There’s something ghoulish about polls at this particular moment. Should we see whether, on the whole, people like the idea of ethnic cleansing? There’s a morbid fascination with the numbers -- a sickening drop of the stomach -- nevertheless. When people do respond with revulsion to some Bush government atrocity, there’s a little surge of hope that pulls us back into the game of waiting for that magical “tipping point” when enough Americans will finally be disgusted with this criminal regime to push it from office. That tiny gasp of hope then automatically becomes the target of the Republican spin machine, whose main object is hope’s annihilation. Nothing is more effective in that regard than the media’s willingness to promulgate the fascists’ phony fun facts. Their favorite right now: poverty increased under Bill Clinton and fell under George Bush.
Of course it’s not true, but at this point why identify with Bill Clinton? Why bother fighting for him? The fact is, poverty has not been adequately addressed by Democrats. In order to “win”, the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton and the DLC dropped its allegiance to the New Deal vision of a social safety net and government regulation of big business. The result is a Democratic Party and leadership that, no matter how well intentioned, is founded on a basic lie. They cannot serve the interests of both concentrated wealth and the common good. If that once seemed possible to many of us, myself included, it is clearly not going to happen while we’re under the thumb of what Alan Simpson called the Hundred Percenters. They want it all.
A lifelong Democrat, I didn’t accept this logic for a very long time. I grew up with a sort of New-Deal-by-way-of-Preston-Sturges attitude that they’re all crooks, but the Democrats are at least willing to share. Bill Clinton restored my faith in the pragmatic middle of our common party, and I did not seriously re-evaluate that position until John Kerry conceded the election. I actually worked on his campaign. I bought the whole I’ve-got-your-back deal. He seemed (intermittently) to understand the seriousness of our situation -- and I knew he couldn’t be worse than Bush. Anybody But Bush all the way.
And, frankly, I think it worked. I think Kerry won in Ohio, New Mexico, and Iowa. Florida is so corrupt no one could possibly know what the outcome was -- or would have been without tampering. Kerry had an army of volunteer lawyers who advised him to take a scorched-earth legal position on the massive voting irregularities that occurred, and -- after months of accepting massive applause when he promised that “this time every vote will be counted” -- he refused to do it. He allowed truckloads of minority votes to be shoveled into a furnace without making any ungentlemanly fuss. What a nice guy. (Got a note from some Dean people the day after the “election”: hey, how’s that ABB going for you? But I’ve also noticed that Saint Howard’s halo has dimmed the teensiest bit since he stopped being anti-war.)
Kerry’s quick and self-interested sell-out of the 2004 election -- and, incidentally, of our right to vote -- may have a little something to do with the fact that even though polls show that George Bush would now lose to every president since Jimmy Carter (and what kind of stupid question is that to ask, anyway?), he would nevertheless beat Kerry 48 to 47.
Of course there are polls and polls. The Gallup organization is headed by George Gallup, Jr., an evangelical Christian. I leave it to you to decide whether or not that matters, although Christian leaders are aghast at the suggestion that a person’s passionate religious faith disqualifies them from claims to objectivity in the realm of measuring (some would say creating) public policy.
The Pew organization, on the other hand, seems to be reliably independent. A Pew study released in early September shows that for the first time, there is significant erosion in Bush’s base. Progressives have been unable to capitalize on this fatal weakness because we have a Democratic Party that sells out. They take turns so that it looks random. This week it was Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold. It was a big job -- insuring that John Roberts will be quietly confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States for possibly the next 30 years -- so they needed some heavy-hitters to take the heat. Leahy was a natural, given his “No Rubber Stamp” campaign to ensure the Democratic grassroots that there would be a thorough investigation into the good judge’s background. Feingold is one of the handful of senators who voted against the war resolution, which gives him special credibility with many people -- in spite of his co-authorship of that god-awful campaign finance bill. Good choices.
Reviewing the last few weeks is like backing up a scream on TV. This “President” not only delayed aid to dying people, he actively blocked and prevented access to aid from around the world. He sealed off the exits and drowned an excess, unwanted, poor population like rats. Those who survived and made it out to shelters around the country find that their poverty has been, in effect, criminalized. They are no longer free to come and go.
And the Democrats act like this is normal. Their lack of proportionate response to disaster engineering and disaster profiteering is a key element in normalizing the increasingly militarized takeover we are witnessing. Their silence, especially on the war, has become positively eerie. Not one major Democrat attended the September 24 anti-war mobilization. If they know something we don’t know, it ain’t good.
John Kerry gave a good speech at Brown University, in which, among other things, he blasted Bush about Iraq and Katrina, at length and in detail, but it rang extremely hollow.
Even Jimmy Carter disappoints. Although he declared last week that he has no doubt that Al Gore won in 2000 -- just a few years late, Jimmy -- at the same time he is co-chairing a commission that is calling for national voter identity cards. If adopted, this would disenfranchise untold numbers of people, primarily the poor, the elderly, students, and people of color. We’ll see if any of the other provisions of their report, particularly regarding e-voting security and de-politicization of voting administration, ever go anywhere.
So exactly why should we waste a particle of our energy defending the Democrats? We start out standing up for individuals who are being unjustly smeared -- like Kathleen Blanco -- and end up defending a philosophy that we do not really support. Their big lie becomes ours. The more we invest in them, in either hope or disappointment, the more we give the false impression that the Democratic Party stands in opposition to the policy and aims of these lying, traitorous thieves.
Time to go off-road. Katrina was a point of no return. There are an awful lot of people out there who hate George Bush, Republicans, Independents, and especially the nonpolitical majority who don’t bother to vote. You know, the people who understood long before wonky jerks like me that there’s no difference between the two parties.
In spite of intensive effort on the part of the corporate media, people are starting to pay attention. A lot of people are beginning to perceive the Big Truth behind the Big Lie, namely, that ecological disaster is far more inevitable than Bush’s terrorist boogeyman, and that we are, in fact, living within an unfolding climate catastrophe of unknown dimensions. More importantly, when people do start understanding, I don’t think they’re going to turn to the MSM for information and guidance. Not the way they used to.
One sign of that is lay-offs in the MSM, notably the New York Times chain. People just don’t want to read newspapers anymore: I wonder why. It must be because elitist intellectuals talk down to people of faith; they’re working hard to correct that.
Now is the time for us to exploit that uneasy survival instinct keeping our friends and neighbors awake at night. We could start by talking about insurance. Will the flood and disaster insurance pay? When you have an Administration and a Congress that are in the pocket of the insurance industry, at what point does bribery become cheaper than paying out fair claims? Pretty early on, is my suspicion.
No geographic area is safe. There are twisters in the plains states, hurricanes along the coasts, mudslides from torrential rains in California, and droughts in the west. Worse, global warming will lead to outbreaks of disease, which, in our interconnected world, can travel around the world almost instantaneously. Do you trust this guy in a catastrophe of any type, even in a red state? Do you want Blackwater thugs “securing” your property after a disaster?
How many of us truly believe we can weather the uncertainties of dangerous and unpredictable climate change under a brutal, elitist, every-man-for-himself regime? It’s an assessment that might make even the staunchest (or richest) Republican blanch.
Time to put aside bogus political divisions. When someone who is willing to diss Bush says the Democrats aren’t any better, don’t disagree. They’re right.
We have to start making some noise, and the first thing we should scream about is busting the Katrina diaspora out of their illegal refugee camps. These people saw what happened. They can’t be talked out of it. They are living witnesses to the murderous intentions of the Bushitters toward American citizens. Like Cindy Sheehan, they have lost everything. They can speak outside the MSM because they are real.
I personally believe there are still quite a few halfway decent human beings in this country, if they can just get their heads out of their asses. The polls prove it.
Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at: email@example.com.
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