True Democrats, like Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Russ Feingold (D-WI), who do cogently articulate larger issues, are rarely heard in the mainstream media. The 'moderate' DLC, which controls the Democratic Party, has no interest in pushing their views, let alone those of anyone to their left. And the media treats the DLC as the left.
So when the war debate flared up, and almost no DLC Congressmen spoke out, extremely few media outlets examined the obvious misinformation and flawed intelligence then being used to justify an invasion; the debate died quickly and the invasion proceeded.
As for the far right, the Republicans affiliated with the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the advocates for a Bible-based Christian Empire rarely discuss their agenda in the open, and the media chooses not to broadcast their views either.
Thus public awareness, managed by the media, extends to only a small slice of the political thought in this country. And thus we never examine the full range of solutions. We hear the same small slice of views presented to us over and over in the media, as if it's a national consensus.
When in fact we've been swept to the right.
The PNAC Republicans are in the White House! Did you notice? How'd they get there? Where'd they come from?
In fact it's taken years of rightward drift to bring us here, to a White House filled with ideologues who believe that America's duty is to turn the world into a unipolar capitalist empire ruled from the Pentagon. They want to put weapons bases on ocean floors and build nuclear cannons in outer space. They want to militarize everything; 'full spectrum dominance' is how they describe their dream.
This didn't happen overnight. If you look at our two big old parties, and compare the goals they trumpet today with those they put forward three decades ago, the 30 years of rightward drift are obvious. After Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, Republican Richard Nixon proposed national healthcare for all amid widespread sentiment that this society had an obligation to care for the sick poor; now not even the Democrats push for such a progressive healthcare model. In the 1990's Clinton oversaw massive consolidation and corporatization of healthcare that led to the spiraling HMO costs we know today. Nixon eviscerated LBJ's "War on Poverty" in the 1970's, but his language and message of progress still sounds too liberal today for even the Democrats to touch. Using the language of the right, Clinton signed welfare 'reform' that kicked thousands off welfare rolls, and watered down environmental legislation that Republicans wrote in the 1980's.
Yet now some say only a more "moderate" Democrat can beat Bush. Gore was too much of a populist, they say. Columnists in prominent mainstream newspapers write at length about the need to run further to the center, to be more "centrist," more "moderate." These words are code for 'DLC.' The argument is, beat the radicals by resembling them.
Of course if you win with this strategy, do you really win? Democracy is about representative self-government; politicians are supposed to present clear leadership alternatives, especially in times of crisis. Then the people are able to make a clear choice. A debate among many -- or at least between two -- ideologically different candidates is supposed to ensure we consider all the options and don't take our nation down a horribly wrong path.
If we don't wake up to this DLC "moderate" nonsense, we'll drift even further right, which just might be a horribly wrong path. The DLC is pro-corporation, pro-privatization, and pro-military; they were pro-war and now they're pro-occupation. Putting a Joe Lieberman or a Wesley Clark against Bush will only continue the drift. When the debates take place on the right, the right always wins: issues like global exploitation, the environment, healthcare, the death penalty, racism, education, and media consolidation are given short shrift, and thus the candidates barely even debate the issues which favor the (slightly) progressive candidate.
If we don't wake up to this DLC "moderate" nonsense, we'll drift even further right.
We need to take a look at the whole spectrum; it will take a real Democrat, or even a Green, to reveal the PNAC radicals for who they really are. The disastrous free trade agreements, corporate control of everything under the sun, needless invasions and occupations -- the debate must cover the full range of issues. This will only happen with an opposing candidate who is outspoken and significantly different from the incumbent. Soft-spoken lesser-of-two-evil DLC drones will not present the American people with the discourse they need, nor will they energize Americans to vote the Bush cabal out of office.
If the opposition comes from the DLC, which carefully controls most of the money and power in the Democratic Party, and we end up with another Al Gore, only the scant issues on which DLC Democrats differ from Republicans will be
debated. Absent will be anyone pointing out how similar the candidates really are. It'll just be a parade of mind-numbing minutiae.
And DLC Democrats -- that is, the "moderates" -- don't win. DLC darling Gore lost the 2000 election despite unprecedented national prosperity. True, the election was stolen, but Gore chose not to fight for the presidency before or after the election. He shifted left during the campaign -- because Nader was doing so well -- and that helped him win the popular vote, but it wasn't enough. Had he been a real progressive, or at least a genuine fighter, from the beginning of the campaign, he would've taken Tennessee, West Virginia, or Arkansas, and won the electoral college too.
Then, for the 2002 midterm elections, the DLC decided to get still more "moderate," moving further to the right and promising to support Bush while opposing him. This masterful strategy helped the Democrats lose many more elections, all over the nation.
Isn't it time a real Democrat ran for office? Or maybe a Green? Or even a Socialist? Someone farther left on the spectrum, to bring that crucial symmetry to American politics? A true progressive who has media support or the support of a major party and who's articulating a new vision for this country would have broad appeal and probably win the election.
Regardless what the Democrats do, it's time for us voters and activists to take a step back and look at the full range of political parties and solutions available in this country. Once we take an honest look at each party's goals and philosophies -- instead of just where they stand on one issue at a time -- we'll likely find the political place we feel at home. Then we'll be ready to fully engage in the American process with joy, hope, and integrity. We'll ensure that the pendulum swings back and that true balance is returned to our spectrum of public debate.
So what do you think is the best way to go?
Following are the primary actions the groups in today's American political spectrum seek to take:
- Immediately dissolve all government institutions in favor of spontaneous consensus decision-making
- Rid society of all hierarchical and authoritarian power structures so as to live in utter equality and freedom
- Forcibly prevent new governments from arising
- Immediately end entire current US government
- Establish a direct dictatorship by the people, led by the workers in the factories and laborers in the fields
- Use American military to aid other nations in establishing communist states and commune-based societal and production systems
- Immediately revise property ownership rules and end financial speculation
- Restart most of government and economy from scratch, with a vision of providing for all human needs and overseeing all business, agricultural, and industrial production
- End exploitative global free trade institutions
- Dissolve the military
- Immediately promulgate social justice legislation and electoral restructuring, within the framework of the Constitution
- Provide healthcare, food, education, and the most basic social services to all
- Use ecological decision making, viewing the land as the nation's main social and economic asset
- Continue a capitalist economy, but with rigorous new safeguards to prevent worker exploitation and environmental destruction; Reevaluate all global trade conventions
- Employ global strength to improve global environment and social conditions; utilize military for basic defense
- Slowly include more people in privileged classes via government services and public education
- Protect the environment when clearly and scientifically necessary
- Question the need to increase our huge military when we are not directly threatened
- Support labor unions and rework global free trade institutions to include labor and environmental regulations
- Use global strength to strike agreements favoring US interests, while otherwise pursuing general global peace and cooperation
- Perpetuate current business power structure, favoring executive management over labor and corporations over environment; Continue exploitative global free trade institutions
- Perpetuate military policies, including expensive wars abroad and domestic 'wars' on drugs and terror
- Carry forward government status quo -- including deregulation -- on healthcare, environment, education, prisons, and social services
- Maintain global interaction to perpetuate America's dominance in business and military affairs
- Immediately end all government actions that could be construed as invasive to privacy, so as to maximize personal liberty
- End all drug regulations, sodomy statutes, and surveillance laws
- End all government social services, such as public education, healthcare, environmental protections, and social security
- Increase power of corporations via total deregulation and privatization
- Immediately increase corporate power in all national and global affairs to maximize the profits of stockholders
- Ramp up military power -- including military infrastructure in outer space and in foreign countries -- in order to coerce rivals
- Enshrine 'free market' fundamentalism without regulations to protect the 'public good'
- Empower exploitative global free trade institutions to further integrate global capitalism without individual national governments' input or control
- Provide slightly less social services than bare human necessity requires, so people are dependent on corporations
- Immediately dominate the entire world through a military empire
- Immediately extend corporate dominance and win total privatization of all government roles and social services
- Assume a Biblical Christian view of social issues where they don't interfere with business
- Wage preventative wars and aggressive invasions to expropriate resources and subjugate rivals
- Lock in the triumph of exploitative global free trade institutions so as to actively control individual nations' participation in global capitalism
[Visit the PNAC website] [View its original signatories]
- Immediately end all government institutions -- state, national, and global -- so as to protect forever personal independence and private liberty
- Handle national defense via local armed militia
- Acquire personal weapons, provisions, and other goods necessary to fight and survive the backlash of existing governments or the emergence of other large centralized governments
Ultimately, if we each act from our consciences instead of from our
fears, a more balanced political landscape will arise in this country in no
time. So the challenge isn't just about voting, though you should always
vote your true beliefs; it's about honestly looking at the spectrum and
discovering where you stand. And then it's about finding the courage to act from that
Tony Brasunas is publisher of Garlic & Grass.
NOTE: DLC = Democratic Leadership Council; PNAC = Project for the New American Century
comment on this article
back to top