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In the Summer/Fall of 2000 I decided to Identify myself as a "stop-light green," that is, "if I couldn’t vote red, I’d vote green, but never yellow." True, I could have voted red, but I thought that by voting Green and helping them qualify for funding, it would open the way toward making a third party a reality in U.S. politics.
I would hardly call Nader or any of the Greens "radicals." In fact, their most radical proposition was to cut military funding for Israel until it agreed to withdraw from the territories and discuss a genuine two-state solution. The Greens were what people used to call liberals. The flack I got from Democrats — friends, strangers, colleagues, "discussion" groups on the web — actually shocked me.
Worse than the reaction of my nutty old orthodox uncle when I married a "shiksa." In fact, it wasn’t worse, it was the exactly the reaction and under parallel circumstances. Just as I’d declared myself an "atheist" at age ten and never followed any religion, I was born Jewish; hence, I had "betrayed" the Jews. Similarly, I had been a socialist/anarchist/libertarian/whatever since I was twenty-two, yet people assumed that, since I was obviously not a Republican, I was a Democrat who’d lost his way. They begged me to "come back" to the Truth, at first, then threatened me with the political equivalent of eternal damnation. I’m sure some of them even followed my Uncle’s lead and sat "Shiva."
Many, if not all of these people had the same access to "alternative" media sources as I did, via the Internet. Can Mainstream Media be blamed for such irrational identification with the party that brought us Hiroshima, Vietnam, the persecution of the Sandinistas, the recruitment and training of Bin Laden and his merry Mujahedeen, and the Eisenhower Republicanism of the Democratic Clinton/Gore years?
Okay, so Gore lost, and it was all the fault of Ralph Nader and other traitors like myself (it wasn’t actually, but why resort to facts?). But Gore didn’t lose. The Presidency was a gift to George Bush, courtesy the Supreme Court. Why didn’t they–the Democrats from Gore on down–fight? If Nader had been in Gore’s place he’d still be in court demanding, at the very least, the recount that the Supreme Court of Florida had determined was Gore’s right (so much for state’s rights).
But it gets worse. After the big blowback of 9/11, when Bin Laden (it is assumed–there’s been no investigation, so we don’t know) handed Bush the SECOND greatest gift he’d received in a lifetime of gifts, allowing the two years of neo-con insanity, murder, graft, war on terror, war on drugs, war on French Fries, what have you. But he couldn’t have done any of this without more than a little help from his Democratic friends. For two years the axis of evil (Bush, Sharon, Blair) raged unopposed. With rare exceptions of individuals like Cynthia McKinney, who was deposed by blatant tag-team skullduggery by New York "Israel Firsters" and Republicans in Democrat’s clothing (not hard to pull off); Paul Wellstone–disappeared in an accident (??!!)–and a few other liberals (not leftists or radicals by any means; straight liberals) like Kucinich, the Democrats in Congress and the Senate have blatantly laid down and died, at best, or at worst went out of their way to give Bush unprecedented powers to prosecute war, and stood on the steps of the Capitol and pledged allegiance to god and country, as patriotic ten-year-olds have been doing from time immemorial–as far back as 1954!.
Now this is not arcane knowledge that "the average American" (whoever and wherever he is: he must live somewhere ’cause I’ve been hearing about him since I was in kindergarten) might not have access to. So-called liberal Democrats conspired with Bush Inc. in full view of the Mainstream cameras for two hellacious years, and once again the faux leftists, or Cruise Missile Leftists (CMLs) from the Nation, In These Times, Democracy Now etc. are arguing with neither irony nor embarrassment that the Democrats are "different." True, "conservative" Democrats will back "Israel Uber Alles" Lieberman, while the "radicals" will court "lefty" war criminals like Wesley Clark. But heaven (the REAL heaven, not that phony Muslim one) forbid that progressives/leftist/thinking people point out that while Bush proved to be as bad as we thought he’d be, the Democrats are as bad if not worse than we thought they’d be, that the term "Republicrat" is even more appropriate now than it was in 2000? Perhaps there is a small difference between the parties in that the Democrat-leaning Republicrats see the glass being half empty, while Republican-leaning Republicrats see the glass as half full. But what of the rest of us who dare to point out the horrible possibility that THERE’S NOTHING IN THE GLASS AT ALL?
Bush Single Handedly Destroyed the Light Unto Nations
This is not something, like the War on Terror, the War on the Taliban, the War on Iraq, that the mainstream media drove home so relentlessly that 70% of the U.S. population still believes Saddam was responsible for 9/11, even after Bush admitted to the lie himself (though of course this major, impeachable revelation received minimal coverage). I receive a number of (unsolicited) newsletters from "alternative" and "Indy" media groups who go into long diatribes against the "fascists" in the White House who are destroying the environment, robbing the poor, breaking treaties, pursuing perpetual war, creating a totalitarian police state etc. etc. In short, blaming the Bush Administration for destroying the great, citizens’ democracy, the hope and envy of the world, that was the United States prior to November 2000.
These aren’t fringe lunatics–well, they’re lunatics, but not fringe. Many include articles by the usual CML suspects–Gitlin, Moore, Krugman, Kristol, Alterman, Moyers. Whatever these people are, they’re not dupes of the corporate media. They often include criticisms of the mainstream and links to sites like Counterpunch and Znet. In fact, on more than one occasion, I was surprised to see links to my own articles in "alternative" sites/zines that believe "alternative" means Howard Dean.
How is this possible? It’s one thing to have no other access to the news but Fox/CNN and The New York Times (though I don’t even believe that excuse: people who want to know the truth can find it), but these people are steeped in alternative and foreign media, yet it has no effect on their thinking. Are people so terrified that the only way to change the world is to dismantle the closed system that is destroying it that, like abused children, they’ll deny any and all evidence that "Mommy and Daddy" are insane and must therefore strive for one or the other’s love (I see Daddy as being Republican; Mommy a Democrat–a bias drummed into my head God knows when)?
The Curious Case of Richard M. Nixon
I was only around eight years old when Nixon retired to a life of government subsidized memoir writing, and I spent the next twenty years gobbling the ecstasy of this liberal triumph. It was only in 1994, the 20th year celebration of this great victory for democracy, while reading testimonial after testimonial of how "the system works" that I wised up to the Liberal/CML game. As mainstream liberal pundits like Jimmy Breslin spoke with appropriate awe of how they were waiting in traffic or eating dinner in some posh restaurant when the leadership of the "most powerful Nation the world has ever known" passed hands without a shot being fired, reality slapped me hard and cold as a wet towel.
Here was a man who was directly responsible for the murder of millions in southeast Asia, and indirectly responsible for millions more through his support of killer dictators the world over (Marcos, Pinochet, the Shah of Iran etc.), not to mention countless wounded, bereaved, mentally shattered, and he got busted, like Al Capone, on a technicality. He lied about a petty crime, then covered up the lie and stood fast because even he, Tricky Dick, could not believe that after all the crimes against humanity he’d committed since his first blind date with Senator McCarthy, the liberals would beat him on a misdemeanor. It took the Liberals and "Faux Left" predecessors of today’s CMLs to prove what the right could not: the System Really Works.
ADAM ENGEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org