NOTE TO READERS: This is the second and final part of my call-to-arms series “The REAL Trump Resistance: An Anti-Duopoly Occupy.” Given the importance I attach to its message, it’s written to be understood on its own. But for still deeper understanding – especially for supporters of third parties – please read Part 1.
REAL anti-Trump resistance: grassroots war on our diseased duopoly
As Henry David Thoreau quotably put it, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the roots.” And if mainstream media is any guide, there are many thousands hacking at the branches of the evil Trump administration to none who are striking at its roots. But of course mainstream media, self-censored by the profit-making agendas of its ever-fewer corporate conglomerate owners, never goes to the roots of anything. Least of all does it go to the grassroots, where the only principled resistance to Trump – the only resistance not contaminated by corporate, Deep State, or partisan agendas – actually exists.
As members of that grassroots resistance – the only group with a serious, pinpoint diagnosis of the Trump evil – we face a grievous communication problem. But no worse a problem than that faced by Occupy Wall Street when, in the wake of a global financial crisis triggered by a reckless and fraudulent financial system, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”
Considering we face the same corporate media hurdles, we should also consider the Occupy movement’s incontestable success in propagating its message of class warfare between “the 99% and the 1%” despite those hurdles. Indeed, while changing some tactics based on changed political circumstances, we should wholeheartedly embrace the Occupy model of making a movement the megaphone for a political diagnosis mainstream media, left to its own devices, would never dare touch. The real anti-Trump resistance can only succeed as a spontaneous grassroots, Occupy-style movement. Anything else is corporate astroturfing, and fully merits our movement’s scathing term of contempt – the “McResistance.”
Make no mistake, the Trump administration is a grave evil, fully demanding organized resistance, and I have a serious bone to pick with fellow progressive activists who try to highlight the badness of today’s Democratic Party by claiming it is not. Much as I share – and seek to make nationally shared – their revulsion for today’s Democrats, they only muddy a laser-sharp diagnosis by their attempts to whitewash Trump. As I remarked in Part 1 of this series, Trump is “a Guinness World Records champion for moral, intellectual, and experiential unfitness to lead a global superpower.” And what makes him especially atrocious is that his personal unfitness forces him to delegate (or rather, abdicate) governance to extremist Republican colleagues. As Noam Chomsky (considering Republicans’ commitment to climate destruction) well put it, “The Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in world history.” Anyone who fails to see today’s Republican politicians incomparably grave terms is failing at diagnosis.
Rather than reducing Democrats’ culpability, duly acknowledging the full evil of Trump and today’s Republican Party only increases it exponentially. For, as the rest of this article shall argue, the evil of today’s Democratic Party consists precisely in being the party of Judas. And just as the New Testament Judas – for the sake of his thirty pieces of silver – did not personally crucify Jesus, but only (ultimately and indirectly) turned him over to the brutal Romans, so do Democrats (by incurable addiction to their donors’ silver), betray our nation to utterly brutal Republicans. It is as “the party of Judas,” betraying Americans – above all, the most vulnerable ones – to Republican brutality for sake of donors’ silver, that the real grassroots resistance must oppose Democrats as well as Trump.
Democrats actually DO stand for something: betrayal
In an insightful recent article, political writer and cartoonist Ted Rall asks, “What do Democrats want?” and answers his own (probably rhetorical) question by saying, “No one knows.” In fact, as a political associate of the penetrating Chris Hedges, and as an astute commentator in his own right, Rall likely knows pretty damn well what Democrats want. So, taking his question as rhetorical, we should read his article as really being about the political messaging of a party split between an outgunned populist wing (tolerated because it gives Dems their last shreds of populist legitimacy) and a controlling corporatist Clinton wing hell-bent on serving the party’s high-rolling donors. Since the party’s controlling corporatists wish neither to commit themselves to too strong a populist message, nor to explicitly state the open secret of whom they really serve, the party’s message does come across as a befuddling muddled mess.
But, for our purposes, Rall’s question can be usefully rephrased as “What do Democrats stand for?” For, unlike Rall’s rhetorical question, our factual one doesn’t require us to look for consistency in the diametrically opposed wants of a controlling corporatist and an outgunned populist party faction. Rather, taking control of the party by its corporatist Clinton faction as fact, and ignoring Democrats’ muddled messaging in favor of their consistent long-term behavior, we can obtain a very clear answer to our question. Namely, today’s Democratic Party stands for betrayal – betrayal of both democracy and the party’s traditional poor and working class base. And – what counts most for our grassroots resistance purposes – Democrats recently cemented their commitment to betrayal by arguing their legal right to betray their voting base in a court of law.
In short, the Democratic National Committee’s assertion of party bosses’ legal right to choose nominees behind closed doors (thereby treating the DNC’s own charter as toilet paper) is a humongous deal – so “nuclear” in its potential damage to the Democratic Party’s reputation – that the political establishment’s mainstream media minions have imposed a virtual blackout on reporting it. So nuclear, I’ll argue here, that a well-orchestrated campaign to spread news of the argument – with the proper contextual framing – could launch a new anti-duopoly Occupy. And the proper contextual framing is that the DNC legal argument doubles down on Democrats’ long recent history as “the party of Judas” – the party of betrayal. The DNC argument (and this is its greatest significance) in fact confirms Democrats as an arrogantly unrepentant Judas: a Judas on steroids.
Judas on steroids: of Hillary Clinton and Sheldon Cooper
No one I know of would choose Judas as their favorite Biblical character. But if Hillary Clinton were being honest with herself – as she almost never is anyone outside Wall Street – she very well might. Indeed, Clinton’s leaked statement (from a well-paid private speech to her Wall Street cronies) that politicians need a public and a private position amounts to embracing the political Judas role, offering publicly what the unwashed masses – “the basket of deplorables,” in Clinton’s own words– desire politically while being fully intent on betraying them for whatever she and her fellow oligarchs decide on behind closed doors. A “Judas kiss” is always planned in secret.
It’s especially telling to read the context she provided her Wall Street “best buds” for a politician’s need for public and private positions: “But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the backroom discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least.” A statement that provides especially compelling reason to think Clinton’s real motive for violating State Department rules – and risking national security in the bargain – with her private e-mail server was precisely to keep “everybody” from “watching.” Above all, those really deplorable everybodies who make FOIA requests.
If we imagine for a moment that one of Clinton’s “private positions” is a secret admiration for Judas, we arrive at an excellent analogy for the outrageous stance on betrayal now taken not just by Clinton, but by her entire controlling wing in the Democratic Party – and hence by the DNC. In one hilarious segment of TV’s The Big Bang Theory, resident antisocial physicist Sheldon Cooper is asked whether he really disliked the Christmas special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Sheldon responds, “On the contrary, I found the Grinch to be a relatable, engaging character.” For Sheldon, the “buzz kill” that utterly spoils the festivities is when the Grinch “succumbed to social convention and returned the presents and saved Christmas.”
For most New Testament readers, Judas is decidedly not “a relatable, engaging character.” In fact, his name has become a historical byword for betrayal, one of the ugliest human traits. If anything makes the Biblical Judas engaging and relatable at all – if also tragic – it’s his remorseful suicide upon realizing the moral enormity of his betrayal. But simply extrapolating from their behavior, one can easily imagine Hillary Clinton – and her whole party-controlling wing of corporatist Democrats – finding their ultimate “buzz kill” in their once-admired Judas’s “succumbing to social convention” by his inexplicable bout of remorse. So they’re determined for just this once to not be like Judas – in the only trait that gives him any redeeming human value at all.
No matter how bad his opponents, a known political Judas – above all one who doubles down on his “Judashood” rather than repenting of it – is incapable of winning elections. Especially when he gets all self-righteous and sanctimonious over it, morally extorting voters into accepting him as his unrepentant, unreformed Judas self by the sheer badness of his opponents. Rewarding the atrocious behavior of a political Judas – above all, an unrepentant, sanctimonious, and bullying one – is guaranteed to repulse voters. That, in a nutshell, is why Democrats lose election after election, betraying us to the lawless brutality of anti-government Republicans.
The party of Judas simply cannot defeat the party of Trump.
The “DNC = Democracy Never Counts” campaign –launchpad for a new Occupy?
Social movements are by nature unpredictable, so it’s extremely perilous to predict what will launch one. But since we at Progressive or Bust think an anti-duopoly Occupy-style movement is the only politically effective form the grassroots anti-Trump resistance can take, we’ll soon start a campaign that’s at least a plausible stab at launching such a movement. Whether or not our campaign results in launching the needed movement, we feel anything that sheds public spotlight on the DNC democracy-betraying legal argument – its “Judas argument” is worthwhile in itself.
Although the needed grassroots movement must delegitimize our unspeakably dysfunctional duopoly, our campaign must logically start by attacking Democrats. Democrats, using their subservient corporate media and plutocrat-funded organizing, have substituted their shallow, hacking-at-the-branches “McResistance” for the real grassroots resistance that needs to form. Such a grassroots resistance needs to steal the media stage from the establishment Democrat McResistance – and to simultaneously delegitimize that faux resistance. Ultimately, the delegitimizing message in the one just sketched: that the party of Judas simply can’t defeat the party of Trump – and is therefore unfit to lead the anti-Trump resistance. Publicizing the “nuclear” and radically underpublicized DNC legal argument – framed as an anti-democracy “Judas argument” – will make our case that Democrats have legally formalized their status as “the party of Judas.” If they don’t intend to go on betraying their working class and progressive base, why are they claiming the legal right to do so in court?
We think our proposed “DNC = Democracy Never Counts” campaign has a killer message, one well suited by its logic to launch a grassroots anti-duopoly revolt movement. So naturally, the question arises of what we intend to do to spread it. The answer is that we intend (in the spirit of the Indivisible Guide compiled by Democratic Party operatives to hound Trump Republicans) to relentlessly confront Congressional Democrats with their party’s legal argument by every means of organized civic engagement. We’ll demand that they take a public stand on it, automatically consigning to a well-publicized “Judas list” every Congressional Democrat who fails to take a public stand against it.
Obviously, to carry out such a campaign effectively, we’ll need large numbers of participants. Although I pitched my Part 1 article to show third-party voters the stake they have in an anti-duopoly movement, proponents of reform the Democratic Party from within have much to gain from joining this campaign as well. Obviously, anyone serious about reforming Democrats must seek universal condemnation of the DNC’s anti-democracy legal argument.
“Birddog the duopoly” – naming a movement from its key tactic
A final thought. One preferred tactic of the DNC = Democracy Never Counts campaign – because it’s so effective at both scaring politicians and gaining publicity – will be bird-dogging Congressional Democrats about their stance on the DNC’s “Judas argument.” While initiated by the campaign, the tactic (applied to politicians of both parties) may prove especially suited to the Occupy-style anti-duopoly movement we hope it succeeds in launching. Why? Well, because, to stymie Occupy, the police state (with the connivance of most of our politicians) tightened its screws – both laws and police tactics – to prevent “occupations” from appearing on our streets. That’s why it’s especially appropriate that we birddog politicians – to punish their participation in creating the anti-First Amendment police state. It’s too early to say, but perhaps (as with Occupy), the anti-duopoly movement’s key tactic will give it a name: “Birddog the Duopoly.” But in any case, our success will be measured by making politicians dread us – to the extent they wish they had Occupy back.
If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this upcoming campaign – and prospective movement – please join our Facebook group Progressive or Bust.