Four More Years: The Obamavore’s Dilemma

Can we survive the conundrum of Obama’s presidency: a decent, intelligent man promoting weak and dangerous policies?

I don’t want to say “I told you so”. But the fact is that many people, including Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez, his former VP running mate, exposed Obama’s voting record and political stances long before the 2008 election.

Gonzalez sent out a long memo which I myself distributed to all my lists but apparently few paid attention to Obama’s actual voting record: in favor of the death penalty; support for most Iraq authorization bills; favors for Exelon, Illinois’ nuclear industry, support for “clean coal”, opposition to class action lawsuits and to limits on credit card interest rates, and (hold your breath), active support for neo-con U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, whom Obama praised as his mentor.

So none of what Obama is now doing (or not doing) comes as a surprise. My reaction and that of many independents and greens was a big DUH. Or, what is it about a centrist capitalist that you don’t understand?

Some progressives moan that Obama has reneged on his promises. But in fact he never made these promises. All his statements, with possibly a few exceptions, made it quite clear that he was in lock step with traditional centrist Democratic Party capitalist beliefs and ideologies. Now, when these facts have become clear, too many people are too ready to believe that he changed his mind rather than admit that they were fooled.

Why were they fooled? The answer is obvious. Because he is African-American. Millions of people voted for him because of this alone, thinking that the color of one’s skin and one’s experience as a minority come hand in glove with progressive or radical thought. This is in its own way a converse variant of racism: thinking that one’s skin color is somehow linked on its chromosome with progressive principles.

These people forget that he comes out of the Ivy League, Harvard Law School, and the eerily prescient Democratic Party machine in Chicago, which has carefully groomed him as The Great Black Hope. They really put their money on the right number.

More people voted for Obama because he was African-American than voted against him because of that. Ponder that fact. Ponder the fact that even now, many blacks and liberals are bending over backwards to cut him slack, even after he brought with him the worst most regressive white collar criminals into his private abode and put them in charge of our economic future: slime buckets like Larry Summers, and, overlooking possible “minor” crimes, Eric Holder. The list goes on and on.

And then there were the Wall St./bank bailouts, done without setting the most minimal conditions on this huge payout, and without demanding anything in return. The Democrats railroaded this through for their friends in finance and banking. The Republicans, whose regressive agenda we fully recognize and which in fact called their sincerity into question on this issue, opposed it.

They were right to do so, though for the wrong reasons (although the far right and conservatives had the right reason: keep government from getting its hands into the pants of private business even if it means bankruptcy for businesses and banks). At the very least Obama could have laid down one condition: support universal single payer health care and you will get your bailout. He didn’t. That isn’t what I call a shrewd businessman.

My point is that Obama didn’t change direction or positions. He stayed firm in his commitment to capitalism, corporatism, and Wall St., so firm that he wasn’t going to demand anything in return for rescuing the financial community. I call that not stupid but an intentional betrayal of all those progressives who voted for him blindly, thinking that his election meant a new era.

But lots of people didn’t fall slavishly at the feet of this idol; they saw very clearly what he stood for and where he would go. And he clearly wasn’t going to diverge from traditional centrist capitalist politics. The believers exhibited “the audacity of hope”… blind hope. That’s par for the course for knee jerk Democratic Party members, for paleo-liberals, for African-Americans. There is always an audience for well-trained dog-and-pony shows. They have four years to brush up on their tricks before every presidential election.

The 2008 election was yet another example of Democratic Party blackmail: “do you want another four years of Bush in the person of McCain”? and all that crap, knowing that there was no alternative to either of them, realistically. The usual lesser of two evils argument that we saw offered when Ralph Nader had the cojones to get up and say what we all know (liberals excepted): that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is, generously, the difference between the two slices of buttered bread squashed together.

Unless and until voters acknowledge this last fact, they are destined to continual groping in the dark for something that will forever elude them. So let’s be blunt.

1. There is no chance in hell that Obama is going to adopt the progressive agenda on ANY of the relevant issues (Iraq, Afghanistan, health care, climate change, civil liberties and protection of privacy, bringing Bush war criminals to justice, energy policy, etc.). No chance.

2. The complacency of the electorate in the face of massive bail-outs, including that of the auto industry which should fold up shop and go home unless they are forced to build electric vehicles, trains and buses and wind turbines, must be brought up short.

3. The prayers and reliance of the public on the federal government to save their jobs and homes need to be aligned with reality, by a push for massive relocalization of the economy, which must for survival’s sake become leaner, smaller and non-reliant on continued economic growth and consumption. Republicans fear socialism but so should we, though for somewhat different reasons. Socialism and corporatism are the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of a deluded and disinterested citizenry.

4. The recession needs to be welcomed and augmented by a wholesale drawback by all citizens from compulsive shopping and consumption, shredding of credit cards, demand for public transportation, willingness to pay the full cost of energy and goods by ending all subsidies and tax breaks for energy and corporations, among other things. We should be helping push capitalism over the cliff; it is Wall St. and the banks that will go first. Afterwards, we can reassemble the pieces we want reassembled, in the way we want them to be. Americans still haven’t learned that democracy comes before the economy. The Russians didn’t learn this lesson soon enough.

5. Here is the sine qua non: a grassroots political and electoral movement that will unite behind some basic principles and demands and then put this into practice in a citizens’ PAC that will focus on unseating those phony liberals (mostly Democrats) who are mainly responsible for the betrayal that is being led by Obama. Max Baucus might be considered as a first target for his outrageous behavior on health care, with Waxman and Markey a close second for their huge energy bill, one of the biggest scams to ever get support from the liberal media and pundits.

Yes, the Republicans are repulsive and mendacious. But they always were and don’t pretend to be otherwise. We don’t need their phony cry for “bipartisanship” and “ending the stalemate” in Washington; the Democrats are doing a fine job of sitting in for the Republicans.

We have two years to put these people up in front of a political firing squad.
Yes, some of you will say that the alternative might be right wingers lurking and ready to replace them. But consider this: the Dems might get re-elected but in the meantime they will have to face the wrath of the public and the possibility, even if slim, that their political careers might be over. This is the only way to hold them accountable for their brazen arrogance. They need to be told two things: we don’t like them, and we don’t like the things they stand for.

This message will trickle into the White House soon enough. A grassroots revolt against the deceptions and blackmail of the Democratic Party. A statement that we will no longer accept their contemptuous attitude that continues to lecture us that the alternative is worse. The Democrats in congress, NOT the Republicans, are the ones who need to be put on trial. They need to be told that they do not own our vote and that they must earn it. They have failed. They need to be booted out. Are progressives willing to admit their mistakes and take appropriate action to regain their power as citizens and voters? How long will Democratic Party members fete and re-arm their executioners?

This is the question progressives need to answer. They will be met by clever Democrats telling them to just keep quiet and things will work out. But right now things are working out only for Wall St. The rest of us will be lucky if we get an extension in unemployment benefits or a tiny reduction in mortgage rates. If we listen to the Democrats, we will never get universal health care or get our troops back from Iraq. Come on now, you already knew this, didn’t you?

Time for a reality check about the Democrats. Without it we are doomed to hand wringing and regrets, and a permanent apathy and pessimism that the Democrats will welcome as an accompaniment to the voters’ permanent recusal from civic life.

Lorna Salzman has been an environmental writer and activist since the mid-1960s and served as natural resource specialist for the New York City Dept. of Environmental Protection in the early 1990s. In 2004 she was a candidate for the U.S. Green Party's presidential nomination. Read other articles by Lorna, or visit Lorna's website.

27 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Paul Stewart said on May 23rd, 2009 at 10:57am #

    Your perspective is not dissident it is distracted at best and more likely disingenuous.

  2. Dennis Brasky said on May 23rd, 2009 at 11:25am #

    One other example of who Obama really is can be seen by his continuation of the Bush policy of a blank check to the ethnic cleansers of occupied Palestine. After winning the Democrats’ nomination, the very first thing Obama did was to prostrate himself at the AIPAC convention and swear support for an Israeli-controlled (Arab-free)Jerusalem. Even Bush had never gone that far, since this would undermine the credibility (whatever is left of it!) of Fatah and its (strictly verbal) support for East Jerusalem being the capital of a future Palestinian state. He “recanted” the next day.

    And who can forget how this prophet of change and hope spoke out against the slaughter of Gazan civilians! Oh I forgot – he didn’t say anything because “we only have one President at a time”. I don’t think he would’ve been silent if 400 Israeli Jewish kids had been wiped out.

    The Israelis continue to starve Gaza and block any and all attempts at rebuilding – where is our intrepid leader? And Iran continues to be demonized for allegedly trying to obtain one nuke (a claim which the National Intelligence Estimate refuted two years ago), yet Israel’s arsenal of between 200-300 nukes is OK with President O.

    We definitely need an alternative to the Democrats. The left has no voice as long as it continues to get suckered by “lesser evilism”. The ruling class of this country is not stupid – they can always come up with a “greater evil” to frighten people into the arms of the”lesser”. When that happens, the Dems can move as far to the right as they want as they sneeringly look down at us and say, “where else can you go?” WE NEED OUR OWN VOICE!!

  3. Tony said on May 23rd, 2009 at 11:54am #

    I meant commit. Where is Keith Olbermann’s special comment about Obama detaining people for future crimes they may commit?

  4. Deadbeat said on May 23rd, 2009 at 9:37pm #

    I don’t want to say “I told you so”. But the fact is that many people, including Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez, his former VP running mate, exposed Obama’s voting record and political stances long before the 2008 election.

    What a joke the Left is. Again go read another excellent critique of the Left by Left Luggage. I tell you this your “I told you so’s” don’t mean shit when the Left sabotages it’s own efforts of activism and organization. The Left’s refusal to deal with domestic issues, their disparagement of Marxism and tacet support of Zionism over the past decades yield very little credibility among the working class.

    To fell “high and mighty” over voters who are provided with NO alternatives from the Left is asinine to the extreme especially to the people of color who EXPERIENCE the real racist attacks by the Republicans. If the Left wants to alter the landscape they must ENGAGE the working class and blame them for the lack of choices.

    Nader/Gonzales in 2008 chose to SPLIT the ranks of the Left and could not coalesce with McKinney/Clemente that would help to build solidarity. But before the Left can even being to challenge the Democrats, it must build SOLIDARITY with people of color and ordinary working folks. This aspect is completely missing in the author analysis.

    The author writes…

    . The complacency of the electorate in the face of massive bail-outs, including that of the auto industry which should fold up shop and go home unless they are forced to build electric vehicles, trains and buses and wind turbines, must be brought up short.

    The “electorate” hasn’t been “complacent” about the bailouts. They are extremely agitated about it. The problem is that they are not ORGANIZED to do anything about it. And one of the reasons they are not organized has been the failure of the Left to deal with domestic and working class issues.

    Also by the tone of the author she doesn’t give a shit whether auto workers are able to feed, house, and clothes themselves if they don’t adhere to her industrial agenda. How fucking callous. Why don’t she DEMAND that the workers take over GM. I guess such a suggestion is beyond here elitism.

    Republicans fear socialism but so should we, though for somewhat different reasons. Socialism and corporatism are the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of a deluded and disinterested citizenry.

    This is thoroughly asinine to the Nth degree. It has been this mindset that has diffused and disorganized the Left. The author is in fantasy land if she thinks that “shrinking” the economy is going to be embraced by working people who fear losing their livelihoods. In fact Socialism will provide workers with greater control over productive forces. In fact she is so confused she has to describe Capitalism as “corportism” as if labor exploitation and labor powerlessness cannot occur outside of the corporate structure. She need to get schooled in economic history.

    4. The recession needs to be welcomed and augmented by a wholesale drawback by all citizens from compulsive shopping and consumption

    This is TOTAL BULLSHIT. Working people didn’t right up credit card by over-consuming non-essentials. Working people are in trouble because of the high cost of HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION, HEALTH-CARE, CHILD-REARING and EDUCATION (see Elizabeth Warren). As a working class DEADBEAT I say to this author — FUCK YOU!!! It is this attitude by elitist leftists like this author why the Left will not build solidarity with the working class constituency and why the working class continues to vote for Democrats. The Democrats come off with more compassion than this author.

    We should be helping push capitalism over the cliff; it is Wall St. and the banks that will go first.

    And into what. First you insult the working class constituency thereby weakening your ranks and then you offer no post-capitalist vision by rejecting socialism. This author is extremely INDICATIVE of much of the Left today and way it is in such a disorganized state.

    There too much here I can point critique and already have. Clearly this author needs to get more schooled because she sounds lost. She present no FACTS, doesn’t know shit about history, rejects past lessons and offers no vision of the future other than to blame working class people. She needs to get off of her elitist high horse and get down and dirty with us deadbeats.

  5. Deadbeat said on May 23rd, 2009 at 9:50pm #

    Here’s the same author writing about Israel/Palestine in 2002…

    No, the Palestinians have few friends in the middle east so they are looking westward, and lo and behold, they have actually recruited American Jews in their cause, Jews who in their blindness cannot recognize their complicity in the effort to destroy Israel. Indeed many of these Jews would be quite happy to see Israel wiped off the map because then they would no longer have to be “embarrassed” at Israel’s audacity in defending itself. So these same Jews have bought the phony argument that settling the Palestinian problem is the route to middle east peace. What rot, what self deception.

    But in this context, it becomes crystal clear that the Palestine issue would scarcely be noticed were it not for the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. This opportunity to fan the flames of anti-Jewish hatred has been taken up by an Arab-Jewish alliance rare in history. It may be the first and last of its kind.

    As we all know by 2004 the Left sabotage the anti-war movement because the specter of confronting Zionism became all too real within the ranks. It is clear that Ms. Salzman represents the faction of elitists Chomskyites that has really weakened the Left by rejecting Marxism and obscuring the racist ideology of Zionism and its influence within the U.S. and especially its influence upon the LEFT.

    It is clear to me that Ms. Salzman lacks any real credibility.

  6. Lorna Salzman said on May 24th, 2009 at 5:42am #

    I don’t respond to comments that use insults, obscenity and disrespect.

    FYI: I detest Chomsky as much as I detest Marxists, and Cynthia McKinney is a demented loose cannon like most leftists.

  7. Max Shields said on May 24th, 2009 at 11:02am #

    Deadbeat you are reframing the essay to meet your own agenda. It is about Obama and some speculation about why people have been swayed to vote for and continue to support a myth (one primarily of their own making) in spite of his record.

    I too am amazed at the contortions by liberals and a good many African Americans (at least those who represent the status quo) to dream up some fantasy of what Obama said, when there is really no record of a strong progressive stand on anything. The list on just about every so-called progressive agenda is completely contradicted item by item by the campaign and now presidency/administration of Barack Obama. His stand on health care, energy, foreign policy, crime…on and on is complete (or nearly) opposite a basic left/progressive agenda.

    He is the perfect foil for the power elite. Certainly his appeal as an “African American” combines with much of the elitist dogma to make him a “Bill Clinton” of color.

    For the record, DB, Nader/Gonzales (an American Arab and an American Mexican) were already in the race before McKinney/Clemente became Green Party candidates. The rest your programmatic rant is totally irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    Chill, something we all need to do from time to time.

  8. Theophilus said on May 24th, 2009 at 1:24pm #

    I think it is optimistic to think that the fallout from the Obama administration will be a restructuring of the Democratic party so that it is more in line with policies that would be in the interests of the majority of the American people.

  9. Deadbeat said on May 24th, 2009 at 1:31pm #

    I love the way certain words are intended to created a particular Pavlovian response. Max Sheilds use of the word “agenda” is designed for that purpose. With the use of the word “agenda” Max Sheilds disingenuously tries to position himself as though he himself is “pure” and “without” an “agenda”. Such rhetoric is more revealing about the intent of the user (Max Shields) desire to OBSCURE rather than to clarify.

    The article is a narcissistic rant against the voters or shall I say RUBES who had no choice in the 2008 election other than to vote for the Democrats. It is unfair to the EXTREME and it is very anti-intellectual not to analysis the Left and its role in the 2008 election and very myopic not to analysis the failure of the Left to build a solid alternative to the Democrats and then to think that workers will AUTOMATICALLY vote against them.

    The article is primarily about the authors ELITIST agenda wrapped up in her narcissistic priority about the “environment”. Like you Max she has a misanthropic strain about HUMANS who inhabit the planet Earth.

  10. Max Shields said on May 24th, 2009 at 2:15pm #

    DB, I have no problem with you (or anyone else) having an agenda. Just pointing out that your agenda, as stated is irrelevant the posted article. In other words, you used the article as a pretext to make an irrelevant (whether valid or not) point. And you got all heated up about it to boot.

  11. akash schafranski-kapur said on May 24th, 2009 at 2:23pm #

    hi lorna,
    regarding your article of obamas presidency. as an us citizen you are definately better informed about affairs over there. however i as a european would like to know, that if what you claim is true, how come the whole WORLD, LIBERALS, leftist and others incl. venezuelas chavez and irans ahmedinajad, not to forget hollywood a supposed fortress of progressive forces, & michael moore have all praised obama as a saviour of the worlds ills. that millions of students have come out in his support. if you say j. liebermann a hawk of hawks is obamas mentor, i wonder why he was highly critical of his former pupil??its just not making sense. besides you mentioned that he is a ivy-league graduate, does that simultaneously make him a mean capitalist/facist clone\??
    second it would make all the obama supporters semifacist fools who indirectly harm their own country. keep also in mind, that obama or any other politician cannot change immediately even if he promises that, it takes time to clean up the legacy of bush and co. he is only some months in office. i think he deserves the benefit of d0ubt. moreover, since you made it abundantly clear, that democrats are no better than republicans except in name, i am very CURIOUS whom you would have nominated instead of obama. ralph nader realistically doesnt have the slightest of chances, it can be assumed that he and gonzales, are hiding their envy of barack behind sublte criticism which you have sighted in your article. could that add up.
    i would welcome a feedback on these questions fielded above.
    thanking you,

  12. dino said on May 24th, 2009 at 2:40pm #

    DB,what said Ms.Zalzman about “Jews who in their blindness cannot recognize their complicity in the effort to destroy Israel” she meant exactly against those of Chomsky kind so how derive “It is clear that Ms. Salzman represents the faction of elitists Chomskyites “

  13. HR said on May 24th, 2009 at 2:43pm #

    Obama’s election and continuing large degree of support from those who elected him validate the old saw referring to none so blind as those who will not see (or perhaps he is giving them exactly what they want!). Anyone even half following what the snake-oil man actually said and did would not be surprised at all by his performance. Anyone who argues that he was the only choice other than McCain is a moron. This country completely repudiated Kucinich, Nader, and McKinney. It got exactly the government it deserves as a result.

  14. Max Shields said on May 24th, 2009 at 3:34pm #

    DB I was unaware of Ms Salzman’s strong support for Israel in what appears not simply support for the existence of Israel but clearly at what seems to an opposition to the Palestinian people.

    While in this piece she has written is completely void of such discussion, I can see why you jumped on this.

    Your position is that such people find particular “progressive/left” positions; get a “fan” base and then when the time is “right” make this plea for Israel or why we need to intervene in Darfur or some “Zionist cause”. Perhaps you are right in this case. But again the piece can be read, sans the author’s background on its own merit. No?

  15. lichen said on May 24th, 2009 at 3:35pm #

    Yes, the rants of right wing democrats who are really just Fukuyamists (there is no other choice) are both ridiculous and irrelevant. You had a choice, and you made the wrong one.

  16. Mitchell said on May 24th, 2009 at 3:36pm #

    Someone wrote a narcissistic rant above. In that rant, they wrote this stuff:

    “The article is a narcissistic rant against the voters or shall I say RUBES who had no choice in the 2008 election other than to vote for the Democrats.”


    That’s a LIE. That’s BS. That’s propaganda. One might not like the choices for whatever reason, but there were choices. The voters did indeed have choices. My ballot in the major city where I live consisted of many choices, including Nader and McKinney. If Nader and McKinney’s names were not on people’s ballots, the people could have WRITTEN THEM IN.

    Also, of the “third party” candidates, Nader/Gonzalez got the most votes nationally. Not McKinney. So if anyone should have been joining with anybody else, it should have been McKinney endorsing Nader.

    Of all the people I talked with during the campaign, nearly every person told me, “I like Nader and Gonzalez and their platform, but I’m not going to vote for them because they are not Democrats. I only vote for Democrats.”

    When I asked, “why?”

    Response: “I come from a very Democratic family. We always vote for Democrats.”

    When I asked, “Even when the Democrat is really a Republican?”

    Response: “Well, uh, uh, uh, uh, you see, uh, …” (They couldn’t answer the question and most of them turned red and said “thank you” and left).

    This is exactly what I was talking about recently: D and R party-line indoctrination in most people is a major factor in all of this, along with the corporate media only providing coverage to the corporate/pro-war one-party system candidates. Party-line indoctrination in most people is no different than religious indoctrination in most people. That stuff is not de-programmed very easily at all.

    It is long past due that the so-called “Dems” and their cheerleaders/defenders take responsibility and ownership for their own party’s miserable failures since 2000 especially. Most “Dem” supporters are unwilling to do that. Instead they want to point blame at other people (Nader and McKinney, for example) for their own party’s incompetence, Bush-enabling and failures. Nader did not force the so-called “Dems” in congress to vote “YES” repeatedly for Bush/Cheney’s agenda for 8 years. The so-called “Dems” willingly did that all on their own by their yes votes, their complicity and their silence. Period.

    A true alternative party does not look like the corporate party.

    If the Bush-accomplice Democratic Party had provided The People with a credible, viable, truly progressive candidate for 2008 (such as Kucinich, whom most of them run from), we wouldn’t be stuck with Bush-accomplice messiah Obushma today who is NOT “liberal, “Left” or progressive by any means, nor has he ever claimed to be. He is continuing the Bush agenda and some of us Nader and McKinney voters suspected he would. But the Democratic Party had no interest in putting up anybody but what they did (and will continue to do so) as they move farther and farther to the “right.”

  17. Mitchell said on May 24th, 2009 at 4:43pm #

    Lorna wrote: ”

    This is the question progressives need to answer. They will be met by clever Democrats telling them to just keep quiet and things will work out.”


    The Obamabots are rather silent and I don’t understand that. I mean, all during the campaign they were chanting how they were going to “hold his feet to the fire.” Well, one can’t hold feet to fire by being SILENT, you Obamabot Suckers. Duh. Also, all during the campaign I told the Obamabots that he wouldn’t give a damn what they thought. He listens to his corporate/Military Industrial Complex owners, which are not the Obamabots.

    I don’t see the Obamabots doing anything but either making excuses for their lord and savior War Criminal Obushma or they are being silent. Granted, a few have come out of their stupor/Denial, but not many from what I can tell. But most people have gone back to sleep until 2012, and don’t have a clue what their messiah is doing. Even if it hit them in the face, they wouldn’t know it!

  18. mcoyote said on May 24th, 2009 at 5:21pm #

    Once again let us leave Never-Never Land and examine The Very Real and Duplicitous Function of the Democratic Party in the American Political System:

    The Democratic Party plays an indispensable role in society’s political machinery. This doesn’t mean it has any power, in terms of controlling the state or setting policy. It means that without the existence of the Dem Party, the US could no longer maintain the pretense that it’s a “democracy.” If the Dem Party disintegrated, the US would be revealed for what it really is — a one-party state ruled by a narrow alliance of business interests.

    In terms of defending the general population against the depredations of this business consortium, the Dem Party gave up the ghost in the mid-1960’s. Their threadbare act as the “Party of the People” serves not to defend the well-being of the population, but merely to persuade ordinary citizens that within the official political system’s framework, there’s at least some faint hope for eventual progressive change. Their focus is not so much being on our side, as convincing us that they’re on our side — without the slightest serious examination of what that might entail.

    The party’s true function is thus largely theatrical. It doesn’t exist to fight for change, but only to pose as a force which one fine distant day might possibly bestir itself to fight for change. Thus the whole magic of the Dem Party — the essential service it renders to the US power structure — lies not in what it does, but in its mere existence: by simply existing, and doing nothing, it pretends to be something it’s not; and this is enough to relieve despair & to let the system portray itself as a “democracy.”

    As long as the Dem Party exists, most Americans will believe we have a “democracy” and a “choice” in how we are ruled. They will not despair, and will not revolt, as long as they have this hope for “change within the system.” From the system’s point of view, this mechanism serves as the ultimate safety valve — it insures against a despairing populace, thus eliminates the threat of rebellion; yet guarantees that no serious change to the system will be mounted, because the Dems weren’t designed to play that role in the first place.

    Aren’t the Dems The Lesser Evil?

    The Democrats are not the “lesser evil;” they are an auxiliary subdivision of the same evil. To understand the political system, one must step back and regard its operation as an integrated whole. The system can’t be properly understood if one’s study of it begins with an uncritical acceptance of the 2-party system, and the conventional characterizations of the two parties. (Indeed, the fact that society encourages one to view it in this latter way, is perhaps a warning that this perspective should not be trusted.)

    Any given piece of reactionary legislation is invariably supported by a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats. Does this show that the Democrats are “less evil?” If one focuses on the noble efforts of the few outspoken dissenters, it’s easy to feel that the Democrats are somewhat less evil. But in the larger picture, Democrats invariably submit to what Republicans more ardently promulgate, & the entire range of official opinion thereby shifts to the right. Thus the overall function of Democrats is not so much to fight, as to quasi-passively participate in this ever-rightward-moving process. Just as the Harlem Globetrotters need their Washington Generals to make their basketball games properly entertaining, Republicans need the Democrats for effective staging of the political show.

    The Democrats are permitted to exist because their vague hint of eventual progressive change keeps large numbers of people from bolting the political system altogether. Emma Goldman once said, “If voting made a difference, it would be illegal.” Similarly, if the Democrats potentially threatened any sort of serious change, they would be banned. The fact that they are fully accepted by the corporations and political establishment tells us at once that their ultimate function must be wholly in line with the interests of those ruling groups.

    Doesn’t the presence of the Dennis Kuciniches, Cynthia McKinneys, et al “prove” that the Democrats are progressive? No. The Kuciniches and McKinneys are indeed significantly different from the Hillary types — but there are compelling reasons not to get too excited about them, either. First, they are used by the party as a “Left decoration,” simply to keep potential left defectors in tow. Secondly, the party power brokers will NEVER in a million years let the Kucinich-McKinney faction have any real power.

    In other words, the very modestly-sized progressive Dem faction is cynically used as a marketing tool by the national party. They are dangled before your eyes to make you think that the Dems are the “lesser evil” (since the Republicans offer no such Left decorations). The existence of a few decent Dems makes no real difference in the overall alignment of the party, and they will never be internally influential. They are a distraction.

    Can Progressives “Take Over” the Dem Party?

    The argument is often advanced by progressives that they might be able to “take over” the Dem Party just as the Republican Party was supposedly “taken over” by the Religious Right and neoconservatives. This is wishful thinking, and ignores the actual history and character of both parties.

    The Republicans were always the party of Wall Street & Northern manufacturing. The Democrats were the party of the Southern slaveocracy. When the national Democrats defied southern racism by passing the Civil Rights Acts in the mid ’60’s, the southern states bolted, destroying the New Deal coalition. The Republicans profited from this by adapting to southern tastes, values, & religious/cultural conceptions.

    But this was in no way out of character for the Republicans. The far right was able to take over the Republican Party because that kind of alliance was always very much in the nature of the Republican Party anyway. It was compatible with, not contradictory to, the big-business nature of the Republican party. Forming an alliance with fascists, racists & religious zealots ADVANCED the big-business agenda.

    By contrast, for progressives to take over the Democrats would be an unprecedented departure from the party’s character. To understand this, one must first recognize that the sole Dem claim to being progressive is rooted almost entirely in the New Deal, itself a response to a unique crisis in American history. FDR recognized that to avert the very real threat of massive social unrest and instability, significant concessions had to be made to the working class by the ruling class. Government could act to defend the weak, and to some extent to rein in the strong, but this was all in the longterm interests of defending the existing social order.

    Before FDR, the Dem Party had no progressive record whatsoever; and after FDR, though the New Deal coalition survived until the mid-1960’s, it did so with a record of achievement that was restrained compared to the 1930’s. After passing Medicare in 1965 the party reverted to its longterm pattern, and since then, there has again been no progressive record to speak of. The party’s progressive social reform was thus concentrated mostly in the 1930’s, with some residual momentum lasting until the mid 60’s. The party’s “progressive period” was thus 1) an exception to the longer term pattern; 2) a response to a unique crisis; and 3) has in any case been dead for over 40 years.

    The word “progressive” refers to the commitment of a political party to defend the interests of the working class (aka the overwhelming majority of the population) against the depredations of the ruling elite. Not only is the Democratic Party unable and unwilling to engage in such a fight, it is unwilling even to pronounce the fight’s name — “class warfare.” Marx is understandably reviled by capitalists for his annoyingly accurate perception that the capitalist class and the rest of the population have a fundamental conflict of interest. Capital seeks only to maximize its return; return can certainly be enhanced by using the machinery of state to transfer costs and burdens to the weak and vulnerable; thus rule by capital is intrinsically inimical to the basic interests of the majority of the population. There is no escaping this reality.

    American public discourse attempts to paper over this vexing truth with fatuous happy talk, such as, “By working together, we can make make things better for everyone!” This is a lie. When capital controls government, government is no more than a tool used by elites to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. This kind of arrangement cannot possibly “make all boats rise” over the long term. Only the yachts will rise. If there is no political mechanism for opposing plutocratic rule, the strong will continue to squeeze additional wealth out of the weak until a) the weak become desperate and rebel, b) the weak are crushed and become permanently enslaved, or c) the strong begin suffering more from guilty consciences, than reaping enjoyment from additional wealth — and therefore relent. (Very few instances of this last are known in recorded history.)

    For the Democratic Party to even begin to serve as a vehicle for opposing the absolute rule of capital, it would at a minimum have to be capable of acknowledging the conflict that exists between the interests of capital and the rest of the population; and of expressing a principled determination to take the side of the population in this conflict.

    A party whose controlling elements are millionaires, lobbyists, fund-raisers, careerist apparatchiks, consultants, and corporate lawyers; that has stood by prostrate and helpless (when not actively collaborating) in the face of stolen elections, illegal wars, torture, CIA concentration camps, lies as state policy, and one assault on the Bill of Rights after the next, is not likely to take that position.

  19. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 24th, 2009 at 5:40pm #

    Don’t Need to Prove Inside Job, Negligence Will Do

    Maybe it’s time to think strategically about getting 9/11 justice. Proving that 9/11 was an inside job in a court of law is going to be extremely difficult. Proving that various elements of the government knew that an attack would happen and deliberately let it happen, could be much easier. Either way, it’s still treason.

    My current belief in what seems to be the most likely explanation for 9/11 is that it was a foreign intelligence operation (Mossad), designed to force the US into a clash of civilizations against Israel’s enemies. If you read Webster Tarpley’s book Synthetic Terror, you’ll see that there is considerable circumstantial evidence that Bush was targeted for assassination the morning of 9/11 and threatened later in the day in a way that can’t possibly be explained by a guy in a cave with a satellite phone. I’m no fan of Bush but he does look like a deer caught in the headlights at the school when he was told about the 2nd hit to the WTC. Since there is documented evidence that the US was warned by several foreign intelligence agencies of the impending attack, and clear evidence that NORAD was ordered to stand down and undisputed acknowledgement that Dick Cheney was put in charge of US Air Defense several months before 9/11, my money is on Cheney and various neocon supporters(wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, etc.) who learned about the impending attack and decided to let it happen to achieve their political agenda as outlined in the New American Century document. Who would have benefited from Bush’s assassination? Cheney. Who was in a position to interfere with NORAD’s normal interception procedures? Cheney. Who is the dominant personality of the neocons? Cheney. Since a lot of the Neocons are also jewish, is it possible that they were actually cooperating with Mossad? Sure. But proving that will be much harder than proving that they were either criminally negligent in not stopping the attacks or that they deliberately stood back and made sure that the attacks were sucessful. My guess is that if a concerted effort were made to bring some of the lesser actors to justice, like NORAD’s Gen. Meyer, Michael Chertoff, Selikow, Silverstein, etc., that someone will spill his guts in return for immunity and that will bring the whole house of cards down. By the way, I’m not saying and I don’t believe that the jewish people as a whole should be blaimed for 9/11. The vast majority are decent, honest, law-abiding and LOYAL individuals. It’s the zionist minority that are pushing a political agenda (not a religious one). Some of the most ardent opponents of Zionism are jews including rabbis. Therefore being anti-zionist is NOT anti-semitic.

  20. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 24th, 2009 at 7:39pm #


    The psychological problem with most US citizens is that they hate capitalism, but at the same time they hate Ralph Nader !!

    that’s the problem of US citizens, they hate bankers, they hate Federal Reserve, they hate high electrical bills, high medical fees, but at the same time they hate Ralph Nader, Cinthya Mckinney, The Socialist Equality Party, or anybody who could socialize the wealth of America.

    US citizens are too libertarians, US citizens hate Marx and socialism. How can i help my fellow americans if they hate socialst policies like the nationalization of giant corporations under workers and state control, free medicine, free food, workers cooperatives,etc). and love The Rockefeller, The Rotshchild Family, The Bush family, The Clinton Dynasty and bankers so much.

    Americans love this bullshit of Memorial Fascist Days with Wal Mart burgers, Edwards Pecan pies (Which are very fattening by the way).

    Most American citizens cannot give up their Mcdonalds, their Wendies, their Duncan Hines cakes, their Pillsbury cakes, their Betty Crocker cakes, our culture and marriage with Pizza Hut, with Little Caesars, with Dominos. We have been bombarded by years of pizzas, burgers, and cakes.

    Americans are like the wives who are beaten up by their oppressive husbands but at the same time love them and love their beatings and repressive treatment.

    It’s a relationship of hate-love that most people in this country have with capitalism.


  21. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 24th, 2009 at 8:28pm #


    What Causes War!
    Ted Grant

    Source: Socialist Fight, Vol. 3 No. 3, May 1961

    Michael Foot writes in the Tribune of Friday 14th April on the question of the cause of the Second World War. He says in reviewing the book by A. J. P. Taylor: “Had the British statesmen of the thirties been capable of this exercise they could easily have stopped the Second World War by discovering what Mr. Taylor discovered: that Hitlerism right up till 1939, was the most gigantic bluff of all time.”

    Thus Foot and other “left-wing” Tribunites who think like him are sufficiently gullible to believe that the Second World War was some ghastly “accident” that could have been avoided if only “British statesmen” had been clever enough to understand that Hitler was “bluffing.”

    Thus the secondary episodes and accidental incidents that have precipitated war at a particular time in the past are taken out of all proportion and magnified to become the actual cause of the war. To write of history this way is to turn the whole development of mankind into the result of aimless, senseless, bloody and meaningless decisions of this or that individual.

    It is true that Hitler—and the German imperialism he represented—were not solely responsible for the war. Just as the First World War was caused not by the wickedness of the Kaiser, but by the rivalry for world domination by British and German imperialism, and the impasse of the capitalist system of that time, so the Second World War was not the result of the evil intentions of even such a monster as Hitler. It was caused by the stage of development reached by Europe at that time and the struggle for markets, raw materials and colonies between Germany and Britain at that particular period. The Daily Telegraph pointed out on the eve of the war that competition between Germany and Britain on the markets of the world had reached a greater depth and pitch than on the eve of the 1914 war.

    Fear of revolution
    But the rise of Hitler in Germany was caused by the crisis of capitalism in Germany. Let us never forget that Hitler had the backing of all the main imperialist powers, including Britain, America and France. The ruling class of these countries fearing the socialist revolution in Germany, reluctantly backed the Nazis. This explains the refusal of the British and French imperialists to take action at the time of the Nazi occupation of the Rhineland, and of German rearmament. They were afraid of social revolution in Germany. They also believed that they could use Hitler for war against the Soviet Union in order to destroy “Bolshevism”—i.e. in this context the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union by means of armed intervention.

    It is impossible to understand the policies of all the powers, including the policy of Hitler or “bluff”, without understanding the class basis of society. Allied imperialism backed Hitler, rearmed Hitler, supported Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese militarists because of fear of the consequences of their downfall, it was out of fear of the downfall of the capitalist system that they “grovelled” before Hitler in Munichism, etc.

    “Fairy tales”
    Long before Hitler was ever heard of, when Hitler was a corporal in the armies of the Kaiser during the First World War, Marxism had predicted the inevitability of a second world war if capitalism was not overthrown. In answer to socialists like Michael Foot, who were clamouring for disarmament, a League of Nations, and an agreement between the nations to prevent war, Lenin dismissed these arguments as “fairy tales” of a very pernicious and dangerous character. If, he said, the world war would not be ended by a series of successful socialist revolutions, then there would inevitably be a second world war, to be followed by a third and so on till civilisation itself would be destroyed.

    In this respect it must be admitted that Lenin’s sober estimate based on a class analysis of capitalist society has stood the test of time.

    But to come to the events with which Michael Foot deals. The non-intervention of the Allied powers in the Spanish revolution was dictated by similar considerations. They feared the victory of the republicans, on the basis of the revolutionary movement developing among the Spanish workers, would lead to the socialist revolution in Spain. As Lennox-Boyd, recent colonial secretary in the Conservative government, explained at the time, the butcher Franco was a “gallant Christian gentleman” fighting the barbaric socialist hordes. It is not accidental that Churchill praised both Hitler and Mussolini as upholders of civilisation against the dangers of “communism”.

    “Drive to the East”
    Leon Trotsky in a pamphlet entitled “The coming world war”, predicted the outbreak of the Second World War just a few months before it occurred. The war did not take place because Hitler seized Danzig. Just a few months before the Polish imperialists had joined with the Germans to grab a slice of Czechoslovakia. The British imperialists retreated before Hitler’s seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia because of fear of the alternatives. They wished to build up Hitler for his “drive to the East” and a war against Russia. A policy they partially carried out at the time of Hitler’s attack on Russia. Truman, then vice-president, and Moore-Brabazon, then a minister, blurted out the truth of the aims of the Anglo-American imperialists when they declared that the best result would be the destruction of both Germany and Russia. In the actual losses and scale of fighting the war turned into a Homeric struggle between Germany and Russia.

    Defence of capital
    In all this the real roots of the war can be seen in the class system of society. The Second World War could be seen as the inevitable result of the piling up of the contradictions of capitalist society. The narrow interests of each “national” capitalist class conflict one with the other. Probably none of the powers “wanted” war at that particular time and on those particular issues. Had the imperialists of Britain, France and America not been so short-sighted from the point of view of their own interests, and prevented Hitler from seizing Austria, and Czechoslovakia, possibly war would have been delayed for some months or years. But it is vital for the advanced workers in the labour movement to understand that this or that diplomatic deal or agreement, its arrival or breaking down, is not the cause of war. It was not the violation of Belgian neutrality that caused British capitalism to enter the First World War. It was not the seizure of Danzig—one city and a city populated by Germans at that—that caused the Second World War… That would be straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel, of the Austrian and Czech seizures, that impelled British capitalism to declare war. It was not love of democracy and hatred for fascism, but pure defence of the capitalist interests of the British ruling class that pushed them into their declaration of war.

    “Love of peace”
    Hitler’s Germany in 1939 was faced with the alternative of “expand or die”. Hitler in the desperate struggle with Britain for declining markets had declared “export or die”. A similar grim alternative was being posed by the British ruling class. Hitler had rearmed Germany and stretched the German productive machine to its fullest extent. Had war not taken place in 1939 there would have been seven million of unemployed in Germany and the Nazi system could not have survived. Within the narrow confines of the German state, the vast productive machine built by German capitalism, big enough to supply the whole world with goods, was being stifled. The German market was too small for the needs of the German imperialists. Hence the attempt to extend it by seizing the continent of Europe. British imperialist policy on the other hand was determined by the frantic fear of the British ruling class of losing their Empire. They stood only to lose by war. Hence their desperate efforts—to preserve “peace”. They were like a satisfied burglar who, accumulating spoils, is afraid of the loot being hi-jacked by rival gangsters. There is no “love of peace” in this policy. Like the policy of Hitler it was dictated by the class needs of British capitalism.

    Accidental wars?
    Michael Foot and the historian he so much admires, A. J. P. Taylor, are searching merely for superficial incidents which explain nothing of the real cause of war in our epoch.

    The lesson is clear. Imperialism has provoked two slaughters of the peoples. A third looms ahead for the future—unless the working class draws the lesson of these events. Wars—especially world wars—are not accidental. An accident can cause war if all the other conditions for war are present. But there is no such thing as an “accidental war”. The only way to end the possibility of such madness as fascism and war is to destroy the system which inevitably leads to these horrors.

  22. Jenn said on May 25th, 2009 at 12:42am #

    According the recent polling less than 21 percent of the public are republican and they are located mostly in the South and Southern Plains. Why don’t we use this oppurtunity to create a party to the left of the Democrats. We have to improve on the greens because the greens won’t run anyone except for President. Serious third parties like the Republicans under Lincoln ran candidates for Congress and Senate. Let’s merge some of the left parties like the greens and whatever Bernie Sander’s party is, into a progressive populist. Let’s pressure progressive and populist Dems to join, like the center right dems did to Specter and Olympia Snow. Lincoln himself served as a whig before becoming a republican. We would then have incumbent progressives and some of the psychological barriers to voting in a third party would be gone. We could expand from there. Let’s give ourselves 3 terms to create a real presence. We should also use vote swapping and partnering, to avoid spoiler affect. By partnering I mean encourage Libertarians to take on Republicans in the hopelessly right wing parts of the country. The Libertarians would atleast respect the bill of rights and wouldn’t give money to the fucking bankers.

  23. Mitchell said on May 25th, 2009 at 4:20am #


    In your comment you referred to “Congress and Senate.” I read so many comments on the Internet where people write that.

    The Senate is part of Congress. The Congress consists of the House and Senate. Representatives and Senators. I think you meant to say The House and Senate.

    Also, Bernie Sanders is an independent (like myself). No political party affiliation.

  24. Don Hawkins said on May 25th, 2009 at 4:41am #

    The House and Senate wimp’s well dressed wimp’s.

  25. bozh said on May 25th, 2009 at 6:28am #

    TC, yes to much of the analyses in your post.
    i think that one of the main causes for warfare is large inequality on interpersonal level.
    the iniquities on these level cause establishment of multilayered society; each of which possesses unequal econo-military-political power.
    the top stratum probably consist of no more than 5% of the pop. Cld be as low as oo1%.
    This layer behaves like any gang on the street. Gangs want to retain or expand their powers also on int’l level. Natch, by means at hand: bombs, missiles, mercenaries, spies, etc. tnx bozhidar balkas, vancouver, b.c.

  26. henry krinkle said on May 25th, 2009 at 8:39pm #

    Let me just start off by saying: both the author and “deadbeat” are incredibly annoying. I agree with some of what deadbeat has said, but the second you start yelling you’ve already lost the argument.

    There is nothing in this article that hasn’t been stated by Paul Street, Naomi Klein or (the “detested”) Noam Chomsky. You basically just pasted together a bunch of random points that anyone with political awareness stretching back more than a few years would already take as “common knowledge”.

    You also seem to have an agenda based on Obama’s perceived “Blackness” and the fact that that perception – true or false in whatever subjective form you’re addressing – led people to see him as a “buddy” that actually cares about their interests and problems. Yes, voting for “Blackness” is just as racist and superficial and voting against it, but that says more about race relations (or the lack thereof) in this country than it does about Obama himself. Primary voters may have voted for or against Clinton based on her color and gender as well, so it cuts both ways.

    In other words, “his racist voters are more significant than McCain’s” is a lame argument.

    I will thank deadbeat for linking to that article on “Palestinians courting anti-Semitic Jews” that you posted elsewhere…I’d suggest anyone think they’ve found another anti-Obama “sister in arms” read her comments on the Middle East and take into account she “detests Chomsky” and calls Cynthia McKinney a “demented loose cannon”. This despite having (I’m guessing) never met either one or even looked at their arguments with any depth. Leave the childish name calling to pundits like O’Reilly and Maher. Or don’t. I couldn’t care less.

    The fact that you’ve obviously got a Zionist slant in some of your writing tells me that you’ve made the mistake people on both “sides” on the narrow spectrum often fall into making: looking at the “personality” instead of the policies. If you cared about the issues instead of “nyah nyah he’s Bush III lol”, you’d be an ardent supporter of Obama and his typically slavish devotion to the Likud Lobby.

  27. Eric said on May 28th, 2009 at 10:20am #

    Ms. Saltzman’s article has aroused many responses.
    Prior to the last election I also examined Obama’s voting record and statements. I warned family and friends that Obama was center right ,
    pro- corporate, pro-globalist and had authortarian tendencies. No one would listen. They went out and put Obush in office.

    My observation is that most Whites voted for Barack because he was at a minimum a non- threating mulatto. “Clean and articlate “to use Biden’s words. No, not like Jesse or Sharpton.

    His bailout of Wall St. is the marriage of government and big business;
    the classic definition of facism by Mussilini himself. The destruction of the auto industry is the destruction of the last manufacturing capacity that this country has. We must preserve tool & dye and machine tooling, otherwise would be just another undeveloped

    The Left must learn to embrace the concerns of every day people. The facts in their lives out weigh ideology. The left must address peolpes concerns about jobs, housing, national defense, crime, immigration and health care. Knee jerk reactions will not do.

    The only way to affect Obush and his handlers is by sustained pressure from the street. Social movements must be independent of political parties and serve their core constituencies directly. People should register as independents.

    Get the articles of impeachment ready!