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Monday, June 26, 2006

 
Bob Herbert's Question

by tristero

Bob Herbert poses a question which deserves some thought, because although the immediate answer is obvious, it leads to one of the great question marks of the 21st century:
I wonder whether Americans will ever become fed up with the loathsome politicking, the fear-mongering, the dissembling and the gruesome incompetence of this crowd.
Well, in fact, polls say that some two-thirds of Americans *are* fed up. So maybe Herbert means something about the public expression of outrage, something like, "Where are the legions of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, lovers, and friends of the soldiers dying for Bush's stupidity? Why haven't we heard from them? Where, after Katrina, are the Kings, the Malcolms, the Stokelys? Where are the Berrigans? The Dillingers? Where are the Edward R. Murrows, the Oppenheimers, the Ellsbergs, the McGoverns, the McCarthys?"

The thing is. there are many of these, too. Including, off the top of my head, Cindy Sheehan, Brady Kiesling, Colleen Rowley, Richard Clarke, Bob Herbert himself, Amy Goodman, James Hansen, Al Gore, Howard Dean, John Murtha, Paul Krugman, Barbara Ehrenreich. All very different people with very different concerns and, to be sure, very different politics. But all share a deep level of competence, intelligence, and public commitment to the notion of a small "d" democratic America.

So in thinking about it, Herbert's question surely isn't about the dearth of protest and dissent. As for positive alternatives to Bushism, Herbert knows as well as the rest of us that plenty of those exist. What Herbert is getting at is that all that protest, all those proposals are happening in an organizational void. His question really is,

"When will America again have two national political parties?"

I honestly wish I could say 2006. There are some positive signs that a second party could emerge, in the face of major attempts to suppress it, from what's left of the Democratic Party. It certainly would save a lot of time. Building a second party from scratch will be no picnic.

But let's not kid outselves. A political party that announces "A New Direction" which scrupulously avoids Iraq, Katrina, and the fundamental issue of competence in government... That's not a political party with national influence as a goal.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the time is ripe - overripe - for a new generation of intelligent, hard-nosed, passionate, and responsible political organizers to create a truly mainstream political party that could easily route the Bushists. 'Cause what's goin' on is just plain ridiculous and everyone knows it.

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