Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman at The Free Press look back at what grassroots/Internet activists have achieved in recent days.
On January 6, we forced an angry Republican-dominated Congress into an unprecedented confrontation with the Truth about Ohio's stolen election, about dubious vote counts nationwide, and ultimately about an electoral process worthy of zero public trust.These are laudable achievents, to be sure, but they are hardly more than a minor irritation to the Bush machine. What is ultimately significant is that they represent the growing power of a new and dedicated grassroots movement, empowered by Internet technology, committed to re-asserting the birthright of "we, the people".
America's progressive grassroots further showed it could prompt the "democratic wing" of the Democratic Party to finally stand up for its constituents' right to vote, even in the face of the usual withering slander from Karl Rove's dirty tricksters.
And those of us who work the Internet showed we could spark a mass movement by exposing a national travesty despite relentless abuse from the mainstream media, which did absolutely nothing to uncover the systematic corruption of our electoral process.
But as the 2004 elections recede into memory, what is the future for such a movement, which holds the kernel of genuine US Democracy for future generations? Can such a grassroots movement flourish within the polluted environment of current US politics, or will a more revolutionary approach be necessary?
Come 2008 (God help us, it's a long way off!), will the Democratic Party merit the support of sceptics like myself who reluctantly backed Kerry as ABB (Anyone But Bush)? Some encouragement may be gained from Barbara Boxer and the 31 representatives who supported this week's challenge to the Ohio vote, but the party's leadership - currently preparing to endorse Alberto Gonzales as US Torturer General - is still totally AWOL.
On November 3, John Kerry fled the scene. After collecting millions of dollars with the solemn vow to protect and count every vote, Kerry abandoned ship and disappeared, just like Al Gore in 2000. Both left tens of thousands of fervent, idealistic campaigners in a sickening lurch.If there is any hope that the Democrats will be able to rescue US democracy, it lies with what is being called "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party". And this democratic wing is being driven and co-ordinated through a huge network of discussion-based Web sites including Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, truemajority.org, moveon.org and freepress.org.
Do the Democratic Party centrists and Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) corporate types think they can still hope to win an election?
Who will organize or turn out for a party that won't stand for the sacred voting rights of its core constituencies?
Democratic politicians need to recognize - as Howard Dean did - that the voices on these sites represent a huge constituency. More than that, however, they represent the real face of US democracy and the only hope of averting a continued slide towards globalized Fascism.
For concerned citizens, then, the immediate challenge is to push the Democrats to continue standing up for basic democratic values and principles, as Barbara Boxer and her colleagues did this week. If the Democratic Party leadership do not show a willingness to change - and quickly - a more revolutionary approach will be necessary (think street protests, think civil disobedience campaigns).
Meanwhile, we need to keep growing online communites capable of channelling public outrage and achieving real change.
NOTE: For myself, however, the immediate future forces a reluctant break from blogging. My father is terminally ill with cancer on the brain and pneumonia in both lungs, and my wife is just over 5 weeks from delivering a baby girl (due 16 Feb). I will resume posting as soon as I can.