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July 28, 2005

By RADY ANANDA

Columbus, Ohio:  The Progressive Ohio Backbone Campaign rallied for three days before the Democratic Leadership Council, which held its annual convention in Columbus, Ohio, July 23rd-25th. Backboners wanted a voice in the DLC’s “National Conversation – It’s about the American Dream.”

Outgoing DLC leader, Evan Bayh (D-Ind) misread the “Got Spine?” message and won resounding applause when he promised conventioneers, “Too many of our countrymen, right here in the heartland, believe Democrats … don’t have the spine or the backbone to use force even in the face of the most compelling of circumstances. And that must change.”

Hillary Clinton echoed these sentiments when she called for a “unified coherent strategy focused on eliminating terrorists wherever we find them.” She wants the US to remain in Iraq until peace is achieved, characterizing the mission as part of the “long struggle against terrorism,” when she spoke before the think tank, the Aspen Institute, earlier this month. (AP 7/11/05)

Backboners reject spending $401 billion on defense but only $75 billion on children’s health and education. (US Budget FY 2004) They ask the DLC to have the spine to find the $9 billion stolen from Iraq reconstruction and infrastructure firms, to stand up for universal health care, education, better-paying jobs and honest elections.

While Bayh and Clinton foresee unending war, Virginia Governor Mark Warner did speak for universal health care. “In today’s Washington, politicians work deep into the night to write laws to interfere with the family of Terri Schiavo, but ignore the fact that 45 million Americans have no health care.” (Washington Post, 7/25/05)

Spine must be the new buzzword among party loyalists. This month on the Stephanie Miller Show, Democratic National Committee Chief, Howard Dean, called for spine. In a recent press release, Columbus Mayor and gubernatorial candidate, Mike Coleman, also called for spine. And now the DLC has even hoisted the mantle. Spine is the frame.

This is a clever response to grassroots across America demanding Dems get a backbone. Maybe if the Dems usurp a good buzzword, they can convince the public they really are fighting for our needs, values, and ideals. Good buzzwords notwithstanding, the Dems continue to disappoint us with the recent bipartisan passage of the Patriot Act. Twelve resolutions in the Patriot Act are now permanent and the remaining four are in effect for 10 years, at which point the ruling elite will decide whether or not to renew them. Legislating America into a police state is not a winning strategy if the Dems seek to win the hearts and minds of the public.

In the stratosphere of world leaders, the Dems and the Repubs have aligned interests and vote accordingly. Consider the sponsors of this event: the local Schottenstein and Wexder families through their corporations, Limited Brands, Safe Auto Insurance, and Schottenstein Stores; Chevron, SBC, Global LEAD, Int’l Council of Shopping Centers, National Retail Federation, and Wendy’s.

Several grassroots organizations (called “netroots” by the DLC for their tech-savvy nature) joined in the rally, including Artists for Political Reform, AfterDowningStreet.org, Ohio Honest Elections, GRADs (GrassRoots Advocates of Democracy), BRATs (Babbling Ranting Antithesis to Tyranny), March for Peace, Red Peace Cross Army, NION Youth Brigade, Progressive People of Faith, Hop for Justice, the Free Press (Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism), Cultural Creatives, and Committee Against Political Corruption.

More than twenty protesters spoke with (or sang to) innumerable DLC conventioneers, urging them to implement hand-counted paper ballots, to reject voting machines, to end resource wars and provide money for schools and health care. Sherole Eaton, the fired Hocking County whistleblower, joined protesters, along with two of her relatives, in urging fair elections. DLC representatives from Tennessee and Minnesota scoffed at the idea for paper ballots. “You’ll never get rid of voting machines,” smirked the Tennessee rep.

While not one TV camera or print reporter came within sight of the rally, Mike Hardin of the Columbus Dispatch did interview Backboner Victoria Parks, and others, this week. Each was prepared to answer, What would you say to the DLC now, if you had the chance. Backboners piled the Dispatch with documents covering a range of issues, including:

Verifiable clean elections,
Instant Runoff Voting,
An end to corporate personhood,
Democratize public airwaves,
Universal healthcare,
Support reproductive rights,
Fair labor practices here and abroad,
Fair trade – not free trade,
Protect the Earth’s ecosystems,
Support and expand the Kyoto Treaty,
Aim for energy independence by investing in renewables,
Strengthen Affirmative Action,
Full and equal funding of public schools,
Civil unions for all,
Embrace diversity,
Decriminalize poverty,
Fairness in lending and housing for all,
Universal access to Head Start and college,
Provide living wage and social safety net,
Debt-relief, stop arming dictators,
Take the profit out of war,
End the weapons trade,
Honor treaties,
Uphold the Geneva Conventions,
Take the profit out of prisons,
End mandatory sentencing,
End the drug war,
Investigate reparations for slavery and discuss racism, and
Uphold human rights everywhere.

Although they see these issues as deadly serious, protesters immensely enjoyed themselves by immersing in the street theatre, playing guitar and singing, calling on passing cars to honk in support, and showing off their dance moves. Over thirty homemade signs were displayed. Marj Creech wore a furry black-and-white cow outfit with signs taped to the udders, identifying herself as the Honest Elections Cow. This is the heartland, after all.

While many DLCers joined in the comedic mood, Backboners caution the Democratic Party not to take their loyalty lightly. Centrist Democrats showed their red colors by holding workshops on the National Security Imperative, Homeland Security for the Long Term, Faith & Politics, and Developing a Values-Based Agenda. To grassroots activists, these topics could be hosted by Republicans.

National elites are legislating away the Constitution, the Judiciary is suppressing the Rule of Law, and the Executive Branch is waging Armageddon by going after MidEast Oil. If the DLC wants to talk about the American Dream, they’d best be served by recognizing that the public is waking up.

The American Dream to the DLC is far different than what poor and working class Democrats envision. Unbridled profiteering at the expense of the environment, sovereign nations, wages and civil liberties is more a nightmare to the majority of Americans and, indeed, the majority of the world. Instead, a waking groundswell believes in the American Dream of a Democracy, where illegal bribes, embezzlement and defrauded elections are repaid with prison terms, where the children, elderly and the infirm are housed, fed and cared for, where all citizens earn a living wage, and where affordable alternative energy sources are developed.

Protesting activists, not lip-service Democrats, showed real spine last weekend by directly acting on behalf of the majority of citizens.

Posted at GuvWurld.

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