Monday, January 28, 2008

What Next?

With Dennis Kucinich out of the race, and Mike Gravel barely alive to throw some errant rock into a lake, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a progressive these days. This happens every four years in the Democratic Party. The establishment runs a few DLC "moderate" candidates, who spend most of their time apologizing for even being members of a party that once stood for people who did not make a million dollars a year. Then they are crushed by the Republicans in the general elections (since 1968 [the true death of the Democratic Party as the party of the New Deal], Republicans have won 7 out of 10 Presidential elections).

Most of my establishment liberal friends in academia are hot over Hillary or Barack, but I am someone who takes my beliefs more seriously than worrying myself about which candidate had more contemptible business jobs in the 1980s (ironic that no one seems to ask about their views in the here and now).
And speaking of the past, the idea of voting for the people who brought us NAFTA, GATT, and the Defense of Marriage Act is anathema, as it should be for anyone who cares to think that we are more than expendable cost overruns in the new global panacea, which we must all bow down to without risk of being accused of membership of the Flat Earth Society.

Obviously, voting for someone who thinks the Confederacy was right is not an option. I still cannot get over those few progressives who live this dream. Nevertheless, it is indicative to how far we have degenerated.

Then there are those who think John Edwards is a viable option, but this is a man who voted to go to war in Iraq, spent virtually his entire political career as a DLC Democrat (until he decided to copy Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 Presidential campaign), and is as fake as his haircut and face lift. It is a harsh judgment to make, but it is the truth.

Hillary Clinton's appeal to liberals is even more mystifying. Other than her support for the war in Iraq (a war she still refuses to call for the end of), this is the same person who supported the elimination of what little of a safety net that existed for poor people in the 1990s with the Welfare Reform Act (severing the Democratic Party's ties to the New Deal), supports the death penalty (in the past, even against minors), and even criticizes abortion as a moral practice (while clinging to her pro-choice stance on the issue), ideologically, she is really not much removed from Rudy Giuliani. This is also the same person who, as First Lady, gave rhetorical comfort to her husband's bombing deaths of over 5,000 Serbs (mostly civilians) during the Kosovo War, defended the harsh sanctions against Iraq after 1991 (which killed hundreds of thousands--again, mostly civilians), and has spent almost her entire political career living down the label of a '60s liberal. I am certain that if the right-wing promised to stop calling her a feminist she-devil, on the condition of dropping a few nuclear bombs on Madagascar, as proof of her loyalty to the American way of life, the people of Madagascar would have to start making funeral plans.

Barack Obama is certainly preferable to liberals over Hillary Clinton. He opposed the Iraq War from the beginning (to me, this is easily his greatest asset and the primary reason to consider voting for him). He has been the loudest critic of the war of all three of the Presidential front runners in the Democratic Party. He has a liberal voting record in the Senate, but like the rest of the Democratic front runners he is pro-death penalty. Senator Obama also supports the maintenance of a trade embargo on Cuba (since it has been such a raving success in altering the political behavior of Cuba over the past five decades). And his anti-war stance on Iraq is tempered by views on Iran and Pakistan that sound remarkably aggressive for a supposedly anti-war candidate. So, even though Senator Obama is a progressive on most issues, he has his weaknesses and limitations.

All of this leaves open the option of third parties. For progressives, I am not sure there are any worth supporting. Possibly the Green Party, which is floating up ex-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as a possible candidate (when I last checked, she is seeking the party's nomination). Congresswoman McKinney has had her own issues in the past with Capitol Hill police officers and her expressed appreciation for the House of Saud, but then she is certainly more liberal than any of the remaining Democratic candidates. Outside of the Greens, the Socialist Equity Party or Socialist Party usually runs a sacrificial lamb. I know there is an American Labor Party, which is supposed to be the product of labor unions, although few of them have formal ties, which considered running candidates, but nothing has really come of it. At this point, I am not even sure if there are any third parties worth looking at. They will never get any votes. Maybe I am better off holding my nose and voting for the non-progressive Democratic candidate (knowing they will govern like Republicans without the chastity belts). At least I am not making any excuses for them in the primaries. That is what have reduced ourselves to. What a sad lot we are.

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