[R-G] More on the Elections & the Left; Help Pressure Kerry to Fight Big
david.mcr at earthlink.net
Tue May 18 07:18:44 MDT 2004
> [Original Message]
> From: <moderator at portside.org>
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> Date: 5/18/2004 12:40:43 AM
> Subject: More on the Elections & the Left; Help Pressure Kerry to Fight
> More on the Elections & the Left; Help Pressure Kerry
> to Fight Big
> * Kerry or Nader: Does It Make Any Difference? Or, Its
> the Social Movements, Stupid. by Michael Hirsch
> * 2004 is not the same as 2000 by Irwin Silber
> * MoveOn: Ask John Kerry to "Go Big"
> Kerry or Nader: Does It Make Any Difference? Or, Its
> the Social Movements, Stupid.
> by Michael Hirsch
> printed in the Spring 2004 Democratic Left; submitted
> to portside by the author
> Voting is a bitch. John Kerry will get my vote in the
> November elections, and Ill give it with the same
> grudging, wintry discontent that I did in the last two
> presidential elections, when I backed Ralph Nader. In
> those races, I made statements. Now I want to beat
> But thats not what this piece is about. Its not why a
> vote for Kerry is inevitable in a year when Bush is
> vulnerable. Its about how liberals and leftists on
> both sides of the Kerry-Nader divide get rabidly
> exercised about other peoples campaign choices, when
> they both know that power does not come out of an
> election booth. It comes out of the economic and social
> movements poised to hold officeholders accountable.
> Its about never forgetting that the left-the only
> hope for humanity (and do I exaggerate?)--isn't built
> by electoral struggle but by building the social
> movements, before, during and after elections. It is
> the weakness of the social movements that forces poor
> choices on us.
> Beyond the facility of corporate Democrats to co-opt
> movement leaders into precinct captains or the
> fecklessness of radicals to form lasting electoral
> alternatives, a centrist Democrat is sadly our last
> best shot for ending the White House occupation because
> no social movements are strong enough to move the
> country left.
> That hasnt stopped sides from forming up for color
> war, with the loudest drumming from the punditry. When
> Nader announced his third run, the usually measured
> Michael Tomasky, for one, counseled Democrat
> candidates, to a man, to "attack Nader right now, and
> with Lupine ferocity." He told The American Prospect
> readers how Nader was "a megalomaniac whose tenuous
> purchase on present-day reality threatens to cancel out
> every good thing he's done in his life," which, if
> true, would be a cancellation on the order of the
> original Star Trek.
> There was more passion on view in Tomaskys tough love
> for Nader than in his eight years of covering Giuliani,
> the race-baiting, city-service privatizing, real-estate
> creature and poster boy for megalomania whom he
> characterized in New York magazine as someone who ran
> for office "to the right of how he ruled."
> Making the case for Kerry is no slam-dunk.
> Problems with the Washington fixture are palpable; they
> can be lined up and bowled over like candlepins. But
> even if Kerry were the political bastard his left
> detractors say he is, he is--as FDR said of the senior
> Somoza--our bastard, at least until Nov. 3. Until then,
> the anti-Bush effort is well-worth building in its own
> right, if only as realpolitik. It neednt be dressed up
> by pounding the iron necessity of beating Bush into a
> tin-plated virtue. We dont have to say the ridiculous
> or the indefensible on his behalf.
> Of course, some critics of the Democratic candidate do
> offer a real-world model for Tomaskys ravening beasts.
> John Pilgers New Statesman screed (March 4) widely
> clipped and distributed over the Internet and on Web
> sites including ZNet, came illustrated in the original
> London version with a split screen of Bush and Kerry
> melded into one face, sharing a lipless sneer. Same man
> and same agenda.
> Pilger says pointing to differences between Bush and
> Kerry is "a big lie," that distinctions between the
> two do not "go beyond the use of euphemisms," and
> that the real objection to Bush by Democrats is to his
> outspokenness, to his administrations "crude honesty,"
> and not to any policy differences.
> "The Democratic Party has left a longer trail of blood,
> theft and subjugation than the Republicans [which] is
> heresy to the liberal crusaders, whose murderous
> history always requires, it seems, a noble mantle,"
> Pilger writes. But what reader of Democratic Left
> doubts that the trail was blazed in a fit of
> bipartisanship, along with opposition throughout ever
> sector of society, including the two parties.
> What does any of Pilgers biliousness tell us about
> politics and political choices? Nothing. Its
> catharsis. Much of the same runs in Counterpunch, where
> Alex Cockburn and friends equate Kerry bashing with
> political comment, or in one small left-wing paper that
> urges readers to "get off the Democratic Party train
> now," in order to "fight for a new political party,"
> presumably one devoid of those pesky misleaders who
> seem to muck things up. This without explaining how a
> second Bush administration could possibly bring that
> goal of better trains and better leaders nearer.
> At least the Greens bring some humor to the table, as
> when St. Louis Green Party organizer Don Fitz turns the
> question around, asking "Should the Democrats Run a
> Candidate for President in 2004?" and says, with some
> justification, "If the Democrats were against the Bush
> program, why would they wait for the election to fight
> Lets shovel away the accumulated sludge. Naders take
> on corporate power is terrific, as far at it goes.
> "Crashing the Party," his account of the 2000 race, is
> a good statement of first principles as well as a fair
> treatment of how hard it is to raise political issues
> in a national campaign, especially absent a social
> movement running interference for you.
> Nader also has every right to run for president, and
> leftists who know that defeating Bush is all- important
> have every right to say "Ralph. Dont Run." But we have
> no right to chant, "unclean; unclean" or vilify his
> The problem I have with Naders run is not bad faith or
> a belief in the worse, the better. Its how his brand
> of anti-corporatism wont mesh with a political
> campaign. While he can run a brilliant position-paper
> operation that spotlights big business domination of
> political and economic life, dont expect him to target
> the real dissatisfaction voters have with the Iraq
> occupation, even its corporate analog, or offer voters
> an alternative.
> Everything Nader says will resonate as a critique of a
> bought and paid-for two party system, not a bash at
> Bush or even a synthetic look at what got bought. If he
> were instead to frame Bush as an acknowledged corporate
> tool, hed play a heros role in bringing Bush down.
> But that would detract from building a 3rd party, his
> acknowledged goal.
> Now I want a left-of-center political party, too, one
> that can harness and represent working class politics
> in a way the Democratic Party in its big tent,
> corporate-dominated incarnation cannot. But the time
> and place to build that isnt eight months from
> November and on the national level, especially when you
> dont have 50-state ballot access or even a Green Party
> skeletal apparatus to run with.
> If the pro-Kerry folk tend to be unreflective or even
> somnolent about how bad the situation is: that in 2004,
> amidst war, joblessness and poverty, we soldier on and
> hopefully elect another centrist Democrat, then the
> self-styled revolutionary Lefts sin is to act like
> lemmings, as though the sea were not instant death and
> Bush or Kerry do not matter. The candidate of one
> socialist groupuscule says he is running as "a voice
> for the international working class in the 2004 US
> elections." Even bullfrogs dont puff themselves up
> that much.
> Differences like these wont get resolved by talking or
> fighting from now until November. Instead of an arctic
> night of long knives, Id rather DSA activists work our
> own sides of the street. That could mean stumping for
> Kerry, or insisting--as DSA does--that the social
> movements have a voice and face in the campaign and
> room to grow. It could mean running the ground war in
> media markets where the emphasis by the party pros will
> be on television saturation in the 17 battleground
> states. It could mean focusing on local races, where a
> few dedicated campaigners can make a difference in
> swinging control of state houses or Congress.
> In New York City, for example, that means working in
> the long-shot Frank Barbaro campaign in Brooklyn-
> Staten Island against a hard-core right winger who
> holds office in a district that boasts the highest
> union-household density in the nation.
> Or it could mean backing independent candidates with a
> chance of winning and who deserve to win, like Matt
> Gonzalez in San Francisco last year
> After November, the left is going to need each other,
> unmaimed. If nothing else, we can at least dial it down
> and get to work.
> [Michael Hirsch is a member of the DSA National
> Political Committee and an editor of New Politics and
> Democratic Left. He ran as a Dennis Kucinich delegate
> in the March primary, outpolling the Ohio congressman
> in New Yorks 14th C.D. by some 200 votes. "Dennis ran
> on my coattails," Hirsch says.]
> 2004 is not the same as 2000
> by Irwin Silber
> I make no apologies for having voted for Ralph Nader in
> 2000. It wasn't Nader who did Gore in. It was Al Gore
> himself (aided and abetted by the Supreme Court) who
> ran a totally lackluster campaign and did more to
> alienate progressives like myself than anyone else.
> (I.e., his crudely opportunistic decision to call for
> keeping the Cuban boy Elian forcibly in the U.S.) I
> believe Nader sees the corruption and underlying
> affinity with corporate business by both Democrats like
> Kerry and Republicans like Bush to the point where he
> thinks a political alternative must, at least, be put
> before the voters.
> There are many of us who share Nader's view on this.
> But he is wrong, in my opinion, on two accounts:
> 1. He fails to recognize that Bush (and his gang)
> represent something much more dangerous than
> traditional Republicans and Democrats. Sinclair Lewis
> once wrote that if fascism ever comes to America it
> will be in the guise of patriotism. The possibility of
> a "coup" is real. All Bush would have to do is declare
> a national emergency, contrive a scenario to fit that
> situation, and proceed to suspend the division of
> powers (between the president, Congress and the courts)
> and the suppression of most rights and liberties we
> take for granted. The ease with which he was able to
> concoct the war against Iraq on the basis of a pack of
> lies is a glaring example.
> 2. Nader's candidacy could be entertained as a
> possibility this year if it was founded on a base of
> popular support that could make him a political
> contender or, at least, a force whose political clout
> would be felt in the real world. This is clearly not
> the case.
> I have rarely supported a "lesser evil" candidate in
> U.S. elections. And make no mistake about it. Kerry
> is definitely a "lesser evil." But there is no other
> way to defeat Bush who is probably the most dangerous,
> despicable and, yes, "evil" figure to command the power
> of the presidency.
> Irwin Silber
> MoveOn: Ask John Kerry to "Go Big"
> Dear MoveOn member,
> As George Bush's poll numbers drop, John Kerry is
> facing an important choice -- perhaps the most
> important choice he'll make in his campaign. He has to
> decide whether, as some consultants will urge, he
> should be cautious, or whether he should present a bold
> agenda for change and rally all Americans around a
> common vision for our future.
> Throughout his life, John Kerry has made a practice of
> standing up for bold initiatives to provide health
> care, protect the environment, and guarantee truth-
> telling in government. Together, we need to let him
> know that we want him to be his best, boldest self --
> to go big, ask more from us, and power his campaign on
> the politics of hope and progress.
> We're joining forces in this effort with commentator
> Arianna Huffington and former Howard Dean campaign
> manager Joe Trippi. Together, we'll let him know in an
> unforgettable way that we support him in running a
> visionary campaign. To sign on to the petition, go to:
> Here's the full text of the letter we'll send on with
> your signature:
> Dear Senator Kerry,
> We all want to send George Bush home to Crawford,
> Texas, in November. He seems convinced that the
> way to win is by playing on our fears. You can
> prove that the answer lies in appealing to the
> "better angels of our nature."
> Let Bush own September 11th and the politics of
> fear. You should own September 12th - the spirit
> of generosity and community that poured forth in
> the aftermath of the attacks - and the politics
> of hope.
> Offer voters a bold moral vision of what America
> can be. A vision that is bigger than the things
> that divide us. A vision that brings hope and
> soul back to our politics and appeals to more
> than voters' narrow self-interests. A vision that
> makes America once again a respected force for
> good in the world.
> Don't be tempted to adopt the familiar - and
> failed - Republican-lite swing voter strategy.
> You can reach out to and inspire the fifty
> percent of eligible voters who have given up on
> voting. If you do, you will win not in a toss-up
> but a landslide.
> Senator Kerry, I'm ready to vote my hopes and not
> my fears. So please: Go Big, Ask More!
> It's clear that Kerry has it in him to be a visionary
> candidate. In a speech to the California Democratic
> State Convention, he referred to Robert Kennedy's
> famous quotation: "Some men dream things that are and
> ask why. I dream things that never were and ask why
> not?" Then Kerry said:
> That is the question at the heart of our
> campaign. That is our cause.
> Why not have an economy where equal opportunity
> is a fact? Where people who work hard and do the
> right thing can not only make ends meet but can
> actually reach higher and hope for more?
> Why not give every working American access to
> high-quality, affordable health care?
> Why not have public schools where children set
> out on a lifetime of learning and possibility?
> Where "no child left behind" is a promise kept,
> not broken and forgotten.
> Why not preserve our environment so our great
> grandchildren can breathe clean air, drink clean
> water, and know that they too live in a land that
> can be called "America the beautiful." (
> John Kerry needs to hear from us -- that we want him to
> offer a bold vision for our country's future and play
> to our hopes rather than our fears. You can join the
> "Go Big" petition by going to:
> Sincerely, --
> Eli Pariser
> MoveOn PAC
> May 17th, 2004
> PAID FOR BY MOVEON PAC, WWW.MOVEONPAC.ORG This
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