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News :: DNC : Organizing
The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
17 Feb 2004


Pete Stid Boston, 2004

A number of local and national groups are organizing large demonstrations against the Democratic National Convention, yet many people are asking why. “Shouldn’t we be supporting anyone who can replace Bush?” they ask. Anti-authoritarians feel that protesting the DNC would effectively be a demand for better candidates, thus going against their message that any leader is illegitamate. Others seem to answer any political activism call with, “What the hell difference will it make?” In the same way that all of these statements show a divided and unorganized movement for change, they also show the potential for a unified movement, and a singular goal. An ideal “teaching moment” for a new direction towards direct democracy is presented to us all this July at the DNC. The message should be “change the system” not “regime change”. It is time to begin dismantling the centralization of power in the hands of the Republicans and the Democrats.

Anyone But Bush!

We have all heard the expression, “anyone but Bush.” Voting against Bush seems to be the national game plan in this election. The phenomenon of voting against rather than for is neither rare nor unique. Noam Chomsky spoke of the same trend in the 1980 (Reagan-Carter), 1984 (Reagan-Mondale), and 1992 (Clinton-Bush) presidential elections. In the Reagan elections the majority of Americans opposed Reagan’s policies, but did not vote because their views on the issues were not being articulated by anyone. Traditional democrats were not galvanized by the campaigns of Carter or Mondale, the ones who did make it to the polls were voting against Reagan. Reagan ended up winning in 84 with less than a third of the electorate. The Clinton Democrats interpreted this loss and Dukakis’ loss to daddy Bush as meaning they should move further to the right to seize active voters instead of moving to the left to attract the inactive voters who traditionally supported the democrats in the past, like labor and women. (Class Warfare, 1996) This years primaries have played out in a very similar way.

The new buzzword for this rightward slide is “electability.” This word has become synonymous with “insider,” “conservative,” and some words that are unfit to print. Democrats have become used to the fact that their candidates do not represent them. They now feel comfortable voting for people who share the sentiments of their enemies, sacrificing true victory for the superficial accomplishment of carrying the Democrat label into the Whitehouse. In effect, both parties are now vying for the conservative vote and the vast numbers of people who were once represented by democrats have no representation at all. Labor, women, the working class, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Students, and Intellectuals, all of these groups have now fallen outside of the two-party system. The vast majority of these groups’ only contribution is a negative one, they are voting against. But what will they most likely be voting for?

John F. Kerry

· Supported the Iraq war

· Voted for the PATRIOT Act (and loved it)

· Voted for Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act

· Supported Nafta

· Member of Skull and Bones with Bush (extremely powerful secret society)

· Takes special interest money

· Was recently busted trading campaign donations for defense contract recommendations

· Hired Rand Beers as his National Security Advisor who:

* Was Bush’s counter terrorism advisor

* Suggested the Columbian FARC had ties to Al-Qaeda (and was later forced to apologize)

* Supervised Plan Columbia

* Signed false documents to protect DynCorp there

Protesting the DNC is not a protest against Kerry, it is beyond that. It is a protest against a political system that does not allow for fair representation of its constituents. The RNC will attract as many or more protestors with the same battle cry. We are protesting at the walls of power in order to destroy its concentration in the hands of the few and distribute it more equally into the hands of the many.

This is a goal that all of us can agree on. America’s electoral system is highly restrictive. It is designed to prevent the entrance of peoples candidates, and it is steadily getting worse. In other democracies, such as Germany, minority parties do have a voice, even when they receive as few votes as the Greens did in our last Presidential contest. The two party system, the electoral college, gerrymandering, and their ilk are all mechanisms of a system based on economic power, not people power. In the months leading up to the DNC the IMC will produce a series of articles examining all aspects of this sick system, the DNC, the candidates, and related items in order to promote a better understanding of the issues at hand, who we are, and where we are headed. Feel free to add your opinions to the mix.

Related stories on this site:
A Call to Protest the DNC

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Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
17 Feb 2004
Well said.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
17 Feb 2004
while i think a great deal of this is awesome, this doesn't make much sense:

"Anti-authoritarians feel that protesting the DNC would effectively be a demand for better candidates, thus going against their message that any leader is illegitamate."

i don't think that 'the anti-authoritarians' (you kinda lumped every one into a big group) are calling for 'better' candidates. That's what the liberals are doing.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
18 Feb 2004
Wow, pretty close to home. I haven't been a big fan of the Democratic Party in recent years or rather the Republican-Lite Party. I normally would advocate that people should vote the conscious, but I admittedly will support whatever Democrat is put up this year be it Kerry, Edwards or a Pet Rock. I've heard Pet Rock's platform is quite Sedimentary. Oh, geology joke! Woohoo!
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
18 Feb 2004
Absolutely agree. I think there are two factors here. If you agree that our system needs to change (the two party system), then you protest and fight for that change. When elections roll around, and the system still exists, then you have a choice to vote or not. I don't feel that voting is contradictory if you feel the system is phony for this reason: if you don't vote how is that helping your cause? Aside from wanting people who represent the people and not megacorporations, what else do you stand for? Human rights, solidarity, social justice-whatever it may be-when elections come who is going to be the "lesser evil"? I hate that as much as anyone but how is not voting going to do anything positive or even productive to our cause? Comments?
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
18 Feb 2004
"I hate that as much as anyone but how is not voting going to do anything positive or even productive to our cause? Comments?"

who should we be voting for? kerry? dean? edwards? all supported the recent war in iraq, all supported clinton's genocide in iraq, and all supported bush sr's first gulf war.

a vote for the least offensive war mongerer is still a pro-war vote.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
18 Feb 2004
I agree with this article but who is organizing DNC protests other than the Black Tea Society? We need to recognize and address the fact that the anti-war movement and the left in general is demoralized and dominated by liberalism. We're not going to find leadership in the unions or non-profit organizations. We will need grassroots leadership to protest the two capitalist candidates. I hope a broad based, politically independent coalition can come together in Boston to protest the DNC. To read more of what I've written about this go to www.sp-usa.org/democracy.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
It's easy to say "the majority of Americans agree with us, but they don't vote because there is no candidate who represents their interests." It's easy, but it's a total copout. People vote because they are lazy or disengaged or too busy watching 90210. It has nothing to do with the candidates being too charismatic (Clinton) or too angry (Dean) or too stupid (Bush).

It's easy to rail against the system when it doesn't produce the results that you want, or to blame conspiracy theories for taking down a right-wing moderate masquerading as a populist (Dean) when in fact most people who bothered to vote just didn't see that he had the personal history to back up his rants.

If you want change, you need to stop focusing on changing the kings, and start focusing on changing the people. We need communities that generate educated populations. We need neighborhood democracy that can turn into town democracy and then maybe city and state and country and world.

The DNC and the RNC are just made up of individuals, just like you and me, with each individual trying to get their ideas out, get their joneses together, and trying to get through the next day hopefully with a little more juice than they had the day before. Some people are actively trying to screw their neighbors, some people are trying to help in ways that maybe are a little misguided.

But saying that these corrupt overlords are keeping us down by not giving us anyone to vote for just strikes me as absurd.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
Oh, by the way, the national security council is an office of the executive branch led by the president and the national security advisor (currently condi rice). It's members only include people from the executive branch. no senators, no reps, no kerry. I'm not sure about the other items on your list, but that's a bad one to lead with.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
Modified: 02:00:32 AM
Hey, Thanks for your comments everyone.

Stew- Yeah, your right. That sentence needs some work, its supposed to read something like: Some anti-authoritarians aren't protesting because they feel that protesting the DNC would be effectively supporting it, i.e. a demand for better candidates. You're right, anti-authoritarians are against govt and therefore dont vote. I meant to say that!

Qubed- Sign me up for the rock party!

April- Vote Shmote, there may be a lesser of two evils but there is no saviour in the vote. At least not as it is configured today. Western Europe did some pretty cool things through democracy but it took incredibly organized labor, violent riots, general strikes, and more to do it. Not just a vote. Our problem is a bit more difficult than theirs even. Kerry/Bush, the difference is minimal. So minimal that you could say the benefit of the sheer hatred that a republican president brings from you and I is much better than the turn the other cheek mode that alot of liberals and progessives take when the ever so slightly better democrats are in the oval.

Gene- You're a good man. See you in July.

Matthew- Watch for some upcoming stories on who's organizing protests for the DNC. There's a hell of a lot more people involved that the Black Tea Society, not to knock them either. But there are at least 17 other local groups involved in another coalition and I'm sure many many more organizing on their own. Plus the recent Consulta hosted by the Black Tea Society brought over 100 representatives from other groups, many of them from out of town. With four months to go things are looking good for a big diverse crowd. I want to say one other thing, divisions are the biggest threat to the American people. Divisions have dogged us throughout history. If you have a problem with another group go on down and open communications with them. Make the goal finding common ground, get a negotiator if it seems difficult. We're stronger when we stand together. Enough said.

Andrew- First of all let me say props for being way out of date on your TV reference. - But aside from that, who the hell are you anyway? You misunderstood me in such a strange way... its hard to clarify here. I called no conspiracy theories, I blamed no person for "giving" us candidates, I blamed the system itself . And the system we use does directly affect the type of candidates we get no matter how you look at it. I named no "conspiracy theories" for taking Dean down either, nor did I seriously mourn his campaigns death. Your argument falls apart here because you say Dean was a right-wing moderate posing as a populist who deserved to come down, yet Kerry is a right wing conservative posing as a piece of wood, yet he's the Media's darling and the leader of the primaries. So misrepresnenting himself couldn't have been what took Dean down, or else Kerry would have bit it before him.

The people don't need to change themselves neccessarily, the people need to change the world. One other thing (though there are more points I should make). Your quote, "The DNC and the RNC are just made up of individuals, just like you and me" As far as I know delegates got four legs, six horns, three eyes, purple black skin, yellow teeth, and carry ray guns because I have never seen one. Yes I, living in America for 26 years, have never met, seen from afar, or even heard a tale about a delegate and what they're like. I suppose almost everyone I know could say the same thing. But I will make sure to go out and see them in the flesh when they come and write my impressions of their nature down here. Somehow I don't fear seeing my doppelganger in that crowd though.

Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
One other thing Andrew, check your congressional record. Kerry was on the National Security Council. All my facts are linked to stories and records that back them up.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
so glad to see this even being discussed. i think there are alot of hard issues here for the "anti-autoritarian" community to address. i think that a major piece of this conversation that needs more attention is the strategic value of protesting the dnc and it's role in the larger changes we want to see in the world.
if we go out in the streets to protest kerry--(who deserves it) are we going to just piss off the liberals? if we discredit the democrats (who deserve it) are we propping up another four years of bush? is that desireable cause it would continue to mobilize the people to organize and resist in thier communities and daily lives? i don't have these answers, but i think they are part of a larger conversation about strategy that the movement could benefit from engageing in. the goal of this convesation is not to tell anyone how to protest the dnc, just to get us all thinking about what our goals are and how best to act strategically in meeting them. .

pete- some of the messaging you suggest i think is right on. it's about people organizing in thier communites, local democracy, and redistribution of power from the hands of a wealthy few to the callused hands of the people. . . i think that there is a great opportunity here to address the "liberals" faith in reform and regime change-- if we can be compelling, and irresistable as we present alternatives to the sleazy dealings inside the convention.. .perhaps we can bring some of those "liberals" around to understanding and supporting the change the system messaging that many of us believe strongly in.

i know someone out there is pissed off by this posting. . come on write back. . lets air these things out at least. .
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
without a doubt, both the DNC and the RNC need to be protested, and our voices and opinons MUST be heard...as a social anarchist, i feel the DNC MAY make more of an effort to listen to our cries, but both parties need to understand that the people in this country are tired of this pseudo-two party system, and are ready and eager to hear what other parties, like The Green Party and the Socialist Party have to say. At the same time, these "third" parties need to present themselves in a serious, professional manner by sending the best delegates to these conventions as our voice. Let's face it, no one is going to listen to millions of screaming anarchists, but they will hear out the plans devised by exceptional leaders, like Noam Chomsky.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
19 Feb 2004
The longer people do not participate in politics and solely participate in economics, the more centralized power becomes for those who control the market. I wonder if the media is promoting the message of 'you are powerless, nothing you can do will help, one man one vote gets you squat.' And by doing such they further squelch any popular movement that may be left after people get home from a day of work or shopping (read snide tone). Personal freedom, economic freedom, interrelational freedom all seem to be on the decline but people have the most sophisticated tools for communication ever devised. We are beginning to live in an oligarchy and people don't know how to be citizens. Sadly, we have to market participation to start the work. And we can hope that after the buy in, people will understand freedom.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
20 Feb 2004
only good democrat in the whole party is kucinich and he isin't gonna win!

Vote Green, I know i am!
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
21 Feb 2004
All interesting conversation... reminds me of conversation at the NCOR conference. There was a section called "I'm anti-authoritarian and I don't vote: or should I?" It was interesting because some mentioned that tendency to say "well, if we have bush he'll f*** everything up worse and then there will be a sharper polarization between the left and right and there will be a revolution".
We'll there are lots of flaws to this argument, but besides having to discuss what revolution means we can just ask who does bush f*** stuff up for the most? Well, the poor naturally. A lot of those manufacturing jobs that were lost were those of african americans and other people of color. So while some of the more privileged just have to go out for beers once a week instead of every day, other people have difficulty just eating.
The vote/no-vote question is a complicated one. I think that some anti-authoritarians avoid any contact with even the local government and I think it is a dangerous choice. When the budget is all f***ed up locally, who suffers the most? When a bioterror lab is set up in the poor section of the city, who runs the risk of biological/chemical exposure? The poor do.
So as much as I think the presidential vote is crap, I think it is important to have at least some level of involvement locally. And I also think that there will be some difference between presidential candidates, however minimal. And I want to hear what activists that are people of color say. Not a bunch of white privileged middle class anarchists.
And I am an anti-authoritarian, I just think we all need to be aware of our level of privelege.
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
21 Feb 2004
"Western Europe did some pretty cool things through democracy but it took incredibly organized labor, violent riots, general strikes, and more to do it. Not just a vote."

O.K. then Pete, then why not a campaign that says "Don't just vote, take action!" It really doesn't make a difference if people vote or not, so why discourage it. Why not tap into the sentiment of most people with the same arguments, but just taking it beyond an ineffective and meaningless "don't vote" campaign (if it doesn't mean anything to vote, it won't mean anything to not vote; but it will alienate people to focus upon the not voting as something powerful) into what anarchist and anti-authorians seem to focus on otherwise: taking action and controlling our own lifes for the other 364 days, 23 hours and 30 min. whether those 30 min. are used inside the voting booth or not. So once again, why not leaving putting the futility of a campaign focused on voting or not voting behind with a slogan: "Don't just vote, take action!"
The Futility of Protest
23 Feb 2004
I'm sure everyone here realizes that under the rules now in effect, radical change is impossible. The only means by which to enact sweeping reform is to empower a leader that answers to no one, thus eliminating the pendulum of "checks and balances" that has reduced the nation to a stagnant republic, unable to move far enough in either direction as to be noticeable. Singular power of this scope would be a deathblow to the anachronistic hang-ups of the moral Right. This new leader could make the important decisions for us so we could concentrate on other issues. We need someone strong to divide the amassed wealth of the nation and ensure that no one goes poor or suffers from the lack of insurance. It's ridiculous to expect people to actually have to put in 40 hours a week at a job they're not crazy about just to put food on the table. I say let the rich pick up the check. Financial situations are no one's fault or right, and the rich elite are no more entitled to that money than the unmarried mother of six, barely scraping by in a government-subsidized ghetto. Let's reform the government and bring everybody down to the lowest common denominator to abolish the caste systems of yesteryear. Spread the wealth! Dismantle religion! Put us on a level! We need revolution!
Re: The DNC: To Protest or not to Protest.
24 Feb 2004
I just wanted to say that I didn't mean for my reply to "overstress" voting. I wanted to put a question out there and I don't feel anyone answered it in their comments. My question again is how is not voting going to help dismantle the system that we feel is a sham? What, in relation to our struggle, is not voting going to accomplish? I am asking this not to advocate voting as a tool for change (because we know that is a joke), but just to open a discussion on how it fits into a larger goal.
a couple of quibbles
25 Feb 2004
1. this is an editorial, not an article, and i feel it should be identified as such. and should it be in the center column? it's not news, and it purports to speak for the imc collective as a whole. should we be treating this as a collective editorial statement?
2. the community groups which have been working on formulating a response to the dnc for several months now are probably mostly working with specific issues and goals and constituencies in mind, and i wonder whether- for all the rhetoric here about what we need- there is any actual community organizing going on. do anti-authoritarians just hang out on imc and talk about what an ideal world would look like, or is there a current which seeks to build community and make that ideal world a reality on a daily basis, with neighbors and tenants and labor and uninsured folks and such? could folks here try to make suggestions about how we can move from the too-little-too-late discussion stage to working out a concrete plan of action which allows for doing the crucial grassroots work leading up to the dnc, and builds the foundation for doing community organizing beyond it?
Re: a couple of quibbles
25 Feb 2004
Yes, this is more of an editorial than a news article. We (the Boston IMC collective) are experimenting a little with our center column policy. This article does not represent the views of the Boston IMC--just Pete--and I'm not sure what in the article would lead you to believe that it represents the views of the collective as a whole. Or is it just the fact that it appears in the center column?

As for the issue of whether anarchists/anti-authoritarians are involved with community organizing or just talk about ideas on-line, you can find a whole range of activities within the anarchist milieu. There are certainly people who seem to think that engaging in on-line debates in and of itself constitutes activism. Most anarchists are involved in some sort of concrete project though. Some, like BAAM, organize under an explicitly anarchist banner. Others work with community groups where people have a wide range of political beliefs; these anarchists tend not to wear their politics on their sleeve, so their invovlement with community groups isn't always obvious. There is some disagreement among anarchists about which is the better approach; I tend to fall into the latter camp. The Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC), however, seems to be trying to combine the two approaches in interesting way, with varying degress of success in various places.
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