As of this writing, it appears that Dr. Howard Dean will be the next Chair of the Democratic National Committee [DNC]. He has been campaigning amongst Democratic Party powerbrokers for the post, and has presented himself as the best available person to begin re-cementing the Second Party’s fortunes after the latest electoral disaster.
This turn of events is significant in two respects. Dealing Dean to a post that is largely administrative and heavily involved in fundraising neatly sidetracks a sometimes progressive-sounding prospective candidate to a post where he is politically neutered. Because of the Chairman’s duties, the DNC does not serve well as a bully pulpit for anyone trying to influence policy. Like his predecessor, Dr. Dean will be inextricably bound up with the minimalist politics lately packaged as “Anyone But Bush”—with the minimalist results that have led to the Democrats' current state of demoralization. Thus, any pretensions the doctor has had to be a popular and populist Democratic voice of “new” concerns for peace and justice will be drawn into the black hole of cash concerns and crushed in the gravity well of corporate corruption. Dean will be finished as any kind of alternative force for more than purely cosmetic changes in his party.
The second respect in which the doctor’s “promotion” to DNC Chair seals the game for politics as usual is that it clears the field for the rest—not one of whom represents anything more than more of the same. Seeming exceptions such as Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich have already been marginalized by their endorsement of the corporate bag man, John Kerry, in the recent national campaign. The collapse of Kucinich as even a quixotic carrier of progressive concerns is all the more egregious, given his contemptible surrender to the ABB refuse truck at the Democratic Party’s national convention. There, his policy recommendations and planks were given less than short shrift, none being adopted and a comprehensive anti-antiwar blanket thrown over the entire proceedings. He may as well have been at the Republican Party’s convention, for all the good his campaign did…and given the resultant political limousine rolling out of Boston. Kucinich has revealed himself as a good kid who pouts and then eats his broccoli. Daddy Big Bucks understands.
Who remains to take up the nonexistent case of the Democrats as an alternative to the Republicans? The point at this early juncture is not so much to speculate about this personality or that, but to note that it really doesn’t matter. The significance of the talk about this one or that is not the characters themselves; rather, the striking factor is their interchangeability. Thus, all the talk is and will continue to be about marketability—how to sell the product to a largely dispirited populace. Since the Democratic Party has shown that it stands for nothing other than its own desire for the perks and payola that go with elected office, it cannot expect any lasting enthusiasm amongst the electorate. This is the inevitable consequence of decades of betrayal, of votes for war and corporate takeover and subversion of American liberties and protections of due process. The Democrats are the Republicans’ rightful and worthy collaborators.
Thus, the Dean appointment simply seals the deal on pseudo-progressive politics in the Abel of America’s political twins. The best that can be said of the Democratic Party is that it is so shamelessly and transparently like its evil big brother: Cain may be more obviously evil, but Abel’s only contribution is to die.
In the business of laundering corporate cash for political favors, the personal decency of Dr. Dean will not matter one whit. He will, more or less unhappily, become simply the knave of diamonds in the game being played at the table where high rollers decide what is to become of our nation and lives.
Dan Raphael has been an activist since the Vietnam war was heating up, and is a member of the Green Party of the United States.
* Howard Dean’s Been Suckered: The Establishment Corrals the Deaniacs by Joshua Frank
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