With the 2008 election approaching fast, I find myself with the same unsettled feeling I had in the last presidential race to the bottom. Perhaps it is because I feel that the age-old maxim, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is as true for today as it was in 2004. Fact is, if we do not wake up quick, and start pressing the current Democratic Party front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, to be more leftist, or in other words to be more like Presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), then we can hope for little substantive change in the next administration.
Recent polls reflect that President Bush’s approval ratings have fallen to a staggering low of 28%. As a result, many feel confident that it may very well be an easy stroll into the Oval Office for most Democratic hopefuls, who seem to be operating under the illusion that Bush himself is running for a third term. If this assumption were false, how do we explain how little the front-runners have done to win our affection? Leaving all the spin-talk aside, what is their true vision for a new America? (I guess that in itself is a useless question, especially when attaching it to a professional pol.) And why are they so confident that they can defeat Time Magazine’s 2001 man of the year Rudy Giuliani with such ease? As a native New Yorker I know first hand how slippery Giuliani is, and he should not be underestimated—ever.
So far, the Democratic Party front-runners are behaving like a bunch of out of touch, over-privileged elites. The front-runners need to learn that the public—especially the Democratic base— won’t tolerate any more of the G.O.P-lite formula, which, to the party establishment’s shame, has come to typify recent elections. Contrary to their old stratagem of playing it safe, of cynical “triangulation,” a new formula must be adopted, one which presents the candidates as people of real conviction (assuming, of course, that there is someone in the front ranks who possesses this admirable quality). Without that there is no way to invigorate an otherwise alienated public, an electorate that feels more disenfranchised and apathetic than ever in regards to the search for a principled winner.
Flip-flops and examples to follow
The recent vote of “NO” against the Iraq spending bill by Senators Clinton and Obama came as a surprise to many of us, in light of their former support of the spending bill this past March. This change of heart by the front-runners clearly demonstrates that the candidates are responding to the negative publicity they have been receiving by commentators on the Internet, and the liberal wing of the Democratic party, who are vehemently opposed to letting the front-runners think we will accept “Anybody But Bush” as an alternative recipe for success. It failed Kerry and it will fail them if they don’t start taking a principled stance. It is very likely the Republicans will seize on the change in position as another reason to portray the Democrats as indecisive. The current frontrunners must have been aware this tap dancing technique would land them in hot water, but after calculating the risk, I suppose they felt it was worth it to respond to the public. See what playing the center gets you?
In light of all of their apparent shortcomings and evasions, it might be useful to ask them if they have comprehensive solutions in place to solve our myriad of problems, solutions that do not contain huge loopholes and compromises. Why is it that, so far, only Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich have bills on the floor attacking the roots of the health care crisis, and a plan for immediate withdrawal from Iraq? What’s more, Kucinich keeps making the correct voting decisions and has yet to waver on anything. In a town, in a political environment, where everything revolves around self-preservation and advancement, and the scrupulous avoidance of risk, some would say with ample justification that he has often gone beyond the call of duty. It it that maybe Kucinich needs to receive 25-26 million dollars in contributions for media campaigns before he will be taken seriously? I guess “money talks” after all—literally.
Meanwhile, Congressman Kucinich, who, unsurprisingly, receives little to no media attention, and for some odd reason which defies all reason, is every “realistic” voter’s worst nightmare, has a concrete plan to end the war in Iraq starting right away, as outlined under bill H.R. 1234, as well as the Universal Health care bill known as H.R. 676 which is brilliantly designed as “Medicare for all.” What are the frontrunner’s plans to handle the health care crisis, and a clear exit strategy for the troops in Iraq? So far I have seen them do nothing but pay lip service to the issue that effects 46 million Americans, and many more under insured, not to mention the 600,000 plus dead Iraqi’s and Americans, who are suffering for a war Hillary Clinton voted for. I suppose the largest demonstrations in the history of humankind didn’t signal to Senator Clinton that maybe voting for this debacle was a bad idea, and then afterwards continuing to attack Bush, while slipping a blank check under the table so he may carry out his exploits. Furthermore Senator Obama and Clinton have recently voted to reauthorize a slightly watered down version of Bush’s Patriot act, while Dennis Kucinich, yes folks, you guessed it, voted it down, with a swift raise of the hand.
It takes no more than five minutes to examine Denis Kucinich’s policies, and to realize that they are every progressive’s dream come true. Kucinich provides the left with a new route, which would steer America clear of impending disasters. If this enormous cruise ship does go down, the waters will be much more brisk, and painful than when the actual Titanic sank – we can be sure of that. If I sound hyperbolic, than I must stress that you reevaluate the current predicament. Dennis Kucinich may not win the great American billion-dollar beauty pageant/popularity contest we call “presidential election” in this confounded nation, but he still may win a few hearts by actually telling the truth, a novel concept he thought to introduce into American politics.
Not content with a record that many of these media favorites would envy for sheer honesty, Dennis Kucinich has also filed impeachment papers against Dick Cheyney, a man emblematic of the revolting corruption and criminality that characterizes this system, and, as mentioned earlier, has bills ready to go on such urgent matters as “Medicare for All.” In addition to that, he has endorsed a policy that involves a multilateral coalition effort to rebuild Iraq. As we know, the United States plutocrats and energy corporations don’t want multilateral help because there is too much potential profit under the ground in the Middle East…if they only could get pesky Iran out of the picture, and grab their oil while they are at it, too. This is thieves’ calculus, and the whole world knows it, even if the American media and people do not.
Putting the ear to the ground
To Senator Obama’s credit he did vote “NO” on CAFTA, which he should be credited for. However, and not to Obama’s credit, the newly elected Senator has already started to apply camouflage warpaint, to appear ready to handle any “threat of terror from Iran.” Recently Senator Obama started beating the drums and ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran when he stated, “All options are on the table” with Iran, while repeating the poisoned media mantra, that they are “developing nuclear capabilities.” This bold statement by Obama excludes the fact that it is the right of Iran to develop nuclear energy, and if they are developing weapons they should be supervised by the international community, not another agency of the by now most hated nation in the region, who as we all know, is interested in oil, and “stabilizing” the region strictly in its own terms.
At the same moment Gary Kasparov is being harassed by Russian police, the Democrats here at home, are in a scurry to the center of the political chessboard to appear to the public as “tough on terror” once again, just like their corporate counterparts in the G.O.P. Have they all forgotten, or did they never know or care, that it is our government’s meddling in Middle Eastern affairs, such as the history of propping up oppressive regimes such as the Shah and his SAVAK in Iran, hot and cold wars in Iraq, selling both sides chemical weapons during the Iraq-Iran war (which, as Jesse Jackson notes “we have the receipts for”), or our governments politico-economic love affair with the decadent Saudi Royal family? These are just a fraction of the crimes and irritations that are enraging “terrorists” and Arab nationalists alike, and which have created another Frankenstein generation of more ferocious terrorists, and demagogues than we have to deal with now…yep, as we all know, thanks to our wonderful foreign policy, whose motto should be “not a country left behind.”
Any rational thinking human with the intelligence of a stick of Juicy Fruit can easily arrive at the logical conclusion that the facts just stated would signal to our government that maybe it is time for a clear change in policy, but instead the Newspeak wisdom being touted by our politicians and their counterparts in the billionaire-controlled media, is that this raging desert fire is mostly a result of warring sects with different religious interpretations of Islam.
What level of narcissism do these politicians need to display before they have officially lost our complete confidence? Do we need to quickly go down memory lane…just to 2003 when all this extraordinary adventure officially began? First the authorization and implementation of an ingenious plan to start an immoral preemptive war with a bullying anteroom called “Shock and Awe”…the whole criminal exercise according to these crooks intended to spread democracy in a nation we never gave one damn for as evidenced by the destruction we have rained on it for almost 3 decades…and which we continue to this day. Naturally, considering the greed that courses through some of the corridors that determine US foreign policy, it doesn”t matter one whit that almost the entire population of Iraq (except maybe for the Kurds) wants us out; that we are perceived as occupation troops and not as “liberators;” that some of our soldiers are returning home so psychologically distraught that they are killing themselves in increasing numbers; and that even some upper echelons of the US military are now also thinking that Iraq is far too costly an investment to maintain without damaging the force for years to come.
Splitting hairs if it’s politically convenient
Most people feel the Iraqis and the American soldiers are both victims of this war, yet Obama doesn’t evidence the same sympathy, and instead is happy to follow the line of least resistance and scapegoat the Iraqis as the primary problem preventing peace in Iraq.
“To reach such a solution, we must communicate clearly and effectively to the factions in Iraq that the days of asking, urging, and waiting for them to take control of their own country are coming to an end. No more coddling, no more equivocation. Our best hope for success is to use the tools we have – military, financial, diplomatic – to pressure the Iraqi leadership to finally come to a political agreement between the warring factions that can create some sense of stability in the country and bring this conflict under control.”
In the most matter-of-fact fashion Glen Ford, editor of the Black Agenda Report, responded to this statement by quipping acidly that, “The U.S. has ‘coddled’ 600,000 Iraqis to death.” Of course, in May 2007 Senator Obama sings a different tune, and, along with Sen. Clinton, states with unconvincing resolve that “enough is enough”, and that “we cannot give a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path.”
By now, at least some of us recognize that Hillary Clinton is nothing more than a careerist establishment politician, a characterization requiring little explanation, but Barak Obama still has the audacity to present himself as a “champion of the people,” claiming to be a man sensitive to the plight of the struggling American worker and the “Middle Class.” Yet a statement in his new book declares without any sense of shame or contradiction that, “Serious concern over the nation’s harsh disparities is consigned to leftist ‘cranks’ and other assorted ‘unreasonable zealots.'” Does this sound like a man in touch with what this country needs to get done?
Senator Obama’s statements lead us to presume that he feels that those who speak out against socio economic injustice, and 46 million still living without healthcare, are simply whiney babies who don’t appreciate all they have. Obama, basking in the establishment’s embrace, acts as if the working people of this country owed these corporate criminals something; even if it is they, after all, who are collecting the most welfare. It is too unfair to suggest that, fully in his establishment persona Barack Obama sounds like a right-wing Harvard crank, totally out of touch with his roots as a community organizer in Chicago, and who in his climb to power “inadvertently” erased his memory of what it is like for everyday people? Barack, take a tour of the real Washington DC area, for example, leave the fancy confines of the Beltway, and reacquaint yourself with the reasons why us “cranks” feel distressed about domestic inequities.
A party worth voting for
I urge those who haven’t recovered yet from the post traumatic stress disorder of blaming Nader for Gore’s defeat in 2000 to get over it quick, ant not be afraid to get tough on the frontrunners. I am well aware that many think voting for Dennis Kucinich is impractical or an impossible victory, and which may have a similar precipitous effect, as the 2000 election. If you won’t cast a vote for a candidate you feel has no chance, please at least consider demanding that the Democratic Party frontrunners themselves abandon the “G.O.P. Lite” centrist formula which lost Kerry and Gore their elections, and make sure they start sounding (and feeling, if that were possible) more like Kucinich. If the mainstream Democrats happen to win and don’t follow through on their promises, they should be reminded that we, the people, within our constitutional rights, will demand they get out of office immediately, or they will have to answer to a politically conscious, and completely disaffected public.
I often find myself having flashbacks to 2004 as I watched Ralph Nader walk into a conference room with John Kerry to give last minute advice on how to drive the nail into the coffin of baby Bush’s campaign. As we watched the doors behind them close shut, I thought to myself maybe Nader could appeal to the once anti-war activist, turned Ketchup guru John Kerry. When the doors reopened my fears had once again been realized, but it was not in the least bit surprising. As Nader walked out of the room trying to mask the disenchantment on his face, and the defeat in his eyes, I knew at that moment that Kerry had said that Nader’s advice was “too risky or too left for his liking.”
Nader knew that if John Kerry didn’t become more than just an “Anybody But Bush” that he would not be able to conquer the fear mongering, and “tough on terror” platform of the Republicans. As was anticipated, Nader proved to be once again correct. Even though Kerry ostensibly won most of the debates, he did not win the hearts and minds of the people nearly enough, which could have inspired them to go and vote in even greater numbers, armed with a hope for the future, instead of simply being motivated by the near paralyzing fear of another four years of George Bush. The sins of the 2004 election have not been so easily washed away by the ebb and flow of time, there is more blood on our shores now, and the stains of the Kerry defeat have by no means disappeared from the American psyche. Hopefully the 2008 election can draw in more voters than a vote for American Idol.
I was quite confident that Bush would win again a year before the election took place, quite certain in my prediction because I had seen the obvious: that the “GOP Lite” formula is a bankrupt centrist ideology with no principles, and which inspires far too few to go out and vote the decadent neocon murderers out of power once and for all…
I urge readers to mobilize and vote against the “Anybody But Bush” formula for victory. History has been overly gracious and patient with us, and has kindly granted us a bit more room to maneuver, and maybe a small chance to redeem ourselves, even in the wake of eight years of George W. Bush. But history doesn’t stand still, or return to the exact same point in time over and over again, even though things at first glance seem similar. Thus, while, if lucky, we might just survive this regime’s second term, four years of another Reaganite might very well be the curtain call for what is left of our fading republic. not to mention much of the world.
If we are, as some adduce, actors on the stage of history, I suggest we all note that we are approaching the final scene if we don’t adjust our failed formulas. If we don’t follow the path of social justice, as Kucinich has challenged us to do, we won’t be able to whittle away at the apathy and cynicism which infect the hearts and minds of people all over this vast nation. “Anybody But Bush” is not strong enough of a vision to steer us out of harm’s way.
Maybe now that Senator Obama has tasted his own blood again by voting “No” to Bush’s 120 billionaire check, he himself will be ready to draw up a bill to give us real Universal Healthcare, and have a clear exit strategy for Iraq just as Kucinich has already done. We see through you Senators Obama and Clinton, and we will not be fooled this time around. Either get tough or get out of the way and give Edwards and Kucinich a shot. I would feel much more confident having a Kucinich-Edwards ticket than a Obama-Clinton ticket, even if their belated conversions, which may prove illusory, align them, at last, with the majority of their party’s grassroots.
—Paul A. Donovan is Cyrano’s Journal’s Assistant Editor