Comments: The Origami Congressman


Just watched the democracy now video with kucinich and nader. dennis never did respond to nader wanting him to address how he let down so many leftys that were clinging to one last shred. But yeah-it was just a matter of time. why does he stay a democrat?

Posted by Mar at March 18, 2010 05:13 PM

Here's what the majority in the House, The Senate, And the Oval Office, all majorities
captured by Dems in November 2008 really adds up to:

Stem Cell research is now a go.

And we have one very mesmerizing speech giver.

YIPPEE!! Hurray!!

Oh and we don't have to look at Cheny's ugly mug all that often too.

Posted by Elise Mattu at March 18, 2010 05:49 PM

. . . "until the day comes when they finally decide there is some shit they will not eat, they'll continue to lose."

==That's not the day that needs to come. They can refuse to eat any shit, or anything else for that matter, and they'll still lose until the system is changed so that they have a possibility of winning. It just feels good to accuse them of being weak-willed and claim everything would work out if they were only resolute. By implication, that suggests the critic is morally stronger. Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn't matter. Kucinich being morally stronger wouldn't help him with his predicament, which is structural.

All Kucinich's threats of not supporting a bill unless it goes as far as he wants sound empty because they are empty. When Kucinich makes an ultimatum he puts himself in the position of a madman threatening suicide unless his demands are met, so it's not surprising it doesn't work. Maybe it helps him push legislation slightly to the left, but not much simply because he's pushing against a mountain of money in a system in which money counts more than anything. He should probably just give up the ultimatums and tell people that the system is corrupt and built on greed and selfishness so people should only expect so much justice. That's not uplifting or inspiring, but it would be the start of a foundation.

Posted by N E at March 18, 2010 07:38 PM

I'm a progressive. Who should I vote for, if not a Democrat? In every election I ever voted in, the Democrat was MORE liberal than the Republican, even if not liberal enough, and no one but the two of them had any chance of winning. I vote for the most liberal candidate in the primary, but I am at a loss as to what I should do in the general election. You, and some other bloggers, love to dish not only sellout Democratic politicians, but the liberals who vote for them. We are fools and dupes and so on.

OK, we get it, but then what? How can I, and we, stop "eating" this shit? Vote GOP? No. Vote third party/green party/independent/socialist? How will that help? Even if all liberals could somehow be co ordinated to vote for a particular third party alternative, that would still not be nearly enough votes to win anything but a local election in a liberal bastion. Liberals plus moderates are enough to beat conservatives in most places. But liberals alone will lose almost everywhere.

In any event, we need a constructive alternative, not this endless "Can you believe those stupid liberal democrats?" With our winner take all system in place in most elections, it makes no sense at all for liberals to vote for someone who can't gain at least a plurality. It's not like Europe,where, in some countries, a party can gain 15 or 20 per cent of the vote nationwide, and not actually win in any election district at all,and still get seats in the legislature. Under our system, at best, we could win a few seats here and there (Greenwhich Village, western Mass, the Bay Area, and not many more) in the House. And maybe Vermont and Hawaii in the Senate (maybe!). And that's it. We would still have to make deals with moderates in the legislature.

Even at the State level, outside a handful of State senate and State rep. seats in a few States, a truly "Liberal" party couldn't be expected to win much.And so compromise with moderates would again be required. Only about 20 % of the voters see themselves as "liberals." Perhaps there is an undercount there,because the label has been so abused (I notice you use "progressive" and not "liberal"), but,how much could it be? Another 10 or 15 per cent? OK, so, at best, about a third of the voters are liberals. Even in a European system, we would not be calling the shots. We are a minority. Often, when the GOP is in power, we are a minority of the minority. And that is among the voters. We are even more of a minority (becasue of the winner take all system, and institutionalized gerrymandering like the US Senate) among officeholders.

In your current example, yeah, this bill stinks. Agreed. But,if it goes down to defeat (which,in all honesty, I wish it would), that would hardly solve the problem of health care in this country, would it? There is nowhere near majority support for a decent bill, with a decent public option,in the Senate. So, again,now what? No bill or a bad bill. That's our,and Kucinich'es, only real choice. He can't turn the Senate into a truly representative body, and, even if he could, it still might not support a public option or a decent bill in general. So, the outcome is, to use your word, "shit" in any case. No matter what Kucinich,or any other liberal Representative, does or doesn't do.

We know all of this already. And we have known if for years. Please tell us something we don't know!

Posted by freemansfarm at March 18, 2010 09:43 PM

get rid of the filibuster (a little step)

establish public financing of elections and drastically shorten periods of campaigning

establish a unicameral legislature based on one person one vote at the first opportunity

take away the right of the supreme court to strike down acts of Congress in at least certain areas and maybe all areas (they really only protect corporate rights in any meaningful way anyway)

create more government funded media

get the united states to agree (other states will follow) to international arbitration as the only legitimate means of dispute resolution between and among nation states

start teaching our children how to live properly without being greedy, selfish, and unhappy (I probably should have put that one higher)

IF that stuff happens, which is one whopping big IF, then maybe the system will be able to tackle substantive issues of international war and peace, climate change, poverty, public health, and the global economy, all of which we presently do poorly.

None of these proposals are likely to go anywhere until a crisis overwhelms our institutions, but the world moves faster and faster, so we'll get there in one of the next few decades unless technology temporarily pulls our chestnuts out of the fire and buys us a little more time.

Posted by N E at March 18, 2010 10:39 PM

"start teaching our children how to live properly without being greedy, selfish, and unhappy (I probably should have put that one higher)"

Maybe you should have. Because, of all your proposals, this is the only one that "liberals" or "progressives" have the authority or capability to do. And, at that, of course, only with respect to their own children.

Posted by freemansfarm at March 18, 2010 11:25 PM

John is a bold man who supports getting nothing at all if he can't have exactly his way. I call it the "Taking my ball and going home" approach to life.

I do imagine that when he goes to the grocery store, he sees that oranges are priced 5 cents more per pound than he said he would pay, so he goes home without oranges and gets scurvy.

On dates, the girl he's with only wants to go to second base, even though he was sure he'd get anal by that point. So it's out the door for her.

And clearly when it comes to health care he'd rather 31 million continue uninsured because we don't have a public option and such things can never be created later.

Truly a man of conviction! He advocates non-compromise, much like George W. Bush!

Posted by Constantine at March 18, 2010 11:45 PM

"And clearly when it comes to health care he'd rather 31 million continue uninsured because we don't have a public option and such things can never be created later."

I think this misses the point. The 31 million people you are talking about are going to get shitty health insurance that covers almost nothing, and they are going to be forced to buy it from private companies at inflated prices. What might or might not happen in the future is neither here nor there, although, as you see, even without a public option, even with a shitty bill that is a almost a complete sell out to Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the for profit health care "industry," it is difficult to get it passed because it is too "socialist."

No, the problem with John is not that he'd rather take his ball and go home, or that he'd rather Kucinich take his ball and go home. The problem is that John doesn't seem to recognize that that (perptuating the status quo) is the only other option to caving in. The bill sucks. And having no bill sucks too. One can cave, and maybe have the bill pass, and that sucks. Or one can take one's ball and go home, and maybe prevent the bill from passing, and that sucks too. Either way, we are being served,to paraphrase John, a shit sandwhich.

A shitty bill or a shitty status quo? Die with one's boots on to prevent the shitty bill from passing, but which also has the effect of perpetuating the shitty status quo, or take off's one boots and don't die and have the shitty bill pass. Where is the good option?

Posted by freemansfarm at March 19, 2010 12:08 AM

freemansfarm: On the overall question of voting for Democrats I'm sure you've already heard all the arguments (like this or this) many, many times, and you clearly don't find them convincing. I'm sure they're not going to sound any more convincing now. If you genuinely feel your best alternative is to support Democrats, that's your call, and I wish you luck with it.

On this specific question:

So, the outcome is, to use your word, "shit" in any case. No matter what Kucinich,or any other liberal Representative, does or doesn't do.

The certainty you express about this is of a piece with what you've said more generally, but neither you nor I nor anyone else knows exactly what would have happened if Kucinich and others who share his views had stood their ground. But one thing that was absolutely certain was that if Kucinich et al weren't willing to stand firm they wouldn't get anything at all—just as they didn't, and haven't. That's what I was saying in my third paragraph (and if you want to see a longer version of the same argument, you can read this take by Glenn Greenwald).

Posted by John Caruso at March 19, 2010 01:23 AM

John:

As to your first par, both of your links are appeals to vote third party, for Nader for President. But, as I asked before, what good would that do? There are not enough liberals to elect him President, and liberals voting for him in 2000 in Florida gave us the Bush presidency. I wish I had some better alternative, but voting third party in a winner take all system, especially at the presidential level, is not one. If a big chunk of liberal did vote for Nader (or his ilk) every four years, the Republicans would win almost every time. And then bloggers,not you perhaps, but others,would be taking us dumb liberals to task for making THAT same mistake over and over. Should we instead alternate between voting our consciences and having the Republicans win and voting for a moderate Democrat and being told we are dupes and have to eat shit?

Again, we are not anywhere near a majority in this country. When we had a bonafide liberal as a major party candidate, McGovern, he was defeated in an epic landslide (and by a guy who no one felt had any personal charisma or charm--Nixon).

I asked you for a good alternative, but would have settled for one that was at least novel. And you come back and suggest I vote for Nader! Great idea! Why didn't I, and my fellow liberals, ever think of it!

As for Greenwald, he can say whatever he wants, but the Kuciniches and the Weiners of the world don't have the votes, not in the House and certainly not in the Senate, to get their way.They CAN act tough and derail the whole project,if they want to.As I said, that was an alternative. But, in acting tough, they were NOT going to get Baucas, Nelson, Landrieu, Lieberman etc to back down. Glenwald misses the essential point, which is that the power to change the final law is based,in large part, on how little you care about whether it passes or not. The House liberals, like the poster Constantine here, actually care about the millions of uninsured. The moderate Democrats don't. Or, they care a lot less. Or,if they are Senators, maybe they are not up for re election this year and don't think this bill will matter much by the time they are in 2 or 4 years. Or, if they are Blue Dogs Democrats, because their States or districts are moderate, not liberal. Perhaps the majority of voters in their constituencies don't want any bill at all. In that case, what leverage does Weiner or Kucinich have over them?

Leverage and power are not unrelated to being a tough bargainer, an uncompromising hard ass, but there is a lot more to it than that. In poker, you can bluff, but this kind of politics is like playing poker with all the cards face up, or, at most, like old school 5 card stud with only the first card down. Weiner and Kucinich can't "scare off" the Blue Dogs because the Blue Dogs have a lock hand.

To the Blue Dogs, it is precisely the opposite situation that it is for the House liberals. If the Blue Dogs threatened to take their balls and go home, one of two things happen. One is that the liberals stick to their guns and no bill passes. Well, and what of it? The Blue Dogs were never committed to health care insurance reform, never mind universal health care or anything like it,in the first place. The polls show their voters don't want a health care bill, and have other priorities. The other possiblity (which is what appears to be happening) is that the liberal cave in, the bill passes, but is watered down to their, the Blue Dogs' liking.

And so it goes for any genuinely liberal piece of legislation. The liberals will always be in the weaker position, because they are the ones committed to addressing the issue at hand. They desperately want to DO SOMETHING about it. The moderates can take it or leave it. The liberals need the moderates to pass the bill, a bill, any bill. The moderates need the liberals to pass a bill as well, but they don't really care if one passes or not. So they are in the catbird seat.

And no amount of tough guy posturing on the part of the liberals is going to change that.

And, again, this is something we liberals have known for a long,long time. At least since the era of Ronald Reagan, if not before that.

Posted by freemansfarm at March 19, 2010 02:52 AM

John is a bold man who supports getting nothing at all if he can't have exactly his way. I call it the "Taking my ball and going home" approach to life.

John, when you're out there eating shit, remember that the Democrats offered to water it down first, and you said no.

You poor stuck up fool.

Posted by Christopher at March 19, 2010 04:12 AM

we are not anywhere near a majority in this country
that didn't stop the republicans from passing monstrosities such as the USAPATRIOT act and the Military Commisions act, did it? of course plenty of democrats voted for those acts too, which tells you a lot right there.

Dennis Kucinich is such a huge disappointment - if he would actually split from the Democratic party, i might regain a shred of respect for him. till then, he is just a pressure-release vent for the left-oriented democratic party members, sorta like.

Posted by almostinfamous at March 19, 2010 04:31 AM

i've never suppoelrted any plan but dean baker's ICEFLO: http://yourbreak.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/dean-baker-witty-economist-or-the-worlds-wittiest-economist/

Posted by hapa at March 19, 2010 07:24 AM

*supported, eh

Posted by hapa at March 19, 2010 07:27 AM

hapa==that's hilarious. i love dean baker.

almostinfamous==maybe you can convince everyone that al qaeda is waging war on america to deprive it of universal health care. you just need a 50 or 100 tv and radio stations and a few hundred professional windbags.

Posted by N E at March 19, 2010 09:03 AM

There will never be a viable opposition party
until the Democrats are replaced.

The Democrats will not be replaced if people
keep voting for them.

I, with extremely rare exceptions, vote all
third-party now. I've watched, year after
year, as the Democrats have become Republican
Lite and simply taken for granted the progressive
vote. I won't be a part of it anymore.

If my third-party votes cause this country to
fall into a third-world theocracy, good. Perhaps
we will then see a serious challenge to the
status quo.

Posted by Administratorte at March 19, 2010 09:38 AM

From a couple of years back-but relevant to the discussion here- The Life and Time of a Good Loser: Kucinich Goes Down

http://www.counterpunch.org/halle02252008.html

Posted by John Halle at March 19, 2010 10:25 AM

You want to be told what to do, freemansfarm? Okay here's step 1. Grow a fucking spine.

Posted by AlanSmithee at March 19, 2010 01:18 PM

I asked you for a good alternative, but would have settled for one that was at least novel. And you come back and suggest I vote for Nader! Great idea!

Thanks, but what I (or e.e. cummings) actually suggested is that there has to be some limit beyond which you won't go. They passed mine long ago. But you've effectively said you have no limit, since your standard is just that the Democrat be "MORE liberal than the Republican, even if not liberal enough"—which is always going to be true within the narrow terms of politics in this country. So your vote is permanently owned by the Democratic Party, and you—and the millions like you who care about things that matter but follow that same principle—can be, have been, and will continue to be safely ignored. Just as the party leadership knew it could safely ignore the Progressive Caucus on the health care bill.

Posted by John Caruso at March 19, 2010 02:20 PM

I let the robber rape my wife because at least he didn't kill her!

Posted by Solar Hero at March 19, 2010 05:16 PM

Well, you could vote for "no confidence" at the presidential level, and pester the media to count all the no confidence votes. It beats voting for Mickey Mouse or Alan Smithee.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at March 19, 2010 06:30 PM

you just need a 50 or 100 tv and radio stations and a few hundred professional windbags.

i'm not fool enough to pay people to parrot my point of view - i will let people do it for free! then i will have THOUSANDS of people to choose from!

if i earn enough from advertising for the 'dirty hippies' market, i could retire to a life as a goat farmer in southern spain, which would be the best application of whatever knowledge i would have acquired in that time...

Posted by almostinfamous at March 19, 2010 08:17 PM

"You want to be told what to do, freemansfarm? Okay here's step 1. Grow a fucking spine."

You ever heard of a rhetorical question, Smithee? John told me I'm a shit eater because I vote Democratic. I was "asking" him to provide me with a viable alterative, even though I was already pretty sure he wouldn't have any. Or, perhaps you mean I should vote for tough guys like Nader, then I wouldn't have to eat shit from the Democrats in office, but only worse shit from the Republicans. Still, as I ate it,I could pat myself on the back for my strength of spine.

"I let the robber rape my wife because at least he didn't kill her!"

I don't "let" the robber do anything, as I don't have the power to stop him. Also, I have no say whatsoever in the choice of robbers. But,if I did, and I had a wife, I suppose I, and she, would probably prefer the rapist/robber to the rapist/robber/murderer. Wouldn't you?

"...but what I...actually suggested is that there has to be some limit beyond which you won't go"

Meaning you have no real alternative to suggest.

"So your vote is permanently owned by the Democratic Party, and you—and the millions like you who care about things that matter but follow that same principle—can be, have been, and will continue to be safely ignored. Just as the party leadership knew it could safely ignore the Progressive Caucus on the health care bill."

And you voting for Nader does, what, exactly? Does it shift the Democratc party to the left? I see no evidence of that. Do you think the "party leadership" is concerned with what Nader voters want when it comes to health care or anything else?

In any event, you still miss the point. The "Progressive Caucus" ARE Democrats. They are the people I vote for. Weiner is my Congressman. Should I not vote for him, but for a third party candidate in my Congressional disrict? What good would that do? Assuming all us liberals in our district could pull this off (and not throw the seat to the GOP), what would we gain? What would a third pary version of Weiner do that Weiner himself can't or won't? How will a third party version of Weiner be able to make Baucus, Lieberman, etc do anything but "safely ignore" him and his liked minded fellows?

It seems to me you are all about making some big personal statement (I will go this far but no furher). Fine, you didn't vote for any Democratic party candidate, but it isn't like you don't have to eat the same shitty policy outcomes. You get to put a bumber sticker on your car saying "Don't blame me, I voted for the guy who had no chance to win." And that matters...how, exactly? Beyond making you feel good about yourself?

Posted by freemansfarm at March 19, 2010 08:28 PM

"If voting made a difference, it'd be illegal".

Posted by Bruce F at March 19, 2010 08:37 PM

"........but neither you nor I nor anyone else knows exactly what would have happened if Kucinich and others who share his views had stood their ground. But one thing that was absolutely certain was that if Kucinich et al weren't willing to stand firm they wouldn't get anything at all—just as they didn't, and haven't."

The Democratic base could learn something from their Republican counterparts. The conservatives understand that there are times to compromise and times to walk away from the table, losing the individual battle to win the war. They may not always get their way but no Republican chief of staff, however unsympathetic, would treat the GOP base the way Emanuel treats liberals.

Of course, the triumph of Obama was the biggest success the left wing of the party has had in decades, and now look.

Posted by Susie at March 19, 2010 09:26 PM

"The Democratic base could learn something from their Republican counterparts. The conservatives understand that there are times to compromise and times to walk away from the table, losing the individual battle to win the war."

Almost all Republicans are conservatives, at the voter and office holder level. Only about half of Democrats are liberal, at both levels. Thus, the conservative "base" has a lot more leverage over "its" party than we, the liberal "base," have over "ours." Also, being a conservative means, for the most part, being satisfied with the status quo, if they "walk away from the table" and nothing gets done, they don't see it as a loss. We do. Similar to the moderates in the Democratic party. If we walk away and nothing gets done, we are stuck with a status quo we hate. If the moderates walk away and nothing gets done, they are stuck with a status quo they don't really mind.

Posted by freemansfarm at March 19, 2010 10:03 PM

"...and liberals voting for him in 2000 in Florida gave us the Bush presidency."

As I recall, Gore won. It was the Supreme Court which finally endorsed the Bush campaign's theft with one of the most morally and legally bankrupt decisions ever. As I also recall, there were maybe a few hundred liberals hopping mad and throwing snowballs in the streets of D.C. at Bush's inauguration. Where were the rest of us?

The central reason liberals and progressives don't succeed is not so much that we are outspent, though that is a major factor. We are repeatedly out-maneuvered and stared down by a group of people who would rather scorch the earth than not have their way. How do we oppose them? They eat our firstborn and we offer them our second as a peace offering, and we tell our third (the Dirty Fucking Hippie) to shut the fuck up from whining about the injustice of it all because this is how the world works.

Until, as Alan Smithee implies, we are willing to take our ball and go home, we will continue to lose. Face it: liberals and progressives don't have the support of massive concentrated wealth in the hands of winner-take-all reactionaries. Rich liberals don't want to derail the corporatist/consumerist/imperialist gravy train; and their middle-class fellow travelers want to imagine that the current model can be sustained through marginal tinkering because challenging it might cost them their iPods and Venti lattes. The poor liberals (including those who don't much think of themselves in that context) are just dragged along for the ride, and occasionally thrown to the right wing wolves as a pointless peace offering (see: ACORN).

It is true that the current system is designed to favor the bipartisan scam. Here in Illinois the state Democrats are shoving a bill through the IL House that will make it nearly impossible for third-party candidates to squeeze into the game without miraculously finding sudden support from billionaires. My response to this? So fucking what?! Powerful, repressive governments have been overthrown by insurgencies that had less to start with. If enough of us abandon the Democratic ship for the Green Party, then one or both of two processes will happen: 1) The ballot-box insurgency will pick up steam at least to the point where enough Democrats will fear for their jobs and pull themselves to the left on some policies; 2)the Republicans will gain control of everything again, and they will proceed to shit-can it completely. What's left of the Democratic Party will either wither away out of irrelevance or be exterminated; and if the remaining liberals and progressives can survive the totalitarian holocaust, then we can beat back the medievals and carve out a quasi-socialist republic in whatever land we're able to secure.

Seriously, though, I refuse to give my vote to a candidate or a party that I know is going to kick me in the ass with it. I'm not the bravest person in the world, but I'm less afraid of dying than I am of dying a coward. The current course of affairs doesn't lend itself to patience or incremental solutions. The Supreme Assholes of Concentrated Wealth know this, and it's up to the rest of us to sack up and revolt. Vote Green, bitches. At the very least we'll perish with dignity instead of being herded to slaughter by our own hand-picked shepherds.

Posted by Sam Holloway at March 20, 2010 07:49 AM

personally i think the country is going in the right direction but then i made my peace w/ plate tectonics as a tender youth.

Posted by hapa at March 20, 2010 09:52 AM

As to what to do, we need to build a left movement outside of political parties. I don't know how many times people have to be kicked in the face before they get past the "election trap." Change does not come from voting for one faction of the business party over the other one.

As usual, Paul Street has very wise advice to offer on what to do.-Tony

http://www.zcommunications.org/notes-on-building-a-left-in-the-age-of-obama-by-paul-street

Posted by tony at March 20, 2010 02:25 PM

I am susceptible to "lesser of two evils" arguments and have voted that way. What I hate are the arguments by lesser of two evils types that claim that people who don't go along are, well, evil. It's what naively shocked me about the pro-Gore anti-Nader forces in 2000. Rather than just admit upfront that Nader's criticisms were valid and it was true that voting for centrist Democrats ensured more of the same, it became important not just to argue that in the short run one should vote Democratic (the short run, of course, seems to go on and on), but that anyone who didn't was a really bad posturing narcissistic person. People on the "pragmatic" pro-Gore side end up demonizing the people they ostensibly agree with on the big issues, rather than recognizing that it is a tough call. And if they were genuinely in favor of pragmatism while having far left policy preferences, they'd treat their Naderite opponents with respect and try to win them over or at least work with them on issues when possible, but instead, there is this ferocious self-righteousness involved.

Of course the ferocious self-righteousness is on both sides, but I blame the self-styled pragmatists more, as they end up siding with the powerful, making their arguments for them and trying to marginalize people who don't support the Democrats. It comes across as egotistical and a desire to crush the opposition (and naturally it's the Naderites who are always accused of egoism.) People who supposedly agree on goals shouldn't rip each other over differences of opinion on political strategy. (That's assuming there's real agreement on the goals.)

This has been another episode of "Spitting into the Wind".

Posted by Donald Johnson at March 20, 2010 03:07 PM

Also, do as I say, not as I do.

Posted by Donald Johnson at March 20, 2010 03:07 PM

freemansfarm: Do you think the "party leadership" is concerned with what Nader voters want when it comes to health care or anything else?

The Democratic Party is absolutely terrified of losing voters on its left flank, actually, as evidenced by the relentless campaign of dirty tricks they resorted to in 2004 to prevent voters from having Nader as a ballot choice. Of course they didn't need to go to all the trouble, since chastened progressives were more than willing to repent for their sins by voting for a candidate so godawful he was actually attacking Bush for not being hawkish enough on Iraq.

Meaning you have no real alternative to suggest.

No, you just refuse to accept the alternative, or—especially—the reason why it's so critical. To quote Lawrence O'Donnell (who was a Democratic operative in his previous life):

If you want to pull the party—the major party that is closest to the way you're thinking—to what you're thinking, YOU MUST, YOU MUST show them that you're capable of not voting for them. If you don't show them you're capable of not voting for them, they don't...have...to listen to you. I promise you that. I worked within the Democratic Party. I didn't listen, or have to listen, to anything on the left while I was working in the Democratic Party, because the left had nowhere to go.

It's this simple: some people's votes have to be earned, but your vote—and the votes of millions of people like you—not only doesn't have to be earned, it can't even be lost. The Democrats know that full well, and respond accordingly, and they'll continue to do so just as long as you'll let them.

tony: Thanks for the pointer to Paul Street's excellent article. Paradoxical as it may seem at the moment, I agree that voting is basically a sideshow (at the national level, anyway; it matters much more at the local level). Too many people see the Democrats as a source of positive change, rather than one of the primary impediments to it.

Posted by John Caruso at March 20, 2010 08:56 PM

Tony,

Great link. I'll share it around. One of the great moments in head-holding liberal stupidity for me was when MoveOn, a supposed advocate for genuinely liberal - or "progressive" if you really must internalize decades of demonization of the term "liberal" by the right wing - policy choices essentially gave away any possible leverage by endorsement of Obama in the middle of the primary season. From this point on, it was clear that they could be rolled without any concessions being made to lefty priorities. I told them what I thought of this at the time. I continue to allow them to send me emails, but mainly for their Schadenfreude value. These pitiful bleatings as Republican-lite Obama unabashedly tramples every value that they claimed to treasure into the dust evoke nothing but scorn from me.

Voted Green, 'cause we're on our own. After seeing what we have seen from Obama, I should think that the truth of that statement is self-evident. No more LOTE voting.

Donald Johnson,

Right you are about the self-righteousness of the Dem establishment. It's as if they have nothing to learn, knowing everything already as they apparently believe. Nauseating. You diss me out of hand, I stop listening; you're dead to me.


Jonathan,

My views are coming around to an understanding that responsible, forward-directed action is increasingly going to be based upon individuals and small networks. It's not going to come from those institutions based upon large-scale aggregations of power and influence; they do not want our input, merely our compliance. Unsurprisingly, due to their lack of interest in adapting to changing conditions, these authoritarian structures are becoming less functional, and are in fact progressively being hollowed out. More posts presenting overarching theoretical issues of concern to the intelligent deployment of localized citizen action such as some of your recent scientific/technological ones would be welcomed in this corner. Not how-to posts, but why-to posts, if you will. Encouraging the pooling of information (be it theoretical or practical) for those who have grown skeptical of the likelihood of timely and relevant leadership emanating from our self-absorbed elites. Visit the sites Global Guerillas or Club Orlov for examples; these folks are already coming to grips with these issues in their own fashions. You and your fellow posters (along with your readers) can contribute in your own unique and valuable ways.

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at March 20, 2010 11:27 PM

"The Democratic Party is absolutely terrified of losing voters on its left flank, actually, as evidenced by the relentless campaign of dirty tricks they resorted to in 2004 to prevent voters from having Nader as a ballot choice..."

Not what I meant at all, and not the context in which you raised it. Do you think, as you put it, "the party leadership" or, as I put it, Lieberman, Landrieau, Nelson, and the other Blue Dogs, care about Nader voters when an issue like health care is up for a vote?

Not during an election campaign. Then, of course Gore, Kerry, and Obama don't want you to vote for Nader. So they will pull dirty tricks and promise you this and that, just as they promise the rest of us liberals this and that in the primaries. And, yeah, they will attack Ralph or Cynthia or whoever. Buuuuut, come sausage making time, what influence do you have? None. No more than us Democrat-voting liberals do. Baucus is not concerned about Nader voters. As for the leadership, I think Pelosi and Reid would go further to the left, if they did not have the Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln, etc wing of the party to deal with. But they certainly don't care about you and your fellow Naderites. Why would they?

"It's this simple: some people's votes have to be earned, but your vote—and the votes of millions of people like you—not only doesn't have to be earned, it can't even be lost. The Democrats know that full well, and respond accordingly, and they'll continue to do so just as long as you'll let them."

Wow, is that how you really think it works?

Do you think that the Republicans "earn" all their votes? Of course not. Social conservatives say the same thing you do. They say, "We have voted Republican for 30 years, since Reagan in 1980. We have loyally given our votes, time and money to the GOP, and the GOP has won at every level of government, and even had the Presidency and the Congress at the same time, and none of our agenda, most especially our most important, precious 'pro life' agenda, has ever been enacted. Those Republicans in the State house and in Washington just take us for granted!"

Social conservatives, like liberals, are a minority (or, at best, about half of the members)of one of two parties in a two party system. Of course, members of either group are always free to sit out elections, to vote third party, to fume and fuss, but that doesn't change the central dilemma they both face.

The party players, at the national level, are always looking for the soft middle, because the soft middle (the "independents," the no party folks, the occasional voters) are the deciding votes. Not the voters on either extreme. Not the liberals and not the social conservatives.

Part of this is structural. You need a national majority (of electoral votes) to elect a president. That means you need a candidate who can compete in as many regions as possible. Which, inevitably, means you need a moderate. Historians have long noted how this system for electing presidents helps sustain the two party system, by the way.

Again, if we had a European system, and some proportional representation, we liberals could elect a nice size chunk of national legislators. And then we could make certain demands of the moderate/centrist prime minister,and his party, as the price for our cooperation. But we don't have such a system.

Moreover,you talk about "the Democrats" like they are some kind of monolith. As I told you, my Congressman is Anthony Weiner. Should I not vote for him? Again, how will that help? Again, assuming all the liberals in my district voted for a socialist, and, somehow, he won, what would he do that Weiner can't or won't? Would he be able to make Baucus NOT be a toady to Big Pharma? Would he stop Lieberman from being the Senator from the Insurance companies? Or Dodd the Senator from the Banks? Would he make Lincoln or Landrieu less of a Blue Dog? Would he have any effect on their constituencies (which are not liberal) in Arkansas or Louisiana?

I think, perhaps, if you wanted to offer some constructive ideas, you might want to think along the following lines. How about not starting at the top, the presidency, and working your way down, but, instead, starting at the bottom and try to work your way up? Elect liberals, and even radicals, to local and municipal offices, even school boards. And do so under a "Liberal" party line where possible. Try to use all the latent power in town, city, and county government to make changes that actually effect the way people live in their everyday lives. Be like the Communists in Italy, or the Socialists in Japan (and Milwaukee!), who ran excellent municipal governments. That would help "expand the liberal brand," to use the terminology of our corporate friends (!). Then try to capture a State government or two with some kind of Liberal/Democrat coalition (like the old Farmer-Labor/Democrat coaltion in Minnesota). Trade the cooperation of Liberal members in the State legislature for seats in the governor's cabinet, and for some policy input. How about working for universal health care and the like in States where there actually are enough liberals, and few enough conservatives, to make it happen? As in New York, Vermont and Oregon, and so forth?

Why focus on the unobtainable presidency?

Perhaps, maybe, over time, with results to point to at the State and local levels, a new realignment of parties might be possible. One in which liberal actully make up enough of the electorate to qualify as a major party.

Finally, as for self righteousnous, it seems to me it is the Naderites who have more than their fair shoare of it. They are the ones who call their fellow liberals "sheep." They are the ones who posture over the alleged "bravery" of their secret ballot vote. They are the ones who talk in terms of "how far are you willing to go," and claim to be making "a stand." They are the ones who accuse their fellow liberals of having a Stockholm syndrome. And, finally, they are the ones who talk in terms of their fellow liberals "eating shit."

I don't claim any particular "righteousnous." I'm just a poor, individual schlub trying to make my voice and my vote count. I certainly don't have all the answers, but then, I don't pretend to, either.

Posted by freemansfarm at March 20, 2010 11:36 PM

You’re going to have to be willing to stay home from the polls in order to get people in Congress you want. There’s no other way. As I understand it, the fundies learned this in the 80’s -- they pulled support from moderate Republicans, even if it meant losing a Republican seat. You’ll have to decide that some issues are so important that having the wrong guy in the seat for a term is better than having the equally-wrong-but-better-spoken guy in the seat for even longer.

That alone will not be enough. You’ll need political organization, too. But I point out the above requirement because it is the only thing missing from the various progressive formulas for change I hear bandied about as well as what was missing from many left-wing organizational plans. The AFL-CIO kept backing the same bastards -- the assholes brought them NAFTA (and the union should have known that was coming) and they backed them yet again.

Things will have to get worse before they get better. Republicans will make things worse. Democrats will make things worse, too -- but we get to play let’s pretend during election years, shut our eyes, clap real hard and imagine that they won’t.

If you are practically disenfranchised, you get nowhere by pretending you aren’t.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 20, 2010 11:59 PM

And btw: for many of us, the Democrats are NOT better than the Republicans. At all.

Keep in mind that the Democrats who happily take hard-right stances (especially in the South) aren’t “conservative Democrats,” they’re the same right-wing assholes that are on the other side of the aisle. Those of us living under them watch our tax dollars siphoned off to pay off their buddies, save for the money used to pad the pockets of armed thugs (police and private security) to regulate the population whose jobs were annihilated for short-term gains of their betters.

So, seriously: the burden of proof is on you to prove that the Dems, as a party, should be supported over the Repugs in the short term. It’s specious fucking notion, but one that’s easy to maintain when you’re well-off and white (not that everyone here is). Once you become more demographically diverse, the view looks the same from down here.

And if you can’t show that those of us on the very bottom are better off in the long-term with the Democrats even existing, why bother arguing that it is anything other than selfish perversion to vote for the Democrats (as a party) in the first place? Nader is actually irrelevant; the point is, why the hell is signing up for a party that happily rips off the government, murders its citizens, and murders citizens abroad somehow better than not voting at all? And if a vote for the Democrats, in general, will support this, then voting for a third party is important mostly because it means denying the Democrats a vote.

The Republican party can’t be killed by mere populism; it is a creature of the aristocracy. The Democratic party, however, depends more squarely on the hopes of the majority of the U.S. citizens. It can, with neglect, be killed. If it dies, the Republicans won’t last long without a dancing partner.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 21, 2010 12:00 AM
Posted by freemansfarm at March 19, 2010 02:52 AM

“. . .liberals voting for him in 2000 in Florida gave us the Bush presidency”

This is a lie. Black peoples’ votes not being counted -- and white people not giving a shit -- gave us the Bush presidency. If the “progressives” who back the Democrats come hell or high water had given two damp shits about people with more melanin content and recognized their impact upon their own politics, it might have occured to them to be a little more concerned about the systematic voter fraud that made the Supreme Court decision even possible (and happened again in 2004).

I think the term “liberal,” like the term “Christian,” is applied too liberally.

Almost all Republicans are conservatives, at the voter and office holder level. Only about half of Democrats are liberal, at both levels.

. . . because the Republicans systematically purged non-rightwingers from their party over the last 30 years, a political purge that the poster here is specifically demanding we not undertake. Perhaps for him, the modern Republican party is not the result of canny political decisions but a creature that sprung forth, whole and perfect, from Zeus’ skull.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 21, 2010 12:00 AM

Gore lost Florida, according to the official count, in 2000 by fewer votes than Nader won. You, and anyone else, can go on and on about undercounts and the Supreme Court and racism and "what if's" and so on and so forth until the cows come home. But you can't change that fact.

And that is about all left-liberal third parties can do. At their most effective, they can throw close elections to the Republicans.

"because the Republicans systematically purged non-rightwingers from their party over the last 30 years, a political purge that the poster here is specifically demanding we not undertake."

How do you propose to "purge" the Blue Dogs? And, assuming you could, what would be the result? A smaller Democratic party with even less chance of winning the Presidency or of controlling Congress.

"Perhaps for him, the modern Republican party is not the result of canny political decisions but a creature that sprung forth, whole and perfect, from Zeus’ skull."

Canny decisions, the birth of Venus, or perhaps, the nature of the electorate? To keep it simple, see here (Oct. 2009 poll):

http://www.gallup.com/poll/123854/conservatives-maintain-edge-top-ideological-group.aspx

Conservatives: 40%
Moderates: 36%
Liberals: 20%

And those numbers have been roughly the same for decades.

There are enough conservatives to make a major party. There aren't enough liberals.

The only chance of us liberals wielding any political power at the national level is in conjunction with a lot of moderates. The consrvatives only need a few moderates. And, with the gerrymandering of the US Senate (and, to a lesser extent, the House too), fewer than even these numbers indicate.

Posted by freemansfarm at March 21, 2010 12:25 AM

"And btw: for many of us, the Democrats are NOT better than the Republicans. At all."

If you think that, then, by all means, stay home or vote third party. I think they are marginally better.

Posted by freemansfarm at March 21, 2010 12:30 AM
Gore lost Florida, according to the official count, in 2000 by fewer votes than Nader won. You, and anyone else, can go on and on about undercounts and the Supreme Court and racism and "what if's" and so on and so forth until the cows come home. But you can't change that fact.

Wouldn’t dream of changing the facts -- but I will call bullshit when I see it. Gore won Florida once you count the votes that the courts agreed were illegally thrown out. You can't change that fact.

How do you propose to "purge" the Blue Dogs?

Stop voting for objectionable candidates; run candidates against them when one has them. How would you propose to get different results from the same practices you’re engaging in now?

And those numbers have been roughly the same for decades. There are enough conservatives to make a major party. There aren't enough liberals.

And how would you define Conservative, since the definition has little to do nationally with any ideological platform of the Republican party? Most citizens of the U.S. define themselves as “Christian,” though many are challenged to define that term as well. Poll them on actual policies and what result do you get?

If you think that, then, by all means, stay home or vote third party. I think they are marginally better.

I know, which is why you’re a bigger political threat than most rightwingers. Similarly, white moderates were a greater political stumblingblock to the civil rights movement than vocal racists, since the latter undermined their position publicly. As I alluded to before, this comes down to selfishness; people who aren’t that hurt by Democratic policies have more recourse to maintain an illogical or immoral stance.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 21, 2010 12:46 AM

And that is about all left-liberal third parties can do. At their most effective, they can throw close elections to the Republicans.
....
I think they are marginally better.


if the democrats are 'marginally' better than the republicans, why does it make such a big difference which party wins or loses, or if a third party shifts the result this way or that?

the problem is that voters in america do the rational thing and stay away from elections. most of them have figured out that neither party, despite the host of 'marginal' differences claimed by their hacks is doing anything to change their fortunes and is content sucking up cash from lobbyists and dispensing away the rights of the people they supposedly 'govern'.

the point of an alternative party should be to voice the concerns of the alienated citizens and get them involved in various political activities all the time, and not only the sham* elections held every 2 years.

(* = between gerrymandering, corporate lobbying, billion dollar campaigns and the recent supreme court judgement opening fully the floodgate of election funding, how are elections in america NOT a sham? seems a criminal waste of money given the marginal differences)

Posted by almostinfamous at March 21, 2010 01:13 AM

been sitting here almost an hour trying to write a few words for this. must've been a dozen scratched starts. i guess it condenses to: i don't want us to fail, but we haven't studied for the test and there's nothing to do about that.

Posted by hapa at March 21, 2010 03:34 AM

"been sitting here almost an hour trying to write a few words for this. must've been a dozen scratched starts. i guess it condenses to: i don't want us to fail, but we haven't studied for the test and there's nothing to do about that.

Posted by hapa at March 21, 2010 03:34 AM"

hapa, if "us" is the democratic party, it seems more apt to say "we" jimmied the test so that all sorts of crazy answers are necessary to get a passing grade, and if "we" tell everybody that the test is a fraud, no one will ever believe "us" again.

For my part, I no longer want any part of that "us".

Posted by Jonathan Versen at March 21, 2010 09:41 AM

if the democrats are 'marginally' better than the republicans, why does it make such a big difference which party wins or loses, or if a third party shifts the result this way or that?

the problem is that voters in america do the rational thing and stay away from elections. most of them have figured out that neither party, despite the host of 'marginal' differences claimed by their hacks is doing anything to change their fortunes and is content sucking up cash from lobbyists and dispensing away the rights of the people they supposedly 'govern'.

the point of an alternative party should be to voice the concerns of the alienated citizens and get them involved in various political activities all the time, and not only the sham* elections held every 2 years.


Bingo!-Tony

Posted by tony at March 21, 2010 10:19 AM

ah, yes, the ol' shit sandwich. I am reminded of the great Socialist Remdering when the issue of war credits came up in the Bundestag in 1914.

Where are you now, Rosa Luxemburg?

Posted by bobbyp at March 21, 2010 11:59 AM


It's too bad that third parties won't get anywhere until the rules change, bcause the rules won't change until third parties get somewhere. Maddening!

I hope tony and paul street get that 75 percent of the nonvoting public organized into a movement one of these days and they huff and puff and blow the Hill down, because right now the political forecast, apart from little Obamagains, is bleak and dreary with menacing storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

Posted by N E at March 21, 2010 01:19 PM

Tony-

Please put Street's admonition #18 into the context of this discussion. Thanks.

Posted by bobbyp at March 21, 2010 01:54 PM

i see NE has passed defeatism 101. i think you should get started on grassroots organizing , to stitch some silver linings on those bleak clouds you see.

Posted by almostinfamous at March 21, 2010 03:25 PM

freemansfarm: And, finally, they are the ones who talk in terms of their fellow liberals "eating shit."

You might want to try googling the actual phrase I used, since you've misinterpreted it throughout this thread and it's caused you so much offense (which was not the intention).

almostinfamous: the point of an alternative party should be to voice the concerns of the alienated citizens and get them involved in various political activities all the time, and not only the sham* elections held every 2 years.

Yes, definitely. And the flip side of that (as I said) is that engagement with the Democratic Party almost inevitably leads people to seeing the Democrats as the source of meaningful change, not one of the major roadblocks to it—and even those who know full well just what (and who) the Democrats really represent aren't immune. I'm all for building independent left/progressive movements, and that's the main reason I spend time writing about electoral issues: because too many people, including the kind of people who read this site, fall into the Democratic black hole and are never seen again. There's a good reason the Democrats are known as the graveyard of progressive causes.

I've discussed this at greater length here (and had to deal that time as well with the misdirected anger of a Democrat-voting progressive, who was understandably frustrated at being taken for granted and ignored while nonetheless feeling there was no other alternative).

Posted by John Caruso at March 21, 2010 03:48 PM

Hello Bobbyb,

Here is #18. My comments are below.

18. Revolutionaries Need Reform. The revolution-reform dichotomy goes both ways. Radicals are not going to get very far by rejecting any and all reforms. Some things that many non-radical progressives (people who don’t call themselves Marxists or left anarchists and the like) are willing to support – single payer national health insurance, labor law reform (the Employee Free Choice Act and more), major “green jobs” public works programs, and a peace dividend [shifting resources from military to social programs/human needs]), and more – would significantly improve the lives of many ordinary working people and it would be foolish and counter-productive to oppose them as insufficiently radical. At the time, militant struggles for needed reforms highlight the ever- more evident harsh limits of the profit system’s ability to meet human and social needs and thus help show the need for "radical reconstruction of society itself" (King).

What this says to me is that the more radically inclined, like myself-I am an anarchist, should not down play the need for reforms to the current system that will make the lives of the majority better without overthrowing the system and replacing it with something more humane and just. That is common sense. This is sometimes called "expanding the floor of the cage."

So those who want to make the world a better place and replace capitalism and other authoritarian structures with a political and economic structure that is more egalitarian and such should not downplay reforms to the current system. So I am for reforms but that is not the end of the struggle to me. I want to see and think a revolution is ultimately needed. But i also understand that not everyone feels the same way as I do...we should look to work together toward those needed reforms through which people will hopefully become more radically inclined in the process....Its a process of raising ones consciousness more than anything else.

So yes working through mainstream political parties can lead to much needed reforms but only if there is a social movement outside the political parties pushing to make such reforms. If you think that just voting in the right people will lead to such without the social movement applying pressure from below, then I think you are mistaken given the nature of how politics works in this country.

This understanding, which you may or not agree with, is why I generally don't waste my time with mainstream politics. Yes sensible choices have to be made, but its the creation of the social movement where I spend my time. So I do vote but I expect next to nothing with the democratic party, again, given the institutional structure of political parties and so on. Both are firmly committed to "Empire and Inequality" to quote Street again. How can it be otherwise? And both parties will work to expand "E+I" in the service to those that own the country and both political parties. The current occupant of the White House maybe being one of the most extreme examples of this given all of the rhetorical progressive hot air of his campaign.

That's how i see it anyway.

As a side note, you can ask questions to Street yourself on z. If you have read any other of his essays, you will see there is often very lively conversation after his post from other z members. You have to be a z member to ask, I think, but you can join for free.-Tony

Posted by tony at March 21, 2010 03:49 PM

I hope tony and paul street get that 75 percent of the nonvoting public organized into a movement one of these days and they huff and puff and blow the Hill down, because right now the political forecast, apart from little Obamagains, is bleak and dreary with menacing storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

Hello NE,

"Hope" is not an option...If all one is prepared to do is hope that the future will be better than we are in fact doomed. i can point you to plenty of examples of people not hoping for a better future but actually doing the hard work to make it so. There is no choice in the matter. Either we work to make the world better or we don't. Its choice we make.Tony

Posted by tony at March 21, 2010 04:39 PM

why thank you almostinfamous. i am working on those silver linings right now, reading eric blair's spanish civil war letters. (he had a pen name somebody might remember)

seriously, the little problem with third parties is that we have a plurality-wins voting system that makes them unsustainable, because a voter is throwing away his vote by voting for the third party. Geez, this has actually been given the name of a law (Duverger's law) in political science. So everyone can create that party, but unless it all comes together in a tsunami like the Republicans in 1860, it won't have enough force to knock one of the big two out of the way and replace it, and if it doesn't then it has no real part in the government and just gets to operate as a spoiler, which usually does little if any good, and then everything proceeds as before, with everyone having the same arguments all over again 10 or 15 years later.

Yhis has been going on for 150 years now in the same crappy way. Remember Einstein's definition of insanity--doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It's just astonishing to me how effectively our system was designed to be impervious to performance. Probably something like 75 or 80 percent of people (not voters, people) think the system doesn't work well, and have thought that consistently for many decades and maybe over a century, but still people spend their whole lives having the same arguments about whether to vote for third parties. What's new this time?

Let's just for a hoot try something different to get a different result. Tell people that God didn't give us the Virginia Plan and a bi-cameral legislature and plurality-wins voting. (For that we can thank James Madison, who was an old codger who had more of a problem with democracy than slavery. Seriously, that's true.) Granted, changing our venerable institutions that don't work worth a damn will be difficult, but this system has to change. Unrig it.

Posted by N E at March 21, 2010 04:54 PM

almostinfamous responded to of one of freemansfarm’s points succinctly. I can’t have that. Here’s a long-winded refutation (and some other points are covered as well).

Again, the main point is that voting for the Dems (in general -- specific cases vary) is practically not different from voting from the Repubs for many people. If freemansfarm does care about people who aren’t him, or about his long-term position, he is forced to reach this conclusion since both parties will happily spread misery for millions. However, I don’t think this is his stance; he’s basically saying “fuck you” to everyone who would lose their homes, lives, health, etc. due to either a Repub or Dem administration. This is essentially the same thing as a right-wing position: “fuck you, I got mine.” Because Dems give him nominally more benefits than Repubs, the fact that they can actually be as bad as Repubs to many people on Earth and, due to their greater political finesse, be worse than and/or enable Repubs is, for him, of no moment.

Similarly, anyone claiming that any Dem being in office is always better than any Repub being in office is basically repeating a factually-empty talking point, one refuted by an increasing number of corpses resulting from bipartisan policies.

However, my intent isn’t to single out freemansfarm in particular -- this attitude is found throughout the Democratic party and has been with “liberals” since before black people were considered people. It’s about time we stamped it out.

The “Dems are marginally better” position has contradictory conclusions. Here are the possibilities it entails:

a) We are basically powerless to change the Repub-Dem dynamic and/or the political status quo by voting. In this case, it is impossible to “throw your vote away” on a third party candidate or act irresponsibly by staying home because your vote cannot possibly matter. This makes any argument against voting for a third party candidate pointless and without merit. One could challenge the worth of voting for a third party on its own merits, but such a person cannot claim that there is a better alternative (and since voting for a third party hurts no one, the arguer is basically wasting time complaining that someone else is wasting time -- which is pretty much just being a prick).

b) We can, in fact, change the nature of our politics via voting for someone else than an awful Democratic incumbent (or an awful Dem challenger). This is the only way the phrase “throw your vote away” isn’t complete bullshit. If that phrase isn’t a fucking lie, then that must mean that the people with the potential to vote for a third party do have power over the party they’re expected to be aligned with (in that they can hurt said party). We know this power can shape a political party -- we saw fundies put pressure on Republicans for decades by withdrawing support or even supporting opposing candidates just to force the party to change its views. In fact, the assumption in a democracy is that this will happen in the first place! As such, the arrogant claim that a vote for non-mainstream-candidate X is a waste instead damns the speaker, since if that vote could swing an election then it could be construed as hurting the supposedly “less bad” (more likely than not, technically worse) candidate. If the mainstream candidate’s supporter claims that the mainstream candidate will be “less bad” -- well, see above. The “less bad” candidate can be equally bad or worse for those who choose to vote for the third party or stay home.

This also undermines NE’s cause for despair (which was a silly cause in the first place; there are way better reasons to be mired in despair). We can create change in the political process, but it will require us to piss off so-called “allies.” Those that refuse to consider that will, as a result of this error, conclude that there are no real options.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 21, 2010 04:56 PM

hi tony. i agree with you about all that. The left has always been correct that institutions and history are human creations, not the production of divine action or fate or whatever. and change requires work, not prayer or hope. So yes, it's up to people to make changes happen. But that being said, great people can work hard and still not get the results they should, and our political structures were designed to be resistant to democracy.

Now, I admire people working for change even when they don't succeed, sometimes even more--that's why tragedy is so moving. And there are plenty of real-life examples of it where people fight the good fight and aren't rewarded, in all kinds of different ways.

But I think all that effort would get better results if everyone would open their eyes to the ways our system has been set up to prevent change. Our political system, which was moderately progressive in the 18th century (though that's a bit overblown too), is now reactionary because of the resistance of its structures to human action.

Posted by N E at March 21, 2010 05:26 PM

i think it is sort of funny that my reasons for being mired in despair are considered inadequate.

Posted by N E at March 21, 2010 07:18 PM

hi tony. i agree with you about all that. The left has always been correct that institutions and history are human creations, not the production of divine action or fate or whatever. and change requires work, not prayer or hope. So yes, it's up to people to make changes happen. But that being said, great people can work hard and still not get the results they should, and our political structures were designed to be resistant to democracy.

Hello NE,

I agree with you above....we can work and try to make things better but that is no guarantee that it will be better. All we can do is try....the alternative is to guarantee that it wont be better.


Now, I admire people working for change even when they don't succeed, sometimes even more--that's why tragedy is so moving. And there are plenty of real-life examples of it where people fight the good fight and aren't rewarded, in all kinds of different ways.

yes...the world can and is a cruel place.


But I think all that effort would get better results if everyone would open their eyes to the ways our system has been set up to prevent change. Our political system, which was moderately progressive in the 18th century (though that's a bit overblown too), is now reactionary because of the resistance of its structures to human action.

Well if I understand you correctly I agree....and again its why I focus my actions outside of "our political system..." I think that is basically a lost cause for change. I have no illusions about the democratic party. My reading of history tells me that social movements are the driving force behind progress and change often in spite of political parties which represent class and elite interest despite the lofty rhetoric to the contrary.-Tony

Posted by tony at March 21, 2010 07:58 PM

Thanks for the reply, Tony. The need for a social movement "outside" the Democratic Party is, I would agree, essential. There has been no such cohesive movement on the left since the civil rights/anti-viet nam war days. But it gets worse. We used to have that movement in labor, but it's gone. The old time socialists used to have it--prior to WWI: based in large part on the social ties of immigrant groups--clubs, associations, a myriad of social networks---the "movement" as it were....it was a movement that, in many ways, died in August, 1914.

Now, we have "shit sandwich" on the left. The right has it's moneyed interests, wingnut welfare, and new age churches. What's the left's best bet for a comparable social 'movement' base?

Posted by bobbyp at March 21, 2010 08:06 PM

because too many people, including the kind of people who read this site, fall into the Democratic black hole and are never seen again.

i resembled that remark..

Posted by almostinfamous at March 22, 2010 09:18 AM

What's the left's best bet for a comparable social 'movement' base?

Hello Bobbyp,

in this country....the USA? We can look to others in say South America and try to do what they have in far more onerous circumstances than we face in the USA. there is movement toward a new 5th International which seems like a good idea to me...the labor movement in this country needs to be re-born in my opinion based on the model of the IWW which still exists but barely...we need to start on a local level and then expand it outward and so on.


We always have to remember that the majority of the US population feels the way we do on issue after issue. The population is to left of both parties....So a lot of the hard work is done as far as convincing people on the need for change in a more positive egalitarian fashion. There is just no left based infrastructure to connect with the population and give them a way to put their wishes into concrete actions...Partly the fault of the left in general, no doubt, but also the result of a well planned and executed assault from the business community in partnership with the state to destroy unions and such to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few.

This wont be an easy battle but we have to try if there is to be any hope at all for a more just and equal future for all...Otherwise, as I said to NE, we are in fact doomed.-Tony

Posted by tony at March 22, 2010 11:50 AM

Fifth International! Hells yeah!

Posted by Cloud at March 22, 2010 02:50 PM

Tony

Yes, I agree that change has to be pushed up from the bottom and that social movements have to do it. Work like you do is essential. But the system is resistant to change, and there have always been social movements--abolitionism, Populism, the Progressive movement, suffrage, the labor movement, the 60s coalition of the anti-war movement and Civil Rights movement. Such movements have accomplished what they can while leaving our government system untouched, and then once the reform fever loses energy our politics return to being money-driven and corrupt, and we quickly return to bad habits, including fighting vicious wars abroad.

So I'm just saying history, aka experience, suggests that cycle won't be broken unless the structure of the political system is changed rather than just the content into it modified by reforms generated by social movements. I don't think we'll do much better than we are now without those structural, democratic reforms. The system was designed to thwart them. It goes far beyond the filibuster.

So my view is that radical systemic change is necessary, and I'm basically a moderate guy, morally able to work for plain old money to pay the bills. I just think the system is broken, and on a personal level I have fixed enough things in a half-assed way to know how that works out.

I have come to this conclusion because I think the system could be not just much more efficient, but much more democratic and egalitarian, and then it wouldn't be so bloodthirsty either. I think it would be good to lose all that cruelty and ruthlessness. People on the Right HATE egalitarianism, but possibly they and certainly their descendants would be happier with a lot more of it. (They really would. Read The Spirit Level, which is a great book.) The rules of our political system were set up to permit enduring misery and dysfunction in the name of political stability, because the grave danger to the stodgy, rich Founding Fathers was perceived to be radical egalitarianism. You know, the mob.

So get your movement to change the rules to make "the pursuit of happiness" less like playing the lottery. That will have to involve changing the structure of the government, aka such things as the Senate and an unaccountable Supreme Court, and unlimited corporate spending, all of which impedes democracy. The problem is, when you look at how crazy the cult of the Right is, it should be obvious that it won't be easy. You'll probably need to match their intensity, which to me is sad, because that's not easy to do without becoming sort of crazy too. (But then I like Yeats' poem The Second Coming.)

Posted by N E at March 22, 2010 03:39 PM

NE:Yes, I agree that change has to be pushed up from the bottom and that social movements have to do it. Work like you do is essential. But the system is resistant to change, and there have always been social movements--abolitionism, Populism, the Progressive movement, suffrage, the labor movement, the 60s coalition of the anti-war movement and Civil Rights movement. Such movements have accomplished what they can while leaving our government system untouched, and then once the reform fever loses energy our politics return to being money-driven and corrupt, and we quickly return to bad habits, including fighting vicious wars abroad.

Again I agree with you NE...Gains made through social struggle usually come under attack of one form or another after time given the dominate institutions of the US. The social contract, or common good,is hated by the business community as long as it is working for common people...If the govt is working for the rich and powerful, then big govt is great.

NE:So I'm just saying history, aka experience, suggests that cycle won't be broken unless the structure of the political system is changed rather than just the content into it modified by reforms generated by social movements. I don't think we'll do much better than we are now without those structural, democratic reforms. The system was designed to thwart them. It goes far beyond the filibuster.

you are talking to an anarchist, NE! I agree that the main problems are structural and that reforms are only going to go so far....I've said over and over on this blog and even in this thread that a revolution is ultimately needed, not just reforms.


NE:I have come to this conclusion because I think the system could be not just much more efficient, but much more democratic and egalitarian, and then it wouldn't be so bloodthirsty either. I think it would be good to lose all that cruelty and ruthlessness.

But you have to remember we live in a society that rewards "cruelty and ruthlessness." So we should not be surprised that people are like this..the further one moves up the food chain, as it were, the more so....

This gets back to one of my major disagreements with you in the past...I have always said that one does not get to the top unless the values of the political economic hierarchy are internalized and you agree with them. If you did not, you would be weeded out along the way and not be in the position to exercise any power and authority..so one does not become the leader of the state unless they have already demonstrated that they have internalized the values, assumptions and general world view of the dominate political economic structure. Again this just strikes me as common sense and cant see how it could be otherwise....So the nefarious MIC that you talk about and certainly exists just wont allow someone to become the leader of it unless they agree with it.

Again I don't disagree with the rest of what you wrote...the problems are structural and institutional and wont be changed in any real significant way until there is a powerful popular movement to do so....

You are sounding more and more like an anarchist, NE!

The state has always been an instrument of class rule and domination no matter what the intentions of those that sit in power. The point is to get rid of it.-Tony

Posted by tony at March 22, 2010 04:55 PM

Tony

I'm proud to sound anarchistic to you, but that's really just sympathy with the ideals and respect for your dedication. I'd flunk my Bakunin or Bookman litmus test. I'm no anarchist. My views are much too imbued the view that powerful institutions can't be disposed of and can only be counteracted by other powerful institutions,which in turn only be constrained if they operate in the open subject to close democratic control. Jefferson was right about an informed citizenry being indispensable.

I'll comment on your view about internalizing the values being necessary to get to the top. There was a time I wouldn't have disagreed with that, or even had an opinion, because I had no base of knowledge from which to have an opinion. Then I became something of a close analyst of the executive branch a few years back, and in particular what Presidents try to do and succred at.

My conclusion with regard to your issue--do people have to internalize the values of systems to get to the top--is that it's only true in a very general sense. At the top, because events create new situations of life and death importance on a vast scale, leaders of this system which you think as a matter of common sense MUST be so monolithic often do not want to do what others around them in the monolithic system want them to do. That is partly because politicians aren't that predictable, since they lie a lot, and partly I think because they are already at the top and have responsibility they didn't while climbing the ladder. Besides, they can't internalize everything--it's not all consistent. So the hawks and the military institutions they control and Wall Street and the business institutions get disappointed quite often, but they are powerful in their own right, and when Presidents come into conflict with them, the Presidents often lose. If it's really important, historically they ALWAYS lose.

So I'd say the nefarious MICFiC isn't QUITE as powerful as you think in the way you think. They have constraints too. The problems isn't that Presidents have all internalized rotten values, it's that even if they haven't it often doesn't matter. Our system makes the Executive Branch powerful, not necessarily the person of the President.

I was encouraged today that somebody was writing on Huffpo that Obama could learn something from FDR and should get to it. Enough of the Lincoln already. Obama needs to get his base behind him and let it carry him some, and he needs to recognize that his enemies are exactly that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-michael-smith/what-obama-could-learn-fr_b_508973.html.

by the way, I think Obama did the right thing embarrassing the Supremes about the Citizens United decision, and he should start deftly cutting the Senate down to size a bit too. He has to be careful what he says, but others can then say more directly what he has to be careful about saying. The GOP does this all the time. Take the offensive. Push that old Overton Window back at them. Call out privilege and corruption for what it is. That would be nice to see.

Posted by N E at March 22, 2010 11:54 PM


Sorry to hear that you haven't made the leap to anarchism yet NE!!

My comments below to what you responded to:


NE:My conclusion with regard to your issue--do people have to internalize the values of systems to get to the top--is that it's only true in a very general sense. At the top, because events create new situations of life and death importance on a vast scale, leaders of this system which you think as a matter of common sense MUST be so monolithic often do not want to do what others around them in the monolithic system want them to do.

I never used the word monolithic nor would I to describe the US political economy...I would not use that word to describe the Bolsheviks.

I say that those that rise to the top of any authoritarian hierarchy do so because they have internalized the values and world view of that structure...That is what i described as being common sense. Again, this does not strike me as being controversial at all and would like to see an example of it not being the case.

So the president of the US firmly believes in capitalism and US imperialism though the word imperialism would not be stated....US aggression and attacks will be described as a defense of the country attacked(Vietnam), or we are bringing the poor natives democracy(you pick the country), or we are threatened and we have to defend ourselves since if we don't we risk being attacked or worse, a "mushroom cloud" will be over NYC(Iraq) and so on.

Again this does not strike me as all that radical an understanding of how state, more so powerful ones, act all throughout history.

NE:That is partly because politicians aren't that predictable, since they lie a lot, and partly I think because they are already at the top and have responsibility they didn't while climbing the ladder.

I dont really know what this means. What responsibilities do you mean?

NE:Besides, they can't internalize everything--it's not all consistent.

Again I don't know what this refers too...maybe you can give an example...

I said they internalize the values and world view of the dominate political economic structure of the society...so again they are all capitalists and agree that capital has the right to do as it pleases, especially when it comes to other countries, and they are all imperialists. They are all militarists and so forth...Again if you feel this isn't the case then you should be able to point to a president who isn't a believer in capitalism or isn't an imperialist...

NE:So the hawks and the military institutions they control and Wall Street and the business institutions get disappointed quite often, but they are powerful in their own right, and when Presidents come into conflict with them, the Presidents often lose. If it's really important, historically they ALWAYS lose.

I don't deny or haven't said anything about conflicts....there are always conflicts in any organizational structure...And once again I will use the Bolsheviks as an example since people tend to think that the party all thought the same way on issue after issue....that is not the case...

So sure there are conflicts and sometimes the maniac hawks want to drop atomic bombs or whatever and the less maniac doves will argue against such...Sure, I don't have an issue with that


NE:So I'd say the nefarious MICFiC isn't QUITE as powerful as you think in the way you think. They have constraints too. The problems isn't that Presidents have all internalized rotten values, it's that even if they haven't it often doesn't matter. Our system makes the Executive Branch powerful, not necessarily the person of the President.

I agree...

As for the rest, I dont see the point of hoping Obama or any other president starts to act a certain way that we would like....You will be waiting a long time for that day to come as long as there isn't a force outside of the mainstream politics and money forcing him to do so.-Tony


Posted by tony at March 23, 2010 12:53 PM

Tony

Let me take a crack at this with the example of the dreaded Woodrow Wilson, who had some significant failings but also some real virtues.
Now, with regard to this idea that Wilson had internalized the values of the authoritarian system that he rose to the top of, I suppose in a very general sense that's true. A person doesn't get to be President by being a complete nonconformist or by living outside the bounds of conventional society. But politicians are cynical and practical if they are anything, and they pf course want to be successful in politics when they start their careers. But by the time they are President they want to be great Presidents and they tend to think a little more b roadly if they can think at all (thus part of the reason for the preference of the GOP in candidates).

Now I mention Woodrow Wilson because his experience was as a professor of government and then college president. He was whip smart, learned, and had lots of ideas. Hell, he thought the Senate was an albatross that impeded good government (you see, he was a smart guy). And he certainly didn't like either imperialism or militarism, notwithstanding that he didn't stop either. Plus, though you'd never know it from reading most critiques (whether from the right and also lefties such as William Appleman Williams or Chomsky, who as far as I can tell was influenced a great deal by Williams) Wall Street hated Wilson. So, to summarize, Wilson wasn't popular with or trusted by big corporations, banks, the military, the State Deparment, or the Senate.

So who liked Wilson? What values had he internalized? Well, labor liked him a great deal. The urban political machines and their immigrant constituents liked him. And Southerners liked him. As for the banks, they preferred Taft, or probably even Teddy Roosevelt, though mostly they were sick of Roosevelt by then too.

I don't think this is that unusual. Everyone in our society internalizes values on a general level, but when it comes to making real life decisions, those general values are often in conflict. They don't give clear enough guidance as to what should be done. And Presidents, not just Wilson, typically have a different agenda than banks or megacorporations or the military. What those other interests want is a factor, but just a factor.

Unfortunately, our system in the last 30 or 40 years has become increasingly dominated by money, and organized labor has been weakened so greatly that it isn't much of a political force. Plus, the National Security State responded with a vengeance to the brief weakening of its power in the mid 1970s, so now it's very hard for a President to effect political change that weakens either large corporate interests or the National Security State. The problem isnt' that Presidents wouldn't like to disagree with some of the policies presented to them--they just don't get to make abstract decisions, and when it comes to doing something like bucking the MICFiC with regard Afghanistan, they are immediately punished politically for independent thinking by each of the institutions behind those sordid letters.

So I tend to think that even if you managed to put an anarchist in the Oval Office, he'd start running into the same problems Obama has. The problem is not that Obama has sold out, or becoming a corporate tool, or any of that. Even if Obama was visited by the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future, he would have to go to work the next day and confront the same dilemmas, though perhaps more maddening frustrations as he came to realize that wanting it to be so isn't enough even for him.

Changing the president won't ever fix the system. Real change is bigger than that, and of course Oarwell is right that Obama's policial rhetoric is just bullshit (I would say bullshit, not lies, because I saw the author of a book on that on the Daily Show a few years ago--a Princeton Professor no less!).

Posted by N E at March 23, 2010 03:20 PM

Ne,

second attempt at this....my first response did not go through for some reason.

All you say above doesn't answer anything I wrote...so I am just going to ask a few questions instead of responding to everything you say which all might be true...I really don't know.

Was Wilson a capitalist and did he think capital should dominate and control society?

Did he intervene in the affairs of other countries and did he invade other countries in the the US's backyard? If so why did he do it?

If I remember correctly, in the past you feel he did not want to do these things but was the victim of a conspiracy of the more militant hawks of his administration.

An anarchist would never be in the Oval office since the state represents minority class domination and rule over the majority...class and minority rule are two things anarchism looks to abolish.-Tony

Posted by tony at March 23, 2010 08:31 PM

tony

Your question: Was Wilson a capitalist and did he think capital should dominate and control society?

I suppose Wilson would have defined himself as a capitalist in a loose sense, as pretty much any Democrat or Republican politician would have then or any other time, including FDR and Huey Long (with his Share Our Wealth clubs). But Wilson's opponents certainly would have disagreed with him and called him a socialist. He certainly believed in government involvement and regulation in economic matters, what was once called the old mixed economy. In his day the Supreme Court repetitively said that government laws impeding freedom of contract, including child labor laws, were unconstitutional, and those decisions remaind the law right up until FDR's "switch in time saved nine" court-packing plan. After that the Supreme Court granted Congress the power to legislate in matters impairing or affecting freedom of contract via the Commerce Clause. Right now there is some resurgent conservative grumbling that no Constitutional federal power exists to force people to buy health insurance, which I view as complete BS, and for 70 years or so the federal courts would have agreed with me, but the Supreme Court is on the verge of being about the same quality now as it was in the 19th and early 20th century, so who knows? Four of those old guys are reactionaries by any standard. The rest are a little less conservative.

Wilson definitely didn't think capital "should dominate and control society." He most definitely disagreed with that. Even Teddy Roosevelt pretended to disagree with that, because so many people were disgusted with the dominance of the big Trusts, which were just abhorrent. Wilson believed in government and democracy and wanted reform of our institutiosn to better accomplish them and restrain the power of capital.

That being said, Wilson wasn't a socialist or anarchist, and I'm not saying he was a great man like Debs. I'm just saying he was smart and certainly not a tool of the bankers and even had some touches of greatness. Morgan and most of Wall Street and the admirals and generals and the Trusts and all the yahoos didn't like him at all. I wouldn't quite say a conspiracy made him do anything--that's just the way our government was designed. I have said Wilson ran into conspiracies, which he did when the military was alarmed at the communists overrunning Hungary and Germany while he was at Versailles. And I'm sure there was other conspiratorial activity too, as is commonplace, but that's not the problem. The problem is the design of the government put into the Constitution. You know, the bi-cameral legislature with filiburster, the Supreme Court immune from reality and political pressure, the dominance of politics by money, and lately the secrecy of almost everything touching upon the National Security State. That's the problem, not Wilson's or any other President's internalization of the values of capitalism. Your favorite anarchist, whoever he is, would have the same damn problems getting anything worthwhile done.

Posted by N E at March 23, 2010 10:06 PM

tony

I forgot one of your questions, so here goes:

Question: "Did he intervene in the affairs of other countries and did he invade other countries in the the US's backyard? If so why did he do it?"

Here's my answer: During the decade and a half before Wilson, the US had used gunboats to break Panama off from Colombia to build the canal and entrenched itself in the Pacific. When Wilson won the election (which had been bitter because TR ran with his new party), the fleet that Roosevelt had built to launch our overseas empire sailed around South America and informed South American governments that we wouldn't be supporting revolutions in their countries just because Wilson won. That just showed how much the Navy liked Wilson from the get-go, and the Navy was powerful.

As for the interventions, we finished building the Panama Canal (1914) a year after Wilson took office, and the Navy was VERY protective of it. So was Teddy Roosevelt, who was still around in an active loudmouth phase. Then, World War I started, and that made the Navy and the GOP even more protective of the Canal. As soon as the war started, Teddy Roosevelt and Senator Cabot Lodge and all the diplomats at State and the Navy then began their drumbeat to get the US into the European war. There was more than a little disloyalty from within Wilson's administration too, especially from Robert Lansing once he replaced Bryan as Secretary of State. There isn't space here to go into all the intrigue, but it was extensive.

Even apart from the ingrigue, the constant cry was that we were in danger from Germany, which had some commercial involvement and ties to Haiti and Mexico. The pressure to get the US intervene in Mexico and Haiti in particular came in the form of warnings from the Navy and State that not getting involved would endanger our security, especially in Haiti, because German control of Haiti could threaten the canal. And of course Germany was claimed to be the big threat in Mexico too. In the case of Mexico the pressure was really a little more complicated, and compounded by american oil companies owning all the mexican oil, but in all instances the constant accusation was an outcry led by Roosevelt that Wilson was almost treasonous in his failure to prepare the country for war. (The American oil companies owned Mexico and weren't fond of Wilson either.)

The accusations that Wilson was weak and not protecting the country and basically a traitor were nasty and constant, both before Wilson won reelection, by a hair, in 1916, and even moreso after 1916. Wilson ultimately didn't keep the country out of world war one, and I don't credit him for succombing to the pressure, but the duplicity used to get us involved in haiti and mexico and ultimately world war one itself was real. and skillfully done. Wilson resisted it; he really wasn't an eager imperialist. He was given bad information and pushed into situations where he had only bad choices that ended up with him intervening because not doing so would have put him in political jeopardy and for all he knew possibly actually jeopardize the country. (After all, he was no military expert.) It's easy to say with hindsight that the Canal wasn't in jeopardy and that the Navy was full of it, or that there was no danger to American interests in Vera Cruz that required the Navy to land marines, but that wasn't what Wilson was told. It's pretty hard to just tell the Navy and State and all your advisers that you don't believe them. I mean, if you're President, where does that leave you?

Now, don't get me wrong, in my opinion Wilson wasn't a great man like Debs, but he was pretty good compared to most people of that time. Sure he had some patrician and racist views, and he didn't walk away from all those Southerners in his cabinet who insisted on the federal government being segregated, and there's nothing commendable about that. But the problems he ran into were NOT caused by the fact that he had internalized all the rotten values of the system. He just ended up with some bad alternatives that led him down the road to war and imperialism very much against his own desires. At times reading about the period it struck me that he was almost dragged down that path kicking and screaming. He certainly often seems to have felt that way. Even the Germans didn't make it easy for him, what with the stupid Zimmerman telegram. You asked, so I hope that helps. But really, it doesn't matter whether you like Wilson. What matters is identifying the real problems with the nature of our system.

Posted by N E at March 23, 2010 11:32 PM

One big union! One big strike!

Thanks, Tony. Alas, my membership in the IWW lapsed some time ago, but.....the struggle continues.

Posted by bobbyp at March 24, 2010 09:25 AM

Ne,

Thanks for your response...I don t want this to go on forever and will only reply in brief.

Regarding Wilson and big business and the banks I suggest you take a look at Gabriel Kolko's "The Triumph of Conservatism."

Wilson was very much a capitalist and very much enjoyed the blessings of Wall St. given that such basically wrote the regulations and laws of the time regarding bank regulation and trade...a not uncommon phenomenon given what has just passed as health reform...

Basically a new "political capitalism" was formed where business took control of the political system in order to regulate the economy because the private economy could not do it on its own, and to fight off the social unrest caused by the failure of markets....

"Business was not opposed to the new reforms, they initiate them, pushed them, to stabilize the capitalist system in times of uncertainty and trouble." Hence the reforms were ultimately conservative in nature because they were put in place in order to protect capitalist control over society.

Sure radicals and protest in the streets lead to these reforms-again underscoring my main over arching contention of the need for direct action,protest, and mass movements bringing about change, and no doubt these reforms benefited common people,but business was in favor of them because they feared,correctly, for their very survival.

So it seems strange to me to say that "Wilson definitely didn't think capital should dominate and control society" when his actions in fact preserved and made sure that capital surely did.


My questions regarding Wilson and imperialism refers to Haiti and not WWI. US interest in the area and the threat of Haitian independence from US control lead to the US invasion. Not some feared German takeover which doesn't even reach the level of ridicule. I mean you don't invade a country and re-institute slavery, destroy the parliament and re-write the constitution because you fear a German take over.

From "Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of Imperialism.1915-1940" by Mary Renda


"The United States invaded Haiti in July 1915 and subsequently held the second oldest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere under military occupation for nineteen years. While in Haiti, marines installed a puppet president, dissolved the legislature at gunpoint, denied freedom of speech, and forced a new constitution on the Caribbean nation -- one more favorable to foreign investment. With the help of the marines, U.S. officials seized the customshouses, took control of Haitian finances, and imposed their own standards of efficiency on the administration of Haitian debt."

etc and so on...-tony

Posted by tony at March 24, 2010 02:11 PM