“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 27 Radio
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 Garden knew 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 took place.”
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
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
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 and stability.”
The basic difference between the DLC and the Bush Pirates is,
the New Democrats seek U.S. military and economic domination of
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
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
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
are seeking a quick exit from Iraq. As the September 7 New York
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 Iraq."
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
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
Iraq war has been “worth the cost.”
Black American opinion is in line with world opinion. Although African
Americans consume the same corporate media fantasies 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.
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
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
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.