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Dennis, We Hardly Knew You
by Zbignew Zingh
July 27, 2004

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Ah, Dennis, we hardly knew you, and now you've been taken from us.

Now that the Democratic Convention is under way in Boston, you have formally endorsed Mr. Kerry and encouraged your delegates to vote for him.

We still like you, Dennis. You're still an okay guy. Even though you have sold out your platform and your principles, and even though you misled some of your more naive supporters into thinking you really meant to campaign right to the bitter end, we really cannot fault you too much for being, well, just another pragmatic politician. Those who revered you as part saint and part tooth fairy needed to be disabused of their idolatry. Some of us suspected that your job assignment in 2004 was to be a Political Pied Piper who would round up all the errant Green mice and lefty rats who had bolted the Democratic Party over the years and deliver them in November to the Party's anointed candidate. Maybe you succeeded, Dennis, and maybe you didn't. Anyway, it truly was a great party while your campaign lasted, and we learned a lot.

Here's what we learned, Dennis.

We learned that the Left is still a minority in the United States if only because it has not yet learned how to acquire and wield power. May we take that lesson to heart and do things differently in the future. That is, we need to do things differently than your campaign did things this time around.

This is not about individuals. It is not about charisma. It is not about working within the system. It is about issues. It is about substituting a different system for a tired, old system. It is about leading and not about being led. It is about the acquisition of Power, not just the chanting of slogans and simplistic idealism.

We learned to come together as many local communities; communities who gathered, initially, for the purpose of electing you President but who, ultimately, came to understand that the more important thing was the gathering of the communities in and of themselves. We made many friends and connections working for your election, Dennis. These friendships and connections will outlast any political machinations of the Democratic or Republican machines. In the course of your campaign, Dennis, we have also come to see from the inside out how some of the political machinery really works.

Centuries ago, the decimated remnants of the French aristocracy used Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, to gather the Lesser People of what would later be known as France, cast out the British occupiers from their land and recapture the kingdom for its 'rightful owners', the French feudal lords. The nobility and the Church used, then discarded Joan and her ignorant masses once the task was mostly done. Centuries later, however, history proved that the Lesser People had learned to gather and use their powers. The French aristocracy had, inadvertently, unleashed the still-unfolding events of our own and of the French Revolution. Who knows but we Lesser People may yet coalesce into our own political force one day, for which we may thank you, Dennis, for the organizational impetus.

What else have we learned?

We learned this year that we should not ever rely too heavily on any leaders. Those who yearn for a charismatic leader of the Left, like some thought you were, Dennis, have been, and will always be disappointed. They ought to have been disappointed. It was unfair to bestow sainthood on you. You are a good man and you meant well. But you are just a man and just a politician. No one can or should expect more from you. From that we have now learned - we must learn - that we, collectively and individually, are the true leaders of the movement, not you Dennis, not the counter-elite, not the democratic glitteratti who continue to insist that they will tell us who to vote for in November... for our own good, of course.

We will take a page from the Free Software movement, where every user is a potential contributor; where 'leadership' is diffused among many; where the profit to the community trumps the profit of the few. We have learned, we must learn, that politics requires a collective effort, collective vigilance and collective leadership, not just endless, deliberately exhausting leafleting and door-belling and running round in circles for the single man on whose mortal shoulders we heap all our hopes.

If your purpose was to keep us distracted and busy working all these months for your campaign within the Democratic Party so that we would not work at all for anyone outside the Democratic Party, then you may have succeeded. But it might only be a short-term success, for, perhaps, we have now learned to distinguish political busy-work from the real, long term, hard work that needs to be accomplished.

We have also learned how the future of the “democratic” party depends on its disaffected Lefties and Progressives. Together, we comprise a mere few percentage points of the electorate. But, we make or break the elections. The Party Muckamucks have said as much. That is why they both deride and fear us. Maybe that is why they sent you. You, Dennis, have taught us that our Power lies in our ability to swing the decisive tides of politics. The Muckamucks know this and are afraid that one day we, too, will recognize how powerful we can be. Like the Lesser People who followed Joan in the Fifteenth Century and who, ultimately, morphed into more potent movements in later centuries.

Unfortunately, Dennis, you did not teach us how to parlay our strength into anything of significance. We must learn that lesson from other groups – African Americans, Latinos, Gays, Women, the labor movement of yesteryears – all of whom share some membership and some common ground with our Community, but most of whom have better learned that their agendas can progress only when they hold as hostage the political prize sought by the parties' Powerful Elite. Indeed, this is a lesson that the Christian Right teaches the left-out Left. The Christian Right, through hard work and long-range planning, masterfully inveigled its way into the power circles of the Republican Party in mere decades. By contrast, and in a display of how ineffective it is to just weakly 'plead' for what is correct, you have also shown us, Dennis, that to make our own future means, literally, that We Have To Make Our Own Future, and not beg our Masters for mere table scraps.

Now that the Convention is underway and the November elections loom just around the corner, you, Dennis, and everyone else from the Democratic Party, have launched a united campaign to rally all of us behind the Kerry ticket, whatever it does or does not stand for.

We recognize, as you do Dennis, what is at stake in this election. We recognize, as you do, Dennis, that Mr. Kerry, is another Lesser Evil in a succession of elections between one Evil and another. We also recognize that for Mr. Kerry to woo the Left might cost him votes on the Right and Center, and that to satisfy all, he may satisfy none. And we recognize that when Mr. Kerry squeaks out his win in November the Democrats - that is the DLC Democrats - will claim a Mandate for their neo-liberal policies that the Left detests, and the Muckamucks will party and snicker and congratulate themselves for, once again, having roped in their wayward lefty mice.

We do not begrudge the Party its party. We, too, will lift a glass to the demise, and we will dream (forlornly) of criminal trials, here and abroad, for the present administration.

Nevertheless, we want something from the Democratic Party, Dennis. We want more than a pat on the head for being good little boys and girls who have returned home after running away for a while. We are not children any more; we want adult political rewards for our role in returning the (Hold Your Noses) DLC business-as-usual Democrats back to power. We want more than just the rumor of a possibility of a chance of a few scraps of access to the second and third tiers of Power. We want, in other words, to be assured of some significant influence and tangible results for our effort.

Dennis, we thank you for the experience and for the wisdom we learned while working in your campaign. However, you have not the authority to tell us for whom to vote in November. We might vote for Ralph Nader or we might vote for John Kerry or we might vote for a Third Party or we might not vote at all. Who we will vote for is still our choice, and we will not make that decision until The Last Minute.

In the meanwhile, Dennis, tell the Leaders of the Democratic Party who are now your pals: If they want our votes, if they want to win in November, then they need to show us what tangible results we will achieve, specifically what we will gain, and how our issues and concerns will be advanced if we are to help Mr. Kerry get elected.

Our votes are here. Let Mr. Kerry come and earn them.

Zbignew Zingh can be reached at This Article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at

Other Articles by Zbignew Zingh

* The 2004 Political All-Star Game
* George Bush, Destroyer of the Faith
* Zbignew's Inferno
* The Statue of Liberty is Missing
* Monuments To The New American Century
* What Are We Trying To Achieve?
* Bush Administration Relents: American Style Elections Promised for Iraq
* E.U. Researchers Publish Findings of Widespread Mad Cow Infection
* The Declassified Ads

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