FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Election Season Piffle

by JOSHUA FRANK

This is what it has come to.

Hillary Clinton seems poised to damage Barack Obama so badly in the Democratic primary that he will end up flopping around like a suffocating trout in the general election when he faces John McCain. From the progressive left, the Green Party, totally strapped for cash and lacking an effective platform, seems intent on running former Democrat Cynthia McKinney for president, known in mainstream America only for her ugly spat with Capital Hill police. And of course there is Ralph Nader who is running another quixotic campaign on sound issues and moral fortitude, but with absolutely no grassroots base to form a rebellion against the powers that be — a campaign that will inevitably become mired in expensive ballot-access battles that will drag on far beyond the election itself.

It’s a dismal time for electoral politics indeed.  Candidates that oppose the Iraq war, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the oil cartel, the banking industry, the PATRIOT Act and the death penalty, are shoved to the political margins, starved for cash, lacking an organized movement and ignored by the press.

Back in 2000, during Nader’s most spirited presidential run, anti-globalization sentiment, fueled by the WTO protests, was coming to a head. Nader spoke forcefully about the concerns of the activists that took to the streets of Seattle one year prior, addressing the corporate takeover of our natural resources, the exploitation of labor in developing countries and the fallacies of neoliberalism at home. For many, Nader’s candidacy was less about Nader the persona and more about what his campaign represented. Sadly, the reality today is much different than it was eight years ago.

Unless Hillary Clinton somehow pulls out the Democratic nomination, Nader’s struggling campaign will likely draw only a fraction of the support it did in 2004 despite what a few cherry-picked polls are saying about his chances. Barack Obama has all but sealed up the progressive vote, riding on his airy rhetoric of “change” and “hope”. This no doubt will deflate Nader’s campaign even further.

Nader often speaks of the role third parties have played in past social movements. But what “party” does Mr. Nader speak for now?  What movement is pounding the pavement day in and day out in support of his candidacy? What stadium will be sold out to hear him speak later this summer? What election is he going to spoil?

This is where Barack Obama steps on to the scene. The fact that Obama has been able to mount a battle against the Clinton controlled Democratic Party, throwing Bill and Hillary into a few tizzies along the way, is deserving of respect. No Democrat has dared challenge the duo’s control these past two decades, and those that have been silenced and marginalized. But that’s right about where my respect for Obama stops. While the senator from Illinois claims to oppose the war in Iraq, he has nonetheless voted numerous times to continue funding its continuation. He supports the death penalty, nuclear power and “clean” coal, believes Israel has a right to occupy Palestine and promises to bully Iran with the threat of warfare. All-in-all Obama is a candidate caught in the same old empty cul-de-sac, and progressives ought to jump off his wobbly bandwagon at the next stop.

The Green Party, or what’s left of it, isn’t a much better alternative. Just last December the GPUS was forced to borrow over $6,000 from its members in order to send out a direct mailing. The party is dead broke. Or maybe just dead. If the GPUS were a corporation they’d have filed for bankruptcy years ago. It’s also hard to tell what party their leading candidate Cynthia McKinney is exactly working to build — is it the Greens or the Reconstruction Party?

As a former Democrat, how loyal will McKinney be to the Green Party? Is she, as a few Green loyalists have expressed to me privately, just using the Greens for her own gain in order to help build the new Reconstruction Party? Regardless, it probably doesn’t matter all that much as to where her allegiance resides, for neither party is likely to amount to anything significant in the end.

All this may lead one to a state of electoral despair. Who is then to challenge John McCain’s 100 year war and the corporate takeover of the planet? Barack Obama isn’t going to put on the breaks on American empire; in fact, if elected, it’s likely he’ll face less opposition than Bush has during his two terms.

But don’t fret. Opposition to grave social injustices is most effective when it takes place outside the presidential election racket.

Activists on the ground fighting to stop the conveyer belt execution industry of Texas, organic farmers battling Monsanto in North Dakota, Native Americans challenging the federal government over ancient land rights, unionists fighting for a fair wage, environmentalists working to hold polluters accountable for their actions — all of these activities will rage on under the radar despite who is in power in Washington. And these are the campaigns that we ought to be supporting.

So don’t worry too much if the left seems dead in the water this year. It may well be, but grassroots activism is alive and well across the land in some of the most remote, forgotten places you could imagine. Jeffrey St. Clair and I chronicle a few of the more vibrant local movements in our forthcoming Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland. People in our own backyard are fighting over the essentials of life: water, food, human liberty. And while up against tremendous, insurmountable odds, many are steadily gaining momentum.

This election season surely won’t sidetrack their valiant efforts. Nor should it your own.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of Left Out! (Common Courage Press) and the co-editor, with Jeffrey St. Clair, of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland (AK Press).

 

 

 

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail