The Wages of Left Capitulation
Iwas stunned to see Medea Benjamin complaining to the Nader/Gonzalez campaign because the campaign had used the word "shameful" in referring to "progressive" Democrats who had supported the pro-war, pro-Patriot Act, anti-labor, and anti-environmental candidate John Kerry in 2004.
I have great personal admiration for Medea Benjamin for many of the stands and actions she has taken through the years. But her capitulation to the Democratic Party has been truly disappointing.
Medea Benjamin eventually joined the "progressive" Democrats and has become an active supporter of the Democratic Party.
Without the Democratic Party’s support, Bush’s war policies could never have been implemented. The Democrats voted in Congress a resolution that included the phrase, "unequivocal support for George Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq."
They have voted for all the funding requests for the war in Iraq. In 2005 at the State of Union address, the entire Congress, with few if any exceptions, gave George Bush 39 standing ovations in one hour. They rose to their feet and applauded every time Bush used the word Iraq even before he finished his sentence.
Of course this is nothing new for the Democratic Party. This is the Party of human slavery, of the Jim Crow of 5,000 lynchings, of fighting the right of women to vote, and of imprisoning Japanese Americans in camps.
This is the Party that launched a war of mass murder killing two million Vietnamese as the "peace" party in the 1960s. It is the party that has supported the destruction of the trade unions, lowered taxes for the rich — while raising them for the poor. The Democrats voted 98% in favor of the Patriot Act in the Senate without reading it.
Earlier, 100 percent of Senate Democrats voted to confirm the right-winger Antonin Scalia for the Supreme Court.
In 2004 the Democrats ran John Kerry for President — the same John Kerry who said he could implement Bush’s war policies better than Bush especially in increasing militarization in America and promoting the war in Iraq.
What confuses so many progressively inclined people is they do not really understand that our society is controlled by the corporate power of concentrated money.
The corporations and the super rich — through their domination of the government, the media, and educational institutions and of course the two parties — run our society.
The totalitarian rule of money is a self correcting mechanism. It has flexibility which is part of why it is so powerful.
The two-party system allows the appearance of differences and adjustments to public sentiment. It has become the single most successful political form for the rule of a minority over a majority in the history of the world. How this system of control developed, consolidated, and has survived through the years will be studied for years to come.
The front line in this denial of democracy is the Democratic Party because it is the instrument that controls, channels and co-opts the forces that otherwise could challenge the rule of concentrated money.
It is precisely the "differences" between the two major parties that makes the system effective.
And the front line in the battle for the control of money over people are the so-called "progressive" Democrats who talk the talk. They confuse people, prevent free elections, and fight hardest to undermine a Nader/Camejo candidacy or a Nader/Gonzalez candidacy or any other candidacy whose voice for democracy begins to be heard.
They may think they are helping move the country toward a more progressive agenda. But in fact, they are deepening the illusion that answers can be found through the Democratic Party. In turn, this reinforces the two-party domination over the United States, making possible the horrendous policies we have seen over the last eight years.
You — Medea Benjamin — are now one of those on the front lines defending the two-party domination, and as a direct result, defending the rule of concentrated money and other illegalities and injustices of our present system.
You can’t have it both ways.
In 2004, the Democrats went further than just supporting Bush’s policies.
They led a massive campaign to silence the only well known candidacy that opposed Bush’s policies. They did this by manipulation.
They sent representatives into the Nader/Camejo campaign to disrupt it, to seek to prevent his supporters from getting Nader/Camejo on the ballot. They actively sought to prevent those who disagreed — and favored peace, social justice and democracy — to have a voice.
They harassed people trying to petition for Nader/Camejo. They brought at one time over twenty lawsuits to try to block Nader/Camejo’s campaign from state ballots. They spent tens of millions of dollars in their battle against free elections and against voter choice.
Even today they are trying to "fine" Nader/Camejo tens of thousands of dollars for merely seeking ballot access in the State of Pennsylvania.
I personally had to pay them $20,000 not to have a lien put on my home for having been Ralph Nader’s Vice Presidential candidate.
The Democrats, especially the people you, Media Benjamin, call "progressives," were the most vicious in their endless diatribes against Nader calling him "crazy," "ego maniacal," "stupid," and "agent of Bush."
Media Benjamin you are now shocked that the Nader/Gonzalez campaign used the term "shameful."
Where was Medea Benjamin during the Democrats hate campaign against democracy in 2004? You were campaigning for a pro-war candidate and supporting the vicious anti-Nader/Camejo campaign.
Medea Benjamin in her effort to support John Kerry helped successfully to manipulate within the Green Party support for David Cobb, the anti-Nader pro-voting Democrat candidate who favored US occupation of Iraq in two public debates with me.
She worked to get the Green Party convention to prevent Nader/Camejo from being endorsed after Nader/Camejo representatives won a number of Green Party primaries and state conventions, including California.
During the 2004 campaign, there was a letter on David Cobb’s web site titled "Vote Kerry and Cobb." And it was signed by Medea Benjamin, among others.
If you are going to seek fairness and oppose "trashing," why don’t you start with all your friends whose extreme public attacks on Nader/Camejo you never protested?
Why not promote among your Democratic friends the publishing of ads apologizing to Nader and the American people for the twenty-four harassing lawsuits in twelve weeks filed by Republican corporate law firms like Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis and abuses they committed in 2004 against the rights of the American people to have free elections and voter choice?
Yes Medea Benjamin you have the right — like so many before you — to seek to reform the Democratic Party. The truth is, however, that what you actually achieve is to give cover for this pro-war anti-labor political organization. Millions upon millions have tried to reform the Democratic Party for decades.
The AFL-CIO went in to reform the Democrats with millions upon millions of supporters only to be reduced from 33% of the work force to 12% — a submissively controlled force ineffective in defending even their own existence — unable to even get the Democratic Party to repeal the notorious anti-labor Taft Hartley law of 1947.
The generation of progressive "leaders" that capitulate in 2004 will have to be replaced by a new generation that will stand by principles like the early abolitionists of the Liberty Party, the Populists who led the uprising of 1890s, the Debsian socialists and Women’s Party activists of the early twentieth century — and yes like Ralph Nader who refuses to capitulate to a Democratic Party that has and is selling out the American people.
Making personal attacks on Ralph Nader is starting to get a little old. Maybe it’s time for your Democratic Party friends to end their political bigotry against Nader/Gonzalez.
Yes we should all work together on issues we agree on. Yes we should try to get people regardless of what party they are registered with to support specific objectives.
That is how the most massive peace demonstrations ever were organized in the 1960s and 1970s or the millions who marched together for immigrant rights just a couple of years ago. Of course none of those actions were ever supported by your Party, the Democrats.
The ranks of the Democratic Party are desperately seeking change.
In time they will see that the Democratic Party cannot be and will not be the agency through which peace, social justice and saving our environment will come. On this issue you and I remain divided. On the debate about this issue Nader and those supporting him have been saints in their language in comparison to your friends in the Democratic Party.
The Nader/Gonzalez campaign has nothing to apologize for. Nader has been one of the most beautiful examples of showing respect for all including those who disagree with him.
It is time for you and your Democratic Party associates to show respect and apologize to Ralph Nader.
PETER CAMEJO was Ralph Nader’s running mate in 2004. He lives in California.