FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Left Takes a Dive for Kerry

 

This year’s presidential election has witnessed the almost complete collapse of the U.S. Left into supporting the second party of big business. Using the logic that “Anybody But Bush” should be in the White House, a pro-big business, prowar, conservative Democrat is being touted as the only realistic choice in this election. There are elements in this election story that are so predictable–and familiar.

First, there are the assurances that it is the most crucial election in history, one that demands we abandon all principle and accept the “lesser evil,” invariably a moderate Democrat, to defeat the incipient Republican madman. The Democrat, predictably, puts the progressive vote in his bag and proceeds to move further to the right, toward the “center,” dragging the Left along with him.

As the election draws closer, leftists, progressives, and labor activists, agree to stifle their own demands, to refrain from any statement, protest, or struggle, that might embarrass the Democrat and hurt his chances for election.

Some Democratic politicians are chosen to play a special role, echoing more popular themes: peace, pro-labor, universal health care, and so on. Their role is to corral millions of people who are disillusioned with the Democratic Party, and bring them back into the party fold so that the conservative Democratic candidate–who cannot and will not deliver–can be elected. These specialists are named Eugene McCarthy (1968), George McGovern (1972), Jesse Jackson (1984), and Dennis Kucinich (2004).

If there is a third party running, those planning to vote for it as an alternative are frightened with the prospect that they are not only tossing their vote away, they are actually helping the right wing to victory. The result is a period of demoralization and demobilization of the Left. Promising movements–for gay marriage, for example–are shelved because “now isn’t the appropriate time.”

What is different in this election is the degree to which the Democrat in this race doesn’t even make a pretense of any meaningful reform–not even a sop to his left–and the scale, nevertheless, of the Left collapse into his camp. War in Iraq and “war on terror?” Kerry will do it better than Bush. Wealth and poverty? Kerry’s not a “redistribution” Democrat. Gay marriage? Kerry’s opposed to it. Social services? They will be sacrificed to perfecting the military machine and balancing the budget. In 1964 Johnson at least pretended he was the peace candidate. Kerry hasn’t even felt the need to lie. Indeed, he is putting himself forward as the stronger defender of U.S. interests.

Michael Albert of Znet wrote recently,

Kerry is a vile warrior happy to defend corporate interests… Both Bush and Kerry represent corporate and other elite interests and agree on preserving inequity and corporate domination. Neither candidate is a friend toworking people, women, minorities, or to anyone poor or weak.

Albert stands with a number of leftists who provide us with an accurate assessment of Kerry and what he stands for, and then turns around and argues, “Holding one’s nose and voting for Kerry in contested states is a good thing to do.” Perhaps his campaign slogan should be, “Vote for the vile warrior.”

Others have made the argument that Kerry’s election will send a message to the people of the world that we reject the Bush agenda. Tariq Ali, for example, said recently, “A defeat for a warmonger government in Washington would be seen as a step forward.”

There is no doubt that a Kerry victory will be seen as a step forward, both domestically and internationally. Unfortunately, Kerry has made it abundantly clear to us that his victory will not be a step forward. A victory for Kerry would not constitute a defeat for a warmonger government, but the installment of the other party of war to run the warmonger government “better” than Bush. The confusion over what Kerry represents, if elected, will act to disarm the antiwar movement for a period, until Kerry’s actions reveal what he really stands for. Though this should not be necessary. Kerry is telling us now that even had it been revealed before the invasion of Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction, he still would have voted for war. What more do we need to withhold our votes from this “vile warrior?”

Even if we assume what can’t be assumed, that Kerry would be less of a militarist than Bush, are we really saying: Vote for the guy who will conquer two countries instead of three? Is that really what American elections are reduced to? The tragedy, as in virtually every presidential election, is that we accept, to quote Hal Draper, “the limitations of the choice.”

Every new generation of radicals is forced to relearn the lessons of previous generations about the character of the Democrats in particular, and the stifling two-party system in general. In the 1960s the New Left learned the lesson when Johnson promised peace and gave them war.

The politics of successive administrations–whether Democratic or Republican–have had as their main aim the rebuilding of U.S. power internationally, economically, militarily, and politically. If Kerry is elected he has made clear that this will be the policy of his administration.

No matter what the outcome in November, the tasks of those who are opposed to capitalist globalization and war will remain. By collapsing behind the “Anybody But Bush” mantra, the Left has weakened rather than strengthened its hand.

PAUL D’AMATO is the Associate Editor of the International Socialist Review. He can be reached at: pdamato@isreview.org

 

More articles by:
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail