FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Snake Oil and the Midterm Elections

So we are in the trenches of another election season, and if you peer closely you can see the explosions on the horizon. I’m yet to be convinced the Democrats have the capacity to take back Congress, and to tell you the truth I don’t really care if they do. Not only do they not have the ability to lead, they also do not possess the moral impetus to change the direction of this country if they are lucky enough to regain control. Indeed they are just as responsible for the ruin in Iraq and back home as the Bushites.

The Democrats have assisted the Republicans at virtually every turn over the past six years. From the bloody invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the passing of CAFTA, to the confirmations of Samuel Alito and John Roberts, to the support of the PATRIOT Act, to the dismantling of Habeas Corpus, to the championing of Bush’s ravaging forest plan, to backing Israel’s brutal assault on Lebanon-the Democratic Party has long played the role of enabler. And now they want your vote.

Author Jeff Cohen at CommonDreams.org recently pled with progressives to elect Democrats to office this year. “A Democratic win in 2006 would be similar to 1998: a rejection of rightwing extremism and hypocrisy.”

I fail to see the rationale. If we usher the Democrats into office on November 7 we’ll just be electing rightwing extremism under a substitute banner–it won’t be called Republican but it’ll still be wicked as all hell. Even Cohen admits that the Democratic leadership doesn’t have a progressive agenda, but still feels that a lefty push inside the party could change that around. What Cohen and others have embraced is a blatant call for lesser-evilism: ignore alternatives and vote for what you don’t believe in, because it’s strategic.

The whole plan: “take back Congress and then pull the Democrats left down the road”. When has that ever worked? And why would the corporate Democrats give its progressive wing any credence? If the Democratic Party continues to receive progressive votes regardless of their rightwing positions, there is absolutely no reason for them to change.

Sadly Cohen’s position, like the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) of which he serves on the Board, is analogous to The Nation magazine’s foul electoral philosophy. Neither will “endorse” pro-war Democratic candidates, nor will they “oppose” them.

Silence is complicity.

I hold out no hope that the Democratic Party can ever be reformed, but let’s say by some divine intervention they can. If so, the only way it will ever happen will be when its progressive constituents leave the party and challenge them from the outside. In fact, that is what The Nation seems to fear most.

In the upcoming November 13 issue, on shelves this week, The Nation editors warn, “If Democrats fail to recapture at least a working share of Congressional power, they and their party will rightly be cast into disrepute, too, and distressed citizens may reasonably begin looking for other options.”

What would be so wrong with that? Progressives should have been looking for other options long ago. However, The Nation, like Cohen and the PDA, does not support independent politics or the emergence of a legitimate progressive third party. And that’s why they have not lived up to their promise of truly opposing pro-war Democrats by endorsing any of their antiwar challengers.

Of the 23 candidates in tight races or running in open districts
across the US, all but one was chosen by chair of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Perhaps not
surprisingly, 22 of his picks are ardently pro-war. The other is suspect. But The Nation and the PDA don’t want you to know any of that. Instead they’d rather see left-leaning voters cramped inside the cage of the Democratic establishment. Nothing could be more damaging to social movements or our hope for real progressive change.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits www.BrickBurner.org.

 

 

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail