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Fwd: Now is the Time for a Left/Right Alliance

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... http://www.antiwar.com/orig/eddlem.php?articleid=8966 ... not
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2006
      --- Julie Keller <jakeller@...> wrote:

      > To: utepprogressives@yahoogroups.com
      > From: "Julie Keller" <jakeller@...>
      > Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 12:31:49 -0000
      > Subject: [utepprogressives] Now is the Time for a
      > Left/Right Alliance
      > A rebel alliance already exists that could stop Bush
      > administration
      > attacks on the Constitution
      > by Thomas R. Eddlem
      > I'm currently a life member of the John Birch
      > Society and formerly
      > served on the staff of the organization for 13
      > years.
      > So why should any left-winger reading this care a
      > fig about what I
      > have to say?
      > Because of a conversation I had with another
      > conservative magazine
      > writer recently. In frustration at the
      > unconstitutional excesses of
      > the Bush administration, I blurted out to him: "The
      > only people doing
      > any good out there are the people at Air America." I
      > expected to shock
      > him with the statement, but his two-word reply
      > shocked me: "And
      > MoveOn.org."
      > We were both exaggerating for effect, but fact is,
      > as my journalist
      > friend continued, "We probably only disagree on,
      > maybe, 25 percent of
      > the issues." I'd have put the percentage a little
      > higher, though I
      > tacked an ending onto his sentence: "�and those
      > issues aren't
      > especially important right now."
      > When Air America started, I told myself and my
      > friends that it would
      > fail because it would be redundant. The Left already
      > controls all the
      > television networks besides Fox, along with most of
      > the major
      > newspapers. But here we are a year later, and the
      > most penetrating
      > news analysis on television is � and I'm not
      > exaggerating here � Jon
      > Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central.
      > I tuned into the Boston Air America affiliate when I
      > became a
      > community radio talk show host almost two years ago,
      > thinking that I
      > could use a few of their wild statements as a
      > springboard to bounce my
      > counterpoint. And although I got a few yuks out of
      > quips about
      > "Airhead America," I found that I agreed with the
      > hosts more than I
      > disagreed with them.
      > They criticized the Bush administration for
      > deceiving us into the Iraq
      > war. No problem there. They criticized Alberto
      > Gonzales for his
      > torture memos. Again, no problem. They criticized
      > deficit spending,
      > the PATRIOT Act, and corporate welfare. Hurray,
      > hurray, and hurray!
      > So I called into a few "progressive" radio talk
      > shows, identifying
      > myself as a "right-wing radio talk show host," and
      > explained my
      > understanding of these issues. Stephanie Miller told
      > me that I was a
      > "not a very good right-winger." A liberal show host
      > at my radio
      > station even called me a "liberal."
      > But my views haven't changed one bit since I joined
      > the John Birch
      > Society during the Reagan administration. So this is
      > not a conversion
      > story.
      > What's changed is that the Bush administration has
      > simply gotten that
      > bad and that, according to some polls, we are almost
      > at the point
      > where most genuine conservatives realize it.
      > The Left and Right will never agree on the issues
      > that liberal talk
      > show host Ed Schultz likes to call "God, Guns, and
      > Gays." Nor will we
      > agree on most economic issues, such as Social
      > Security or whether the
      > federal government should have a role in health
      > care.
      > Unlike the Hannitized Dittobots who call the
      > so-called "right-wing"
      > radio talk shows, you won't find me sporting "Club
      > Gitmo" gear. I
      > realize that what happened at Abu Ghraib could
      > happen to any American
      > faster than you can say "Jose Padilla."
      > These are some issues of common concern that could
      > lead to cooperation
      > between Right and Left. Does a "rebel alliance"
      > against the evil
      > neocon empire sound crazy? Not only has it already
      > begun to take shape
      > today, it's happened before.
      > The First Rebel Alliance
      > The American political Left and Right actively
      > worked together on a
      > project that literally saved the U.S. Constitution
      > during the late
      > 1980s and early 1990s. Back then, the Republican
      > Party pushed for a
      > balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution
      > and became
      > frustrated at failing to get the two-thirds vote in
      > Congress needed to
      > pass it. So the GOP led a push toward the first
      > constitutional
      > convention (con-con) in more than 200 years by
      > pushing state
      > legislatures to call a con-con. They needed calls
      > from two-thirds (34)
      > of the states. By 1987, President Reagan and Vice
      > President Bush
      > needed only two more states to call a con-con, a
      > convention that would
      > have had the same power to tear up our existing
      > Constitution and write
      > a new one from scratch that our Founding Fathers had
      > in 1787.
      > An odd coalition formed that paired Common Cause
      > with Phyllis
      > Schlafly's Eagle Forum and the AFL-CIO with the John
      > Birch Society.
      > Conservatives got resolutions condemning the
      > convention from the
      > Daughters of the American Revolution, the American
      > Legion, and even
      > the National Rifle Association, which feared that
      > the convention would
      > tinker with the Second Amendment.
      > An impressive array of letters from lawyers and
      > professors, from
      > Harvard's liberal Lawrence Tribe to Notre Dame's
      > conservative Charles
      > Rice, circulated on both sides.
      > But the alliance was far more intricate than merely
      > an exchange of
      > letters. Groups on the Left and Right coordinated
      > letter-writing
      > campaigns, and even spoke before state legislative
      > hearings over which
      > person testifying would bring up which points
      > against the con-con.
      > All of official Washington, along with Wall Street,
      > mobilized against
      > this ad hoc grass-roots army. The national
      > Republican Party backed a
      > con-con to the hilt, along with Presidents Reagan
      > and the elder Bush,
      > and most Republican U.S. senators. Most "inside the
      > Beltway"
      > conservative organizations also backed the
      > constitutional convention,
      > making it the acid test for higher office within the
      > Republican Party.
      > Wall Street-backed business organizations underwrote
      > the Republican
      > Party campaign with donations and resolutions. And
      > national Democrats
      > divided, with many staying silent or even becoming
      > verbally supportive
      > of going to a con-con.
      > But the results revealed the complete political
      > isolation of the
      > Washington, D.C., power brokers. The liberals were
      > able to unify the
      > Democrats in the state legislatures, while the
      > conservatives were able
      > to peel enough Republicans away from the Washington
      > big shots in order
      > to form a working majority coalition in favor of the
      > Constitution.
      > The coalition stopped the con-con steamroller cold,
      > and in 1988 got
      > the states of Alabama and Florida to pass
      > legislation withdrawing
      > their calls for a new convention. The legislatures
      > of Louisiana, Utah,
      > and Virginia followed with their own rescissions in
      > later years,
      > rolling the number of states calling for a
      > convention back to a safer
      > level.
      > The coalition sprang back into action in 1994 when
      > popular Utah
      > Governor Mike Leavitt got the idea to rename the
      > con-con, calling it a
      > "Conference of the States." The telegenic Republican
      > governor again
      > won the support of the national Republican Party and
      > marketed it
      > through the American Legislative Exchange Council,
      > an organization of
      > mostly Republican state legislators. Despite some
      > quick and early
      > successes by Leavitt, the coalition had effectively
      > killed off the
      > scheme by the end of 1995.
      > After the victories, both sides claimed all the
      > credit for themselves
      > and tried to forget the embarrassing fact that they
      > had allied
      > themselves with the other side. But neither the
      > political Left nor
      > Right could have prevailed without the support of
      > the other side.
      > Many on the Left may be tempted to pooh-pooh the
      > impact of
      > organizations such as the John Birch Society, the
      > Eagle Forum, and the
      > Daughters of the American Revolution. But like the
      > Left, the Right
      > maintains active organizations on the grass-roots
      > level with no
      > connections to Washington. Several have hundreds of
      > local chapters of
      > volunteers across the country, multi-million dollar
      > annual budgets,
      > and � in the case of the John Birch Society � a
      > staff of 40
      > professional organizers it calls "coordinators." The
      > Right is equally
      > capable of putting letters into representatives'
      > mailboxes from home
      > districts and putting bodies into district offices
      > of swing
      > legislators during a legislative campaign.
      > The New "Rebel Alliance"
      > The entire U.S. Constitution had to be in danger in
      > order for the Left
      > and Right to work together in the past. That's just
      > what it's taken
      > for the alliance to form again. The U.S.
      > Constitution and Bill of
      > Rights are in danger again today.
      > The issues the Right and Left are already working
      > together on are
      > related to the Constitution: (1) Exposing the Bush
      > administration's
      > policy to eliminate the right to trial, as in the
      > case of Jose
      > Padilla, (2) Stopping the Bush practice and advocacy
      > of torture, (3)
      > Ending the administration's unnecessary Iraq War,
      > (4) Eliminating
      > unconstitutional, warrantless wiretapping, and the
      > most objectionable
      > parts of the PATRIOT Act, (5) Stopping multilateral
      > trade agreements
      > such as CAFTA, renewal of the WTO, and the upcoming
      > Free Trade Area of
      > the Americas (FTAA).
      > The current Rebel Alliance is completely ad hoc and
      > has no formal
      > organization, for several reasons. First, we don't
      > trust each other.
      > Groups on the "paleoconservative" Right � those
      > in the Bush
      > neoconservative orbit who have strong ideological
      > reasons for joining
      > an ad hoc alliance � include some of the
      > organizations most disliked
      > by leftists: The John Birch Society, Phyllis
      > Schlafly's Eagle Forum,
      > the Rockford Institute, the "Buchanan Brigades" of
      > Pat Buchanan's
      > American Cause, libertarian-leaning Lew Rockwell and
      > his Ludwig von
      > Mises Institute. And, of course, Antiwar.com, where
      > the Rebel Alliance
      > meshes and works together best.
      > Of course, we "right-wingers" don't trust you
      > leftists at all either.
      > Leftists will always view conservatives like me as
      > paranoid radicals,
      > and conservatives will always view the Left as the
      > ideological heirs
      > of Joseph Stalin. It will be hard for either side to
      > even shake hands
      > on the banks of the Elbe River at the end of any
      > alliance of
      > convenience. But a lot more could be accomplished
      > with a little more
      > cooperation, even something as a simple as an e-mail
      > or a phone call
      > regarding tentative campaign plans on issues of
      > mutual interest on
      > critical issues related to the U.S. Constitution.
      > The second reason that any sort of formal
      > organization in this new
      > alliance is all but impossible is because groups on
      > both sides will
      > likely drop in or out of the coalition, depending on
      > the
      > organization's agenda � or even the clash of
      > personalities involved.
      > Any successful Left-Right cooperation should focus
      > upon the U.S. House
      > of Representatives. The chief lesson of the con-con
      > battle was that
      > the executive branch and the Senate, the legislative
      > chamber of 100
      > men and women who want to run the executive branch,
      > were not greatly
      > swayed by grass-roots pressure. But House members
      > are literally
      > running for reelection nonstop and are particularly
      > susceptible to
      > broad-based pressure from the districts. With the
      > Left unifying the
      > Democratic Party, it would only take the swing of a
      > couple of
      > Republican representatives by the right in any
      > committee in order to
      > launch a Watergate-style investigation on the
      > indefinite detention of
      > American citizens without trial or the contemptible
      > policy of
      > "extraordinary rendition."
      > Liberals are pinning their hopes on Democratic
      > chances in November,
      > but even a slight Democratic majority in the House
      > of Representatives
      > in January (a divided government I dearly hope will
      > come to pass)
      > would not solve the problem. Genuine reform and
      > controls on the
      > unitary executive will elude the nation without the
      > assistance of the
      > Right, as Democratic reforms either die in the
      > closely locked Senate
      > or by Democratic neocon implants in the House (there
      > are Joe Lieberman
      > types in the House too!) Whatever happens in
      > November, the Left is
      > going to need the Right to peel away more
      > Republicans away from Bush
      > and find more congressmen like Rep. Ron Paul of
      > Texas.
      > A little more coordination of effort could go a long
      > way toward saving
      > the U.S. Constitution from the depredations of the
      > Bush
      > administration, both before and after November.
      > Down with the neocon Evil Empire! Long live the new
      > Rebel Alliance!
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