically greedy people who have bought up the services of both major parties. They can no longer rely on Democrats who have lied to them and betrayed them again and again and again. They have to declare their independenceand break free.
This Can't Wait
Back in October of 2000,Ralph Nader showed up at the first debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The event was put together by the Commission on Presidential Debates, aprivate organization formed by the Democratic and Republican national committees and a few big corporate sponsors. At that stage Nader, the Green Party candidate for President that year, was polling at around 4% or 5%, which translated to about 4 or 5 million supporters. (Democrats often complain that Nader "took away" votes from Al Gore, as if those votes somehow belonged to Gore and his supporters. But Democrats know deep down that by 2000 they had driven away many loyal voters by acting so much like Republicans that many people couldn't tell the difference any more.)
That night Nader had a ticket to a screening of the debate and an invitation for an interview with Fox News, both set to take place on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Yet when he tried to enter the compound, as a supposedly free man in a supposedly free country with every right to be there, he was approached by a representative of the Debate Commission and a Massachusetts state trooper--and threatened with arrest.
Nader and the Greens were using the democratic process to challenge the fat cats and to speak up for the 99%. What was the response? Police state tactics. A threat of arrest when no crime was being committed. All Nader hadto do was show up and the major parties and their corporate bosses freakedright out. They were terrified of an honest man daring to meddle in an election process that they obviously thought they owned.
The Greens had taken all that talk about "the land of the free" at face value and acted on it. Who stood in their way? An unelected, unaccountable, corporate-funded "commission" and a state trooper. The corporations and the cops. Sound familiar?
That was twelve years ago. We were already living in a corporate police state in 2000, but a lot of people must have been looking the other way, trying not to see what was already so plain and evident. They can't look away anymore. The actions of thecorporate elite are just too crazy, their tactics too crude, their guilt too obvious, and their wanton destruction of our country too hard to ignore.
The corporate bosses who run American politics do have a lot of money. But so what? We have 'em outnumbered by a staggering margin. They're just people, and they're vulnerable. And we can defeat them. And we can do it democratically. We just have to make up our minds that we can do it. That's the first step.