Two years ago, the New Republic, probably the most adamantly pro-ruling class above all else of all American periodicals, declared in its usual unabashed vitriol against all independent thinkers that Aa movement the FBI once called armed and dangerous . . . is positioned to take over the most important American third party of the late 20th century. The movement in question is the following of Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani, which began in the Trotskyist sewer in the 70s, went on to lead America's independent left in the 80s, formed the vanguard of the American beyond left and right movement in the 90s, and today is poised to become the most powerful political force in the state of New York. All watchers of New York politics, and particularly the New Republic, are at a loss for words.
The Prodigy Of George Pataki
For most of the last 25 years, the right wing in New York was dominated by the degenerate and mafia-tied machine of former Senator Alphonse D'Amato. George Pataki was elected Governor of New York in 1994 as the candidate of the D'Amato machine, in an election year that was probably the biggest Republican sweep since Reconstruction. Pataki's standing as such waned as the drama of the ARepublican Revolution@ ended in blunder, he was handily reelected in 1998 as D'Amato went down in defeat. This allowed Pataki to become a more nationally-tuned Republican and go on with his career gracefully. It was thought that Pataki would go down in the anticipated Democratic sweep of 2002, but several factors have intervened. He has become more familiar and, as such, popular with his constituents following the September 11 attacks, and as a politician, he saw an opportunity and grabbed it - the opportunity to become the champion of opposition to an entrenched Democratic machine. There are two issues that form the basis of such opposition. The first is the right to initiative and referendum (I&R) in New York. 26 of the 50 states already have I&R, New York does not. Pataki has been a champion of the effort to bring I&R to New York, the Democrats have thus been forced to oppose it at the price of political alienation. It is because of Pataki=s seemingly genuine efforts on this issue that he can be thought to have mended his ways from his days in the D'Amato machine.
The second issue is the grotesque racial politics that are dominant in the New York Democratic Party. It was in last year's mayoral election that these fault lines were exposed, when in the Democratic primary the black and Hispanic vote was nihilistically pitted against the Jewish vote. The Jewish vote won, and the mayoral race was narrowed down to Democrat Mark Green and Republican Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg scored a narrow upset with the majority of the hispanic vote and 30% of the black vote, on the racial issue and on his support for nonpartisan elections in New York City, which Green had dubiously scoffed because Ait would hurt minority candidates because they would not have a unified Democratic Party behind them. Bloomberg's margin of victory came directly from the votes he got as the Independence Party candidate, who he continues to gravitate most towards.
However, how does this represent any kind of cohesive political force, and what is to suggest that Pataki could pull of the same? Enter the New York Independence Party.
From The Bottom Up
The New York Independence Party, with 250,000 members and at least as many enemies, is the catalyst by which one of the most corrupt and degenerate political machines of modern American history has become one of the most hopeful for great progressive change in our time. Originally founded as the New York affiliate of Ross Perot's Reform Party, it has been led by former activists of the New Alliance Party, which led the series of mergers that created the Reform Party. The New Alliance Party, which was founded by Fred Newman in 1979, was from 1986-92 the leading left of center third party in America. How Newman and his supporters came from sordid origins in the 60s to where they are today is nothing short of spectacular.
Newman, a doctor of philosophy and the creator of social therapy, began with a small following of anarchists in the 60s that eventually affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche. Newman split with LaRouche around 1975 and formed their own Trotskyist outfit, which matured with the times and in 1979 became the New Alliance Party. In 1986, they merged with the Citizens Party, the last hurrah of 60s idealism, and in 1988 they ran Lenora Fulani for President. Both the first woman and the first black person to run on the ballot in all 50 states, she won close to a quarter million votes. Her success was based on speaking to the discontent that the Jesse Jackson campaign had caused for the left and for black America, and in inspiring them to dream again as they had not since the heyday of the civil rights movement. In Fulani's own words, the early 90s found her in a precarious position: I loved the New Alliance Party. It was black, it was pure, it was mine. But I knew I had to move beyond it if I was to continue to do any good in the world. Hence, she reached out to a constituency that had just been born - the Perot voter. Throughout 1993-94, she had numerous meetings with many of their leaders, which culminated in a convention of Fulani's Revolution Now! black militants and the white Perotistas in their tri-cornered hats. The beyond left and right movement in America was born. This began the series of mergers that eventually became the Reform Party. Fulani led the New York Independence Party out of the Reform Party as it was disintegrating, where it has prospered since.
If the origins of Lenora Fulani's movement are bizarre, the origins of the hatred they inspire are far more so. It goes all the way back to Fred Newman's collaboration with Lyndon LaRouche, which was happening at the time LaRouche was conducting his infamous Operation Mop-Up in which his followers brutally physically intimidated members of the Communist and Socialist Workers Parties. Hence, anything with any background with LaRouche was poisonous to the left, but as Newman's life-long associate Harry Kresky said, we did very little mopping. Among the grizzled leftists who emerged from this was Chip Berlet, who has been a member of both the parties targeted by Mop-Up. In 1988, Democratic hierarchs summoned Berlet as their character assassin against Fulani, and has been their personal character assassin ever since. (See "Virtual Retch," Pravda, January 10, 2002)
Berlet's polemics proved powerful and long lasting. They were the basis of the hate campaign launched against Fulani and all her efforts within the Reform Party, and can be said to have been partly responsible for the demise of the Reform Party. Among the most eager to take up the banner of this hate campaign was the New Republic, which is preparing to do so yet again.
The Man Who Sold His Soul, And The Man Who Bought It
Now that the Independence Party has elected the Mayor of New York and is creating a new political reality by which the Republicans can achieve political supremacy in such a historically Democratic state, Pataki is moved beyond apprehension to seek the Independence Party nomination. His only opponent is the party's founder, Tom Golisano, who was their candidate for Governor in 1994 and 1998. With Pataki expected to win the primary with as much as two thirds of the vote, Golisano is demonstrating a glaring lack of principle in running on the anti-Fulani line (Fulani was his running mate in 1998). But in an unexpected move, Golisano is now also running for the nomination of the New York Conservative Party. The Conservative Party was founded in 1962 by William F. Buckley as a home for Republicans disillusioned by New York's liberal Republican establishment, and has always followed the Buckley line. As far as issues go, Golisano has always been about nothing but himself, and he tacitly supported an effort in 1998-99 to impose political bossism on the Independence Party. (See "The Purge Of Joe Sobran And The Axis Of Evil," Pravda, February 7, 2002)
The Conservative Party had initially coronated Pataki, but Golisano seems poised to at least force a primary. Pataki has abandoned Republican norms and is being supported not just by the Independence Party but by a significant section of New York's politically potent labor movement. Golisano could then, as the Conservative candidate against Pataki, run as a serious contender with a wide and strong base and with his vast personal fortune. The Conservatives would also be tempted by this because it would give them a new lease on life and ensure their future viability, which is fast running out. In this scenario, Pataki would still win with over 50%, and Golisano could easily come in second, with the Democratic campaign fast becoming a joke - a primary being fought on the same racial fault lines as the Mayoral primary between two very weak and unappealing candidates. The New Republic recently had as its cover story "How Pataki Became A Liberal." Like most of what appears in American magazines of its kind, the article is nothing but hot air. It accurately documents the demographic realities that force Pataki to make his moves for reasons of political survival, but it conspicuously leaves out any mention of the Bloomberg factor (Bloomberg is a former Democrat who has among other things vigorously reached out to the city's black leaders). It is, however, obvious why they should make no mention of this - to do so would force them to portray the Independence Party as anything but evil. They mention the Independence Party, dubiously describing it as a potential Apoison chalice. When your humble correspondent asked Harry Kresky why Mark Green hadn't gone after Bloomberg on his Independence Party support, he replied Athat would have been great for us.
It is hard to tell how this will play out beyond this election cycle. Most plausibly, Pataki will spend his third term gracefully above the fray and Bloomberg will continue to gravitate toward the Independence Party. Most notably, Bloomberg is setting himself up for a confrontation with the Jewish community. He has been conspicuously absent from the numerous pro-Israel rallies held by New York politicos, and he has vowed to enforce the law against vigilantes that are now forming in Jewish neighborhoods as a dubious protection from imagined terrorist attack. The New Republic, meanwhile, will go full steam ahead in its incendiary slanders of the anti-ruling class. Most notable was a recent viscous smear of Alexander Cockburn, a popular left-libertarian writer, accusing him of Aanti-Semitic rants one would only expect to find in The Final Call. The Final Call is a mainstream black newspaper published by Muslims.
Jackie Salit, a long time associate of Fulani, referred to last year's mayoral elections as Athe silly season in New York politics. This was a prescient observation, for it is always out of absurd circumstances that such fundamental seismic shifts in the political landscape take place. This is also prescient insofar as there are just as great shifts taking place nationally, which follow the agonizing silly season that was the 2000 election. Indeed, the third party movement in America is wildly on the rise, and New York is merely the most convoluted of the state-by-state drama. In Massachusetts, for example, all four candidates for governor are expected to get over 15% of the vote. Third parties are in play in at least six governors' races across the country, and both the Green and Libertarian parties may each elect as many as 10 state legislators across the country. Going back to New York, the Independence Party has a real shot at becoming the balance of power in the legislature.
That this is happening at a time when the President is ruling by fiat increasingly by the day and that the independents are seizing his party in one of the largest states in the union only proves how widespread the discontent is, and how great a farce the President's quasiwar regime and its amen corner at The New Republic really is. The greatest determinant of a genuine people's movement is the combination of the amount of popular support they get and the amount of hatred they inspire, and Lenora Fulani meets this almost to a fault. That she is in striking distance of becoming the most powerful woman in New York politics at the same time that third party activity in America is on the brink of an all time high tells us that we need not despair for America.
Jack Ross contributed this article to PRAVDA.Ru