LEADERSHIP, DISCIPLINE, AND DEMOCRACY IN OUR MOVEMENT
Some leaders of Wisconsin Move to Amend have just publicly announced that they are dis-affiliating from the national Move to Amend organization, and they are forming a new organization which they are calling “United to Amend”. The reasons for this action are not clear to me, and the reasons that I have been given are, on their face, not sufficient to fragment this so important, strong and growing non-partisan, truly grassroots Movement, which has such widespread public support.
Despite some personal frustrations that I have felt when connecting with National Move to Amend, and despite the fact that I have not been informed about what Wisconsin MTA’s problems with National MTA have been, and/or vice versa, I don’t think that disaffiliating from MTA is the right thing to do, and I don’t think that National MTA requiring that affiliates agree to a memorandum of understanding is the wrong thing to do. In fact, a memorandum of understanding is exactly the right thing to do, in order to establish and maintain a necessary discipline, to continue to deserve the people’s trust and respect, and to keep affiliated branches of this national organization from unilaterally surrendering, compromising or contradicting our core principles, and derailing the Movement’s strategy – in other words, using the name, intentionally or not, to mislead the people. And it seems that opposition from some individuals to agreeing to the memorandum of understanding is their expressed reason for encouraging disaffiliation from Move to Amend.
National MTA has been a bright and steady beacon, standing strong and uncompromising for our core principles. Give them an “A-plus” for that. That’s been pretty rare in these latter days of supposedly independent grassroots organizations rationalizing “pragmatic” surrender and abandonment of their founding principles, and opportunistically sucking up to captured subsidiaries of major parties and sources flush with funding and “influence”.
What’s the problem with MTA? Is it that National sticks to our core principles, and prepares for the long struggle? Is it that certain “leaders” of MTA affiliates have been misled down the primrose path towards wedge-issue partisan politics? Or is something else at the root of this schism?
Looking back at the health care reform “debate” in 2009-2010, a national memorandum of understanding might have helped prevent, or at least expose, how the insular leadership of the only official Wisconsin affiliate of Physicians for a National Health Program betrayed and disappeared the core principle of PNHP and the Single Payer Alliance and the broadly supported non-partisan grassroots movement to organize around and establish comprehensive health care for all in the form of HR 676 – Medicare for All. The Madison based leadership of the only official Wisconsin affiliate of the Single Payer Alliance turned its back on the core principle of the single payer solution to the health care crisis, which is that comprehensive health care based on medical need, not on ability to pay, is a human right, and instead followed like a puppy the DNC party line, promoted by the compromising, deceitful, well-funded Healthcare For America Now! led in Wisconsin by Robert Kraig’s Wisconsin Citizen Action, whose disingenuous tune “progressed” over several months, starting with “I’m a single payer supporter, but single payer isn’t possible – instead we’ll all get under the big tent and work for a ‘robust’ public option”. Soon he was crooning that “the public option doesn’t really need to be ‘robust’”. Finally, he had no trouble changing his refrain to “we don’t actually need a public option”. And Kraig still beats the drum for the tiered, class based (rather than needs based), corporate administered, for profit health care we currently have, and an outrageous federal government mandate that all of us must purchase the over-priced, seriously faulted, confusing products that privately owned mega-corporations are selling to enhance their profits and further consolidate their market share (combined with a massive taxpayer subsidy of these corporations). The Single Payer Alliance, and the people, badly needed some “memorandum of understanding” discipline in Wisconsin during that crucial health care crisis “debate”.
Getting back to MTA, our Movement to Amend needs national leadership, solidarity, and disciplined adherence to certain basic core principles as much as it needs to develop and increase internal democracy, openness to ideas, and real diversity in our non-partisan determined struggle for democracy and government that is of, by, and for the people. Our core principles are that (1) only human beings, not corporations, have Constitutional rights, and (2) legalized bribery and corruption of government officials and policies, and of elections and political parties, by corporations and the super-rich must be stopped. Our method and our goal is focused on informing and organizing the people of America to demand a Constitutional Amendment that will establish those core principles.
Not everyone agrees with those core principles, and not everyone agrees with the Move to Amend strategy. In particular, neither major political party agrees with both of those core principles, and with that strategy. Neither does the Chamber of Commerce or ALEC or ANY corporatists. And a lot of so-called grassroots organizations which claim to be “non-partisan”, are clearly and obviously anything BUT non-partisan. Many people who are involved in politics are also involved in a search for personal status and for a career. The core principles, and the strategy, of Move to Amend, are very compelling to an awful lot of everyday people. That definitely attracts the attention of opportunists who have personal objectives, and who have political analyses that diverge from, or even conflict with our core principles and our strategy. And these opportunists are not always gonna tell you and me, up-front and publicly, exactly what they are up to. It’s not unheard of for devious individuals to pay lip service to core principles, at the same time that they are undermining those principles and the strategy.
Whatever their private or underlying reasons or motives are for disaffiliating from Move to Amend, it would very much surprise me if they would simultaneously and clearly, openly, and publicly disavow the core principles of our Movement. Certainly not right now! Regardless of their motives, that would be just stupid. Too many people actually believe in the integrity of Move to Amend, and in the core principles, and in the strategy of growing the non-partisan Movement where it really counts – directly among the people – not by hanging out with the corporate-controlled politicians and their parties, and the mass media moguls.
We had better keep a wary eye on these individuals in Wisconsin who think that it’s a good idea to disaffiliate from Move to Amend, to see that they truly do adhere to, and do not compromise or surrender either of those two core principles, or the non-partisan, people-centered strategy of Move to Amend.
Divide-and-conquer is an obscene tactic used by plutocrats, aristocrats, and fascists. But that tactic can only work if we do it to ourselves. We ought not allow our Movement to be divided, to be told that Move to Amend is failing our cause, without a very, very compelling, over-riding reason. Fragmenting and discrediting Move to Amend is not something that you can just blow smoke about to accomplish. We the people can’t afford to be that gullible. Hands on the table. Let’s see what you got.