The second question first: It is crucial, critically important that the Republicans are defeated, resoundingly, this election season. The Republican leadership in Congress, their masters in the Whitehouse, and their bankrollers on K Street and in the corporate boardrooms are single-handedly responsible for some of the worst actions, stupidest blunders and most blatant corruption and foul demagoguery in the history of the United States.
These are the people who crassly and calculatingly used the terrible events surrounding 9-11 to lie their way into starting an illegal war based on misinformation and fantasy. These same lying criminals have so badly mismanaged that war that the military infrastructure is strained to the point of breaking. These are the bloodthirsty idiots whose actions and inactions have directly led to the violent deaths of, according to statistically and methodologically sound research, more than half a million Iraqi people in the last 3 years.
These are the people who cut funding for research and construction projects in New Orleans for 4 years running, who gutted the infrastructure and expertise in FEMA and stripped that agency of any meaningful authority, who ignored the warnings and scientific and engineering predictions of a vast array of experts, and who sat by partying and preening for the cameras while an entire American city was destroyed and thousands drowned in the streets. Who, after the wreckage, spouted racist and stupid comments about the victims and the hundreds of thousands of refugees, and used these terrible events to try and justify more tax cuts for their rich patrons and country club buddies, who advocated bulldozing the city, and tried to blame the victims.
These are the people who have been caught in acts of corruption so egregious that several members of Congress are in prison, several more under investigation, and a large number of their lobbyist bagmen are singing to the FBI in at least four different investigations of confidence schemes, bribery, fraud, and misuse of government office.
These are the people who knew about and turned a blind eye to blatant and egregious abuse of minors on Capitol Hill, and simply ignored predatory behavior by their own party members.
These are the people who have destroyed the US budget, sent the country into staggering debt, and sent the deficit into astronomical territory.
Republican leadership is deadly. Republican leadership has destroyed our nation's credibility, emptied our coffers, fractured our military, destroyed our civil infrastructure, gutted our disaster management agencies, and has directly and indirectly, through action and inaction, through blind ignorance, stubborness, and stupidity, led to the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people both in America and in the rest of the world.
What should Leftists do? First, vote Democratic. Second, organize, volunteer, canvass, work for candidates, bring people and organizations into the game at every level. Ignore the carping of purists and ideologically blinded doctrinaire dogmatists. A man that I know, have worked with, and have organized with, Stan Goff, wrote this recently:
Here is what will happen [on November 7]. Millions and millions of people ... will vote for Democrats in an attempt to do what is immediately within their power to at least break the most dangerous of the two parties. That is going to happen. A miniscule number of self-professed radicals will stand on the sidelines and suggest that those people are oh-so ignorant... which will not affect those million one iota, nor will it cause any heartburn among the major parties. It will, however, further marginalize the left, and not just from a fraction of the working class, but from 90% of all politically active African Americans, who laid lives on the line in our lifetimes for the mere right to go into that polling place.
Stan is right. To sit on the sidelines now is self-destructive to the Left and to the country. Leftists advocating such action will lose the respect and trust of people crying out for change.
Even more important, if Leftists/Liberals/Progressives can bring serious talent and organizational muscle into the game, and help get the Democrats over the top, then we can get - EARN - a seat at the table for what comes next...
What comes next? Well, simple: The current electoral environment and the potential for an electoral blowout in both houses is a direct result of a number of factors, all of which have their roots in progressive populism; Howard Dean's 50 state strategy, the Liberal blogosphere's push for challengers in EVERY House race, that same group's push for enhanced funding and organizing for those same candidates via both online fundraising and through pressure on sitting candidates with extra cash, and the use of the Internet to research, fact-check, and popularize important stories and events that have helped change the political environment.
The policies of the past - the corporate-friendly DLC's kowtowing to entrenched interests and toeing the line of the "moderate hawks" in congress and in the think tanks, the "Swing State" focus, and general timidity in both electoral and political/policy fights have been shown to be morally, strategically and tactically bankrupt. Progressive losses over the last 20 years can, and should, be laid on the shoulders of timid, cowardly, and dishonest operatives who have been "going along to get along" for far too long.
With a sound thumping of the extreme Right on November 7, the writing will be on the wall as concerns those folks. If Leftists and Progressives put shoulders to the wheel NOW, get out the vote NOW, organize for victory NOW...we will be in the catbird seat when to comes time to sort out a wide array of important issues: who gets committee chairs (Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus), where do resources go (local parties, grassroots organizing outlets, progressive causes), who gets the state and county party control (activists who made this election a success).
The chance has arisen to change the face of a direction of the Democratic Party, to inherit the infrastructure and use it for pushing progressive causes.
We would be foolish indeed to pass up such an opportunity.