Rob Kall, a liberal radio host and commentator, raises provocative questions on his Op-Ed News website. They are questions liberal Americans must answer if they are to remain relevant and especially if they advocate, as I do, the establishment of a new, independent Progressive political party.
Here is what Kall wrote:
"At this time, when the House's progressive caucus completely folded in the face of Obama's health care sell-out, after promising to hew to the public option, I have to ask... who are the progressive leaders?
"Who are the leaders who are doing what leaders do...
• Organizing and Planning Actions
• Defining Vision and Mission
• Identifying issues
• Creating the Core, Important Conversations
• Fund raising
• Building the base
• Influencing politics?"
Despite the widespread liberal anger at Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the last of the House hold-outs on health care, I still consider him to be a national leader of the Progressive platform.
Any number of prominent intellectuals, beginning with Noam Chomsky, would surely lend their voices to the cause.
But who are the leaders who could fulfill all of Kall's bullet points? Some of the points themselves rule out present-day office holders. Intellectuals tend to lack the organizational skills to lead big social movements. Who, then? Howard Dean stands at the top of my list of candidates.
He already has an organization (Democracy for America) with well-planned actions under way on behalf of progressive candidates challenging centrist or right-wing Democrats in party primaries.
As Democratic national chairman, he crafted a 50-state strategy in the 2006 Congressional elections -- opposed and sneered at by the Republican Lite element of the party -- that had unprecedented success in taking away "safe" Republican seats in both houses. More than vision: mission accomplished.
He has been liberally correct on most of the issues, from Bush's wars to public option as a necessary first step on the way to single payer health care for all.
He's adept at fund-raising.
He can be a hell-raiser and that can inspire the leftward base to be as passionate, in a more constructive way, as the angry mass of Tea Partiers.
He has demonstrated a capacity to "influence politics."
Could he be persuaded to take on this role? To re-craft his Democracy for America organization as the Progressive Party of America? To bring his rogue-left list of candidates with him? To bring Kucinich and most of the Progressive Caucus into the tent? To enlist the likes of Chomsky and Chris Hedges and disaffected Democratic liberals? To mobilize a zealous infantry in all 50 states as he did in 2006?
"They" said it wouldn't work then. Screw "them." Let's do it now!
Howard? Dr. Dean? Are you with us?