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DuctapeFatwa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:06 AM
Original message
The Democratic Party: A disappointing alternative
With the coming of the 2004 presidential election spoken of daily and the leading Democrats on the campaign trail, Americans have entered into yet another cyclical period of delusion and naivet. These maladies, however, do not affect those of all political stripes with equal force. Distinctly, it is the more progressive factions of the Democratic Party and "liberals," "leftists," and "independents" slightly beyond the mainstream in whom these mental conditions seem the most prevalent.

The most telling symptom of this delusion, especially as election time draws near, is the largely banal and unconvincing assertion that the Democratic Party represents an alternative to the Republican Party, and, more generally, that anyone with the name recognition and money to be a prominent candidate in the American political environment of 2003 represents a legitimate counterweight to the direction of the American body politic today.

It must first be said that the majority of the Democratic Party has no desire to dramatically change the course of the United States. The think-tanks, organizations, politicians, and private citizens who allegedly represent the generic "liberal" cause in America typically disagree with only the nuances of Bush administration policy while tacitly supporting the decades'-old undergirding which gives such policy initiatives life and sustenance. Witness a Democratic Senate in the last two years endorsing the invasive PATRIOT Act and actually relinquishing its right to declare war by giving the president pre-emptive rights in the "war on terrorism." Senator John Kerry recently called the Bush administration the most dangerous administration in twenty years. Why then did he further embolden this group by forfeiting his constitutional duty to authorize war?

Many peace groups, anti-war groups, anti-globalization groups, gay rights groups, woman's rights groups and virtually every other marginalized sub-society imaginable is excited about at least one of the candidates. To be fair to these organizations though, many of them are not in favor of major candidates and realize the inherent incapacity to be represented by a major party candidate in the context of contemporary American politics. Unfortunately, many do not understand this fundamental truth of the political scene facing the country today.

Why do such organizations and otherwise incisive, intelligent people -- those supposedly dedicated to progressive causes -- endorse such candidates as John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Joe Lieberman? The only satisfactory explanation for such activity is that a large percentage of those opposed to the Republican Party/conservative/right-wing agenda still have large reserves of faith when it comes to the American political process and the Democratic Party's ability to right the wrongs and turn the country down the road of change or reform.

Part of this faith also lies in the intense partisanship that permeates American politics. Democrat after Democrat one meets in the street is capable of telling you with a straight face that George W. Bush is a bald faced liar and Bill Clinton an angel. They'll tell you how much the Republicans hurt America and how much the Democrats help. This kind of overt bias is -- perhaps for a few seconds -- admirable in its steadfastness with which the speaker defends their ideological brethren, but cannot survive any kind of substantive logical analysis.

To those in a froth at this point, it must be noted that a condemnation of the Democratic Party does not constitute an endorsement of the Republican Party, nor does it even seek to show that Democrats are worse, or even the equals, of Republicans in their perceived social and worldly injustices. Alternatively, it simply proposes that the Democratic Party is only an infinitesimally improved variation of the Republican one that cannot be relied upon by concerned Americans as a vehicle for their social, economic, and foreign policy needs and desires.

Such an idea should hardly come as a surprise nor should its content be considered particularly radical, but the visceral and ideologically firm reactions it invariably elicits belies these observations. It is a general feeling of this writer -- and not one that too many conclusions should be drawn from -- that the greatest amount of hate mail is generated by articles that skewer the Democratic Party and seriously question its ability to fulfill its presumed intent: to represent the citizenry instead of the plutocratic interests of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex/corporate America.

The first step that can be taken to remedy this dilemma is to recognize the validity of third party candidates despite how many political zealots tell you you're wasting your vote. This logic alone -- almost exclusively voiced by the left -- could be the greatest impediment to the evolution of progressive/third party politics the country now faces. The point of democracy is that everyone (or not everyone depending on the time and place) has the ability to express who they feel should head their government and lead their country. But voting in America has been transformed so that now people are really voting for whom they don't want to win.

In the lead up to the 2000 election, Gore zealots condemned voters for their intention to vote for "outsider" Ralph Nader because it would take votes away from Al Gore thereby increasing George W. Bush's chances of victory -- based on the assumption that voters with Nader as a first choice would have Gore as their second. What these die hard partisans miss is that that's exactly the point: to take away votes from the two party monopoly on political power, not to take away only Republican votes or only votes from their opponents. Of course, to identify with these folks in the first place, one must believe that Al Gore is what America really needs -- a lifetime political insider -- while George W. Bush is the greatest evil to ever come down the pike.

Major party partisans may laugh when a third party candidate gets only two percent of the popular vote, but that's how the transition must inevitably begin. Can progressives expect to suddenly get 20 or 30 percent of the vote in the next election? The danger is that in fact 20 or 30 percent of registered voters do want a third alternative but never cast that vote because they are afraid of the Democrats' propaganda or they will simply be viewed as contrarians or "protest" voters.

Those who strive for genuine change must come to terms with the fact that the Democratic Party is no longer a legitimate organization for the creation and advancement of a just and sustainable society that is a responsible member of a global community.



Matthew Riemer encourages your comments: mriemer@YellowTimes.org

YellowTimes.org is an international news and opinion publication. YellowTimes.org encourages its material to be reproduced, reprinted, or broadcast provided that any such reproduction identifies the original source, http://www.YellowTimes.org .

http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=1582
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Charlls Donating Member (301 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
1. I wonder how many people are on the green party...
Edited on Mon Sep-22-03 12:52 AM by Charlls

:bounce: :hippie:
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DuctapeFatwa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 01:18 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Dunno, but the largest marginalized group isnt served by any party

There is no party that offers anything significant to low-income and minority voters, this is a large group of people, whose condition is deteriorating rapidly, as the gap between rich and poor widens and the middle class is phased out.

While I agree with the author that the majority of the voting class that considers themselves "Democrats" do not want any substantive change in policies, rather to put a Democrat face on the status quo, I do not agree that there is at this time a third party alternative that sincerely attempts to address the situation of millions of Americans, and provide a political, non-violent alternative to Brazil or Rwanda.
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Charlls Donating Member (301 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 01:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. maybe...

United States is suffering some extent of 'thirdworld-ization' ?
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no name no slogan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Yeah, and it USED to be US!
That's what's so sad about the situation today. The Democratic Party leadership is completely out of touch with its core constituencies, especially racial minorities, the working class and the working poor. Out of or 10 candidates, there's maybe three that are addressing these issues, and they're being ignored by the media.
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Charlls Donating Member (301 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. wow! great quote!


... that dude Kucinich should be the next president
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Isome Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 01:18 AM
Response to Original message
3. Hmmm...
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