Dead Men Left

Friday, October 22, 2004

"The Year of Surrenduring Quietly"

Spineless tripe served up fresh by the Guardian today. Britain's top paper for "fruit juice drinkers and sandals wearers" has become a remarkably efficient outlet for right-wing propaganda from those delicate paragons of corporate America in the Democrat Party. Let's take this latest quivering offering and see what we find, shall we?

In 2000 Mr Nader took almost 100,000 votes in Florida. Al Gore lost (after supreme court intervention) by 537 votes. That is why the Democratic party, abetted by many former "Nader's Raiders", shock troops of the civic activism Mr Nader pioneered, have spent six months desperately trying to keep him off the ballot papers.

Every single other minor party candidate in Florida in 2000 took more than 537 votes. Any one of them, therefore, could equally be blamed for Gore's loss on the grounds laid out here. Far more importantly, fully 12% of registered Florida Democrats - 200,000 people - voted for Bush. If nominal Democrat supporters can't be bothered to vote for, or even vote against their own candidate - why the hell should Nader supporters? And notice the last sentence: "...have spent six months desperately trying to keep him off the ballot papers." Democracy in action, Kerry-style.

But this next lump must be hard to swallow, even for dedicated Anybody But Bush converts.

According to recent Gallup figures, when Nader supporters were asked who they would vote for if he were not on the ballot, 52 % opted for Mr Bush.

Nader has a majority of support from otherwise Republican voters. The Democrat's panic now looks especially foolish: Nader is as likely to cost Bush the election, as Kerry. So why the Guardian hatchet job?

For the record, Nader has spoken courageously in defence of Palestine; clearly and absolutely opposed the Iraq war and occupation; spoken against the Patriot Act; attacked the "corporate duopoly" that passes for US politics; promised to increase taxes on the rich, and welfare for the rest... to make it absolutely clear: his programme is, if anything, more radical than in 2000: anti-corporate, and anti-war. His voters are the so-called "Reagan Democrats": pro-welfare, anti-corporation, often union members: those swayed by Republican's grand promises in the '80s and now tasting their bitter fruits - the 401(k) con, the Enron scandal. This a constituency of excluded working class America glossed over by Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Washington. That they will vote for a clearly anti-war candidate is something to celebrate.

On to the breathtaking hypocrisy:

More than 75 former Nader's Raiders published an open letter: "As the recipient of financial and political support from rightwing campaign donors, Ralph is party to a disingenuous effort to split the progressive vote in key states. With the major party candidates in a dead heat, Nader is poised to tip the election to Bush - again."

"...from rightwing campaign donors": this is to repeat a slander that Nader's supporters have rightly labelled the "Big Lie". According to the Campaign for Responsive Politics, precisely 4% of Nader's campaign funding has come from those who also contributed to the Republicans. These Republican donors gave more to the Democrats: $58,000 to Nader, $66,000 to Kerry.

And what of the great white hope for progressive America, John Kerry? Alexander Cockburn has a fantastic article in the New Left Review that makes absolutely clear just how bad Kerry is. It is as precise a statement of the case against a Kerry vote as could be wished for. To pick one example, much is made in progressive circles of Kerry's anti-war credentials. Leaving aside the specifics of his anti-Vietnam war campaigning, which Cockburn deals with at length, a close inspection of Kerry's political formation reveals this:

Kerry’s pedigree has all the appropriate quarterings. He was a founder member of the Democratic Leadership Council, the camarilla of neoliberals that reshaped the image of the Democratic Party as a hawkish and pro-business party with a soft spot for abortion—essentially a stingier version of the Rockefeller Republicans. dlc strategy has been to concentrate on the white-collar professionals and the corporations, particularly in the area of the ‘new economy’, whose ceos Clinton so successfully courted—layers capable of generating campaign contributions far outweighing those of organized labour. The Democratic Party, the argument went, would always be able to count on the working-class vote—it had nowhere else to go. Targeting the New Economy billionaires has had its own, unstoppable logic. As David Friedman of the New America Foundation put it in the Los Angeles Times: ‘the cleansing of working-class concerns from America’s once-progressive politics’ reflects the interests of ‘a new, fabulously privileged elite—including website and computer gurus, actors, media magnates and financial power brokers’, who now exercise ‘unparalleled influence’ over mainstream liberalism and the Party itself. [13] In the categories of this year’s Democratic convention sponsors—Platinum Plus (over $2 million), Platinum (over $1 million), Gold (over $500,000), Silver (over $250,000)—even the largest organized-labour contributions are ranked way down in Bronze.

That so many progressive voices are prepared to raise themselves in screeching chorus for pro-war, pro-business Kerry is a fine testament to Bush's achievement: like Thatcher, he has evidently succeeded in all but neutering an already enfeebled left.