An Open Letter to the Left Establishment

A group of longtime supporters of “transformative left and progressive politics” have put out an Open Letter to the Left Establishment calling for active support of protest in response to the actions of the Obama administration. Connecticut Green John Halle was involved with producing this letter, which has been signed by Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Scott McClarty, Matt Gonzalez, Margaret Flowers, Joshua Frank, Bruce Dixon, Noam Chomsky, among many others.

An Open Letter to the Left Establishment
http://protestobama.org/

This letter is a call for active support of protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign.

With the Obama administration beginning its third year, it is by now painfully obvious that the predictions of even the most sober Obama supporters were overly optimistic. Rather than an ally, the administration has shown itself to be an implacable enemy of reform.

It has advanced repeated assaults on the New Deal safety net (including the previously sacrosanct Social Security trust fund), jettisoned any hope for substantive health care reform, attacked civil rights and environmental protections, and expanded a massive bailout further enriching an already bloated financial services and insurance industry. It has continued the occupation of Iraq and expanded the war in Afghanistan as well as our government’s covert and overt wars in South Asia and around the globe.

Along the way, the Obama administration, which referred to its left detractors as “f***ing retarded” individuals that required “drug testing,” stepped up the prosecution of federal war crime whistleblowers, and unleashed the FBI on those protesting the escalation of an insane war.

Obama’s recent announcement of a federal worker pay freeze is cynical, mean-spirited “deficit-reduction theater”. Slashing Bush’s plutocratic tax cuts would have made a much more significant contribution to deficit reduction but all signs are that the “progressive” president will cave to Republican demands for the preservation of George W. Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy Few. Instead Obama’s tax cut plan would raise taxes for the poorest people in our country.

The election of Obama has not galvanized protest movements. To the contrary, it has depressed and undermined them, with the White House playing an active role in the discouragement and suppression of dissent – with disastrous consequences. The almost complete absence of protest from the left has emboldened the most right-wing elements inside and outside of the Obama administration to pursue and act on an ever more extreme agenda.

We are writing to you because you are well-known writers, bloggers and filmmakers with access to a range of old and new media, and you have in your power the capacity to help reignite the movement which brought millions onto the streets in February of 2003 but which has withered ever since. There are many thousands of progressives who follow your work closely and are waiting for a cue from you and others to act. We are asking you to commit yourself to actively supporting the protests of Obama administration policies which are now beginning to materialize.

In this connection we would like to mention a specific protest: the civil disobedience action being planned by Veterans for Peace involving Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Joel Kovel, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern, several armed service veterans and others to take place in front of the White House on Dec. 16th.

Should you commit yourselves to backing this action and others sure to materialize in weeks and months ahead, what would otherwise be regarded as an emotional outburst of the “fringe left” will have a better chance of being seen as expressing the will of a substantial majority not only of the left, but of the American public at large. We believe that your support will help create the climate for larger and increasingly disruptive expressions of dissent – a development that is sorely needed and long overdue.

We hope that we can count on you to exercise the leadership that is required of all of us in these desperate times.

Best Regards,

Sen. James Abourezk
Michael Albert
Rocky Anderson
Jared Ball
Russel Banks
Thomas Bias
Noam Chomsky
Bruce Dixon
Frank Dorrel
Gidon Eshel
Jamilla El-Shafei
Okla Elliott
Norman Finkelstein
Glen Ford
Joshua Frank
Margaret Flowers M.D.
John Gerassi
Henry Giroux
Matt Gonzalez
Kevin Alexander Gray
Judd Greenstein
DeeDee Halleck
John Halle
Chris Hedges
Doug Henwood
Edward S. Herman
Dahr Jamail
Louis Kampf
Allison Kilkenny
Jamie Kilstein
Joel Kovel
Mark Kurlansky
Peter Linebaugh
Scott McLarty
Cynthia McKinney
Dede Miller
Russell Mokhiber
Bobby Muller
Christian Parenti
Michael Perelman
Peter Phillips
Louis Proyect
Ted Rall
Michael Ratner
Cindy Sheehan
Chris Spannos
Paul Street
Sunil Sharma
Jeffrey St. Clair
Len Weinglass
Cornel West
Sherry Wolf
Michael Yates
Mickey Z
Kevin Zeese

  1. Jarrod Henry says:

    A stunning indictment and one that I think is important.

    Here in Tennessee, I have a number of friends who are in the Tea Party. They truly believed that the government had lost its way, and that their party was not interested in their representation. As one told me, “just wait. We’re going to rip the republican party apart if they do not listen to us.”

    Perhaps it is time for the Green party to get that “mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore” mentality that the Tea Party members had. For as crazy as their beliefs are, and as short sighted and bought and paid for that the “grassroots groups” are by the people intent on continuing the Bush tax cuts, the PEOPLE were passionate. And the people made a hell of a difference at the polls this year.

  2. David J. Cyr says:

    At a national meeting of the Green Party, in June of 2010, representatives from the Pernicious Democrats of America (PDA) sought to have the Green Party organizationally collaborate with it. A young Green black woman (someone actually a community organizer), who was outraged by the regressives’ request, stood and firmly responded in the negative, asserting, “You people should have to do some kind of public penance for putting that man [Obama] in there!”

    In a debate held before the 2008 election, I predicted that Obama would make “fascism fashionable again.” He has. Near every one of the millions who protested, who marched, and who angrily said they didn’t want fascism (from Cheney/Bush) is now a contented cow.

    Considering how predictable the outcome was, I consider all the votes for Obama to have been cast with malice aforethought. The degenerate Democrat “progressives” should not only do public penance. They should pay reparations!

    If there was any possibility for “progressive” liberals (who factually never were any part of the Left) to be educable, the evidence would have been evident in the 2010 elections; and Howie Hawkins would now be New York State’s Governor-Elect… but he isn’t.

    Did the “progressive” liberals, in this liberal dominated state, stand up in 2010 and — free at last — actually vote for what they keep saying they are for? No! They provided a tidal wave of votes for the corporate party’s pre-installed Democrat, Andrew Cuomo, who transparently promised (just like Obama did) that he will be all the retrograde he can possibly be when he takes office.

    Liberals create diseases to have marches for cures.

  3. Jarrod Henry says:

    Hey, wait a second.

    I’m one of those liberals, progressive, who voted for Obama.

    I’m truly sorry I believed him, when he said things he would do. I really did expect him to do them, though. I didn’t vote with him with malice aforethought. I voted for him with hope aforethought, that we had a presidential candidate who seemed to like the sciences, was highly educated, and was talking about things like closing guantanamo and getting out of iraq and afghanistan and repealing DADT.

    This was before I was of the opinion I’m of now, that politicians are just politicians, and if I get lies from a party like the Democrats that are never intended to be delivered, I might as well go Green and get a party that I agree with nearly 100%. If my ideals aren’t going to be acted on, I might as well be honest about who I vote for, you know?

    So not all of us Obama voters did this with the knowledge we have now. We’ve been burnt badly by this man and his actions. Criticizing us isn’t the best move. Patting us on the shoulder, saying, “Yes, I know.. but they lie…”, and handing us a copy of the platform and the 10 key virtues IS.

    Jarrod

  4. Eddie says:

    Jarrod, I too voted for Obama, but this was before I really started getting involved into politics. Now Im a full-blooded Green, and it’s not just because Im distrustful of Obama. I realized that real change will come with a real wakeup call.

  5. matthew borenstein says:

    Now is the time for a vast ground swell of Green Party political organizing & action in every part of our country, and to build the successful alternative to the Wall St./ mega corporation thugs = the tricksters & con artists of the “Democratic” & “Republican” syndicates. The people are sovereign. We are the people.

  6. David J. Cyr says:

    Jarrod Henry responded, “I voted for him with hope aforethought… This was before I was of the opinion I’m of now, that politicians are just politicians, and if I get lies from a party like the Democrats that are never intended to be delivered, I might as well go Green”
    ____________

    It was young people (promptly responding to corporate media mind manipulation) too eagerly and earnestly cheering so loud that they couldn’t hear what Obama actually did promise, and what he refused to even consider worth considering that provided that great false hope.

    Some modest hope can be properly placed in the few who will now (likely too late) never support any corporate party candidate ever again… whether they be from the honest (R), or the dishonest (D) faction of the corporate party. Democrats exist to deceive.

    However, the numbers still favor the millions of old unrepentant enablers, like Michael Moore, who, after mightily corporate obediently helping deliver Obama an “historic” popular mandate, then immediately said, “I’m hoping he [Obama] breaks his campaign promises.”

    The great mass of liberals, who decade upon decade reliably voted against what they said they were for and for what they said they opposed have caused elections to now not serve the good purpose they could and should. The children of Boomers don’t have 40 years of habitable planet left to waste on elections… that their parents made useless.

    “I do what pastors do. He [Obama] does what politicians do.”
    — Rev. Jeremiah Wright, explaining why he speaks honestly, while Obama habitually lies… after Obama threw him under the bus during the 2008 POTUS campaign, because Rev. Wright spoke truth to Power.

  7. Bryan says:

    It drives me nuts to keep hearing/reading Obama supporters and former supporters defend their support of him in ’08.

    On the campaign trail, Obama said he wanted to withdraw from Iraq, increase operations in Afghanistan, and expand into Pakistan. Anti-war activists must not have listened.

    Obama said he did not believe in marriage equality. Should it be a surprise that he drags his feet on all LGBT issues? But the LGBT community must not have listened to him.

    Obama said that he did not believe in single-payer health care. Therefore it wasn’t even on the table when negotiations started on what became little more than “insurance reform”. Why are progressives surprised we didn’t see any real change in health care?

    Obama, like all politicians, kneel before the corporations for their political life blood, and he took several million from “employees and family” of Goldman Sachs, Citibank, and J.P.Morgan. Is it any surprise he acts in the corporations best interests?

    Is he better than McCain…absolutley…but if you thought he would bring “change”…You just didn’t listen!!!

  8. Jarrod says:

    Bryan, you have to understand, at the time we Obama supporters were under a former methodology of thinking. We had bought into the “lesser of the evils” mentality for the presidency. A two party system with no alternatives was what we were told existed.

    Yes, Obama mentioned withdrawing from Iraq and expanding into Afghanistan and Pakistan. McCain mentioned staying in Iraq, Afghanistan, expanding into North Korea and Iran.

    Obama said he did not believe in marriage equality, but he did say he would fight for civil unions (which he promptly disavowed saying after election.. the first of his crimes in my book, and the reason I’m here.) McCain said he would seek to get DOMA extended to civil unions, would bring back the no gay marriage constitutional amendment, and would remove the Presidential Executive order on DADT, turning it back into an outright gay ban.

    Obama said he did not believe in single payer health care, but McCain said he didn’t believe in the government having ANY role in health care.

    Now, it drives you nuts to read supporters defending their support. I don’t “defend” my support. I outright say, I supported him, because I believed he was telling me the truth. I’d been lied to for eight straight years, and I thought this guy was going to be different. I know that’s naive, and I now know that’s wrong, but you act as though we intentionally went out of our way to steer the country towards another corpratist.

    We didn’t. We just fell for the two party trap, and voted for the lesser of the evils.

    The biggest problem the Green party has right now is reaching people like me. When you blame me for some stupidity, please understand that pushes me away. Yes, given years of fighting the system, Ibet you can clearly see the stupidity of my actions then.

    HOWEVER, I could not at the time, and neither could others. All we saw were the world burning in fire after McCain kicked and Palin pushed the little red button. We picked what we were trained to do when we don’t like what one button brings us. We pushed the other button.

    Blaming us for falling for a marketing scam isn’t going to win us to your side. It’ll win me, because I’m stubborn, but it won’t win others.

    Just some thoughts.

  9. Bryan says:

    Don’t blame the Green Party for my comments, as I have not been affiliated officially since 12/08. They lost me when McKinney stated that the government had executed 3000 people and left them in the swamps surrounding New Orleans….give me a break.

    I did listen to and understood what Obama was and what he wanted to do…but Hillary would have been no better (except that Bill would have been there, and he knows how to “game the system” and possibly done a little more for the little guy).

    Finally, I don’t think that Obama supporters were “stupid”. But…his supporters still act astonished that he governs from a center, center-right position. Even Rachel Maddow, who I “adore” can’t seem to get a grip on the fact that Obama is fulfilling most of his campaign promises.

  10. Ron says:

    But they did find dead bodies in the swamps after Katrina, and there have been people charged with vigilantism in New Orleans post-Katrina. People were killing other people there. What is interesting is that the only national press McKinney’s campaign got was in relationship to this story, and what is also interesting is that the single highest vote percentage of any state for McKinney was Louisiana.

  11. Bryan says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vVIhyWsa10

    My bad…it was 5000. Executed with a single shot to the head. Info entered into a “pentagon computer”, and the bodies dumped in a swamp.

    They say any publicity is good publicity…it this case I wonder.

  12. Jarrod says:

    Well, I don’t blame the Green Party for it , don’t worry, and I have other issues with Cynthia McKinney. But this blog is called Green Party Watch, it is one of the only sources out there that I can find about Greens in the US, and it seems like of all things the party is stagnating more than working.

    I will state that I know one of my family members down louisiana way lived in a “more well to do neighborhood”, and his neighbor (who I also know) was bragging about shooting blacks for tresspassing on sight.

    Lots of things happened in Katrina and New Orleans during that wild time that we’ll never ever likely hear about. 5000 people, I don’t buy. A few hundred, though? I can believe that. If you were a government wanting to get rid of a lot of people, the middle of a category 5 hurricane in a swampy area wouldn’t be the worst place to do it.

  13. Eddie says:

    Look guys, let’s stop bashing each other and let’s start working together. What are we going to do to recruit new Greens to the party?

  14. Jarrod Henry says:

    On a suggestion, I’d suggest doing some community improvement projects. Make yourself known. Then run for a local office. Just a small one.

    I’m convinced that with a party like the greens, decentralization and local work will do more for us than winning the presidency.

  15. Ron says:

    Jarrod, this is right on target. My local chapter has been very involved with local political and community issues for at least 6 years, both in the city and on the campus with the (now defunct) campus greens. In 2007 we elected Tony Palmeri to the 7 member City Council. In 2009 Tony was re-elected as the top vote getter, and another Green Bob Poeschl was elected to the Council as the third vote getter (we elect 3 seats on a single ballot, the top 3 “win”.)

    In 2008 the city created a Sustainability Board to help move forward on the signed Mayor’s Climate Protection Act, and 3 of our local Greens (myself included) were appointed to that Board. I became Chair of that board, another Green as Vice Chair, and we wound up with 4 Greens on this city board working on a local Green House Gas audit, development of a Sustainability Plan, and shoreline restoration actions.

    Last Spring I ran for City Council and lost, but I am running again this coming Spring, Bob Poeschl is also up for re-election and running, and Tony Palmeri is running for Mayor.

    Local action is absolutely right. Think Global, Act Local.

  16. Bryan says:

    Been there…done that…got the t-shirt…literally.

    Until you prove you can win city or county office…the chance of a statewide or national campaign is kind of out there. But I do feel that at least a presidential candidate is important to show the local candidates are a part of something larger than themselves.

  17. Eddie says:

    Ron, where are you located? I believe also that the best way to build the party is locally. I still believe in running statewide candidates, but the best chance for election is obviously at the local level.

    What do you guys suggest be done at the community level to get the Greens noticed?

  18. Lou Novak says:

    Eddie wrote:
    >What do you guys suggest be done at the community level to get the Greens noticed?

    Find a community organization that interests you and join it. Contribute to their work. Do this with a few organizations and encourage fellow Greens to do so as well.

    Identify as Greens. I’m Lou with the Detroit Green Party. Don’t leave ‘Party’ off.

    Announce your local Green meetings to anyone and everyone. Put the work you are doing in the community on the agenda of those meetings.

    Do this a lot.

  19. Lou Novak says:

    oh, and listen to Ron and Jarrod.

  20. Jarrod says:

    Heh.

    Most of what I say is theoretical. I’ve not really organized my beliefs into a political party’s representation, save for a few things with Gore back when he ran (and then I voted for Nader. Hehe.)

    That said, my plans involve looking for local committees in my city that I can work with. Doing local work outside the city. (I have designs on asking the city for a community garden and more greenways, and some thoughts about a local currency for the local businesses)

    I figure if I get my name out there, and identify myself as a Green Party member, that I will just build things from there. I am new to this, and a voracious reader, so I’m reading all kinds of books on organizing, green thought, etc. I even picked up Saul Alinsky’s book (and got some amazing looks by someone next in line picking up Palin’s book. :) )

    If there are enough people following my path, eventually, it’ll take hold. And from there, who knows ;)

  21. Ron says:

    Eddie,

    I am in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

    For Greens to act local they have to observe what is happening with their local government. For some, local government is extremely boring – plan commissions, traffic boards, etc. For others, it is strangely fascinating. But it is within your local government structure that most actions take place that have immediate impact on the environment and the community. Land use, water regulations, drinking water quality, shoreline restoration, urban infill versus suburban sprawl, agriculture preservation, community gardens, urban poultry, public transit, bike lanes, urban forestry (i.e. planting more trees), these are all local issues, local actions, and governed by the local city government or county government.

    Is it any wonder that those Greens who pursue and serve as locally elected officials rarely run for higher office, and those Greens who seek higher office (Congress) rarely consider local races? They are worlds apart!

    Here is my campaign website from my run last spring and I have updated it for my second run for City Council this spring: http://www.ronaldkanehardy.com/oshkosh/

  22. Bryan says:

    That was part of my “thing”. What you may do at the federal level could take months, or years…what is done at the state level will takes weeks or months…what happens in the county or local jurisdictions will have an effect as early as next week.

    When it comes to “green issues”, the environment, conservation, water use etc… The fed and state may mandate some limited standards, but the local level is the “meat and potatos”.

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