Eyes on the Prize
Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers
May 23, 2006
Among the thousands of internet and media articles that I have read during
the three and a half years of co-editing The Crisis Papers, one passage
stands out in my mind as especially repugnant:
"[I]n the 20th century the rich were the class most persecuted by
government. The class genocide of the 20th century is the greatest
genocide in history."
By this account, Bill Gates and Donald Trump are more pitiable victims of
injustice than Anne Frank, and New Deal/Great Society regulation of commerce
is a greater atrocity than the extermination of millions of innocent victims
in the Nazi holocaust.
The author of that scrap of moral garbage is Paul Craig Roberts, a
libertarian, former contributing editor for the National Review and the Wall
Street Journal, and formerly an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under
Roberts is also a steadfast and eloquent critic of the Bush Administration
and an invaluable ally in the ongoing struggle to overthrow Bushism. I read
his frequent articles with great interest and appreciation, and usually with
almost complete agreement. Thus I was shocked when I encountered those
abhorrent words in his essay,
"Who Will Save
America?," an essay which is otherwise quite admirable.
Oh well, nobody's perfect!
Many of the more than one-hundred respondents to Roberts’ posting of the
article in The Smirking Chimp, found such sentiments, or his former
affiliations, to be reason enough to serve Roberts a dishonorable discharge
from the army of opposition to the Busheviks.
This response typifies the combination of uncompromising self-righteousness
and strategic myopia that might well lead to another Democratic debacle next
November, and again in 2008.
For myself, I would say to Paul Craig Roberts: despite our disagreements,
let's work together to throw the rascals out in November and then to restore
the rule of law and a civil, responsible politics. Then we can move on and
deal with our differences in open and honest debate.
The triumph of Republican regressivism in the past quarter century has been
due to a number of factors familiar to most of us:
A ruthless disregard of civility, traditional political decorum, and
even (when they could get away with it) the law, in a relentless
determination, as Tom DeLay put it, not merely to defeat, but to destroy
their political opponents.
Concentration, intimidation and control of the mainstream media.
A formidable advantage in campaign funding.
Extraordinary party discipline in the Congress.
Consummate political salesmanship, including the framing of political
debate and the manipulation of language, which succeeded in persuading
millions of middle class and poor Americans to vote against their self
interest and to sanction the flow of their personal wealth to the very
And finally, the ability to keep intact a coalition of unlikely
allies. In contrast, the leadership of the Democratic Party (such as it
is) has proven incapable of imposing a truce among its many factions and
redirecting their attention toward a common purpose.
While I have written extensively about each of the above factors, in this
essay I will focus attention on that final factor: coalition-building.
Will Rogers famously remarked, “I belong to no organized party – I am a
Democrat.” And to be sure, Democrats have been often shown an uncanny
ability to form circular firing squads.
Two personal experiences exemplify this problem.
Several weeks ago, I was drawn into an e-mail chat group devoted to the
issue of election fraud, an issue about which I am profoundly concerned and
extensively. Soon thereafter, my In-Box was flooded with messages from
within the group, the vast majority of which were trivial responses back and
forth. Most notable, however, was the acrimony within the group: defenders
and critics of Rep. Rush Holt and his election reform bill, defenders and
critics of Bev Harris and her “Black Box Voting” web site. And most
heatedly, advocates of hand counted paper ballots (HCPB) vs. defenders of
Optical Scan Voting. As long as such in-group bickering continues, the RNC
and Karl Rove can only smile, as the privatized “fix” of our elections
proceeds without challenge. However, once this enthusiasm and energy are
directed outward to state legislators, prosecutors, and the media, they can
provide a lever of significant reform.
Three weeks ago, I posted an essay:
“The 9/11 Conspiracy – A Skeptical
View.” In the essay, I examined both the “official view” (OV) of the
World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001, and the more
prominent of the “conspiracy theories” (CT) which accuse agencies within the
US government of planning and implementing the attacks. While I found
problems of evidence and inference in both OV and CT and was convinced of
neither, I was strongly inclined to accept the official account of a Boeing
757 hitting the Pentagon, and slightly disposed to accept the official
explanation that the World Trade Center towers fell solely as a result of
the impact of the hijacked airliners.
That essay prompted over five-hundred replies, by far the largest response I
have received to any of my previous 135 internet essays. Yet these
individuals, united in their opposition to Bush, Inc., were bitterly divided
over the question of the “real” causes of the 9/11 attacks. Many of the CT
advocates regarded me as a “tool” of the Busheviks, while a few even
suggested that I was a “disinformation agent.” Yet virtually all of these
critics were, like myself, steadfast and determined opponents of the Bush
regime and its policies. Numerous websites are devoted exclusively to
conspiracy theories and to a debunking of the official view, staffed by
resourceful and energetic advocates of their theories – individuals whose
talents will thus be unfortunately lost to the urgent business of ousting
the GOP Congress in November and restoring the White House to the Democrats
Numerous disputes among the Democrats and Progressives are openly argued
with more heat and passion than disputes with the regressive Republicans.
First of all, and most significantly, is the animosity between the
“Washington DC Democrats” and the rank and file Democratic voters beyond the
Beltway. The DC Democrats, it seems, are much more concerned about keeping
peace within the non-partisan Washington High Society than they are about
responding to the concerns and serving the interests of their constituencies
outside The DC Beltway. The paradigm examples of the DC Democrats are
Hillary Clinton, Joseph Lieberman and Nancy Pelosi (“let’s all get along and
hear no more of this ‘impeachment’ talk”). This helps explains why, however
low the ratings of Bush and the GOP, the Democrats seem not to fare much
Then there is the tension between the centrist (“GOP-lite”) Democratic
Leadership Council and the Progressive Democrats of America – Howard
Dean’s liberal “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”
Next is the ongoing competition among traditional Democratic interest
groups. Most environmentalists share the concerns of the peace group and
endorse the aspirations of the poor and minorities, and, conversely, most
peace activists and civil rights advocates are concerned about the
environment. The dispute arises over priorities, and the resulting
competition over scarce resources: resources such as cash contributions,
legislative agendas, media attention, etc.
Finally, as noted above, many progressives demand total agenda agreement and
ideological purity among their allies before facing outward and taking on
“the enemy.” And because many of these internal disputes are interminable,
the GOP and the regressive right often get a free pass.
And yet, the divisions among the Democrats are trivial compared with the
issues that should be ripping apart the Republican coalition. This GOP
alliance includes: Christian theocrats and libertarian atheists; small
government, fiscal conservatives and the “borrow and spend” corporate
raiders of the federal Treasury, the traditional isolationists and the
neo-con imperialists; the greedy corporate owners and management and the
“follow-along” cultural conservatives that they employ and exploit; the
anti-government libertarians vs. the “unitary executive” proto-fascists.
At long last, this unhealthy and unnatural GOP alliance appears to be
breaking up due to its internal contradictions and not, in any significant
degree, because of attacks from the Democrats or from a critical media.
The DC Democrats, who should now be vigorously facilitating this break up,
appear to be content to be spectators. Meanwhile, as they anticipate their
fully expected Congressional takeover, the Democrats make hypothetical
committee assignments and plan their legislative agenda, paying scant
attention to the prerequisite task of winning the election or addressing
that little problem of election fraud that deprived them of their victories
in the past three elections.
“Good God!, why should they mock poor fellows thus,” said Shakespeare's King
Henry before the Battle of Agincourt. “The man that once did sell the lion’s
skin while the beast lived, was killed with hunting him.”
This is no time for complacency or for petty intramural squabbles.
Instead, the Democrats, and all others who are fed-up with Republican greed,
corruption, lawlessness, and international bullying, must unite and keep
their eyes on the prize: the overthrow of Bushism.
The Democrats should now be making alliances with the disaffected Right:
libertarians, Christians (emphasizing the forgotten moral teachings of the
Sermon on the Mount), and the “lost Democrats” of labor and the middle class
who had defected earlier to Ronald Reagan.
This opposition must no longer oppose knives with bare knuckles. We all know
now that the GOP fights dirty. No need to descend to their level, but it is
imperative that the Democrats fight hard and fight smart. Expose the dirty
tactics and turn them against the GOP. “Frame” the issues and mobilize the
language into an effective weapon. Coordinate the attacks. Take the
offensive and never yield it.
And of course, fire the defeated generals -- Bob Shrum, James Carville,
Paul Begala, Donna Brazile, John Kerry – and install some new faces with
Expose the election racket, demand fair and verifiable elections. And do it
now. Time is of the essence.
Above all, we must unite! Put aside intramural differences,
form alliances with former adversaries, focus on common concerns and aims.
Let’s take back our government, then we can duke out our differences, as
fellow citizens in a restored republic under the rule of law.
Keep your eyes on the prize!
Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge
Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications
Conscience of a Progressive:
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org.