This Is What a United Front Looks Like

By David Swanson

The “supplemental spending bill” in the House has peace groups against it because it funds the escalation of a war in Afghanistan that a majority of Americans oppose, makes us less safe, and kills human beings. It also has environmentalists against it because it subsidizes nuclear power, the industry that cannot compete in a free market except in the arena of catastrophes, where it may out-do BP some day. But the peace groups and environmental groups are not exactly coordinating together as they could be.

Then there’s the teachers who support the bill because it could fund teachers, and the labor movement which supports the bill because it would fund jobs, and the victims and those concerned for the victims of all variety of disasters who support the bill because it contains aid.

Of course the vast majority of peace and clean-energy activists support all the good things in the bill. And of course the war itself produces disaster victims, itself being a disaster of the worst variety. And of course we’re going to continue ruining the economy by investing in the war machine. And of course the blowback from the wars will kill us whether we have teachers in our schools or not. I think a lot of people across this array of interest groups know all of this. But every group is struggling, and there is no institution to bring them all together.

The only cross-discipline coalitions currently in existence that could unite peace, labor, environment, education, and humanitarian groups are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party, the same people who’ve unhelpfully packaged everything into one bill. But imagine an independent united front coalition. What would it do?

There’s no being sure, but I could imagine that it might oppose any bill that funded wars and nukes and military waste, while supporting any bill that funded real priorities cleanly. This would force items into separate bills. In the House, the good stuff would pass easily with Democratic votes. And the war funding would pass with the majority of its support coming from Republicans, but members of both parties and the leadership of the Democratic majority would have to paint electoral bulls eyes on their behinds.

Meanwhile in the Senate, the war money would pass with at least 95 votes, but that would make no difference. Once we reached a majority of No votes in the House the Senate would be powerless. The money for schools and jobs and disaster relief would have a harder go of it in the Senate, but opponents would be slathering on those giant bulls eyes, and that would include Democrats that permit the filibuster rule to exist and then use it as an excuse. In the not very long run, this would be a much more encouraging situation than one in which we try to fund jobs at the expense of more heavily funding wars.

This is one of those things, unlike racism or kinky sex, that the left really needs to borrow from the right. We need a united movement, and we lack the communications system or the money to make it easy. But don’t tell me we lack the will.

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