Fellow radicals: recent events have made it clear that the primary task facing good people everywhere is unconditional support for the Democratic Party, the only party capable not only of removing a very, very bad man from office, but also increasing the pay envelope of starving and desperate Nation, Salon, MoveOn, and Sierra Club coffee-coolata-warriors across America. I submit my humble contribution to this effort by offering a list of ten virtues to cultivate in your personal journey towards becoming a better Democrat.
Tip One: Among friends and coworkers, harp on Bush’s status as filthy rich millionaire who is out of touch with the American people. If anyone reminds you Kerry is also a filthy rich millionaire, owns several multimillion dollar homes, and once appeared on the right-wing Don Imus show to denounce an electoral opponent as “a guy who takes more vacations than people on welfare,” quickly spill your Starbucks mocha cappuccino deluxe on said miscreant to divert attention and change the subject.
Tip Two: Always remember to attack Bush for cowardly dodging service in Vietnam and ducking duties by going AWOL when enlisted in the National Guard. Then boast about how Kerry winning and holding onto many shiny medals as a reward for participating in the genocidal slaughter of two million poor peasants defending their villages against massive foreign invasion makes him “tough and responsible.” Don’t forget to plug in Kerry’s past courting (for the role of VP runner) Vietnam veteran Senator John McCain, who has declared, “I hate the gooks, and I will hate them as long as I live.” Priceless.
Tip Three: As a Democrat, one of your major concerns, of course, isdemocracy. That’s why you want to get the arrogant swaggering Texan out of office you believe in the right to privacy and freedom of expression, and the Ashcroft goon squad, armed with the PATRIOT Act, is ruining that. If you catch anyone muttering about the fact that Congress – including its many Democrats and John Kerry himself were the ones who placed their stamp of approval on the PATRIOT Act right after September 11th in the first place, tell him or her to shut the hell up and order the authorities to search his or her belongings for any terrorist (or worse, Naderite) paraphernalia. We can’t have rabble-rousers ruining democracy.
Tip Four: You know that George Bush has done a horrible, terrible, dreadful thing in Iraq. He failed to garner enough international support or consult thoroughly with allies when launching war, resulting in thousands of Iraqis being killed and maimed without the simple comfort of knowing that their suffering and murder was legally approved by the United Nations. As a man of principle, you know this is a truly foul deed: no child should die from a cluster-bomb not backed up by a UN resolution. Take pride in your presidential candidate having both voted in favor of the war and committed himself to sending more children of our “people on welfare” to fight, kill, and die in that blooming democracy known as Iraq.
Tip Five: Since we’re on the subject of invading and occupying people with massive force, it’s probably a good time to remind you that Israel is our greatest friend. Our hero John Kerry firmly believes in this, as his most recent policy paper calls for supporting Israel’s new separation wall as “a legitimate right of self-defense.” Bulldozing homes, erecting walls, burning children’s genitals, shooting pregnant women at checkpoints, sniping stone-throwing kids, and stealing people’s land is all 100% kosher. It doesn’t really matter much that this is the main source of Arab resentment against America. After all, our party gets tens of millions of dollars from pro-Israel lobbying groups, and if we good Democrats didn’t support all that self-defensive behavior, why, we would clearly be anti-Semites! And, believe me, it sure doesn’t pay to be a racist when it comes to making war on the rag-heads.
Tip Six: As a Democrat, you represent the common man. You stand against the influence and power of big corporations that pollute the earth and squeeze ordinary folk. Only problem is, few of the plebeians themselves seem to realize this. As the July 17th NYTimes recently explained, “the country is as deeply divided as ever, leaving both sides struggling to alter the campaign’s basic story line, in which Mr. Bush is showing clear vulnerabilities but Mr. Kerry has been unable to exploit them.” The most impressive of these vulnerabilities is that, again quoting the Times, “Fifty-one percent of respondents [in their latest poll] said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq.” Of course we Dems can’t really use that, since we’re all gung-ho about staying in Iraq.
But moving on, we can still talk a good game about fighting corporate America. An especially good game, actually, because Kerry has a solid record of acquiring plenty of money from corporate America to help us spread the good word about how we will fight corporate America. In fact, he “has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years”, mostly from “telecommunications and financial companies with business before his committee” according to the Jan. 31st Washington Post. The recent addition of former Chrysler CEO Lee Lacocca to the Kerry team should also help our cause.
Tip Seven: As a Democrat, you believe in free and fair elections you hate shenanigans like the one the Republicans pulled on us in Florida last time around. That’s why you have to applaud the decency of our party in making sure George W. Bush got on the ballot in nine states where he failed to meet state law because of the lateness of the RNC, whose timing happily coincides with the anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. The last state where the Democrats made an amendment to state law to put Bush on the ballot was Illinois.
Now of course, our decency has its limits in this same state of Illinois, we hired a bunch of lowly Democratic Party functionaries on overtime pay to challenge the ballot signatures of that odious Ralph Nader figure and foiled his evil plans to get on the ballot with Bush and Kerry. (The Illinois Reader, July 19, 2004).
Now obviously, we have no problem with Bush being on the ballot, but a conniving, progressive reformer like Nader? That just crosses the line. The Democratic Party, rest assured, is a responsible party, and at the end of the day, we know our friends from our enemies.
Tip Eight: Support for abortion and tighter gun control are key tenets of our agenda and part of our core values. But so is flexibility! Therefore it’s perfectly understandable that after Kerry said, “I want to talk to conservatives,” some fruitful results came from this much-needed dialogue. For instance, recently, “[Kerry] tramped around farms and toted a shotgun on a trap-shooting range  said that he represented conservative values, and emphasized his personal opposition to abortion.” (LA Times, July 11, 2004). He added: “I’m a hunter. I’m a gun owner. A lot of people on the left don’t like that, but that’s who I am.” It’d be good to have a straight-talker around the White House who’s not tied down or bound to any kind of mushy “liberal base”
Tip Nine: One important thing you have to keep in mind when you’re in the Democratic Party is the value of unity within the party. For example, recently some mushy-minded members of the party led by Kucinich thought it might do us some good to take a stand against the Iraq war, support gay marriage, create a department dedicated to peace, and even assert the right for Palestinians to exist on their land. Ha! We tend to head off this kind of silliness quickly, like the Washington Times reported on July 11: “Saying party unity is more important than particulars, delegates agreed to forgo amendments on Iraq, a broader call for same-sex unions and a stronger endorsement of Palestinians’ rights.”
Tip Ten: If you remember nothing else, remember this: our party is the oldest capitalist party there is. We were even around during slavery – and supported it, too. We have a long and rich record in contributing to America in just the past fifty years: interning the Japs sneaking around America, dropping not one but two nukes on their country, invading Cuba, producing the Gulf of Tonkin fiasco to drum up support for war in Vietnam, helping out stand-up guys like Nicaragua’s Somoza, who sold his people’s blood to America (which they had donated for Nicaraguan earthquake victims), taking out evil-doers like a million or so civilians in Iraq snuffed out under our sanctions (definitely outdid ‘W’ there, woo-ha!), and so on. Don’t let the Republicans claim the mantle of toughness – take pride in your heritage as a member of the real tough party.
Of course, while we act tough, we talk softly. Therefore, working people believe all of our progressive-sounding rhetoric while the powerful still benefit from our actual policies. That is our greatest virtue. And with the help of more ex-radicals turned sensible, pragmatic Democrats like you to convey our message, we can definitely save America. For ourselves.
M. JUNAID ALAM, 21, Boston, co-editor of radical youth journal Left Hook (www.lefthook.org), feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.
first published in Left Hook.