MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF TRUTHOUT AT BUZZFLASH
Few have been more critical of the Tea Party and the Gun Zealots than BuzzFlash at Truthout. In fact, I personally have a 25-year history of national work on gun control. But is it possible that there may be some room for finding a few shared values between progressives and these generally noxious groups?
There is a mediation technique used with opposing parties and with feuding couples that concentrates on building on what common values and positive feelings exist between two parties rather than trying to reconcile broad and seemingly unbridgeable differences.
The thought occurred to me concerning the potential political/cultural application of this technique when I got an e-mail from Richard Viguerie, an old-style right winger from the Nixon-Reagan era who made his name in direct mail fundraising for GOP wedge issues and candidates (before the era of e-mail). Viguerie, who champions Reagan as the icon and apogee of Republican principles (mythology), is proposing that the left and the right join in opposition to drones being used in domestic surveillance: "This is not a partisan issue, but an issue of civil liberties that conservatives, liberals, Tea Partiers, Democrats, and Republicans should be able to agree on" (from his e-mail).
On his blog, Viguerie blasts domestic drone use (although it would be preferable if he also denounced US drone deployment overseas, but remember that we are proposing - hypothetically - building short-term coalitions based on common ground):
Unwarranted spying is the main concern, but not the only one. Already one drone has fallen from the sky over Maryland, spreading lethal debris over land the size of a football field. Fortunately, this one did not land in your home town.
This is yet another example of collusion between Big Government and Big Business. Defense contractors like General Atomics and Northrop Grumman will be more than willing to ignore the Fourth Amendment in order to have 18,000 police departments across the United States as customers for these expensive spy machines. If we do not stop this NOW, we will have thousands of spies in the sky monitoring our every move.
Then I got an e-mail from a far right wing militia advocacy organization, Oath Keepers, whose main goal is keeping the US armed to the teeth and hinting at armed right wing insurrection. Not a pleasant thought.
Nonetheless, it you examine the Oath Keepers website, they claim to be concerned about civil liberties in many of their ten point credo (or as Oath Keepers calls them, "Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey." These include:
2. We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects -- such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.
3. We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as "unlawful enemy combatants" or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.
10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
Yes, some of their other "order refusals" are in the wacky (and states' rights) survivalist zone, and the Oath Keepers is an extremist National Rifle Association fringe group. But there have been some odd coalitions this past decade, for instance against the FCC making the Internet as closed as cable television.
It might just be that if we can overcome our antipathy to the loathesomeness of the right wing as a whole, we might find some common ground on a few specifics - and perhaps open up lines of communication through the few values that we do share.
We all know that there are points of the far left and far right that overlap. Would it be worthwhile to recognize that there are a few points of agreement - even though they are few in number - and begin some coalition building on that?
As much as Richard Viguerie represents a southern white Christian view of the US, what reader of BuzzFlash at Truthout could disagree with this statement of his (also quoted above)? "Defense contractors like General Atomics and Northrop Grumman will be more than willing to ignore the Fourth Amendment in order to have 18,000 police departments across the United States as customers for these expensive spy machines. If we do not stop this NOW, we will have thousands of spies in the sky monitoring our every move."
Would such micro-coalitions be supportable given the broader and vast conflict of overall visions for the future of America? Could we overcome our personal distaste of the other dogmas championed by such groups and their bilious tactics?
Something to ponder.