Monday, April 14, 2008

Stop the Theatrics

(originally published at OpEdNews)

I’m what used to be called a liberal and is now called a Progressive. I’m proud that I’ve chosen to support and help perpetuate the domestic policies of FDR. He read into The Constitution not only what was written in black and white, but what he believed the signers had in mind for how we should use The Constitution as the law of the land in years beyond their own. He thought logically enough to give the signers credit for not holding future generations to laws that might become irrelevant with the passing of time.

The Declaration of Independence, although not formally part of The Constitution, clearly lays out the goals which The Constitution was intended to meet. Three of those goals were to always provide “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for Americans. To write a constitution that would fly in the face of those three goals would not only be inconsistent but would be a sort of “bait and switch” on the part of the signers.

Those who consider themselves “strict constitutionalists” seem to emphasize what The Constitution does not say or, at the very least, does not allow by the mere fact that it does not specifically spell out certain provisions. To further attempt to clarify how The Constitution is viewed by some; The Constitution is not a populist document. It wasn’t written to protect the rights of people. It was written to deny people certain “inalienable rights”.

Libertarians may say that they believe that The Constitution actually protects the right of people to bear arms, to put anything into their bodies that they want to put into their bodies, to keep the money which they earn without having to share it with those less fortunate and other individualist rights (as opposed to social responsibilites).

I’ve already written about this subject in an article entitled “Is The Constitution Really That Unfair?”, so that’s as much as I’ll write about it in this article.

There have been several articles published lately that attempt to define Progressivism or Liberalism. Some of these articles were written to prove that Obama or Clinton are not true Progressives, others have been written to prove that one or the other or both are, indeed, Progressives.

Today, however, many people think that being Progressive means never having to say you’re a Republican. Today, many people think that being Progressive is synonymous with being a Democrat.

There are entire groups of people who believe that they’re Progressive, but are nothing more and nothing less than Democratic Party apologists.

An example of one of these groups is MoveOn.org.

MoveOn may have supported someone other than John Kerry for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. Nonetheless, when it was obvious that Kerry was going to be the Democratic nominee, they stood behind him 100%.

In fact, during his 2004 bid for the presidency, Kerry said that he would add 40,000 more troops to the military. This sounds like a “surge” of sorts, does it not?

Yet, many Progressives and Progressive groups slammed Ralph Nader for running in 2004 because, they claimed, he would take votes away from Kerry. Amazingly, Progressives attacked the only Progressive who was in the race in 2004 without asking themselves, “If Kerry was really a progressive, why would there have been any chance that Nader would have taken votes away from him?”

Indeed, if Kerry was a Progressive, would Nader have even entered the race? Maybe there are those who believe that Nader is a power hungry fanatic, but looking at his history, we find non partisan, non politically driven activities which he initiated that were always in the best interest of the American people?

Not only was Kerry not going to end the war in Iraq in what I, at least, believe would have been a timely manner, his domestic policies weren’t Progressive either. Indeed, NAFTA, which Kerry supported, is a policy which supports “globalization”. “Globalization” doesn’t sound like a domestic policy, but it sure as hell is. It’s a domestic policy in that it punishes American workers by outsourcing their jobs to third world countries. Creating unemployment in this country is not a good domestic policy and it certainly flies in the face of FDR’s domestic policies.

There is at least one more detail which promotes the Democrats=Progressive myth.

World War I, World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War and military action in Bosnia were all carried out under Democratic administrations. I’m sure that some believe that Vietnam was in Eisenhower’s plans. It may very well may have been in Truman’s plans as well, however.

In the late 60s and early 70s, there were more Progressives among The Democratic Party’s collection of presidential candidates than among that of The Republican Party.

Bobby Kennedy was thought to be a Progressive, but a tragedy stilled his opportunity to prove that one way or another.

Eugene McCarthy was to that time period what Dennis Kucinich is to today, a candidate for a nomination that he, his supporters and everyone else who’s paying any attention at all realizes he will never win.

George McGovern, one of the Progressives during that time, actually won the nomination, but, if I remember correctly, received the support of 1/50th of the states in the general election.

Even John Kennedy, who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, threatened the world with the ultimate devastation because a neighboring nation had the gall to decide that it would arm itself with a small number of the kinds of weapons possessed by the US en masse. What an irony if The Soviet Union did not back down.

And the “Ask not…” statement; was he telling all Americans not to ask for help in spite of the fact that they, through no fault of their own, may have needed help? Was that famous statement a statement of Libertarianism on some level?

I certainly don’t have the answer in either of the above cases. However, JFK is thought by many to have been a Progressive president.

Add to this that the largest step in the Civil Rights movement happened under a Republican president. No, Lincoln was not the Caucasian version of Martin Luther King Jr. We know that freeing the slaves was not Lincoln’s main reason for initiating The Civil War. Yet, without The Emancipation Proclamation, the progress of The Civil Rights Movement would have been held back by a number of years.

The greatest progress in keeping corporations in check took place under Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican president, and Title IX which gave women’s collegiate sports the same importance as men’s collegiate sports was passed during the Nixon administration. This begs the question, “Whence did the myth that The Democratic Party is the party of the people come?”

One place it came from was the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What he did for Americans, with the exception of Americans of color, was more populist than what any other president did before him or has done since. FDR was no pacifist, however.

Do I think that The Republican Party is more progressive than The Democratic Party? Not in a million years.

What I believe is that there’s not “a dime’s worth of difference between” The Republicans and The Democrats. I’ve received some very “strong disagreement” when I’ve previously written that statement, but there is no way that it can be proved that Clinton or Obama will be a progressive president. In fact, based on their slick, weaselly approach to questions concerning Iraq, either Clinton or Obama could keep us in Iraq for 100 years. McCain’s just been more honest about being unethical.

In truth, Republican candidates admit that they’re dicks during their campaigns while Democrats speak like Progressives but turn out to be dicks once they’re elected. Witness the consequences of the 2006 elections.

In many of my articles, I reference the person who I believe is the very best radio talk show host that I’ve ever heard and I still listen to him daily. I’m not sure that I agree with his rendition of the difference between Conservatives and Progressives.

Thom Hartmann has said on many occasions that the difference between Progressives and Conservatives is that Conservatives believe that people are innately evil and Progressives believe people are innately good.

Yet, Conservatives, especially Libertarians, claim that people should be trusted to do the right things. They claim that, without regulations, people and corporations will increase employment in the US, will do their best, through competition, to satisfy the customer, that pharmaceutical companies will find cures for everything because their profitability will depend on it. Naïve claims, at best.

Progressives want to force regulations on corporations and people. They want to force employers to hire people of all races, genders, sexual orientation and ethnicity while Conservatives say that this will happen without regulations. I happen to know for a fact that this would not happen without regulations.

Progressives want to force manufacturing facilities to implement safety and environmental improvements because they believe, quite rightly, that manufacturing facilities won’t do it on their own. Believing that protection for workers and the environment must be mandated is not a strong argument that people are innately good. Yet, only the threat of stiff fines or even a bit of jail time will force greedy corporate CEOs and their upper management cohorts to do the right and ethical thing.

There are some people which members of the Democratic Party are less “of” than others.

For example, I heard no outrage from Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton when Kucinich was excluded from certain Democratic debates. These two “candidates of the people” didn’t insist that all candidates, no matter their wealth or the size of their campaign chest, had the right to remain in the race until the final moment.

This brings me to my final point.

Do you know how much we spent on investigating Clinton’s sexual peccadilloes? The fact that he cheated on his wife had nothing to do with his ability to be president. The Republicans needed something to bring Clinton down.

Elliot Spitzer was being watched. Republicans were spying on him. This is wrong. Elliot Spitzer’s life is his own and no one has the right to tail him.

If Clinton took his job seriously, he could at least have carried on his affair(s) while he was not carrying on the business of the American people. This is not something upon which Progressives want to dwell.

The fact is that, no matter how much he was being watched, rightly or wrongly, Spitzer would never have been caught with a prostitute if he, indeed, was never with a prostitute.

Let’s face it. Progressives beat the hell out of Larry Craig and David Vitter, though. The difference, of course, is that both Craig and Vitter pretended to support “family values” while, of course, not practicing them.

I’m not sure if Clinton ever claimed to support family values, but Spitzer was going to wipe out corruption – when others manifested that behavior.

What we are witnessing now are theatrics. No one raises the kind of money it takes to remain in a presidential campaign this long without quid pro quo agreements having taken place. The agreements made today between the remaining candidates and their “donors” will determine what those candidates will do if elected.

There’s been a lot of wasted space on this and other news outlets talking about Obama’s minister, Clinton’s elitist attitude or McCain’s age and past human driven indiscretions and transgressions, the kind that not many of us can deny we’ve experienced. None of them make a bit of difference because these three people have openings on their backs into which the hand of The Corporacracy fits perfectly.

Stop debating about the candidates’ qualifications until you learn them. Stop defending pseudo-Progressives when they digress and stop attacking “hypocritical” Conservatives when they digress. The propaganda of such ultra-partisanship is painfully transparent.

Progressives, like Ralph Nader and candidates from The Green Party, are not problems. They want to solve the problems.

On the other hand, pseudo-Progressives talk about solving problems, but they’re each a part of the problem. They lie to suck you in and, judging by the frivolity of the current articles and mainstream news, they, as always, have succeeded.

If it wasn’t for the American political process, the process by which Americans merely vote for people who are going to vote on their behalf, more truly Progressive candidates could be heard by more people for longer periods of time and, possibly, their ideas could be totally sorted out on a playing field equal to the one on which the defensive drivers drive.

If it wasn’t for the American political process, the process by which Americans merely vote for people who are going to vote on their behalf, truly Progressive candidates could be heard by more people for longer periods of time and, possibly, their ideas could be totally sorted out on a playing field equal to the one on which the defensive drivers drive.

Are Americans intelligent enough to make the right decision if they hear the candidates’ unadulterated policy positions in lieu of one minute sound bites which are more often than not about their opponent’s weaknesses? Do you know the answer to that question? I don’t. You know why I don’t? Americans have never had the opportunity to hear a well thought out dissertation of the position of a political candidate because no political candidate has ever been held to that standard.

Don't we want to see political candidates, especially candidates for president, held to a higher standard, a standard by which they're required to speak about the issues in no uncertain terms; a standard by which answers to questions which they are asked must actually be included in their answers to questions which they are asked; a standard by which they talk almost exclusively about the issues and how they will address those issues and refrain from telling us about their opponent's weaknesses?

If we keep supporting the kind of theatrics that take place during every election cycle, how a candidate will handle a policy once elected will always be a surprise to us. If we continue to help perpetuate a system that allows only those who have obscene quantities of money to obtain political positions which, if held by people who cared, might have the potential to steer this country in positive, populist direction, people who care and who might have the potential to steer this country in a positive, populist direction will never get the opportunity to try.

The top issue in every election past, present and future, priority number one, what has to be accomplished before anything meaningful can be done is election reform.

To friendship,
Michael

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

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