“There is still time” for John Kerry to reverse his slippage in
the polls, said Rev. Jesse Jackson on CNN, this week, but this
will require a “shakeup” in the Kerry campaign and the Democratic
National Committee. Kerry “has been distancing himself from his
base,” which “is not smart.”
That’s an understatement.
It is now generally recognized that, unless
your name is Barack Obama, the Democratic National Convention
in Boston was a disaster – a
launch pad to defeat. Kerry “and his DLC handlers neutralized all
of the constituent groups of the Democratic Party,” said Black
Commentator Co-publisher and Editor-in-Chief Glen Ford in an August
BC commentary. “He made the party bland, projecting
generalities and banalities, and focusing all attention on his
own personal character and history. He refused to take up the cause
of a vast majority of Democrats – and now, a clear majority of
Americans – by presenting an exit strategy from Iraq.”
Then came the New York GOP convention, a gathering
of howling, happy savages. The Republicans inside Madison Square
they faced a eunuch who could not – would not – fight back.
Rev. Jesse Jackson: “We hit Bush with velvet gloves, they give
us the brass knuckles.”
Outside the convention, hundreds of thousands
of demonstrators representing the heart and soul of Democratic
activism were cordoned
off – by Democratic Party leadership! “The Democratic base is crying
for help but has been left to its own devices in fighting the Bush
administration,” writes Margaret Kimberley in her current Freedom
Rider column. “While their party’s nominee did not utter one
word of even qualified support for their actions they continued
to hold marches, vigils, and other actions while the convention
Blacks and progressives cannot help Kerry win
the election on “our
own devices” if we have to fight the Democratic Party machinery
every step of the way. After the Republican Convention, a TIME poll
showed George Bush with a substantial lead over Kerry: 53 to 41
percent. The most recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll rates
the contest at 52 to 45 percent among “likely” voters, although
much closer – 48 to 46 percent, with Ralph Nader at 4 percent – among registered voters.
This means Kerry can win if he energizes the Democratic base and
gets voters to the polls – that is, if he can whip up enthusiasm
among the Democratic Party’s various constituencies.
The Zogby poll
shows Kerry in better shape in the states that he needs for victory
in the electoral college, but with Bush “slowly advancing.” Pollster
John Zogby concluded:
“Kerry has lost ground – either in the size
of his lead or in the outright lead itself – in several states.
Noticeably, the President is now doing better among Republicans
in more states than Mr. Kerry is among his own Democrats. Mr.
Bush has also made gains among Independents. In addition to the
Senator leaving voters cold on his personal characteristics,
he is not contrasting himself with the President on the war.
Mr. Bush has clearly defined himself…as the clear, decisive war
leader. All Mr. Kerry has done is say he is ready for duty and
would do exactly the same. With Democrats angry over the war,
they will need to hear more from the challenger.”
This week, the gulf between Bush and Kerry will likely widen.
Saturday marks the 3rd anniversary of September 11, 2001.
The straightjacket Kerry wears bears the
Democratic Leadership Council label. The DLC, in its quest
to immobilize and silence
the party’s core constituencies – Blacks, labor, peace forces – in
search of a mathematically constructed “swing” and “center” cohort,
succeeds only in paralyzing and muting both the party and the
candidate. Kerry has penned himself in as tightly as the demonstrators
in New York during GOP convention week.
The strategy is a model of inflexibility,
a chief cause of Kerry’s
inability to respond quickly or effectively to Republican barrages.
The DLC attempts to position candidates as closely as possible
to the Republican opposition’s political space, so that barely
a ray of sunlight shines between them. In theory, this strategy
allows the DLC candidate to claim all of the larger political
territory to his left. But in practice, that territory is populated
by very frustrated folks who watch Kerry constantly speaking
from their right. That’s why, despite more than adequate funding
and a wealth of potential issue advantages over Bush,
Kerry was never able to move decisively ahead. The DLC’s hug-the-enemy
strategy (sometimes called “me too-ism”) inevitably cedes the
initiative to the opposition.
More fundamentally, Kerry’s DLC does indeed harbor the same
general foreign policy goals as do the Bush’s Pirates: global
U.S. economic and military hegemony. Their October 2003 manifesto, “Progressive
Internationalism: A Democratic National Security Strategy,” published
in the New Democrat’s journal, Blueprint,
calls for a “smarter approach to the use of military power.” The
DLC’s strategists agree in principle with Bush’s invasion of
Iraq, but they would have avoided wrecking U.S. relations with
the rest of the world in the process – as if that were possible.
And although the manifesto blathers endlessly about encouraging
democracy in the world (“The way to keep America safe and strong
is not to impose our will on others”), the DLC is determined
to hold on to the ground it thinks the Bush men have gained
in Iraq: “We will maintain a robust military presence in Iraq
for as long as it takes to help that country to achieve security
The basic difference between the DLC and
the Bush Pirates is, the New Democrats seek U.S. military and
of the world through both weapons and the cooperation of international
institutions such as the United Nations, NATO and other treaty
regimes, while the Bush men attempted to discard the whole game
board to impose American rule by fiat. This leads the DLC to
a mish-mash of policy statements. For example: “The administration
has disproportionately relied on military strength” but “this
is no time to cut the Pentagon’s budget.” U.S. intervention capability
would be strengthened: “The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have
shown that we need to enhance our ability to project power with
deadly accuracy over enormous distances.” Thus, Kerry’s call
for 40,000 additional troops.
John Kerry treats the October DLC manifesto
as his Bible. That’s
why he sounds so incoherent and contradictory to Democratic audiences
that are seeking a quick exit from Iraq. As the September 7 New
York Times reported:
Asked his timetable for
pulling troops out of Iraq, Mr. Kerry told a few hundred people
in Canonsburg, Pa.: "My
goal would be to get them home in my first term. And I believe
that can be done." He said he would make it clear that "we
do not have long-term designs to maintain bases and troops in
In other words, he will keep U.S. troops
in Iraq, as the DLC manifesto vowed, “for as long as it takes to help that country
to achieve security and stability.” To accomplish that over a
period of up to four years, of course, the U.S. would need to
harden its already existing bases in Iraq, despite Kerry’s avowal
of having no “long-term designs to maintain bases.”
Kerry’s pronouncement gives no comfort to the overwhelmingly
anti-war Democratic majority – and in fact, could have easily
issued from George Bush’s lying mouth. Kerry has effectively
surrendered Iraq and foreign policy in general to the Bush men,
and the polls show it. His mush-mouth DLC-speak has allowed
the slim leave-Iraq-now-or-soon majority of early summer to shrink
to 37 percent, although we doubt there has been any substantial
change in African American sentiment on the subject. In a July CBS/BET poll,
only 8 percent of Blacks thought the Iraq war has been “worth
Black American opinion is in line with world
opinion. Although African Americans consume the same corporate
as the rest of the country, our history has bequeathed us a deep
skepticism of white intentions and has largely immunized us from
the madness of American Manifest Destiny – whose premises are
the default position of most white Americans. Absent a coherent
voice for peace at the top of the Democratic Party, the War Party
will always prevail among whites. Kerry and the DLC have made
this far more likely in 2004.
The most important public opinion resides in Iraq, where Muqtada al-Sadr is the second most popular man in the country.
U.S. corporate media routinely refer to al-Sadr as a “renegade” – proof
of the media’s utter detachment from reality. How can the second
most popular person in a nation be a “renegade”? The most influential
personality, Ayatollah Sistani – whose intervention in the
siege of Najaf rescued both the holy shrine and al-Sadr – shows
no inclination of tolerating four more years of American occupation.
U.S. withdrawal is a fatwa away. The cities of Ramadi,
Samara and Fallujah are in the hands of the resistance.
U.S. forces were supposed to withdraw from Najaf, under the
terms of the puppet Iraqi regime’s agreement with Sistani.
Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, home to 2 million Shi’ites, is Sadr
country. Four more years?
What will Kerry do? Better to ask
what the Iraqis will do. They are at the pivot of history,
and will take care of themselves.
Vote for Kerry for domestic policy
reasons; we understand the differences, there. It is also vitally
important that the Bush regime, whose assault on world order
was stopped in its tracks by the Iraqi resistance, be dismantled.
Kerry and the DLC are
no more, and no less, dangerous than Bill Clinton – a founder of the DLC,
along with Al Gore. Don’t consider your decision to be a choice
between the “lesser of two evils.” Instead, think of a Kerry
vote as a return to the status quo ante – a small step
back from the Apocalypse.