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December 30, 2007

The Horrible, Horrible Democrats

Matt Stoller points out five giant issues that are ignored by Clinton and Obama (and for the most part by Edwards), when any genuinely progressive presidential candidate would be trying to drag them onto the national agenda.

Almost forgotten now is how Howard Dean vowed in December, 2003 "to break up giant media enterprises." Of course that vanished when he became party chair.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 30, 2007 12:53 PM

This is a valid complaint, so I don't understand why the candidates who actually are progressive (Gravel, Kucinich) are ignored.

Posted by: Mandaliet at December 30, 2007 04:51 PM

..because the images the media gives consumers to see and elect must provide a return on the investment made by the corporations that run the Former United States.

Posted by: dzho at December 30, 2007 06:59 PM

Those five isues are good, plus: Repeal the Patriot Act (which is really the Reduction of Civil Liberties Act) and the Free Trade Agreements (which are really the Job Outsourcing Agreements).

But really, it's asking a bit much of the Party that aided the Reagan Revolution's program to help the rich and punish the poor, promoted the Clinton triangulation that made "American manufacturing" an oxymoron and then rubber-stamped the Bush Doctrine of war, debt, domestic repression and expanded corporate welfare.

pop·u·lism: A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite, e.g. what the Democratic Party once purported to espouse but no longer does.

Posted by: Don Bacon at December 30, 2007 08:41 PM

What's notable here is the extent to which these issues - drug war, corporate media, empire, war economy, prison industry - are not just tangentially related, but extremely interdependent. These are the fundamental components of America's post-industrial, post-Cold War oligarchy.

It may sound bonkers, but remove any one of these things and the existing social order starts to unravel. Which is why they're all taboo - and any candidate who seriously attempts to tackle even one of them is in for a world of hurt.

The drug war is the weakest link. Once Americans are free to smoke herb and the public sees firsthand that it doesn't lead to the implosion of civilization, drug prohibition will become a subject of debate - and that cannot be allowed to happen.

James Mills' Underground Empire (yes, I do cite it frequently, and, no, it's not the only book I ever read) provided an invaluable and surprisingly detailed snapshot of how the drug trade is part & parcel of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. One of its most valuable currencies is the ability to effectively control access to the world's largest drug market - the U.S. of A.. That's an awful lot of leverage over every piss ant dictator with fertile soil, airspace and/or a port.

What I understand now that I didn't twenty years ago when I first read Undergound Empire is that intelligence and security refer to one thing: making the world "safe" for business. It goddamn sure ain't about public health, much less freedom and democracy, which are completely antithetical to turbocapitalism.

* * * * *

The fact that progressive candidates aren't talking about these issues - and aren't being forced to do so by the Pollyannas comprising the Dem rank & file - speaks volumes about just how dead progressive politics are in this country. When a genuine progressive movement even starts to emerge from the malaise, it will be met - quickly and in no uncertain terms - with an unmistakable increase in force by those who stand the most to lose. Progressive will not just be equated with terrorist in the rhetorical sense, but in a literal one.

Which is why, despite giving him no small amount of credit for the compilation of progressive taboos, I couldn't help but laugh at Stoller's closing:

The cancerous symptoms are all around us, and leading Democratic Presidential candidates are too corrupt and morally crippled to even begin talking about them. But we'll get there.

Will we? But I have my doubts.

Posted by: Arvin Hill at December 31, 2007 05:41 AM

dzho,it's not just the media that's ignoring Kucinich and Gravel-it's all of us who simply accept that they have a snowball's chance in hell rather than rally behind them the way we see Ron Paul(who's also being ignored by the media) supporters doing.In fact,I see more comment surrounding Paul on progressive websites than Kucinich and Gravel combined.
We are just as guilty of letting the media decide for us that the 'serious' candidates are the ones who don't represent the views of the sizable progressive community and then dutifully support the greater of two lessers in the election.It makes it easy for the 'centrist' Democrats to ignore voices on the left when we are about as noticable as the force of gravity on the Moon.

Posted by: BobS. at December 31, 2007 10:28 AM

My wife brought home a piece of campaign literature whice mentions EVERY ONE of those items. It was written by Ron Paul's supporters (though it can't be stressed enough that the literature was merely from his supporters -- the guys with the LOVE blimp -- and not Dr. Paul himself). I'm not really a supporter of Ron Paul but find it odd that he's more progressive on the big issues than any of the mainstream candidates. I also find it unfortunate that some of his radical ideas will ultimately come to taint bedrock democratic ideals ("Those looney Ron Paul supporters want to abolish the IRS! The next thing you know, they'll be protesting the federal government's right to lock up subversives without a trial!")

Posted by: Chris at December 31, 2007 03:02 PM