Al Gore, Dean and the Greens
Politicians as Usual

by Josh Frank
December 9, 2003

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Now that he is free of Washington, Al Gore feels invigorated. Not that if he had been elected, America would have acted monumentally different than George W. Bush since 2000; but surely it is comforting for us to think so.

Nonetheless, by the time your eyes scour this page, Gore will have endorsed Howard Dean for President of the United States, arguing all mayhem could have been averted had a Dem been in office.

It really is the endorsement Dean has been looking for -- an insider, whose ties to the Democratic elite will help boost his outsider image, and gain respect among affluent centrist Democrats.

Within the DLC wing of the Party, Dean has been labeled a fringe leftist, incapable of reaching out to the Party’s conservative patrons. And Gore’s endorsement is just what the doctor from Vermont ordered.

It is politics as usual. Gore is backing the governor because Dean is strongly leading vital primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. The more conservatives that back Dean, the less the Democratic Party looks like wild-eyed progressives. And oh, dear no, they can’t stand the thought of that sort of label.

Why else do you think they flew Al Gore and Bill Clinton into San Francisco to rally behind corporate embedded Democratic mayoral candidate, Gavin Newsom? Because they fear their party is losing vital credibility, even in liberal strongholds like the Bay Area.

The progressive candidacy in San Francisco of an ex-Democrat turned Green, Matt Gonzalez; is the second Californian testimonial after Arnold’s win, that proves the Democrats are virtually through as an oppositional party.

And a trip to Cali from Gore and Clinton will only inflame this breeding fervor.

Not many diehards argue the Democrats are really progressive anyway. That’s the beauty when arguing semantics with a bemused Dem. Even Dean, a media labeled antiwar candidate, doesn’t pass the lefty piss test. He’s a neoliberal Zionist with a fancy for the racist death penalty. A Gore endorsement will only solidify Dean as an establishment candidate, who is willing to work from the inside out. No big surprise.

And they still think this sort of posture can win elections?

Well, it can’t for long. Gonzalez’s bid for mayor in San Francisco is about two things; instant run-off voting, and a populist dislike for Democratic politics as usual. Greens may not compete on the national stage until run-off voting is in place, but the dislike for Dem stances is thriving more and more with every passing election cycle.

And Al Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dean isn’t a liberal anyway; he’s a Wall Street Democrat who has raised over $100,000 in the last 4 weeks from corporations like of IBM, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. And corporate sponsorships of this sort are surely to rise in the months to come.

“Rally around the family,” is the new Democrat motto, where prominent Dems flock to support ailing kin like Gavin Newsom and Howard Dean. It may surely cost them their decade’s reign in San Francisco, along with the contested White House in 2004.

If Democrats learned anything from Gore’s loss in 2000, it should have been that playing by the rules of electoral politics, costs them crucial elections. Whether it is losing to Bush three years ago, or that shameful loss of the Senate in 2002—the Democrats have not provided voters with real options to counter the Republican attack. If they had done so, they would have won.

Gore’s visits to San Francisco, and now to New York to endorse Howard Dean—are filled with false hopes that the old “family” can save the dieing day. But, in the long run Gore’s endorsement will ultimately hurt Howard Dean. And if it doesn’t cost Newsom the election this time around to Matt Gonzalez, it will cost him the race in four years, when San Franciscans realize real progressive change means electing real progressive candidates, not politicians as usual. Too bad Democrats aren't realizing this already.

Because next year will be another sad year for the lost Democrats if they don't.

Josh Frank is a writer and activist living in New York City. He can be reached at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.


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