Back in the early '70's, when I was a student at Ohio University, I recall the first day of my Sociology class.
The professor came in and the class of about 100 students quieted down. He looked over the class and said, "Raise your hand if you consider yourself to be a follower."
Probably 90 students popped their hands into the air.
"Now, raise your hand if you consider yourself to be a leader", he said.
The rest of us....but the few left, raised our hands.
He said, "I've been teaching this class for maybe ten years and I've asked this same question at the beginning of every class and the outcome is always the same. It is a simple fact of life that most human beings are followers and but a few are leaders. And we all know which we are."
Now consider this paradigm and apply it to "The Progressive Family". Most of us are followers. And being followers we simply hold on to our progressive ideals and continue "going along to get along" with those we perceive to be our "leaders".
We continue to play Charlie Brown to the so-called Democratic "progressive" Lucy's for just one....more....election cycle. How many times can we get suckered before we decide to not play their game?
Rob Kall is right. There appears to be a vacuum of leaders for progressives. A few come to mind....Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, Ralph Nader, Jim Hightower. The so-called "Progressive Caucus" are not "progressive" at all. They proved that very well during the health care legislative fiasco. They should form the "Going Along To Get Along" Caucus instead.
My sense is that progressive Americans DO have leaders. They just need to be encouraged to "come home".
Where is "home"?
It is the formation of a NEW POLITICAL PARTY.
I came of age in the 1960's and grew up with the notion that when election time came around there would be two choices: The Democrat or the Republican. Period.
Time went by and I realized quickly that the Democrats were really no better than the Republicans. Wars continued, dirty deals were made with various rotten South American dictators regardless of whether there was a (D) or an (R) after the president's name.
I could see corporations slowly but surely taking over the country by controlling the legislators We the People voted for.
Regardless of which party was in control of The White House or Congress, the slide into corporate fascism and control was clear. The election of 2000 was the cherry on the political sundae for me, when I watched Al Gore publicly cave like a frightened child. I watched him, like the cowardly lion, preside over the Senate results and approve a fraudulent election in spite of the legitimate and legal demands of Congress members petitioning him NOT to approve the election results.
It was then that I knew that the corporate coup was in place.
Democracy lay on the Senate floor with a dagger in it's heart and a traitor who could have saved it cowering off to the side.
Before we knew it September 11th dawned with the destruction of WTC 1, 2 and 7; the Pentagon being attacked and another attack happening in rural Pennsylvania.
Within days the guts of our Constitution had been ripped out with The U.S. Patriot Act to be followed by The Military Commissions Act, the illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and soon to follow the illegal "Shock and Awe" of Iraq against the wishes of practically every country in the world. We have all witnessed the torture, extraordinary renditions of alleged "terrorists" to countries that torture, whistle-blowers like Sybil Edmonds and others being prosecuted rather than honored for their patriotic service to our country.
The demonstrations against a war in Iraq that most of us participated in were the biggest in world history. But the voices of the people were not to be heard.
We had a bogus investigation into the events of 9/11 that was literally FORCED upon George W. Bush. Anybody remember how he tried to name the indicted war criminal Henry Kissinger to head the commission? Thank God "The Jersey Girls" had the power of their convictions to put the brakes on THAT.
We all know that Bush made sure the commission was hopelessly underfunded. Vast millions more were spent investigating "Whitewater" than the worst attack on American soil in history where 3000 human beings lost their lives in the most unspeakable and violent manner imaginable.
Most Americans have a deep, uneasy feeling about the events of 9/11. And the destruction of our society has been the direct result of those events, as we loom toward another great depression.
Imagine the direction our country might have taken had we not have been "drawn" into what seems to be endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? The amount of money that has been needlessly wasted in these illegal wars would have been available to create good paying jobs for Americans repairing dangerously decaying infrastructures, building schools and hospitals, creating a quality healthcare system based on "Improved Medicare for All" that would be the BEST system in the world and on and on. And the loss of life....whether those our soldiers have murdered or the loss of life our sons and daughters, husbands and wives have experienced....all horribly, sadly, unconscionably criminal and sad beyond belief. The thought of millions of innocent human beings being slaughtered over the past decade leaves me feeling numb and ashamed.
Besides these ugly wars, a rotten economic scheme, launched with a DEMOCRATIC President Clinton by the dismantling of "Glass-Steagall", ushered in Wall Street's economic debauchery of dealing in "toxic derivatives", fraudulent housing loans and a high-tech robbery of the U.S. Treasury.
Things are so bad now that in Los Angeles there's talk of allowing people to bet on horses LOSING at the track!
The rotten gambling meme of Wall Street has finally "trickled down" to Main Street! We all know that the economic reform legislation just passed in Congress was barely a slap on the wrist of Wall Street. And anyone who thinks there is even a remote possibility that Elizabeth Warren will be allowed to be in charge of the oversight of the Wall Street Bankster Boyz is in for a rude awakening.
The bottom line is: We have ALL been had by the Democrats and the Republicans who have been controlling The White House and Congress for decades. They have been serving corporations for too long in the back rooms. Now, with the dirty deal of Obama's "healthcare" legislation, the "quid pro quo's" have been brought right out into the open. Right in all of our faces. The day of Obama's inauguration my tears of "hope and change" were quickly dried when I saw Obama slap George W. Bush, the un-indicted war criminal, on the back. Soon thereafter, Obama started having lunch at The White House with the CEO of United Health Plans, then cocktails with the head of AHIP. Soon after that all the talk of "transparency" would be lost when The White House announced that "The White House Visitor's Log" would NOT be publicized after all.
Rob Kall suggests that progressives need to "organize then negotiate" with Democrats.
I am here to shout out, "NO!"
The Democratic Party is O-V-E-R. Over.
And the Republican Party will be gone soon as well.
The American people are, by and large, good people. They are smart and live their lives using common sense and fundamental fairness with others.
Of course there are the fringes out there. The Libertarians who want everything privatized. The Communists who want everything socialized. The far right-wing Republicans who are waiting for Armageddon. The far right-wing Democrats who are really Republicans.
Then there is the "Silent Majority" of Americans who need to be awakened from their slumber and reminded of The Constitution and our duties as citizens of this country:
"To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against ALL enemies, both foreign AND DOMESTIC."
These Americans, whether currently registered as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens or All-Nighters can be persuaded to join a NEW PARTY because right now they are not being served by the Democrats or the Republicans.
Practically every person I meet is looking for a political home. They smell the stench of corporate whoredom in The Halls of Congress.
I have held my nose now for too many elections. My conscience as a human being and as an American citizen will not allow me to hold my nose any longer.
I am ready to go to a "new party". It's like when we were back in high school and the prom was getting closer. The hard core leaders of the senior class, who had the responsibility for decorating the gym, would show up to "make a plan".
We knew the theme already, but getting it done seemed like an impossible task.
I recall standing there with maybe 20 others staring into the darkness of that giant space feeling overwhelmed.
Then the janitor turned on all the lights. "Snap, snap, snap!"
One by one we'd walk around. Suddenly one person said, "This is the perfect spot to take prom pictures!"
"Yeah! Great idea!"
"How about putting the giant starfish up here?!"
"Let's do it!"
"We're gonna need at least fifty more kids to help...."
"Let's each bring two others tomorrow night!"
And before we knew it, the days and nights went by and our prom set was finished. The leaders gathered their followers and got the job done.
We will need to do the same thing in creating a NEW PARTY for our country. A new "home" for the American people that they can be proud of and pass on to future generations.
There will be no room for "negotiating" with corporate appeasers. No room to "negotiate" with Democrats who have a fondness for wars and death and torture and assassinations of American citizens that are fundamentally un-Constitutional, for secrecy and cover-ups.
It is only a matter of time before this new party is launched.
And when it is, I will be proud to go to the post office or the DMV or even if I have to drive all the way to Norwalk (major schlep from the Westside of Los Angeles) to get a stack of voter registration forms, I will gladly make that drive.
It will be liberating to mark the box "Other" and write in the name of that NEW PARTY, then date the form and sign my name to it.
If it takes a few election cycles for the Democratic and Republican parties to drift away into oblivion and for the NEW PARTY to take control, then so be it. I will remain optimistic that day by day, average Americans will want to be a part of making history by being on the honorable, just and truly patriotic side of it.
Our founding fathers and those who truly defended our freedoms and the Constitution from days gone by would be proud of us for showing the entire world who the truly patriotic Americans really are and for having the courage of our convictions to stand up and be counted.
The whole world is watching and future generations have the right to inherit a country and a Constitution that was honored, not ignored.