What’s the Matter with the Story of Kansas?

Critical Thinking and Electoral Choices

KansasmattersWhat’s the Matter with Kansas? is a documentary film based on Thomas Frank’s book of the same name. In the film, director Joe Winston and producer Laura Cohen follow, without narration, an interesting selection of middle-class Kansans, and through glimpses into their lives, their stories and beliefs, viewers gain an insight into what Kansans, in general, are like and how they come to believe and vote like they do.

Near the beginning of the film, we meet Angel Dillard, a statuesque wife, mother, songwriter, singer, farmer, and pro-life advocate. Dillard is a Christian woman raised to be a critical thinker, which led her to the Republican Party.

Dillard and her family attend the Baptist church services of senior pastor Terry Fox — an avowedly anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-ACLU, and anti-Islam minister. It would be contradictory to describe this individual as pro-life given that he applauds the pro-death penalty. Fox’s strident pulpit causes a split in the church, and Fox finds himself a new parish in a fledgling amusement park.

A contrasting character is the 73-year-old crusty, straight-talking, liberal and artist provocateur M.T. Liggett. Said Liggett, “Gay marriage!? Who gives a shit? It’s none of my business. Abortion; it’s the same thing …”

Two camps are clearly delineated. Liggett respects individual autonomy — that no group has the right to impose its standards of behavior on another group. On the other hand is the view expressed by Brittany Barden, a volunteer campaigner with the Republic Party, that the United States is “meant to be a Christian nation; that is what the founding fathers intended.”

Bob Lippoldt, a substitute teacher and pro-life advocate, frames the liberals as “anti-Christian.”

Yet, Julie Burkhart, a pro-choice advocate, said, “I believe in what Jesus had to say … but I’m not a Christian.”

The pro-life versus pro-choice battleground occupies a chunk of the film, including the six-week so-called Summer of Mercy when pro-choice advocates targeted abortion clinics. This morphed into a well-organized and successful political movement. The long-time Kansan Democratic representative (1977-1994) Dan Glickman was the electoral target of the pro-lifers, and he was defeated.

When Glickman voted for NAFTA, he alienated many workers. Glickman noted that he had fared worst in blue-collar Democratic districts.

Bespectacled Dale Swenson, a former Boeing worker described a schism in the Democratic Party between “working class Democrats” and “Democrats of the leisure class.”

Swenson reasoned, “There’s nothing left within the Democratic Party for me to vote for if they are going to keep targeting the working class. If I’m in the crosshairs of the Democratic Party, then I’m not any worse off in the Republican Party.”

Donn Teske is a cigar-chomping, struggling farmer, farmer union president, and father. He detests the Bush administration but distances himself from the Democratic Party. He calls himself a Populist without a party.

Teske laments the current dog-eat-dog competition among farmers: “I’ve had friends who said, ‘I can’t wait until he goes broke so I can get my hands on it [the farm].’”

The separation between the two camps is wide. Dawn Barden, Brittany’s mother, deplores secular universities for having an alleged prejudice against Christian students. Dawn Barden claims that 80 percent of Christians leave the faith after studying at a secular college. Unexplored is why. Is not the testing of faith and its affirmation part of being a Christian? Was not Abraham tested? Was not Job tested? Is steadfastness to the faith not at the root of being a Christian?

Frank Thomas explores the radical Kansan political roots. The now defunct Populist Party had its origin in Kansas. Thomas refers to the socialist colonies of the nineteenth century as “My Kansas.” He calls for Liberalism to return to its roots. The question unanswered is: who will represent these roots?

Who are the liberals today? Thomas did not call for the development or strengthening of a “third party” movement. Instead of a future vision of progressivism, the film eulogizes the passage of worker parties in Kansas.

Frank wrote in his book, “For us it is the Democrats that are the party of the workers, of the poor, of the weak and the victimized. Understanding this, we think, is basic; it is part of the ABCs of adulthood.” ((Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (Metropolitan Books, 2004):1.)) Implied was that by voting for Democrats the economic interests of regular Kansans would be served. Confining our analysis to recent decades, however, shows that the Clinton presidency and the Obama presidency have not protected the average Americans’s economic interests.

I wondered how Frank could get it so wrong — especially after how he recognized and depicted the economically self-defeating habit of middle America to vote for Republicans? Frank knows that the Democrats abandoned much of their base.

The film depicts the Democrats as a house divided. Fox’s church was a house divided. Jesus’s – and subsequently Lincoln’s – admonition about division is undiscussed, but it hangs heavy in the film.

Thomas points out that many in the working class voted for Bush in 2004 and at the top of their agenda were moral issues – but Bush’s agenda was economic, as in tax reform (to benefit the wealthy).

The film ends with the electoral defeat of the Republicans in 2008. God had not blessed the Republicans and neither did God bless the theme park venture nor the investments of Fox and many parishioners.

The Democrats are, for the time being, resurgent. Recently, however, Obama and the Democrats compromised on their committment to workers on the Employee Free Choice Act.

For this writer, the Democrats are a part of the corporate political duopoly that serves capitalist interests that exploits the workers, the poor, the weak, and the victimized. Understanding this, I submit, is basic.

The film explored the Kansan historical flirtations with populism and socialism. It did not delve deeply into Democratic politics like the book. What’s the Matter with Kansas? explores what drives middle-class Kansans and why they vote as they do. It is an illuminating film insofar as the political duopoly goes. Notably absent from the film was discussion of prospects for a credible “third” party movement on the political scene.

What’s the Matter with Kansas? will have its world premiere at Film Society of Lincoln Center on 6 August, at which point the DVD will also be released.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.

24 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on July 27th, 2009 at 11:02am #

    i post on ab. 5 sites but i haven’t come accross even one post or article that even suggests USans start the third party.
    most countries have more than 2 parties. In US, in fact, there is but one party.
    i am not sure whether nader leads a party or an org or a movement. Whatever the case, Nader will never be bought nor change his basic goals. tnx

  2. Deadbeat said on July 27th, 2009 at 1:05pm #

    One person does not make a party. Unfortunately Nader and the Greens (for whatever the reasons) could not build a united front to challenge the democrats. 2004 was perhaps the best chance for Nader however the “leisure left” abandoned Nader and decided to support the “safe state strategy”. Let not forget how Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky offered the support to the Anybody But Bush “Safe State” strategy. Their action help to put the Left in an extremely weaken position for the 2008.

  3. Melissa said on July 27th, 2009 at 1:06pm #

    I am having language confusion again . . . I am fully cognizant that Democrat and Republican parties are two wings on the same bird, flying in predetermined direction, but I am tripping over why people, and this writer, say that no third party exists.

    I am aware of many parties in the US, jumping through hoops and over barriers to get names upon the ballot. No, they are dismissed from network debates and corporate publications, but they do make it on the ballot. At fed, state and city levels.

    So . . . are people maintaining that third parties do not exist because:

    a) they do not accept their platform?
    b) they wish to catapult the propaganda that there are only two choices?
    c) they see the parties as arms of the Rep/Dem machine? Meant to distract, confuse, pull votes?
    d) the parties do not garner enough votes to matter?
    e) other?

    It is my feeling that Nader does not lead a party, but does lead (loosely) a movement . . . he has been a Green and an Independent, and even after election, is still sending emails to us about single-payer and the economy. You are correct, he is not for sale. This is amazing in todays USA political arena. I marveled that he and McCain were same (roughly?) age; big difference in presentation! It is amazing how a clear conscience preserves the human brain functions and body, skin, eyes. Nader is the real deal. I say all same is true with regard to Cynthia McKinney.

    I think more public ed in USA needs to be done regarding ballot access and the role that Fed Election Commission plays in controlling the fixed paradigm and national tell-a-vision debates.

    If Nader, McKinney, and a few others had been allowed . . . it could have really shaped the dialogue, emboldened citizens, pushed a platform of social justice and economic justice. If people just knew . . . . ack! But they don’t even know to ask themselves, much less others, any mother-flappin’ questions!

    So, readers and lurkers, who’s running for local offices in your city? Your state? Find out! Check the official city/gov sites, don’t rely upon your papers and TV, or even gatekeeping websites. Find out who’s officially in the running!

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,

  4. bozh said on July 27th, 2009 at 3:30pm #

    melissa, thanks for the info about nader. I live in canada. So, i don’t know much ab. political parties in US.
    i still assert that only a strong party, diametrically opposed to uncle sam’s party [wld he be stupid to have two?] can wring out positive change. tnx

  5. Wendy said on July 27th, 2009 at 4:06pm #

    Here in San Francisco, we had a ‘third’ party candidate in last year’s Congressional election, but that was carpetbagger Cindy Sheehan. She was running for all the wrong reasons. She only wanted to keep her name in the news, which is what she has been doing since her failed protest on the Bush ranch in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina wiped her out of the headlines. Among other Cindy stunts include writing her failed book which sold about a dozen copies, pulling the State of the Union t-shirt stunt in 2006, embracing dictator Hugo “I run the Venezuelan media” Chavez, going on her 6-hour hunger strike, “resigning” from the peace movement over Memorial Day weekend 2007, and getting arrested numerous times for civil disobedience, and a radio show on a Clear Channel-owned station which attracts about 20 listeners.

    We need real third party candidates, but as long as we get third party candidates like $heehan, we’re stuck with the Dems and the GOP.

    Peace on Earth.

  6. Kim Petersen said on July 27th, 2009 at 5:24pm #

    Thanks for your comments, Melissa. I agree that you must be confused because I do not know where “this writer, say[s] that no third party exists.”

  7. B99 said on July 27th, 2009 at 5:29pm #

    Wendy – But you do have to admit that Sheehan was right all along.

  8. lichen said on July 27th, 2009 at 6:32pm #

    Cindy Sheehan was a great candidate in SF; she is a respectable person, unlike the corporate war criminal scum that is Nancy Pelosi. But no need to worry, wendy, there are already third parties on the far-right; perhaps you should leave SF and move to texas to find the heart of your own little deranged movement.

  9. Melissa said on July 27th, 2009 at 7:49pm #

    Thank you for your reply Kim Petersen. I re-read your article and I see that I read through a veil . . . sorry. Perhaps your point was about a stronger, credible and significant movement?

    Thank you for bringing my mistake to light. It is that (my) kind of carelessness that is contributing to the splinters probably. Reminders are good!

    Anyway, since you are taking the time to consider the postings, thank you for the article. I agree that a larger umbrella has to draw all of us together to effect real shaping of policy within and without USA. If that is not going to happen . . . ? ? ?

    Just to step back from my pessimism, the more people with whom I interact face to face, the more people I find who are seeing the futility and dishonesty in the current Dem/Rep paradigm. They are ready to recreate a government in this country that is NOT AGAINST the people, but works FOR the people. It is much harder to get them to drop single issues, but they are more ready to talk about a larger view.

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,

  10. beverly said on July 27th, 2009 at 8:50pm #

    Good point, Deadbeat, about Zinn and Chomsky. They lost major credibility when they hitched a ride on the Kerry and Obama bandwagons. Like most voices from the 60s Left, they are useless.

  11. ajohnstone said on July 27th, 2009 at 10:19pm #

    “I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want, and get it. Eugene V. Debs

    “Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled. ” Karl Marx

    “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Quincy Adams

    “I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis-representatives of the masses — you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.”
    Eugene Debs

  12. Deadbeat said on July 27th, 2009 at 10:25pm #

    Beverly I agree with you. What I find interesting is how, Chomsky especially, says how useless elections are but still feels the need to essentially give tacit support to the Democrats. 2004 was the most critical election cycle for the Left and both Zinn and Chomsky and Z-Magazine’s Michael Albert and Medea Benjamin sabotaging of the Green exposed all of their hypocrisy.

    Let’s recall that in 2004 it was at the apex of the anti-war movement against the Iraq War and it was an opportunity for the “Left” to build REAL opposition. Recall that Chomsky himself (who supposedly calls for organized) failed to give his support to an organization that could have REALLY challenged the war-party Democrats.

    The question is WHY? The answer — Zionism. Many activist on began to raise the question of the Israel/Palestine question behind the War and that caused a real DIVISION on the Left. In order to prevent that question from really taking hold it was necessary to cripple the anti-war movement that that is what happened and WHY the so-called “Left” celebrities supported the Anybody But Bush (ABB) safe state strategy rather than build a REAL electoral challenge to the Democrats.

    The failure and deliberate splintering of the Left in 2004 weakened the Left to such a degree that they could not mount any real opposition to Obama. Obama also help to keep people of color from looking for alternative outside of the Democrats. The Greens and Nader mounting separate efforts also didn’t help and only divided the Left further. Without any real alternative and strength, it became “pragmatic” to vote for the Democrats in 2008.

    When it came time to put up you’ll see that the real threat is not the Democrats but the phonies among the ranks of the Left whose job it is to keep it discombobulated.

  13. Melissa said on July 28th, 2009 at 1:44pm #

    “The Greens and Nader mounting separate efforts also didn’t help and only divided the Left further.” -Deadbeat

    I have wondered about this for quite some time. Does anyone recall hearing an explanation as to why Nader didn’t promote McKinney’s efforts, or vice versa?

    My feeling/observation was that McKinney and Clemente were really working to rouse the working poor, and to address the criminal “Just Us” system that loves to lock up people of color for profit. Their campaign was far more informal, anti-authoritarian and hip-hop, where Nader/Gonzalez was still suit and tie presentation.

    They’d make a great ticket together.

  14. lichen said on July 28th, 2009 at 7:28pm #

    Nader had some (justifiable) issues with how the green party was run (issues of internal democracy), and apparently he went in for the 2008 green nomination, but there was a serious issue where some Mckinney supporters had tried to take him off the ballot or give his votes to Mckinney.

    But ultimately, it really doesn’t matter; until we change the way elections are held, they will never have a chance as long as private wealth, the mainstream media, and the democrat/republican establishments control and decide who gets airtime and who wins. There is about a one in a million chance that anyone like Nader or Mckinney could break through and win with these rules, these conditions, this system in place. So it isn’t their fault that it won’t happen; and it really has nothing to do with this or that action that Nader or Mckinney took.

    It has nothing to do with “the left” that (SUPRISE!) much of the anti-war movement was actually an anti-republican one who took the message seriously that conditions were the fault of Nader supporters and the independent left that managed to live during the Clinton years, rise up against the WTO, etc.

  15. Tennessee-With-Zelaya said on July 28th, 2009 at 9:21pm #



    By David Graeber


    We have reached an impasse. Capitalism as we know it is coming apart at the seams. But as financial institutions stagger and crumble, there is no obvious alternative. Organized resistance is scattered and incoherent. The global justice movement is a shadow of its former self. For the simple reason that it’s impossible to maintain perpetual growth on a finite planet, it’s possible that in a generation or so capitalism will no longer exist. Faced with this prospect, people’s knee-jerk reaction is often fear. They cling to capitalism because they can’t imagine a better alternative.

    How did this happen? Is it normal for human beings to be unable to imagine a better world?

    Hopelessness isn’t natural. It needs to be produced. To understand this situation, we have to realize that the last 30 years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus that creates and maintains hopelessness. At the root of this machine is global leaders’ obsession with ensuring that social movements do not appear to grow or flourish, that those who challenge existing power arrangements are never perceived to win. Maintaining this illusion requires armies, prisons, police and private security firms to create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity and despair. All these guns, surveillance cameras and propaganda engines are extraordinarily expensive and produce nothing – they’re economic deadweights that are dragging the entire capitalist system down.

    This hopelessness-generating apparatus is responsible for our recent financial freefalls and endless strings of bursting economic bubbles. It exists to shred and pulverize the human imagination, to destroy our ability to envision an alternative future. As a result, the only thing left to imagine is money, and debt spirals out of control. What is debt? It’s imaginary money whose value can only be realized in the future. Finance capital is, in turn, the buying and selling of these imaginary future profits. Once one assumes that capitalism will be around for all eternity, the only kind of economic democracy left to imagine is one in which everyone is equally free to invest in the market. Freedom has become the right to share in the proceeds of one’s own permanent enslavement.

    Since the economic bubble was built on the future, its collapse made it seem like there was nothing left.

    This effect, however, is clearly temporary. If the story of the global justice movement tells us anything, it is that the moment there appears to be any sort of opening the imagination springs forth. This is what effectively happened in the late ’90s when it looked for a moment like we might be moving toward a world at peace. The same thing has happened for the last 50 years in the US whenever it seems like peace might break out: a radical social movement dedicated to principles of direct action and participatory democracy emerges. In the late ’50s it was the civil rights movement. In the late ’70s it was the anti-nuclear movement. More recently it happened on a planetary scale and challenged capitalism head-on. But when we were organizing the protests in Seattle in 1999 or at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in DC in 2000, none of us dreamed that within a mere three or four years the World Trade Organization (WTO) process would collapse, “free trade” ideologies would be almost entirely discredited and new trade pacts like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would be defeated. The World Bank was hobbled and the power of the IMF over most of the world’s population was effectively destroyed.

    But of course there’s another reason for all this. Nothing terrifies leaders, especially American leaders, as much as grassroots democracy. Whenever a genuinely democratic movement begins to emerge, particularly one based on principles of civil disobedience and direct action, the reaction is the same: the government makes immediate concessions (fine, you can have voting rights) and then starts revving up military tensions abroad. The movement is then forced to transform itself into an anti-war movement, which is often far less democratically organized. The civil rights movement was followed by Vietnam, the anti-nuclear movement by proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua and the global justice movement by the War on Terror. We can now see the latter “war” for what it was: a declining power’s doomed effort to make its peculiar combination of bureaucratic war machines and speculative financial capitalism into a permanent global condition.

    We are clearly on the verge of another mass resurgence of the popular imagination. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Most of the elements are already there. The problem is that our perceptions have been twisted into knots by decades of relentless propaganda and we are no longer able to see them. Consider the term “communism.” Rarely has a term come to be so utterly reviled. The standard line, which we accept more or less unthinkingly, is that communism means state control of the economy. History has shown us that this impossible utopian dream simply “doesn’t work.” Thus capitalism, however unpleasant, is the only remaining option.

    In fact, communism really just means any situation where people act according to this principle: from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. This is, in fact, the way pretty much everyone acts if they are working together. If, for example, two people are fixing a pipe and one says “hand me the wrench,” the other doesn’t say “and what do I get for it?” This is true even if they happen to be employed by Bechtel or Citigroup. They apply the principles of communism because they’re the only ones that really work. This is also the reason entire cities and countries revert to some form of rough-and-ready communism in the wake of natural disasters or economic collapse – markets and hierarchical chains of command become luxuries they can’t afford. The more creativity is required and the more people have to improvise at a given task, the more egalitarian the resulting form of communism is likely to be. That’s why even Republican computer engineers trying to develop new software ideas tend to form small democratic collectives. It’s only when work becomes standardized and boring (think production lines) that becomes possible to impose more authoritarian, even fascistic forms of communism. But the fact is that even private companies are internally organized according to communist principles.

    Communism is already here. The question is how to further democratize it. Capitalism, in turn, is just one possible way of managing communism. It has become increasingly clear that it’s a rather disastrous one. Clearly we need to be thinking about a better alternative, preferably one that does not systematically set us all at each others’ throats.

    All this makes it much easier to understand why capitalists are willing to pour such extraordinary resources into the machinery of hopelessness. Capitalism is not just a poor system for managing communism, it also periodically falls apart. Each time it does, those who profit from it have to convince everyone that there is really no choice but to dutifully paste it all back together again.

    Those wishing to subvert the system have learned from bitter experience that we cannot place our faith in states. Instead, the last decade has seen the development of thousands of forms of mutual aid associations. They range from tiny cooperatives to vast anti-capitalist experiments, from occupied factories in Paraguay and Argentina to self-organized tea plantations and fisheries in India, from autonomous institutes in Korea to insurgent communities in Chiapas and Bolivia. These associations of landless peasants, urban squatters and neighborhood alliances spring up pretty much anywhere where state power and global capital seem to be temporarily looking the other way. They might have almost no ideological unity, many are not even aware of the others’ existence, but they are all marked by a common desire to break with the logic of capital. “Economies of solidarity” exist on every continent, in at least 80 different countries. We are at the point where we can begin to conceive of these cooperatives knitting together on a global level and creating a genuine insurgent civilization.

    Visible alternatives shatter the sense of inevitability that the system must be patched together in its pre-collapse form – this is why it became such an imperative on behalf of global governance to stamp them out (or at least ensure that no one knows about them). Becoming aware of alternatives allows us to see everything we are already doing in a new light. We realize we’re already communists when working on common projects, already anarchists when we solve problems without recourse to lawyers or police, already revolutionaries when we make something genuinely new.

    One might object: a revolution cannot confine itself to this. That’s true. In this respect, the great strategic debates are really just beginning. I’ll offer one suggestion though. For at least 5,000 years, before capitalism even existed, popular movements have tended to center on struggles over debt. There is a reason for this. Debt is the most efficient means ever created to make relations fundamentally based on violence and inequality seem morally upright. When this trick no longer works everything explodes, as it is now. Debt has revealed itself as the greatest weakness of the system, the point where it spirals out of control. But debt also allows endless opportunities for organizing. Some speak of a debtors’ strike or debtors’ cartel. Perhaps so, but at the very least we can start with a pledge against evictions. Neighborhood by neighborhood we can pledge to support each other if we are driven from our homes. This power does not solely challenge regimes of debt, it challenges the moral foundation of capitalism. This power creates a new regime. After all, a debt is only a promise and the world abounds in broken promises. Think of the promise made to us by the state: if we abandon any right to collectively manage our own affairs we will be provided with basic life security. Think of the promise made by capitalism: we can live like kings if we are willing to buy stock in our own collective subordination. All of this has come crashing down. What remains is what we are able to promise one another directly, without the mediation of economic and political bureaucracies. The revolution begins by asking what sorts of promises do free men and women make one another and how, by making them, do we begin to make another world?

    David Graeber is the author of Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion and Desire and Direct Action: An Ethnography

  16. Tennessee-With-Zelaya said on July 28th, 2009 at 9:22pm #

    Dear friends of this site: The real problem i see is not the US government itself, nor the Israeli Government, nor the De Facto Interin coup de etat Honduras Government. The real problem from my own point of view is the followers and supporters of the US government and of the Israeli government, and supporters of all fascistic governments of this world.

    I posted in one of my former messages that the Middle-Classes, including the lower part of the middle classes (Lower middle classes) always side with the mainstream political parties, because from the middle-class’s point of view they think that any revolutionary political-change would be a threat to their relatively stable lifestyles. The US, Europe, Asia, and even many nations in Latin America still have a large middle-class. A big proof of this is that Argentina has a large middle class and elected right-wing candidates in their congress election just recently.

    So my theory is that we will just have to wait for people to pass from the middle class to the lower-class for them to wake up. I mean we just got to wait for a rise in poverty levels in this world to see a real hunger for change in the majority of people. In other words, as long as this world has a large middle class we won’t see a change.

    So think psychologically and sociologically and economically in order to be aware of why many people still vote for capitalist imperialist fascist political parties.

  17. Deadbeat said on July 28th, 2009 at 10:45pm #

    lichen writes …

    It has nothing to do with “the left” that (SUPRISE!) much of the anti-war movement was actually an anti-republican one who took the message seriously that conditions were the fault of Nader supporters and the independent left that managed to live during the Clinton years, rise up against the WTO, etc.

    Sorry lichen but that is not entirely accurate. There was a HUGE riff on the left especially between International Answer and UFPJ. That riff was on the Israel/Palestine question and UFPJ’s refusal to make that a key issue. Answer did and UFPJ would rather oversee the weakening and diffusion of the anti-war movement than have the focus of the Iraq War towards Israel/Palestine (and Zionism) from the “war for oil” mantra.

  18. bozh said on July 29th, 2009 at 7:03am #

    lichen, i see it as you do.
    i wld even say that the Right and the Left must unite for healthcare, ending the wars, right to be informed, etc., in order to obtain it. tnx

  19. Tennessee-With-Zelaya said on July 29th, 2009 at 7:39am #

    I love freedom of speech, but beware of Wendy. She is a capitalist, and i smell a Republican Party fan. Look how she bashes Cindy Sheehan. Cindy Sheehan should be canonized by the Church and made into saint. Chavez is another prospect to be canonized into a Saint.

    Compared with the satanic and pathological killers of Obama, Palin, Bush and Mccain. Cindy Sheehan and Chavez are saints.


  20. rosemarie jackowski said on July 29th, 2009 at 9:44am #

    Wendy makes the same kind of ad hominem attack on Cindy Sheehan as so many others make on Ralph Nader. I have spent a little time with both Cindy and Ralph. Both of them are motivated by the highest principles possible and neither has an ego problem.

    How many people does it take to make a Party? Do we really need political parties? There were 8 candidates for president on my ballot, plus a write-in option. The problem is that too many uninformed voters cast a ballot. Those who have not studied the issues should be encouraged to stay home on election day. How many times have you heard the statement that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, just vote. Voting has consequences.

  21. rosemarie jackowski said on July 29th, 2009 at 9:48am #

    This is what I mean……………..


  22. Melissa said on July 29th, 2009 at 9:55am #

    Tennessee, Thank you for posting the Graeber write-up. I enjoyed it and will be thinking of it for quite some time.

    Wendy, I am interested to hear specifics as to why you abhor Sheehan. I think she has been an important figure, gutsy and persistent, for questioning the lies and people behind the Iraq war, as well as “impeachment’s off the table” Pelosi. I might agree that she has fashioned a career out of anti-war activism, but I don’t think she could command the amount of exposure she has gained without abandoning other time-intensive earning efforts.

    Does this make her a sell-out? Or, is her focus too narrow? Please explain. I don’t invest time here to attack, I am interested in perspectives, yours, mine and theirs.

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,

  23. Tennessee-With-Zelaya said on July 29th, 2009 at 12:34pm #

    Melissa: Another thing is that Wendy labeled Hugo Chavez as a dictator, when we all know that Hugo Chavez is the most democratic president of this world, and Venezuela has the most liberal, libertarian participative democracy in this planet.


  24. Melissa said on July 29th, 2009 at 12:57pm #

    Yes, Hugo Chavez has demonstrated REAL commitment to people (and not just within the borders of his own country). The huge gains in literacy rate, incentivizing a parent to stay at home to actually CREATE and MAINTAIN the heart of the home, printing constitution on staple foods . . . it’s no wonder there is an intense propaganda campaign against him from USA. He’s pushing people to take care of their business as citizens, can’t have that kind of subversion here.

    The dictator thing, that’s a little tricky, ’cause he did cross the line. But put into context of the destabilization funded by USA, the interests of the corporate class and the power they demonstrated by coup attempt . . . I think we have to give the guy some credit for being realistic about how drastic a remedy it takes to buy the time to empower his population with health, education, economic footing. I have no worries that he will morph into Stalin, or Kim Jong Il. The Venezuelans seem to feel that they are in good hands for now, I think so too, and it is an experiment worth seeing through. I am interested to see how it pans out in 10-15 years . . . that is if I am allowed in USA (if there is a USA) to have a view outside the corporate media. Ugh.