Change of Management, Same Corporate Regime
Party of Hilary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman Makes Gains in Mid-Term Elections
Readers of Open Letter,
Yes, last Tuesday was a good day to vote-- against both Democrats and Republicans. Until we win public financing of campaigns and an end to corporate bribery, the usual career politicians will continue with business as usual. We have a change in management, but no change of regime.
Not a single serious public issue was debated with thoroughness and honesty between the big business parties. Not health care. Not welfare. Not immigration and labor. Not living wages. Not the human rights of gay people. Not even-- or especially not-- the war.
Even the official debates on abortion, reproductive rights, and stem cell research have been much too narrow, failing to address the present disparities of our health care system. These disparities will endure for decades to come-- unless we fight fair and square for social democracy in public health care.
"Progressives" have barely recognized that it is not sufficient to choose the team with the most scientists and the fewest fundamentalists, and then cheer with all your might. Having reduced politics to team sports, they labor under the illusion that science and medicine will be a replay of the Scopes Trial till kingdom come-- or until everyone gets the best genes money can buy. Catholics and Evangelicals are not the only people with doubts about our current divisions of labor. The formation and deformation of all professionals (in the arts, in the sciences, in public life) is an open question as long as we claim to be an open society.
On the subject of theocracy: Not one of the leading Congressional Democrats had the honesty, not one had the resolve to condemn fundamentalism and clerical reaction-- except in the special case of Arabs and Islam. None dared to condemn religious bullies and obscurantists right here within our borders, nor in the state of Israel, nor in the Vatican. Every Congressional Democrat who condemns Hamas without condemning Avigdor Lieberman is a menace to peace. If "fanaticism" is an official swear word reserved only for Islamic movements, and if the word "terrorist" only bears the imprint of the State Department, then the language is truly fit for career politicians and corporate broadcasters.
Hillary Clinton, who voted to give Bush his war budget, counted upon short memories. In this manner, the "progressives" of 2006 have never advanced to the basic minimum program of the enlightened bourgeois public of one hundred years ago. Back then, Americans such as Jane Addams, Mark Twain, and William James took their stand in The American Anti-Imperialist League. Those people were not anarchists or socialists. Nothing of the kind-- they were simply old fashioned bourgeois republicans, and therefore wary of imperial adventures. Today, "progressives" in service to the Clintons are too scared to call themselves liberals-- and indeed, they are too scared of their own shadows to deserve the name.
In Connecticut, Joseph Lieberman-- not merely another DLC war collaborator, but a real hawk in ideology-- played the game by his own rules. The party nomination process did not deliver his desired result, so he told Democrats he'd give them the medicine they needed. Thus Lieberman ran as an "Independent" against Democrat Ned Lamont. Who the hell was Ned Lamont? A multi-millionaire with a friendly face who surfed a modest wave of anti-war sentiment in Connecticut. Conservative voters gave Lieberman the lead, however, and now he can play seniority poker in the charmed company of other "public servants."
Nancy Pelosi promises to "drain the swamp." If she is serious about ridding Congress of well-groomed zoological specimens, she might begin by pulling them off their life support system of corporate bribes. Or she might begin by waging a public fight for term limits, public financing of campaigns, and instant run-off voting. Don't hold your breath.
In Pennsylvania a fair number of "progressives" think so little of voting their conscience that their conscience has duly been reduced to an inflamed appendix. It might as well be surgically removed. They take orders from the DLC and vote by rote. In the drastic downward spiral of bipartisan politics, these people congratulate themselves because Casey Junior only broke their legs-- whereas Santorum promised to break their arms as well. They pride themselves on their "pragmatism," which works out very well for the ruling mafias in Harrisburg and in Washington.
In California, Schwarzenneger defeated Angelides. Now there are two empty heads propped on expensive suits! But the one with muscles-- although a bad actor-- had the more polished script. The Democrat was just another dime-a-dozen multi-millionaire. Neither man debated a single issue in earnest.
Schwarzenneger was savvy enough to marry a Kennedy-- or maybe a Kennedy was savvy enough to marry Schwarzenneger. Marriages among the ruling class may yet become dynastic. Like Bill and Hillary, Arnold believes marriage is for "one man and one woman." And like Bill and Hillary, he woke up one fine morning and decided to reconsider civil unions.
Civil unions might indeed be a civil standard for couples-- regardless of sex and sexual orientation-- as we struggle to establish a true separation of church and state. Then a religious marriage would be optional, a choice much like the color of curtains.
Spanish voters elected a Socialist Prime Minister, Zapatero, who was not shy in facing down Francoists and Opus Dei-- he was not shy in endorsing civil unions as well. Zapatero explicitly made the case that civil unions rest on the foundation of a secular republic and of social democracy. Whereas Bill and Hillary have built their careers on tearing down the last remnants of New Deal democracy in the United States, and feel obliged to genuflect at the shrine of "family values." Just imagine what the Clintonistas would make of civil unions in an unrestricted corporate culture. Here we would have another social climbing expedition for truly modern corporate couples, and the horizon of justice would rise only to the next "glass ceiling."
Liberals-- but that word is used very liberally here-- never tire of telling us that politics is the art of compromise. Their pampered nerves do not permit us to respond with other kinds of common sense-- for example: Cheap dates get raw fucks. Their table talk would test the patience of a dead donkey; but put these "progressives" at a podium and even the dear departed saints drop from the skies like flies. If a conversation does not include them, they fear for the future of civilization. Serve those folks more Tequila the next time they take one of those cruise ship seminars hosted by The Nation.
"Progressives" are to progress as the Democratic Party is to democracy. They would not dare "waste" a vote on someone who dares to represent a genuine opposition party. If every vote counts, they cast their votes for the corporate state. Their angst, their heartburn, their nostalgia for Clinton or for Camelot or for some other summer-camp... all that is no longer our concern. When the wind changes, even such weathervanes may take a turn. Once a political earthquake has already opened a Grand Canyon beneath their feet, then they will insist they felt the rumblings all along.
The Green Party of the United States is our best present hope for serious electoral reform, and is the only party with a real program for peace, economic democracy, and ecological sanity. The Socialist Party of the United States has had a noble history, but the future of that party is an open question. The Libertarian Party is a reliable ally on certain issues of electoral reform and civil liberties. Otherwise, it remains for people who still confuse liberty with "the free market."
No party is worth a damn without much wider movements for social change and justice. Every twenty or thirty years, we, the people, must take back our republic. Or else we, the people, will share the blame for endless war and empire.
Peace and solidarity,
Scott Tucker, Editor of Open Letter Online