FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The “Progessive” (aka, Liberal) Antiwar Movement: RIP?

by

Ralph Nader wrote a very perceptive essay in the wake of the edifying defeat of the despicable arch-imperialist, Israel Firster and reliable servant of Wall St. Banksters, Eric Cantor, at the capable hands of the libertarian leaning Professor David Brat.  It was titled “Can Progressives Learn From Eric Cantor’s Defeat”?  Can they? Yes.  Will they?  It is highly doubtful.  It is difficult to learn anything if you think you have nothing more to learn.

But here we are interested only in the lessons of Cantor’s electoral humiliation at the hands of Brat for the progressive antiwar, anti-Empire movement.   (For the significance of the Brat victory beyond the matter of war, see this.)  And by “progressive” we do not mean “Left.”  “Progressive” for some is merely a brand change adopted by long ago to escape the abuse poured on “liberalism.”  One looks in vain for a self-described liberal these days only because they have donned a new costume which they have already badly soiled.

Here are two relevant quotes from Nader’s essay:

“(The Brat victory) has several takeaways for progressives besides envy and shame over why they do not directly take on the corporate Democrats.”

“Unfortunately the driving energy of progressives, including the dissipating Occupy Wall Street effort, is not showing up in the electoral arena. The political energy, the policy disputes and the competitive contests are among the Republicans, not the Democrats…”

In summary, why are the progressives not taking on the corporate (and hawkish) Democrats in the electoral arena?  And what does that mean for the next presidential year, 2016?   Certainly it is desirable to have antiwar candidates in primaries of both major parties – and even better to have them win the nomination.  Thus, there are two electoral tasks for the broad antiwar movement in the rapidly approaching election year of 2016:

1.  On the Democratic Side.  The progressives must field a candidate to take on the bloodthirsty Hillery to make good on Nader’s challenge.  Otherwise, she could well be “the first woman” – to start a world war.  So far there is no one – and the undependable Bernie Sanders is not that person, as even a cursory reading of the late Alexander Cockburn’s denunciations of Sanders over the years makes clear.  Nor is that great American Indian, my Senator, Elizabeth Warren who ran for Senate as a hawk on Iran, a credible peace candidate.

2. On the Republican Side.  Antiwarriors here must make sure that there is an antiwar Republican running in the primaries and hopefully winning the nomination.  That person is Rand Paul.  And Brat’s victory over the establishment’s candidate bodes well for Paul’s success.  So the forces of peace are making headway in the GOP even though they face an uphill battle.

That leaves the Democrats without any anti-Empire voice. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) will not do the job of challenging Hillary.  From Norman Solomon to Medea Benjamin they are notorious by now for putting Party over principle.  Other progressives operating outside the Dem Party, and few in number, are well defended, claiming that elections are for naught.  But history argues against this.  Truman, the architect of the unpopular Korean War was defeated in the New Hampshire primary, paving the way for an Eisenhower victory due in part to a pledge to end the war, a pledge he kept promptly.  Lyndon Baynes Johnson, the inheritor of a very unpopular war from JFK was also undone in New Hampshire, by the principled Eugene McCarthy, not the most “liberal” Democrat and a bit of a libertarian.  From that point on despite the best efforts of both Humphrey and Nixon to prolong it, the Vietnam War was over.  Primary challenges have an effect.  Ron Paul built a very powerful movement, especially among the young, with his 2008 and 2012 runs.

Other progressives will tell you that street actions like Occupy are the way forward despite the inability of Occupy to so much as articulate a platform, program or strategy.  And they are bereft of even a shadow of ideology and consistency having long ago abandoned the more traditional left precepts.  Most notably the decade of wars went largely unmentioned in their gatherings, in great part because they are now Obama’s wars.  Nader kindly describes Occupy as “dissipating.”  Strangely, some of these Occupiers find refuge in the Green Party, which is dedicated to electoral action.  The Green Party itself is a resounding failure.  Its perennial presidential candidate is a very pleasant, organized and well meaning person but is entirely too solicitous of “progressive” Dems to make an impact.   And she has not been able to win even a State House seat in very progressive Massachusetts, although she has tried.

Picasso said he became a Communist, because the Communists were for the peasants and he was for the peasants.  Often it is as simple as that.  What are people to do if they are for peace and the only viable force for peace is the libertarians, as was true in 2012?  Then they will become libertarian Republicans.  And we see that happening with many young people.  If “progressives” cannot accomplish a challenge to Hillary, they will be finished for the foreseeable future, probably a generation at least.  And that seems to be the way things are headed.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

 

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail