Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 3.19.09

Out of Hiding
Time to get serious and challenge politicians
By Lynn Porter

I recently read The Army of the Republic by Stuart Archer Cohen, a political novel that lays out one possible near future for this country. In the tradition of 1984. It’s worth you’re time, if you’re willing to be fully awake.

A friend tells me she is “hiding from my culture.” I wish I could do that. The problem is, if most people do that, and don’t put up any resistance, the culture gets worse. It’s a downhill slide. Just electing a biracial Democrat doesn’t change that. Nor does happy talk.

What I see in our immediate future is a return to 1982. See you at the unemployment office. Oh wait, I’m retired! So maybe I get to sit this one out. Maybe not. I’m living on government benefits. A lot of people would like to throw us overboard, on the grounds that they can’t afford us. While blowing trillions borrowed from China on evil wars and fat-cat bailouts. Then they’ll use the resulting yearly federal budget deficits and skyrocketing national debt to justify cutting entitlements and postponing universal health care, probably forever. It’s a con game, supported by the mainstream news media.

Which is why I’ve mostly quit reading The Register-Guard. I don’t need to absorb any more corporate propaganda from the wire services, The New York Times and the Washington Post. I get all the news I need on the Internet, mainly from 

As far as action goes, I’m stuck in the middle between the organizers and the apocalyptics. I believe we need large-scale multi-issue organization, but it’s hard to get anyone behind that, at least locally. There are national groups that are trying: United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), Peace Action, Peace Action West, etc. MoveOn, the original model for mass email activism, appears to have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic party, making it useless. Recently I read that MoveOn is not going to oppose the war in Afghanistan, to which Obama is sending another 17,000 troops. But it’s okay because he’s a Democrat. Isn’t it?

Where is the resistance? As an activist, I try to be somewhat pragmatic. I will work with just about any other activist in the areas where our interests overlap, which they always do to some extent. I don’t have to agree with someone on every issue, or about every strategy, to work with them. But let’s be clear: There is a lot of anger among activists, and it’s not going to go away. We cannot all just join hands and be nice. What I would like to see is the kind of organization that could seriously challenge politicians and, if necessary, put tens of thousands of people in the streets to shut things down. It has been done before, we just couldn’t sustain it.

Obama needs to deliver. At a bare minimum, we want our troops quickly out of Iraq and Afghanistan, an end to the bailouts and “stimulus” packages, universal health care, a rebuilt safety net to take care of those dropping off the bottom, a limiting of corporate power, and something serious done about global warming. If we don’t get all that before the end of Obama’s first term, expect the Left to desert him in 2012, as we bailed on Gore in 2000.


Lynn Porter is a local activist. His blog is at