Two Cheers for Democrats
"We’re not as bad as George and the prevari-cons!"
It is under this beige banner that the Democrats ride forth, their dingy pennants hanging limp in a dank, fetid, fitful breeze generated by a rented fan. What a rallying cry.
Their claims, though delivered with great fanfare, are modest: not that they don’t lie, but that they don’t lie as much; not that they don’t have their snouts buried in the trough, but that they don’t root for the choice morsels as well as the Poland-Chinas on the Republican side; not that they would stop the rape of Iraq, but that they would pause to don a rubber.
And woe on those who do not snap to attention and salute this tawdry band. They taught Howard Dean a lesson, and now they’re going after Ralph Nader, too. The Bushies impugn the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them. Stealing a page from the book of Rove, the DNC says that anyone who has second thoughts about John Kerry is a traitor. "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush!"
How many times are they going to run this scam? Nader was the object of their contumely last time around, the son-of-a-bitch that put George Bush in office. The funny thing is, I haven’t heard the DNC say nearly as much about the purge of the voting lists in Florida as they have about Nader’s candidacy. According to Greg Palast, the blatantly illegal Republican tactic meant the loss of 22,000 Democratic votes-easily enough to have put Al gore into the White House. Suspicion also surrounds the use of electronic ballots in Georgia where victorious Republican candidates were trailing by double-digits just before election time. Democrats don’t mention this, nor do they express much concern over plans to use electronic voting in the elections in November. They show all the conviction with regard to vote theft that they showed when George tricked them into voting for war in Iraq: "We was duped!" It’s become their refrain.
Kerry was wrong on the war. Kerry was wrong on the Patriot Act. Kerry has been the biggest pig at the special interest trough in Congress.
And now comes John Kerry, Champion of Israel. "Senator John Kerry told dozens of Jewish leaders in New York on Sunday that he would continue the Bush administration policy of vetoing any United Nations Security Council resolutions seen as one-sided against Israel . . . that the barrier Israel is erecting to separate Palestinian territories from Israeli ones is a fence, not a wall . . . [he] sought to assure attendees that he was as strong a supporter of Israel as Mr. Bush" (New York Times 03/01/04).
You’ll hear more dissent over Sharon’s ethnic cleansing from the Israeli Labor Party than you’ll hear from John Kerry. You’ll hear more criticism of George Bush’s prostration before all things Israeli in an Israeli Defense Force barracks. Kerry can’t even muster up the chutzpah to call a wall a wall, or, better yet, to say that semantics are irrelevant in the face of the creation of Palestinian Bantustans.
Kerry’s promise to Israel’s most rabid supporters is "You don’t have to worry about Losing Perle and Wolfowitz and Feith if Bush is defeated because you’ll still have me!" For those of us who see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a root cause of Islamic hostility toward the United States, Kerry offers no alternative to Bush at all.
At what point do the Democrats start taking responsibility for their own nominees? My choices at the outset were Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean. The difference between the two was Dean’s lofty status in the polls and his $40 million war chest. So I threw my lot in with Howard. My choice was confirmed when Dean had the candor to say that Americans were no safer after the capture of Saddam Hussein than they were before. Of course, this set off a cacophony among the mainline Democrats. It became just another means of character assassination.
It takes a lot of nerve, after scuttling the one viable candidate who expressed my point of view, to tell me that if I don’t vote for Kerry then George Bush is my fault.
On the other hand . . .
Given that we are presented with a stark choice, conscience forces us to look beyond the fact that Kerry is your prototypical political empty suit. Would the world be better off with John Kerry as president or with George Bush? It’s like asking, "would you prefer weevilly cornbread for dinner or a dirt ball?"
In spite of the fact that the Democratic Party is in the process of nominating its next-to-worst candidate (no offense Senator Lieberman), we have to hope that he will win the election. There are three reasons for this: the environment, health care, and judicial appointments. There’s not much difference between Kerry and Bush on foreign policy, Israel, Iraq, campaign finance, special interests, "homeland" security, etc., etc., etc. And God knows, Kerry has never taken a stand that a sufficient amount of special interest money and some polling data couldn’t cause him to reverse. But the selection of George Bush to be president by the Republican Supreme Court demonstrates that it would be better to have Kerry appointing judges.
So what should a self-respecting person do? I propose the creation of "The Society for the Tepid Support of John Kerry." The first principle of the STSJK is that we should under no circumstances actually cast a vote for the junior senator from Massachusetts. There are things we can do to help the cause, however.
I recently had a phone conversation with my son. "You know, I’ll probably vote for Kerry," he said.
"I won’t vote for him," I replied, "but I’ll give him money, compared to which, in our American plutocracy, voting is like farting in a hurricane."
Any political scientist will tell you that you have a much greater influence on elections when you make a campaign contribution than you do when you cast your vote. So there is an honorable compromise available to those of us who deplore Kerry but feel duty bound to help unseat Bush. Don’ t vote for Kerry because that’s too good for him. But it’s OK to send money, particularly since it’s a form of intercourse that he understands far better.
Well then, how much should you send? That’s up to you, of course, but let me make a suggestion. Whatever you decide to contribute, send it to him in thirty-dollar bunches. If you decide you want to give $300, send ten thirty-dollar checks, or make ten individual charges of $30 on your credit card.
That’s the way I plan to do it, except that I’m not going to use checks or credit. I’m sending silver dollars, thirty at a time.
In a previous CounterPunch article, "Why is Kerry Getting a Pass" (02/18/04), I misrepresented the position of Christopher Scheers and Robert Scheers. I said that they apparently felt that John Kerry was not culpable in voting for the Iraq War because he had been misled about its justification by the Bush administration. In fact, this is not the Scheers’ position, and Christopher Scheers did hold Kerry to account in remarks prior to the ones I heard. I regret not having portrayed their position accurately.
GREG WEIHER is a political scientist and free-lance writer living in Houston, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.