One year into the Obama administration and many progressive voters are having “buyer’s remorse.” We are not getting the change we believed in and voted for. We need to do more to increase awareness and support for a truly progressive agenda. One great place to start is by ending the unethical and ineffective war against marijuana.
Where is the progressive outrage and protest needed to counteract the growing tea party movement? Now is the time to stand up and be heard about the real problems we face that go beyond economics and health care. This is a call for concerned citizens to create and foster a Progressive Pot Party. Learn how to do it and share your ideas by leaving comments.
One of the most serious examples of the wrong type of change is how the Obama administration has escalated the doomed war in Afghanistan and is clearly not a peace president as many of us naively believed he would be. In addition, despite campaign promises, this administration has done nothing to end the unfair and failed marijuana war in the United States and globally.
These and other social problems that should most concern progressives are the same as those that split our country 40 years ago. As progressives we have positive values and practical philosophies that deserve more attention and broader support. We need to understand our history and better explain what progressives stand for.
Progressive have to make the case to younger people and minorities to keep them engaged in the political process. The president seems to have lost his appeal to and connection with these important groups. Pundits are predicting that the upcoming elections will derail the train of change we got on board in 2008. This does not bode well for the future of progressive values or policies in this country.
Bottom line is that progressives can no longer rely on government to make the world a better place. Republicans and “blue-dog” Democrats have effectively ground the US Senate to a halt. We have business as usual due to our collective failure to deal with the inordinate influence of greedy corporations and their lobbyists.
Now is the perfect time for progressives to form a movement that counters the right-wing “Tea Party.” We are ready for a progressive “Pot Party” based on the lessons and legacy of the sixties counterculture – particularly the hippies. We not only know what needs to be done, but how to do it!
Fortunately, social activism is a major part of our progressive heritage. We need look no further than the sixties youth counterculture for inspiration and information. We need to regain our passion for a better world that will engage the younger generation (who remain fascinated with hippie music, fashions, and lifestyles.)
In fact, hippies professed and practiced our nation’s fundamental social values; which are needed now more than ever. Progressives and hippies share the following values and outlooks on life.
Compare these progressive values with the narrow-minded values of the right-wing and their insistence on “just saying no” to sex, drugs and everything else that they disagree with. This minority group of disgruntled and conservative white folks no longer appeals to the majority of Americans who stand with progressive values.
The sixties counterculture included more social movements and broader interests than the hippies. The civil rights movement (which reached its peak in the sixties) was clearly the catalyst and precursor to all the movements that came later. The women’s and anti-war movements borrowed philosophy, strategy and tactics from the civil rights movement.
The hippies also built upon the fifties Beat culture; and the utopian and transcendental movements that shaped American culture in the 1800’s (e.g., Thoreau, James, and others.) They also borrowed heavily from the Native American culture and lifestyles. They wanted to get back to the land and live in small communities.
Hippie lifestyles and philosophies revolved around the search for higher levels of consciousness through the use of marijuana and psychedelic drugs (e.g., LSD and mushrooms.) These drugs have again become popular – particularly due to the medical marijuana movement.
In fact, marijuana legalization is the perfect issue that can bring together a number of progressive and libertarian groups. There are many economic, ethical and other arguments for marijuana legalization. There is nothing to be gained from wasting more money and lives in a failed war on the pot plant.
Marijuana use encourages people to take more critical, careful and holistic perspectives on society and life. The late Bob Marley summarized the crucial role of pot in social change when he explained that “The more we smoke herb, the faster Babylon will fall.” He made the case for personal growth and spiritual enlightenment: “Herb – It reveals yourself to yourself.”
Medical marijuana is now “legal” in 15 states but no reliable supply chain is available. Billions of dollars in revenues for states and small businesses are waiting to be harvested. Marijuana use continues to promote many of the important values listed above. It also promotes peace and social harmony. People who smoke marijuana tend to be more tolerant and creative.
In fact, this progressive “Pot Party” should orchestrate and facilitate some “good old-fashioned civil disobedience” to build broad-based support for ending the failed war on marijuana. People in communities anywhere can meet up at 4:20 on public property bringing only a few joints to share. Logistics should be coordinated electronically to facilitate these and other types of grass roots activism.
We have much to learn from our recent progressive past. The late Abbie Hoffman is a great role model of social activism with a sense of purpose and a sense of humor. He and others used street theater and outrageous behavior to gain public attention. The Internet and cable news provide many more outlets for creative pranks and community organizing.
Clearly the progressive cause has a solid basis for support in values that most people adhere to. Progressive need to re-study the writings of Saul Alinsky, Timothy Leary and others who inspired a whole generation of progressive activists. Spend time listening to the key sixties protest music – particularly the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and the Jefferson Airplane.
After 1970, the progressive counterculture was driven into hiding as the Nixon regime conjured up a silent majority that demanded law and order (which has been reborn as the tea party movement.) The end of the Viet Nam war and the Watergate trials left progressive with little to protest. Now is the time for the progressive to take back control of the change train.
Current tea-party tactics are lifted directly from the wide variety of protests and activism that have been common on the progressive left for over a century – and particularly during the sixties. Progressives need to take back the change campaign that captivated the public and compelled Obama to office.
We need to again adopt the anti-establishment values and anti-authority practices that progressives have tried to demonstrate during the past 100 years. There are serious social issues that require immediate attention. We need to demand and get the Change we STILL believe in – but which sadly is missing due to inaction.