November 15, 2004
(Swans - November 15, 2004)
Greed wrapped in reactionary beliefs is the unbeatable force in American politics.
Given the choice, Americans prefer real Republicans to Democratic
simulacra however faithful in detail to the originals -- "there's
nothing like the real thing, baby!" as Ray Charles intoned for the
Coca-Cola bottling company. The Republicans own the franchise on the
American zeitgeist, a combination of consumption addiction with cultural
ignorance of breathtaking profundity. After November 2nd, these
realities are undeniable. Now, what are the Democrats to do about them?
Bush League Nation
Maps of the United States that show the election results on the basis of counties, Republican in red and Democrat in blue, are a bloody sea with far-flung islands of the blues. (1)
If the Democrats decide that this result is a momentary setback, that they do in fact represent nearly half of the national sentiment, that the sentiment they represent is actually quite different from that of the Republicans, and that the best course for them and the nation is to continue as they have so far, then they will enter a terminal and rapid slide to oblivion. This is obvious from the perspective of November 3rd, and it is equally obvious that this is the course the Democratic Party will choose. Inertia is the greatest force in the universe.
What Else Can They Do?
Change is always unthinkable because disruption of the existing hierarchy is implicit in it. The Democrats, like the Chinese Communist Party and the Catholic Church, maintain a careerist hierarchy "accumulating merit," as the Buddhists might say, waiting for their turn in offices of greater power. Actual changes of structure and policy could upset many schedules of personal ambition. So, sclerosis of the political apparatus inhibits political reform and social change.
Besides the threat to ambition, the major psychological block in Democrat minds is the fear of losing access to political "pork," the ability to funnel tax dollars into those locations, programs and enterprises they favor, and which return that favor in the form of political and financial support. If the party loses voter appeal by not appearing to mirror the current dominant psychosis ("war on terror," "moral values," good old boy down-home flavor), then their presence in legislatures would diminish, and they would be less able to open the sluice gates and turn the flume of tax dollar spending toward targets of greatest advantage to them.
Given the realization that suggestions of major change are pointless, let us consider them anyway, just for fun.
Become A 30% Permanent Minority Party
The Democrats are now a minority party, reaching perhaps up to 40% of the electorate. Yes, I know the election seemed close, and some argue that Democrats represent up to 50% of national sentiment, but in truth a sizable faction of Democrats' votes in 2004 come from people who have traditional Republican sentiments but were put off by the corruption, hypocritical fundamentalist religiosity, fiscal abandon and anti-democratic radicalism of the Bush Republicans. A more temperate Republican standard-bearer -- such as John McCain -- would sweep the nation with a commanding majority.
The Democrats should drop the essentially Republican third of their current members, and consolidate as a union, environmental, and peace -- anti-imperial and anti-corporate -- party. As such, they would drop to perhaps 30% support among the public, but they would live forever. To signal this change, they would elevate Ralph Nader to the leadership position, and the campaign positions of Dennis Kucinich would represent the typical middle of the revised party.
How would such a party fair? Wonderfully. What had been the anguish, distaste and disappointment of the Anybody-But-Bush coalition would now become an enthused, loyal and active party base. Given the power that would remain with the Democratic party as one of the two official partners in the American duopoly, this party would have much greater effectiveness in advancing the agenda of 30% of Americans: union, earth, peace. What it would have lost in corporate support (and not all corporations would abandon it) it would more than gain with a coherent and compelling ideology that would guarantee it reliable and active support.
This party -- and its motivating principles -- could become the majority orientation over time as a result of a conversion by former Republican voters who experience Republican misrule. That, and the observation of a greater satisfaction experienced by people whose lives express these new Democratic principles, would be how a revolution of political and social orientation occurs.
And if the Republican majority were to moderate its policies to forestall such a development, well then, we simply approach the same result from a different direction. After all, the goal is to make union, earth and peace the dominant principles; it is immaterial which party has the majority so long as the result is the same.
What Do I Mean By Union, Earth And Peace?
Union is labor union, consumer (dangerous word, that) union, student union, civil rights, penal reform, universal health-care and education through college, a people orientation instead of a corporate or bureaucratic orientation; a secular union where all citizens are equally welcomed, where personal, physical and genetic attributes are irrelevant, where religion of any kind is banned from every aspect of public life, even the Pledge of Allegiance; where freedom of religion is cherished as infinite freedom for each individual's practice with zero government endorsement or public financial support. Union is the concern that each individual experiences a uniformity of opportunity, responsibility and personal security, and an unlimited sense of self.
Earth is the concern for the environment, and an intent to devise a sustainable economic system. Besides the usual problem of "fouling of the nest" brought on by exploitative capitalism, the immediate threats to be addressed are the looming consequences of global warming and the depletion of the world's oil deposits. Earth is the concern for survival with justice.
Peace is the concern to dismantle the national security state, and revise the US economy into one based on meeting the needs of people first and foremost. This means abandoning the present permanent war economy, which concentrates wealth into the hands of a corporatist plutocracy. An aspect of this would be to rein in the entire militarized imperial foreign policy that bankrupts the nation today, in fiscal, moral and social dimensions. Peace is the concern to live with the rest of the world rather than at its expense.
Where Are The Republican Ex-Democrats To Go?
This segment of the present Democratic Party would include people like Zell Miller at its extreme right, and people like John Kerry at its extreme left. The Democratic Leadership Council would be in this population, which is the corporate segment of the party. It would simply be most logical for all corporatist politicians to associate in a dedicated corporatist party, the Republican Party.
Individuals wrestling with this situation might consider these options:
1. Just go for it. Become a real Republican, join the club, play by its rules, make your way in this new social and political scene, and work your way up as far as you can go. This would be a good option for the Zell Millers of the present Democratic Party.
2. You are torn, because you really want to keep the pork and power connections with the corporate world, but you also want to think you are a more sophisticated, intellectual and socially conscious politician than the narrowly-focused chamber-of-commerce types typical of Republicans. Perhaps life finds you in a position of comfort, where you don't have to be obsessive about keeping taxes, regulations and social needs from eating away at profits, and you can be generous in considering policies for ameliorating certain social ills. Great, simply bring your social consciousness into the Republican Party with you, and work to mold the party more to your orientation. This might appeal to a John Kerry who could make a John McCain his first choice for a vice-presidential running mate.
3. Perhaps you find the previous option too difficult to accept, and the one before that beyond the pale. Simple, swallow hard and give up the corporate connection by enlisting in the new Democratic Party -- even at the cost of accepting a lower place in the new hierarchy (I don't like hierarchy, but we'll assume that such is inevitable in any likely rebirth of the Democratic Party). This would be an option for a John Kerry who could say "the hell with it, I really am going to be a liberal from now on."
If You Stand For Nothing, You Fall For Everything
A Democratic Party that could winnow itself down to a lean political operation totally focused on the needs of people first, last and always, would have the greatest potential to change American politics for the better. Such change would reverberate through the entire world. This possibility is out of reach to a Democratic party that aspires to majority status. Don't "reach out to the heartland" -- drop them. Drop all the bloody baggage of accommodation with Red mentality -- and those who carry this baggage -- and become a cohesive group with a clarity of purpose, true-blue Democrats. Only as such will you attract converts, and you can rest assured these will be generated as a consequence of Republican misrule.
Become the future we want:
Union! Earth! Peace!
· · · · · ·
1 Red and Blue America by counties (active 6 November 2004) http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2004/countymap.htm,
US Elections & Democracy on Swans
Manuel García, Jr. is a graduate aerospace engineer, working as a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He did underground nuclear testing between 1978 and 1992. He is concerned with employee rights and unionization at the nuclear weapons labs, and the larger issue of their social costs. Otherwise, he is an amateur poet who is fascinated by the physics of fluids, zen sensibility, and the impact of truth.
Do you wish to share your opinion? We invite your comments. E-mail the Editor. Please include your full name, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country.
Please, feel free to insert a link to this poem on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, please DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans. This material is copyrighted, © Manuel García, Jr. 2004. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This Week's Internal Links
The Sopranos, Capitalism And Organized Crime - by Louis Proyect
Checkbook Imperialism - by Joe Davison
Killing People - by Richard Macintosh
A Consumer's Guide To Faith-Based Bigotry - by Phil Rockstroh
Bruce Anderson's AVA Oregon! - by Gilles d'Aymery
Lisa Appignanesi's The Cabaret - Book Review by Charles Marowitz
Passions Unleashed - by Milo Clark
"Voting" with the Non-Voters - by Philip Greenspan
Help Is On The Way: Implications Of A Stolen Election - by Eli Beckerman
Ride This Donkey: Why The Left Needs A Fundamental Realignment - by Joel Wendland
November 4, 2004 - by Milo Clark
The President - Story by Ian Werkheiser
The Resurrected Dead-Horse - Poem by Gerard Donnelly Smith
Blips #6 - From the Editor's desk
Letters to the Editor