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History Hurts


Here in (now) sunny Iceland where I live, everybody with four brain cells working knows about global warming firsthand. So for entertainment, I watch the electoral madness in the United States infect even hardened leftists there with the “Let’s-work-with-the-Democrats-to-defeat-a-right-wing-Republ ican” virus. Oh no, not again, I say.

My friend J. in Illinois however, agrees, insisting progressives should stick with the Democrats and support Kucinich banking on his moving the party leftward for the election. I say it doesn’t matter. I say that when the Dems move either left or right, we get the same system that lacks vision, discourages real democracy (being against proportional representation or instant run-off voting, for example) and continues a militaristic, imperial approach overseas. He said prove it. So I began to reflect on my own limited time on earth and all that has passed for the Dems since then.

When I was born, 1959, Eisenhower was President and the Dems ran a “liberal” from Massachusetts who tried to out hawk Richard Nixon, the shifty-eyed Vice-President. Kennedy won, in a tight and shifty race and we got CIA assassinations, FBI abuses, a failed invasion of Cuba, the October Missile Crisis, and Green Berets in Vietnam.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson, (about as “liberal” as the Dems may ever see again), ran against Barry Goldwater and trounced him. We got the Gulf of Tonkin lie, Vietnam, Watts burning, the invasion of the Dominican Republic, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s deaths, and a social revolution pushing the Dems either Left or out. By 1968, Johnson had an uprising in his own party and decided he couldn’t win and he should get out of the picture. (He was right). The Dems had Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, (who as a “liberal” Attorney General had wiretapped MLK, Jr. and countless others, while overseeing assassination attempts in collusion with the Mafia) and anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy. King, and Kennedy were assassinated; the Dems chose Humphrey and got trounced by Nixon.

In 1972 the Dems felt they had to go Left and nominated Sen. George McGovern, a decent, truly “liberal” Democrat. (Think: Kucinich). Apparently Nixon and his cronies were so upset there were dirty tricks everywhere and when Gov. George Wallace was conveniently shot, effectively putting him out of the race (and guaranteeing no right wing split which might have cost Nixon the election) the Dems nominated McGovern and he got trounced. We got Watergate, Cambodia, Pinochet, a near nuclear war in Israel, Agent Orange, the Pentagon Papers, more Vietnam and Kissinger (who shortly after gave us East Timor).

In 1976, the Dems were still out for a Lefty, found a few, (Jesse Jackson, Morris Udall, Jerry Brown, etc.) but settled down for someone “electable” who would be decent enough after Watergate, and who could “speak to the people.” We got Jimmy Carter… and El Salvador, “ethnic purity,” Afghanistan pt 1, Zbigniew Breszinski, and a massive military buildup.

By 1980, Carter had a disastrous economy, a botched hostage rescue and killer rabbits; the Dems had Ted Kennedy, Jerry Brown and Carter. They nominated Carter, he got trounced and we got Ronald Reagan, Nicaragua, Iran-Contra, “Star Wars” and hundreds of billions of dollars in deficits while social programs were slashed and ketchup elevated to a school lunch vegetable.

In 1984, the Dems were out for anybody to beat Reagan who was in the middle of MASSIVE and impeachable intervention all over Central America. It should have been easy. They found Walter Mondale, Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. They nominated Mondale (shades of Gephardt) who was they said, “electable.” He was trounced.

In 1988 the Dems said, “Lets find a Lefty” and found one in Jesse Jackson who during the primaries, scared the Establishment by bringing in millions of new voters. So they nominated instead a “new Dem” from the northeast, a Greek in a helmet, Michael Dukakis, who was more “electable” as they kept saying. He was trounced by George Bush the First, who gave us Gulf War 1, depleted uranium, Gulf War Syndrome, Clarence Thomas, the Panama invasion, and a failing economy.

In 1992, the Dems felt they had to go Right to win, found a perfect guy in Bill Clinton, who could “feel your pain” (i.e., talk left) and after years of corporate-right wingism, got elected as …a right-wing Democrat! (go figure). We got GATT, NAFTA, a massive continuation of a massive military buildup, “welfare reform” and the fastest declining wages in the western world along with millions of jobs sent packing overseas (sad to say I actually voted for him, writing a nice, pleading letter about helping us poor folks to “dream again,” and he actually responded, with a nice letter, and new dreams–they were however, nightmares!)

Now we hear the same shit. Get a lefty to “push” the party “back” to where it’s “heart” is (meaning Kucinich) but be prepared to settle for someone “electable” who will aggressively challenge Bush the Second on his (numerous and impeachable) weaknesses. So we’ll probably get Howard Dean, a “new Dem” from the northeast who is against campaign finance reform, supported Clinton’s “welfare reform,” and an AIPAC drone who is pro-WTO and NAFTA; or Sen. Kerry, a new Dem from the northeast who is another Israel panderer and supports “free trade,” i.e., the WTO; NAFTA; or Gephardt, or Clark, or…

Now friends…History hurts. Why repeat it? If you want a new system, then vote for people who are working for one: Dump the Democrats and vote green. Our future depends on it.

José M. Tirado is a former Green Party member from California. He was a union president at Warner Bros. Pictures, co-founder of the Latino Writers Group, charter-chair of the Colorado Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE) and long time activist in the Engaged Buddhism movement. He currently lives in Iceland with his family and welcomes correspondence. He can be reached at


José M. Tirado is a Puertorican poet, Buddhist priest and political writer living in Hafnarfjorður, Iceland, known for its elves, “hidden people” and lava fields. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, Cyrano´s Journal, The Galway Review, Dissident Voice, La Respuesta, Op-Ed News, among others. He can be reached at    

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