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Friday, April 20, 2012

Norman Solomon: a leader who knows how progressive power works

by digby

Following up on David's post below about the primaries, I thought I would ask you to watch this video by Norman Solomon, running for congress in California in the seat Lynn Woolsey vacated. If you want to know the theory that Blue America and other groups doing progressive electoral activism are working from, Norman spells it out better than anyone:

More at The Real News

Glenn Greenwald had this to say about Norman:

The long-time anti-war activist, co-founder of the great media criticism group FAIR, and author of “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State” – a critique of America’s decades of militarism and the role which its media plays in perpetuating it — is about as close to a perfect Congressional candidate as it gets. He’s written 11 other books, including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death”: the title speaks for itself. He’s running in the heavily Democratic California district being vacated by the retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey. A newly released poll from an independent Democratic pollster shows him with a serious chance to win (there is an open primary in June, and the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will then face each other in a November run-off).
In 2002 and 2003, Solomon led three trips to Iraq to try to avert the war (trips that included former and current members of Congress), and was one of the most widely featured media voices during that period opposing the attack on moral, legal and prudential grounds. Though he was an Obama delegate to the 2008 DNC convention, here’s what he told us about President Obama’s civil liberties record, including the Awlaki assassination and the President’s signing of the indefinite detention bill (NDAA):
I am opposed to the expansion of White House authority to detain without charge or assassinate on presidential order. Here we have President Obama extending presidential power even beyond Bush. Many had expected Obama – a constitutional law professor – to rein in presidential authority, but that hasn’t happened. This is not the country we believe in. I would have voted no on NDAA, vehemently explaining my vote in a wide range of public venues. As for the Holder speech, it was deservedly mocked by Stephen Colbert: That “due process” doesn’t have to be a “judicial process” —  just any “process that you do.”
Regarding the Obama war on whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and the treatment of Bradley Manning, Solomon proudly touted the vigorous support he’s received from Manning supporter Daniel Ellsberg, who lives in his district, telling us: “The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistle-blowers than all previous presidents combined. That is sad.” [...]
When it comes to Congressional candidates, it just doesn’t get any better than Norman Solomon. If you have any residual doubt, just look at this remarkable 2007 TV appearance he did on CNN with Glenn Beck, which he wrote about here, when he used the opportunity to detail and denounce the effect of corporate ownership of America’s establishment media (including CNN). He’s been doing this for 30 years and there’s zero chance he will change or compromise any of it if he wins. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to have Norman Solomon in Congress, but I’d certainly like to see it. 

I think we can all agree that Glenn Greenwald isn't a Democratic toady. And he is skeptical of electoral politics. But, as he explained in his post, he knows that having members of congress with progressive values is worthwhile.

As Norman explains in the video, referencing the rise of the left in Latin America, state power matters.  Certainly it is foolish in the extreme to simply walk away and leave it all to the corporatists and the social conservatives. It just seems short-sighted.  As Norman says, nothing can change without a social movement demanding change, but it's unwise to leave any avenue of possible implementation unattended.  Electoral politics commands attention and it's useful to have people like Norman out there making the case.

This is a very liberal district and a "liberal" of one kind or another will be elected in November. There are several running. But let's just say it doesn't suit the party's interests to have that liberal be an independent, progressive movement leader like Norman Solomon. All the wealthy San Francisco donors are getting out their checkbooks and rolodexes for their pals, following the instructions of the establishment Democrats in Washington. For obvious reasons, Norman isn't one of them. Nonetheless, he's managed to raise a lot of money from small donors and has an ecstatically enthusiastic grassroots campaign ready to knock on every door in the district for him.

This district is deep blue --- one of those places where we don't have to worry about a bunch of wingnuts demanding "moderation." It's a seat that rightfully belongs to the left wing of the Party. I know it's heresy to even broach this subject, but true blue liberals have a right to representation in the US congress too.

Norman's in a tough race. He's doing well, but it's no shoo-in. He needs to at least come in second in the primary in order to make it to the general election. If you can help with a donation, go here and drop a couple of bucks toward his campaign. If you have some time and you'd like to volunteer, sign up here.

Norman Solomon is a progressive movement leader with a deep understanding of how power works and how to apply it from the left. As Glenn said, they just don't come any better than him.