Thu, 23 June 2016
Dems Congressional “Sit-In” A Cynical, Hypocritical Election Year Stunt
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
The so-called “sit-in” on the floor of Congress launched by House and Senate Democrats is a fraudulent and transparently cynical exercise in partisan branding and election year theater.
Brands neither mean what they say nor say what they mean. Brands are marketing devices, calculated to evoke a desired set of emotions, to call forth real or imagined memories in an audience, independent and apart from facts or logic. Atlanta congressman John Lewis and his colleagues are leveraging his rep and the “sit-in” brand for their resonance with the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1950s and 60s.
Keen observers on social media pierced the hypocrisy almost immediately.
“Color me unimpressed,” wrote Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor, author of from Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter in a Facebook post that was shared thousands of times almost immediately.
“Where was the sit-in when Congress was cutting $5 billion from food stamps? Where was the sit in where is the sit-in for affordable housing as Congress continues to cut HUD to shreds? Where is the sit-in against police brutality in our cities? Where is the sit-in against the Supreme Court ruling yesterday that guts the Fourth Amendment and revives 'stop and frisk' policing? Where is the sit in to demand equitable funding for our nation's public schools? Where is the sit-in to end racism and the criminal justice system? This smacks of election year tomfoolery...”
Worse still, the so-called “sit-in” piggybacks on the secret and arbitrary “no-fly” and “terror watch” lists, which some of those same Democrats denounced back in the Bush Cheney era. Back then they rightly pointed out the criteria for landing on those lists is secret, and once on the list there is no appeal and no way off, though the State Department does revoke your passport, also without appeal. Government places people on those lists it cannot charge with any crimes. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, the government has placed Muslims on the no-fly and terror watch list when they refused to infiltrate and inform on their neighbors, or when their names were similar to someone else's. Democrats, like California Rep. Barbara Lee once opposed hysterical and secret government blacklists noting that any sort of activist out of favor with the government could land on these lists.
But now it's election year and they have very few issues to differentiate themselves from the other capitalist party. So they want to use the secret government blacklist and the civil rights brand to score meaningless points against Republicans.
Congressional Democrats are not stupid. They know perfectly well they could be sitting in to end these secret lists. They could be sitting in to explain how the second amendment was put in the Constitution to permit armed slave patrols, and land theft and genocide against Native Americans. They could be sitting in for a living wage and universal single payer health care, or cutting the Pentagon budget by two thirds. Instead Democrats deliberately chose to sit in for this, instead of forgiving student debt, instead of addressing climate change or black unemployment or mass incarceration.
Since John Lewis and his hypocritical crew are just as much the party of the one percent as Republicans, their disputes with Republicans are confined to carefully staged food fights between meaningless brands. This is the party that wants to control Congress instead of Republicans.
This is why it's time to chuck both the one-percenter capitalist parties, and do something completely new. For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.