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Tottering from past defeats, liberals and progressives are wasting breath and time whining over Ralph Nader’s return to the presidential campaign. Apparently these grumblers were hoping this time around for a free ride, banking on some Messiah to appear and topple the Bushvolk without distraction, much as George W. Bush has been elevated throughout his own political career. Well, Nader is running. Get over it and move on. "Life," as somebody said, "is not fair." Grandma told us, "When you’re given lemons, make lemonade."
Damage was done when the over-the-hill Democratic "establishment" piled on Howard Dean to take him down. Fortunately, Dean is still willing to work for the common goal: defeating Bush in 2004. Instead of bashing Nader for his chutzpah or his "ego," Kerry, Edwards, Kucinich and Sharpton should bring both Dean and Nader into a strategy aimed not at bashing one another, but at campaigning in unison for that goal. Only one person can hold the title President of the United States, but that person won’t get there on his own. What these guys need is a Vince Lombardi to knock their inflated heads together and shout, "It’s the TEAMWORK, stupid!"
If, after the garbage pile of lies, evasions and idiotic programs perpetrated by Bush Administration arrogance, the Democrats can’t get their act together and defeat Republicans, they don’t deserve to win. After all, it’s not only about regaining the White House, it’s about electing a people-friendly Congress, too. Given a bit more time, the Bushvolk should defeat themselves, but it won’t happen if the Democrats (and the Greens and in Nader’s case the Independents) don’t find seeking the common good more important than self-righteous vanity.
Recently, thanks to Democracy, Now, I listened again to the passionate speech John Kerry gave before that Senate committee in 1971. It is still impressively moving. Now, after having served in the Senate for many years, Kerry has become "senatized," his speeches are stilted, the sincerity, daring and passion bleached out. American ears are not made of tin. Given the ongoing abuses of Republican zealots, even many Republicans will accept a Democrat who speaks sincerely from the heart and not with an eye to contributors and lobbyists. Big money may be pouring into the Bush campaign’s coffers, but money can’t buy The People’s House if the people say, "No sale."
Ralph Nader has much to contribute in the dialog of Bush v. America. So does Howard Dean. So do all the candidates, including those now out of the race: Dick Gephardt, Carol Moseley Braun, even Joe Lieberman, who often seems more like a Republican than anything else. Let them stow their egos until after the election while they work together, stumping the nation to restore common sense to politics and Washington.
A word or two about Al Gore. One reason Gore didn’t attract even more support during his run for the presidency was his inner conflict over how to present himself to voters. Recently, freed from campaigning and the fear of losing, Al Gore has given a series of speeches that are frank, amusing, spirited and "real." His recent "lecture" on the subject of Global Warming sponsored by <MoveOn.org> was a brilliant tour-de-force that deserves to be seen by all Americans. Democrats must make good use of the New Al Gore, just as they must take advantage of the talents of Nader, Dean and the others. Even Bill Clinton has a future, if he can dampen his enthusiasm for behind-the-scenes manipulation and realize New Democrats have had their season in the sun.
In earlier Counterpunch articles, I outlined the Bush "plan" to end "America as we know it" (September 12, 2003) and the neo-conservative desire to appropriate Iraq and build permanent bases there at an unknown cost in dollars and lives. (January 6, 2004). Both subjects must be brought to the attention of voters, and so must the documentation of Bushvolk lies, manipulations, the devaluation of civil and human rights. Who better to inform the nation about corporate abuses than Ralph Nader? Who better to challenge the neo-conning of America over war in Iraq than Howard Dean?
Even as they weep crocodile tears about 9/11, Republican fanatics are planning to use their New York convention to capitalize on the tragedy. President Bush is stonewalling the commission he reluctantly created to investigate what happened on that fateful day. If President Bush tries to halt the commission’s work before it has finished, commission members should press forward regardless, independently. "Truth" is becoming the central issue in the upcoming election: truth about Iraq, truth about jobs, truth about the economy, truth about George W. Bush and his supporters.
It matters little if George W. Bush served in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. What matters is whether the administration is covering up the truth about why a young man trained as a fighter pilot suddenly stopped flying and refused to take the requisite physical.
It doesn’t matter as much that the newly-elected Bush Administration turned a blind-eye to an impending terrorist attack as it does to know whether administration insiders expected and possibly welcomed a "small" attack so it could be used as an excuse to go after Saddam Hussein, the better to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in the heart of the roiling Middle East. Was "the unexpected" in this scenario the size of the attack, rather than that it happened? Richard Perle, neo-conservative insider and advisor, recently interviewed on KGO Radio in San Francisco, said he thought about and discussed a possible new attack on the World Trade Center back in 1998.
Hubris may finally bring down the House of Bush. By welcoming Ralph Nader and the other campaigners on board, by freeing themselves from the bonds of fear and the shackles imposed when trying to please everyone at the expense of honesty, Democrats can avoid having their own hubristic impulses take them down.
If Nader is the lemon, make some lemonade.
DOUG GIEBEL is a writer who lives in Big Sandy, Montana. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org