James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Stop pretending Democrats are real alternative

“The Democrats could screw up a one-car parade,” a friend of mine says frequently.

Well, actually, the words he uses usually are stronger, but that's the gist of it.

He's right, of course. Even if there's only one car, the driver needs some idea of where he's going, and the people who control the structure of the Democratic Party – on every level – are so directionless they can't find their own behinds with both hands and a compass. Lord knows where their heads are.

Poor Howard Dean is undermined at every turn – even by his own staff, it appears. The organizations of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry seemed designed to draw money and support away from the party structure under Dean. The rest of the aimless Democratic leaders – yes, it's an oxymoron -- seem able to focus only on clinging to their comfy Congressional seats and party offices and the nice pay and great benefits.

In the March issue of the Progressive, Molly Ivins said this:

“I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

A growing number of very intelligent and knowledgeable people are saying pretty much the same thing, though not usually so effectively. To that group, I hereby add my own tiny voice, along with some suggestions that, I admit, advocate taking considerable risk.

As a group, the Washington Democrats are a despicable collection of cowards and lamebrains. It is foolish to waste either time or money on the party. The only action that makes sense in the face of the near-total meltdown is to find the few articulate, intelligent and brave progressive candidates around the country – there are some --and give them what support you can afford, and to hell with the rest. And keep doing whatever you can to expose the felons who run this country and to help others understand the extent of the Neocon/corporate/Pentagon crimes against humanity and common sense.

I recommend refusing to vote this year for any stupid or craven office holder or candidate, even if withholding votes gives an office, or most offices, to the wildest of neocons. If the Democrats insist on slithering through Washington like Gollum through a lightless cave, we do more harm by allowing them to hold office.

I know. I'll say it for (some of) you: “But we have to take back Congress. If the Republicans stay in control of Congress, it's just going to get worse and worse. We have to get a Democrat back in the White House or the world will come to an end.”

We went all through that in 2004, in 2000, in a dozen elections before that. We went for “the lesser of two evils” in practically every election, and we are way behind.

Guess what, people. The “lesser of two evils” really isn't. Lesser, that is. Nor does being only “lesser” inspire voters and win elections.

We had Bill Clinton in the White House for eight years, and he might have, probably should have, called himself a Republican. Far from slowing the race to the right, he took the pole position. Under his leadership, the plutocrats solidified their power, this country continued its drive to ruin its own and other economies around the world through unfettered “free trade” and other right-wing stratagems, and the military-industrial samurais continued popping steroids in preparation for what we now have.

Meanwhile, those in Congress who claim the name Democrat continued to suck up to the money boys, regardless of what the money boys did to the country and you and me. Who cared? The jelly-spined pols enjoyed their fact-finding missions to Oahu and their cozy sinecures in Washington.

It's a fact, now widely acknowledged: The present mob of Democrats offers us nothing. Being “not Republican” is nothing.

All but a handful of Congressional Dems and many in state houses and legislatures around the country make their decisions according to what they are told by the oracles and voodoo queens who throw the chicken knuckles and run the polls. Principle doesn't come into it. The word evokes sneers and cynical laughter.

The Republicans, when they were down, gave themselves over to the snake handlers and neocons, who began a long, hard fight to change the polls by changing public perceptions on issues. They won eventually, to the great detriment of this country, its citizens and the world beyond. They had no stand-up opposition; they could hardly lose.

Democrats as a party have made it clear that they have neither the brains nor the guts for such a fight; they have chosen to be the permanent weak opposition. They will be that until the corporate powers grow so strong that they no longer have to tolerate even the buzzing of gnats.

Nothing illustrates the cowardice so well as the recent scramble of Democrats to disassociate themselves from Sen. Russ Feingold and his resolution to censure George Bush for using illegal wiretaps against U.S. Citizens.

Anybody who believes in the Constitution and the government it allowed us to have for a couple of centuries knows that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and several other big-time felons should be impeached. Anybody who can read knows it won't happen, because the Constitution and the rule of law were discarded as soon as the neocons grabbed power. Loyalty to Bush supersedes all other loyalties, oaths and beliefs. (But, of course, there is no similarity between neocons and fascists.)

The resolution offered by the Wisconsin Democrat was doomed, too, of course. But it offered a first-class starting point if the Democrats had any interest in beginning a campaign to show the people why the Bushies and other right wing extremists are so terribly wrong and to offer strong arguments for alternatives. For one thing, the largely co-opted news media were paying attention, and they rarely give Democrats serious attention these days.

Richard L. (Lee) Dechert, a Twin Cities peace activist, reminded me a couple of days ago that Feingold was the only Senator to oppose the Patriot Act -- the man seems to have all the guts that should be spread through the entire chamber – and that he said before offering his motion that he hoped to create a bipartisan consensus on the limits of presidential power that might forestall impeachment on FISA and other violations of the Constitution.

OK, so Feingold can dissemble a bit, too. That's OK. It still was a good start, if anyone besides him wanted to start a genuine opposition to the neocons.

Republicans, of course, rejected the resolution without giving it a second of consideration.

Washington Democrats, being Washington Democrats, suddenly had to pee, or wash their hair, or dash out and buy a birthday present for the wife. Anything to get out of the room. Democratic candidates who are not office holders but who have the backing of party insiders also scurried for cover.

Mark Dayton, the increasingly erratic Democratic senator from Minnesota – it's a very good thing he's not running for reelection – blasted Feingold for showboating and claimed the resolution was offered only because the Wisconsinite hopes to run for president in 2008. The Minnesotan failed to mention that he, Dayton, endorsed Hillary Clinton awhile ago.

Do not waste your time or money on the Democratic Party.

To those who intone the endless mantra of “lesser evil,” I say what I said here a couple of weeks ago: If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.

There are a few honest, able candidates around. Support them even if they're not in your district or state. (I'll pass along the names of some people worth checking out soon.)

Dechert said that “unless we elect people of Constitutional courage, this outrageous war on the Iraqi and American people will continue for years. So all of Minnesota's candidates should be asked: 'Where do you stand on the impeachment of President Bush?'”

I'm sure he wouldn't limit that to Minnesota.

We may have to face the grim fact that it sometimes takes a catclysm to bring necessary change. The Democratic Party may have to collapse before a real opposition to the oligarchs can rise.

It's a long shot, but to go on propping up useless Democrats will give us no chance at all to heal this country.