There has been a plethora of articles and commentary in progressivist media focused on the Democratic Party — considered left of the Republican Party (but clearly, for a non-American observer, a right-wing party and not a left-wing party). Yet some progressives in the media — forgetful of the Bill Clinton era — continue to push for the effete strategy of lesser evilism that no matter how terrible the Democratic presidential candidate of the corporate political duopoly is s/he would not be as bad as the Republican presidential candidate. Other progressives point out that the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, is clearly aligned with corporatism and imperialism.
Despite all this, the progressivist media has excluded or severely marginalized progressivist “third” party candidates.
If there is any credence to the aphorism “any publicity is good publicity,” then Obama has reaped the benefits while progressivist candidates have been disadvantaged by independent/progressivist media.
To get a thoughtful analysis on lesser evilism and American “democracy,” I turned to Astoria, New York-based author Mickey Z., whose most recent offering is CPR for Dummies (Think: Henry Miller meets Bukowski and Vonnegut at Sunday Mass).
Kim Petersen: What is it about the political milieu in the United States that fosters lesser evilism?
Mickey Z.: I guess it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book (insert Eliot Spitzer joke here). You know: good cop, bad cop. Settle for less pain instead of demanding more pleasure. To delve a little deeper and risk armchair psychology, I’d say that when the “far left” engages in its despicable Anybody-But-Bush style delusion, it perhaps reveals their fear and unwillingness, re: radical change.
KP: Are the political duopoly and corporate media still so persuasive?
MZ: Well, ask yourself this: Why does every major newspaper and TV news show have a business section, but not a labor section? They cover automobiles, not bicycles. If the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops, it’s “Stop the presses.” But if the infant mortality rate rises, it questionable if it’ll even make the papers. If you created a blueprint for an apparatus that erased critical thought, there’s none more efficient than our (sic) corporate media.
KP: Obama exposes his regressivism with statements such as the recent: “But the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.” This he said in Berlin on the heels of departing the greatest wall-building project since dynastic China.
MZ: Well, there’s “our” walls (“our” being the US, UK, and Israel) and then you have “their” walls, Kim. We only build walls when left with absolutely no choice. We really don’t want to. Really… we don’t. I mean it. We’re the good guys. I can prove it: It says so in our history books.
KP: Why do you think it is that even the independent media excludes or marginalizes “third” party candidates and focuses so preponderantly on Barack Obama?
MZ: It’s just so distracting to focus on more than two things at once. The media are us. The press is made up humans shaped by the same hypocritical and destructive culture as the rest of us. All of us lunatics trying to navigate the Space Age with Stone Age brains. If believing that Obama is living proof that American democracy works keeps things simple, then it’s just so much easier to believe that. More subtly, the unspoken reality is that those who look beyond the accepted parameters of discussion are excluded from all the (alleged) fun.
KP: Sometimes the focus is support for Obama since he is supposedly less evil than John McCain, or it can even be about revealing Obama’s lack of progressivism. But the focus is on Obama and not the progressivist candidates out there. Given that Obama presents himself as a thoroughly unattractive presidential candidate for many progressives, why does one seldom encounter articles on more attractive presidential candidates in the independent media?
MZ: Ah, now we get to the dirty little secret of the so-called Left. A big chunk of them just wanna fit in. They wanna win… even if it means incredible compromise. Then there’s some of them that are happiest when bitching and moaning and complaining. Give them a cartoon character to hate like Cheney or Guiliani and they’re pacified. So once again in 2008, the independent (sic) press will buy the line of bullshit being sold by a corporate Democrat (sorry, I’m being redundant) and, by proxy, support the status quo and the subsequent global nightmare.
KP: Even if Obama were an appealing candidate for progressives, he would still be entrenched in the corporate political duopoly. Is a “third” party the answer to steering the United States away from the policies of the corporate duopoly? Is party politics even the way to go?
MZ: Corporate America could buy the Green Party as easily as it owns the Democrats and Republicans… but this isn’t a preordained theology or force of nature. The planet is fucked primarily due to decisions made by humans. If different choices had been made in the past, it’s very likely we’d have had different outcomes. If we start making different decisions now, there just might be enough time to create new outcomes. It’s not about party politics or religion or the system or terrorism or any other fairy tale… it’s about human beings changing their god damned minds and rejecting what has nearly destroyed us — and every other living — so far.
KP: What is the most effective strategy for ditching lesser evilism?
MZ: I don’t know… but I’m guessing it begins with us in the privileged West waking the fuck up and taking drastic action as soon as possible.
KP: Lastly, is going for a “third” party a viable strategy? Or is participating in a rigged electoral system anathema?
MZ: In 2004, there were 202,746,417 eligible voters, but only 122,293,332 hit the polling booths. More than 80 million more Americans could have voted while George W. Bush won with 62,040,610 votes. Imagine if even 20% of those 80 million voted for Nader or McKinney in 2008 — if for no other reason than to demonstrate that what they (we) want isn’t on the menu. Sixteen million protest votes? In America? Hey, it’s at least a tiny step in the right direction… unless of course, they figure out a way to disappear all those votes. Oh well… never mind.