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by Hadj Maaradji
Monday, Aug. 02, 2004 at 1:25 AM
This article is about third party politics, and the role progressives, disgruntled, and discarded voters can play in stirring our country to greener pastures.
Progressives and other voters should not sell out their principals and stated vision; if they must however prostitute their ideals, at least they should make their johns pay a commensurate price. When we abdicate even an iota of integrity for the sake of short lived gains, we will naturally slide down along a political slippery slope. So, before we plunge head first into inherently defeatist methodologies, we should try and uphold our vision.
The progressives and liberals, whose numbers are large in the democratic party and other lesser (in clout) parties are being played like patsies, and some of our leaders, including Green party's Cobb and others, are asking us to lay down our weapons at the feet of Kerry. This is the surrender of what many of us have struggled so hard and long to bring about; and now for reasons that are simply unacceptable and treasonous, we are asked to go gently into that abyss of a night.
The recruitment of the working people, self employed, small business owners, and the stressing to them of their true political might will undoubtedly increase their belief in and use of this new found power. Nader as leader of progressive and liberal ideals, should give us comfort. He didn't run as a Green this time around because of what undoubtedly Cobb's Green faction was machinating. To save the Green from themselves, and possible harm, Nader chose to run as an independent.
Nader's running on his long standing public service record in issues of proportional representation, consumer protection, removal of corporate influence and money in electoral politics, among many other social struggles, has put these special interests on notice so much so they unleashed their attack dogs, democrats and republican alike, to impede his progress.
The vicious reactions to Nader's candidacy coupled with the unethical and sometimes illegal acts committed against his candidacy, prove once and for all that Nader is on to something; and that all Americans should pay close attention to what’s taking place in this round of electoral bouts.
If we, the dedicated progressives, the so called liberals of all cloth, and even the conservatives who feel they have been lied to and swindled, come together and stick to our demands for viable and sustainable change, we will be recognized, our activism respected, and our objectives eventually met.
So, according to this line of reasoning, we can easily conclude that only through adherence to the generally stated goals and visions of the American people (which should have been thoughtfully formulated and widely consented to by now) will we get through these trying times and rein in the rampant bunch in our middst. No corrupt institution or system can sustainably maintain itself, just for the simple fact that people won't allow it longevity.
The democrats and the republicans have tried to silence the idea of a third party as a viable alternative, and a counterweight to the prevalent bipartite order. Third parties have always brought fear and angst to an establishment that is paranoid of any newness of direction in the present status quo.
There are cozy relationships within the government and its outside cronies and puppeteers. These relationships have grown so deep and intricate, we can hear the revolving doors between business and government recoil perpetually. If that kind of abuse of power is not the height of thievery, and a flagrant conflict of interest matter, what is? Take our vice-president Cheney, still on Halliburton payroll, and doling out our blood and sweat covered buck to his f@#$% buddies . How can we, the American people, stand for that kind of abuse?
When I hear former President Clinton (in his democratic convention speech on Monday night in Boston) say he was going to send a letter to President Bush to thank him for the tax cut he got, but thought otherwise of it when he realized the money was coming from the working class, and the dwindling middle class. If I was Clinton, I would have gone a step further and asked that money be put back into the needy communities. But unfortunately, that is not the make up of Clinton’s character. In his tenure in the White house, he was dooH niboR: He turned single moms' welfare over to corporate fat cats. So, folks, beware of rhetoric and false prophets!
What does Kerry offer us, the left outs, the progressives, and all who have been under-represented, mistreated, and ignored? Nada. Why, then, should he [Kerry] deserve our support and vote come November? It follows that, having some leverage and bargaining power available to us, we should try and advance our populist agenda, or at least inject our dialectics into the political cauldron. However in order to advance our progressive vision, we have to be willing to negotiate very violent and turbulent political currents under our own power, even at the risk of political injury, and foreseeable defeats.
Following Kerry's speech on the floor of the convention, the same right of center infused rhetoric comes through. We [Kerry] are to keep Iraq under prolonged American military occupation, grow the Armed forces by 40,000. We are to support Israel in its apartheid misguided policies regardless of the mounting costs and threat to our national interests that this policy engenders against us in the middle east and beyond. So, no. Kerry has not moved me and those of us who are still clinging to the hope that someday soon, we will reap the fruits of a true peace dividend where our nation's half a trillion dollars military budget is trimmed to the benefit of our national agenda which includes infrastructure, security, jobs, economy, and the rehabilitation of our leadership in the world based on international cooperation not coercion.
Because staying the current military course is not without huge financial costs and human sacrifices, we will find ourselves in one of two situations: 1) Gutting all kinds of social programs under Bush to support his empirical Don Quixotic conquests, record high budget deficit, and forcing states to enact drastic cuts in education, health care, security, infrastructure, etc... 2) Raising taxes, under Kerry, on the working people of this nation to support the war efforts, runaway deficit, and a recession bound economy. Do you think, then, Kerry is sincere about creating middle class supporting jobs, security, investing in healthcare, education? How can Kerry, having cosigned to an illegal war, support a misguided and bankrupt occupation of Iraq? I sincerely doubt the feasibility of such a contradictive agenda.
When our course of action has been proved to be based on falsities; how do you, Mr. Kerry, propose to proceed in the same vein? Are you to extend the dying of our men and women in the Iraqi desert, pursuing to an illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation and people? Remember your days as a young brave patriotic chap; you were not afraid to speak truth to power, then. Where is that Kerry we all came to admire?
Now, look at what we are doing for the sake of power, not honest and loyal public service. The democrats, who can’t even secure an election much less win one, have unleashed vicious attacks on Nader with a vengeance. Their claim is that he is eroding their -already desolate- political landscape, and blame him for their previous failings. Because the democrats didn’t stand up to the republican political bulldozer in the 2002 congressional elections, they got, subsequently, buried alive, and worse, zombified.
To the average citizen, and consumer in our society, Mr. Nader stands a shoulder above the political braying fray. The unprovoked vendetta against him will come to haunt the progressives for not standing up to and protecting their political vision from those who seek to corrupt it, weaken it, and attack individuals who embody and espouse such vision.
It is not always about winning; au contraire, it's about sticking to principals, and not caving in to corruptive forces. Both political parties are using Nader in their schemes to derail one another in any way possible in battle ground states across our nation. The means used by both parties to impede Nader’s candidacy are, at best, unethical if not out right illegal, and un-democratic.
Entities seeking to deteriorate our hard fought gains of the past decades, are undermining any efforts of social, economic and political growth that benefits the general population. Excessive and gluttonous corporate profit mongering is threatening the fabric of our society. Our union paying jobs are being exported abroad, while the Walmartization of America gets under way.
The un-American tactics used by the existing political institutions are especially detrimental to the democrats who are overly and unabashedly enamored with the right's successful issue and image framing. In their effort to capture the White House, the top democratic party leadership decided to use the republican methodology. Any pundit can tell these misguided souls that what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander. This approach may backfire on the democrats' bid to acquire the executive, because their base may not respond favorably to a republican flavored message.
The democratic electorate is constituted by a much diverse population. Most social, political and economic minorities vote largely democratic, which therefore has in the past pushed the democratic party left of center, into labor, and social issues. But after Clinton came into the scene, things for the left of center in the party saw their gains encroached upon, by a voracious right that came in the heels of Newt Gingrich and his contract for America. The tide turned on the public when welfare was "mended", free trade instated, deregulation applied, and neoliberalism imposed on us and the world's populations.
The republican agenda is different in content and substance with respect to the democrat's The republican core constituency is uniform, and predictable, and doesn't require much coaxing. That's where the differences between the too parties are most pronounced. The Democratic Party has a base that is very fluidic, and swims across our political expanse.
When third parties arise, they usually represent the disgruntled and the discarded in the political arena. This explains why the democrats are panicking ahead of November, Even though the antiwar wing has kept pretty quiet during the convention, a tacit endorsement of war polity, one might gather that independent Nader will try to entice that unsettled bunch, which is becoming increasingly responsive to his prodding, over to his side .
When the DNC adopts tactics used by the RNC, the line becomes blurred between the two political entities, and that gives rise to worry among the voters. In this case, the liberal and progressive wing of the Democratic Party becomes disillusioned, and if well baited, can jump ship into the greens, independents or, worse, stay home. I have no problems with people jumping ship; I have done so myself, not long ago, because the democrats have become spineless, and don’t address the needs and concerns of the larger community.
Corporate money, and other powerful lobbies, now yield disproportionate influence in our political arena; their political machinations endanger our democracy. Because of existing political diatribes, whether there is a democrat in the White House, or a republican, the political status quo will remain as is. A further deterioration of our patrimony is expected under the existing dialectics of the lesser of two evils, or like some pundit once quipped, the evil of the two lesser. The picture is definitely grim for those of us opposed to preemptive wars, unilaterism, the destruction of the environment, the reneging on our international obligations and domestic social agendas among many other pressing issues.
We are faced with a situation where our choices are limited to two sides of the same coin. To those whose beliefs come from a source of wisdom, integrity and courage, I’d say:
Please, stand up and be counted! Don’t give up on your values. Struggles will be had. The road ahead may bring many defeats from which much can be learned. However, victories will energize us to further ourselves and others. At the end of that rocky road, we would have grown into a prosperous, responsible, and respected people and nation.
Imagine the dividend that can materialize from the actions of well organized grass-root movements and attitudes. The vast resources made available to us will move this nation towards a sustainable social, political and economic renaissance. Isn’t that a vision we all wish to bring about in our lifetime? The politics of one step forward and one step back, embodies the politics of stagnation, and the mummification of progress.
American can unite and create a populist super tent, one that would have as its core components the welfare and needs of all our people, and the shoring up of our nation’s democracy and values. Corporate, and special interests, have to be regulated for the benefit of all Americans.
Money has to be taken out of the electoral equation if we are to ever be a true representative democracy, one that upholds human rights, peace and justice. Leadership that incorporates and espouses such noble principles, is what our country needs. New channels of cooperation have to be opened between us and the rest of the world to address global issues of poverty, disease, war and peace. This is what our nation needs, not the misguided divisive politics of fear and coercion.
The voter has to have his/her right to vote protected under any circumstance. If the electorate feels it has no real choices in the political discourse, it will loose interest, leaving the special interests ensconced in the halls of power.
After the 9/11 tragedy, against the strong urging of many thoughtful American citizens, our government, under the stranglehold of the neocons and the newly crowned religious extremists, has taken preemption to a new height; dangerously stretching our military across the globe with no clear aims or objectives; divided a world that was coming together; and domestically, rounded up people of Middle Eastern and South-East Asia descent under very suspicious circumstances, deporting many of them without prior hearings, detaining a large number without cause or recourse to representation. This type of treatment is reminiscent of the Japanese mistreatment in WWII. Under the authority of the patriot act, our civil rights are being incrementally eroded. And to top it all off, our congress in a treasonous act, relinquished its constitutional right to declare war, and therefore congressional oversight over the executive branch. Now, the American people have no one in their corner. The corporate media, even PBS for that matter have, for some strange reason, become a tool of the government, towing the line.
We have attacked Afghanistan for very obvious reasons, and to retaliate against those who attacked us. That was acceptable to the American people, but then we strayed. Instead of focusing our attention on bringing the 9/11 culprits to justice, we erred miserably.
What followed dissipated all the global good will that flowed our way post 9/11. Through deceptions and lies that could have been checked and debunked by our media, our government took us into an illegal war; a war against a sovereign nation and people. The cabal in the executive has sullied our soul and tarnished our image abroad, and, most importantly, derailed our aims to address terrorism and its root causes. The nations that stood with us for some reason or other are avoiding us. Those who stand with us face popular upheavals, and removal from power.
Iraq has become our Achilles’ heel. Our young men and women in the military are being killed and maimed daily. Torture, scapegoating and a putrid top leadership out of whack. Iraqi civilian casualties, untold hundreds of Billions of dollars wasted on a loosing war; all this doesn’t bode well for us. This type of abrasive politicking has brought only pain and suffering to those at the receiving end of it, and shame to those paying for it.
There won’t be enough said about what the current administration occupying the muddied White House has and is doing to our nation. They have deeply divided and hurt America; for that, they should be held to account by we, the people. The damage incurred at the hands of this cabal will take years to repair, and we are prompted once more to recreate the political wheel.
Because the two leading political forces have, overtime, morphed into each other in their subservience to the social and corporate elite, the people find themselves in the market for fresh political blood to invigorate their fading democracy. That is why third party candidates, like Nader, are becoming attractive to the many disgruntled, and discarded voters, even those whose voter participation in the past was spotty at best.
The pressure from these new likely voters, who are still up for grabs, is pushing the established bipartite elite to commit unethical, and even illegal acts, to dissuade this social movement from ever taking root in our political soil. The tenor of this group of floating voters brings pause to the democratic party on its White House quest. The question arises whether the democrats can regain the soiled the seat of power without this emerging left leaning anti-war, pro-environment, pro-social policy political force. My answer would be a resounding no. The electoral process will be cleansed and restored to a more representative exercise, if such an alternative was allowed to take hold and bloom. Our political system has been dragged through the mud long enough, and for that, our democracy has been noticeably scarred, and diminished. 'Winner takes all' type of elections, where only two entrenched parties representing the same interests win, infringes on rights of citizens to experience the full flavor of democracy.
This land is about the diverse immigrant groups cohabiting and sharing this land with its still oppressed native inhabitants. When these groups of people get squeezed a bit too tight, they organize, per constitutional prerogatives, to bring in representation that is proportional to their numbers, needs and concerns.
The religiosity that’s coming out of our political right. The constant reminders that we are a nation built on Judeo-Christian values sets many alarming bells in the psyche of those of us who are neither of the Jewish nor Christian faith. What of us atheist, monotheists, cultists, agnostics or others? What of the firsters, the native Americans? What of their religiosity? What of their unique spiritualism?
Only bigots use religion to further their message of hate and violence; so, let’s keep a level playing field where religion is concerned. It is best to leave the preaching inside the Churches, mosques and temples, and politicking in the hands of political representatives who best reflect and respond to our aims and desires.
As a diverse people, we stand to reap tremendous political and economic gains, if we were to tolerate each other’s differences, and capitalize on our commonalities. Human rights should be enjoyed by every human being; among them the right to shelter, food, liberty, and the pursuit of that elusive well being. All of us share those rights, and it is incumbent upon each and everyone of us to help those among us whose rights have been infringed upon; if not for goodness, at least for self preservation because one day it may be you.
Today, there exists a unique set of historical opportunities available to us that put us on the fence of two possible directions in American politics, and by extension the world. One, we pursue the current political direction; or two, change direction in midstream, bring the troops home as quickly as logistically possible, and replace them with an international peace keeping force under the UN umbrella. It would certainly makes sense that the choice would be to change course. Americans are big enough to know when to stop. And if we all stand up and demand in unison that of our leaders deliver, they will have to or else risk demotion, firing, and/or possible prosecution.
What if we vote to stay the course; then what happens? I think we will pay a heavy toll which will burden our children and generations after them. Our arrogant 'bring'em on' cowboy attitude has cost us the lives of 900 plus and counting of our fighting youngsters, not mentioning the thousands of maimed and wounded. And with respect to the Iraqi victims, we don't even keep count but figures from the international community put the numbers at 15,000 plus lives, excluding the wounded . Our bungled Iraqi adventure has put our national security at risk. Not only are we bleeding economically, but our psyche has been dragged through the mud.
The dialectics of fear are gripping us and the world around us. We are seeing enemies where none existed. We are goaded by a media that has lost its stride, and integrity. The American voter doesn't know where to turn for the truth. The government is lying. The embedded media is echoing those lies, and we the people desperately watch our democracy slowly disintegrate and disappear into the thick and polluted political environment of the elite. Not a pretty picture.
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