FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Election Day Fears

We have two great fears about Election Day 2004.

The first is that George W. Bush will be elected.

The second is that John Kerry will be elected.

Those fears are rooted in an understanding that the threats to global justice and world peace come not from a single person or party but from systems, and that no matter who is elected, those systems — empire and capitalism — remain in place. There is no hope for the long-term sustainability of human life on the planet if empire and capitalism are not replaced with more ecologically viable and humane ways of organizing political and economic life. And both Bush and Kerry are committed — by their words and deeds — to the maintenance of the capitalist empire.

But which of these imperial capitalist candidates takes office in January 2005 is not irrelevant. There are differences between the two, and some of the differences aren’t inconsequential.

Bush and Kerry are both pro-war candidates, in the case of Iraq and in general. Kerry voted to give the president authorization for the war and remains committed to continuing the illegal occupation of Iraq. Both pledge virtually unconditional support to Israel in its brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine. The two candidates’ hawkish rhetoric on Latin America and the Caribbean is virtually indistinguishable. And both Bush and Kerry are committed to continuing to spend more than $400 billion on an insane military system that has little to do with national security and much to do with the maintenance of empire and corporate profits.

On foreign and military policy, Bush and Kerry differ mostly in style and strategy, not fundamental aims. Much is made of Kerry’s commitment to traditional alliance politics, which some have pointed out would likely be more effective in the long term than Bush’s go-it-alone strategy. If Kerry rebuilds U.S. alliances with other powerful states, especially in Europe, it might allow the empire to continue for a longer period.

But one can also imagine the ideologically fanatical neo-conservatives who run foreign policy in the Bush administration taking risks with war and nuclear weapons that more moderate Republicans and Democrats would not. It’s important to realize that many in the global south who are working for radical change want us to remove the Bush administration, with no illusions about the pathetic alternative Kerry offers. It would be arrogant for Americans with left/progressive politics to ignore that.

On domestic policy, the differences seem more pronounced. No one can mistake Kerry or the contemporary Democratic Party as being pro-union, pro-environment, or pro-civil rights, but they are less overtly hostile to those issues than the reactionaries who run the Republican Party. The Bush administration’s eagerness to eliminate social programs and erode civil liberties, along with the theocratic leanings of some Republicans, should keep us up nights.

In short, left/progressive people who reject the U.S. empire can find reasons to vote tactically for the removal of the Bush administration, which means voting for Kerry in swing states. We can acknowledge that the Bush administration — the actual people in power and the ideology that fuels them — are scary, and that the rest of the world is scared of them.

But a Kerry administration will not mean a shift in basic policy, at home or abroad. It likely will mean a slightly less psychotic commitment to a system that is unjust and unsustainable. That’s why we’ve been saying that while Nov. 2 is an important date for American politics, Nov. 3 is even more important.

We work in a grassroots antiwar and global-justice political group (www.thirdcoastactivist.org). We intend to get up the day after the election and continue the work of educating and organizing within our community to make clear the horrors of empire. We’re going to keep talking about the atrocity-generating machine that is the U.S. occupation of Iraq, no matter who is in office. We’re going to keep talking about the need for a dramatic transfer of resources from the global north to the global south, no matter who is in office. We’re going to keep talking about how deeply rooted systems of white supremacy and male supremacy help bolster the empire, no matter who is in office.

In short, we’re going to come together with others in the anti-empire movement and keep at it, understanding that progressive social change happens through movements, not politicians. We’re going to keep suggesting to people that we face a choice: Either we dismantle the empire from within, non-violently, or we will watch the empire collapse through violence from the outside.

If Americans are truly interested in justice — in the simple plea that maintaining a world in which half the people live on less than $2 a day is wrong, that such disparities are evil — then we have no choice but to join the movement to dismantle that empire.

But even if we care only about our own survival, the choice is the same. On Sept. 11, 2001, we got a glimpse of what it will look like when the empire collapses from the outside. That is the future that Bush and Kerry are offering. It is a future that — no matter which one of them is in office — we can try to make sure does not come to pass.

Pat Youngblood is coordinator and Robert Jensen is on the board of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin, TX. They can be reached at pat@thirdcoastactivist.org and rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

 

More articles by:
July 23, 2018
Pam Martens
Koch Industries Is Staffing Up with Voter Data Scientists to Tip the November Election to the Extreme Right
Binoy Kampmark
Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing and Surrendering Assange
Vijay Prashad
America’s Reporter: the Hersh Method
Colin Jenkins
Exposing the American Okie-Doke
Patrick Cockburn
What Boris Johnson Doesn’t Know About British History
Jack Random
Asylum Seekers in the 21st Century
Howard Lisnoff
How We Got Sold on Endless Wars
Ed Meek
Trump Has Taught Us Some Valuable Lessons About Executive Power
Myles Hoenig
Trump, the Mr. Magoo of American Diplomacy
Winslow Myers
The Mind Reels
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Peaceful Revolution
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail