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Democrats, Liberals and Progressives Need to Return to Protest 101 Classes

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One of the things this administration has exposed in those of us on the Progressive Left is a lack of knowledge and planning for what to do if an administration starts to head down the road to Fascism or enacts criminal policies. The administration and congress proposed and passed the Patriot Act, and we whined but were ineffectual. The administration pressed for a war in Iraq and started it 3 weeks after the UN Weapons Inspectors issues a report that there were no WMD in Iraq. Some of us protested, but the protests were too slow in achieving any measurable results. The administration attacked the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community repeatedly. We beat back some of their initiatives, but not others. The Bush campaign slandered the war record of a decorated Vietnam veteran, and nary was a word said.

I am not suggesting that we do anything violent. After the farce of election 2000, one author rightly pointed out that if the Supreme Court had similarly stolen an election from a Republican Candidate, Republican protesters would have demolished the Supreme Court building. Others, perhaps even that author asked why that did not happen with a Democratic candidate. At the risk of speaking for a large group of people, that is not our way. We abhor violence and killing. At the same time, we are not cowards. If our country were legitimately threatened, almost all of us would willingly take up arms to defend it. However, that would be a bad way to address issues with an out of control administration.

I have recently been restudying up on Gandhi and his use of Satyagraha or non-violent protest (through willingness to self-sacrifice) and also a similar concept of non-cooperation. Democrats and other progressives should study up on this and form a group that is prepared to implement this should another similar crisis come to pass. One of the worst moments in my life was the day of the beginning of this latest Iraq war. Many of us had done as much as we thought was possible to stop it, knowing it was a criminal act and a policy born of lies and yet at the same time feeling powerless in the face of its seeming inevitability. After the UN Weapons inspector reports of March 6 2003, three weeks before the war's eventual start, had this group that I am proposing been in place, I would expect no less than a general strike be implemented and carried out by all those opposed to going to war. As many of us as possible should have taken a one month unpaid leave from our jobs and done nothing but protest for a month, including not spending any money on purchases of any sort other than foodstuffs. Millions should also have marched, day after day, on symbolic government buildings and blocked them until we were arrested. There is no way the system could cope with several million people being arrested on a daily basis and the economic effects of striking or going out on unpaid leave for a month would be devastating. The administration would have had no choice but address our concerns, which would likely have meant no war.

Without this, what are our options should this or future administrations run amok again. There are no other options other than to watch as criminal policies are carried out and I have already said how I feel about that. I will bet many of my fellow Democrats and progressives feel the same way. So which of our groups will stand up and take the lead on this? I cannot speak for them but it seems that the new Progressive Democrats of America would be best to take up this cause. Of all the groups, they seem to have the best combination of progressive activism and progressive elected officials.
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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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