"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy ... I mean, that's a storybook, man."--Senator Joe Biden on Barack ObamaJoe Biden has been a perpetual Presidential candidate for the past two decades, making the rounds on Sunday morning talks shows, pontificating and sharing his foreign policy "expertise," and basically making a fool of himself as a speaker (who can forget his speech plagiarisms during his Presidential campaigns?). Ideologically, to be sure, there are worse Democrats, but that is not saying much. Like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, Biden voted in favor of going to war in Iraq back in 2002, and just like Clinton and Edwards (right before announcing all of their Presidential campaigns) decided it was time to have a change of heart and oppose what they helped enable. And just like his friends in the DLC, ole Joe is one of those supporters of transnational capital on issues of trade, at least when it counts (supporting the two most devastating pieces of legislation to organized labor since Taft-Hartley, NAFTA and GATT). Naturally, he claims to like workers and working class people (something he has not been in his entire adult life), and like all the other pro-free trade Democratic candidates will periodically criticize what they support to fool people into thinking they oppose the trade legislation that they implemented (and Biden was an ardent supporter of those trade agreements, regardless of what else he says). If cowardice was a gold medal, Joe Biden would be Michael Phelps.
I write this not as a hit piece on Senator Biden. And I at least give Obama credit for not picking the baiter from New York as his VP (who ran the most openly racist Presidential campaign in the Democratic Party since George Wallace). The real problem here is not with Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton. It is with the leadership of the Democratic Party. This is what constitutes substance to them. Spineless people who cave in to the greatest foreign policy disaster in the history of our country. People who continue to refuse to try to stop it, but indeed who make it possible to go on by "compromising" with a President the vast majority of Americans despise and a war 70% now oppose. If the DLC, which has run the Democratic Party with an iron fist since Bill Clinton's election to the White House, cannot get behind 70% of the population (of course, this means going against their own militaristic instincts and being anti-war), what hope is there on all the other issues?
Yes, there is the Supreme Court. I will concede that this matters because these nine, mostly elderly people get to dictate what constitutes a right in our society. This is the same Supreme Court who equates money with speech, death with rehabilitation, and surveillance with liberty. And yes, John Paul Stevens has one or both of his feet in the grave (and I have little doubt that John McCain would not risk angering his party's Evangelical base by picking another David Souter for Stevens' seat). If it was just based on the courts, any progressive would have to hold their nose and vote Democratic. However, the courts are only one position and one part of our government and its policies (and by the way, as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Biden made possible the ascension of anti-abortion Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court by refusing to support the filibustering of his nomination). Moreover, if Joe Biden is the answer to a "foreign policy expert" who, as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, commandeered the passage of a war resolution for Iraq, what does this mean for Barack Obama's position on being the earliest opponent of the war in the Iraq?
Well, I could spend more time whining about the Democratic Party, its leadership, and candidates, or delude myself into thinking some right-wing ex-member of Congress who hates black people and labor unions is really progressive, but I think we real progressives have a responsibility to promote those candidates who actually think like us, for a change.
To give equal time, here is Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. She does not criticize NAFTA and GATT, while hiding past support, like all of the Democratic Presidential candidates like to do (which apparently is all it takes to get the support of the AFL-CIO these days). She is an actual opponent of these trade agreements, and supports repealing NAFTA and leaving the WTO and pulling out of GATT altogether. She also opposed the Iraq war from the beginning and supports an immediate pullout of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Furthermore, McKinney opposes the Patriot Act (voted against it, actually, whereas Biden and the choice libertarian racist candidate supported it), opposes expansion of FISA and government surveillance of our citizenry, opposes the death penalty (which all of the candidates support, although to his credit Senator Biden has voted in favor of restrictions on the death penalty in the past), and is the only Presidential candidate outside of the Socialist Party and probably Ralph Nader who advocates an all-encompassing single payer health care system (meaning everyone will receive health care without the bureaucratism of the mixed and managed care systems all of the other candidates advocate).
True, she has no chance of getting elected, but why not give some attention to someone that represents a perspective that the party tries to cleanse from its presence? If you recall, McKinney was run out of Congress by her own party leadership (just as they attempted to do to Dennis Kucinich this last primary season). Yes, she is controversial. She has somewhat of a conspiratorial mindset, one that I do not share, especially on 9-11. She also slapped a DC cop after he apparently man-handled the Congresswoman (if anything, that is a mark for her). And naturally, after Nader 2000 there are few liberals or leftists who will vote for a third party.
All of this is understood, but there is nothing wrong with looking at a candidacy like this. It will at least remind you of what you will be missing when you watch the proceedings in Denver this next week. A real anti-war candidacy, which you know is something Joe Biden does not bring to the table.