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For a green presidential campaign in 2004
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
From: Mark Knapp <email@example.com>
For a Green Presidential Campaign in 2004
by Howie Hawkins, Syracuse Greens
Presented at Regional Greens Meeting, Freeville, NY, June 28, 2003
Progressives are running scared today. They are scared of Bush and are demanding that the Greens not run a candidate and back a Democrat, or that the Greens backhandedly support the Democrat by not campaigning in the swing states.
To be sure, Bush is scary. Constitutional rights restricted. Unilateral presidential war powers. War budget hiked. International treaties abrogated. Tax cuts for the rich. Worker safety and environmental regulations gutted. Pandering to corporate interests in the midst of a corporate crime wave. An anti-consumer bankruptcy bill. Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with threats of future invasions or proxy wars for regime change in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and who knows where else.
But the Democrats are scary, too. The majority of congressional Democrats have let Bush have his way on every one of these issues.
If the Democratic Party won't resist Bush's policies in Congress, why should progressives support them for the presidency?
The Democrats didn't even resist Bush when he stole the Florida vote in 2000. We now know that Gore won Florida handily from the recount done by the media consortium that included the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. But the Democrats, far more interested in preserving the system's legitimacy than fighting its racism, refused to make an issue of how the Republicans cut blacks from the voter rolls through computerized racial profiling.
The Congressional Black Caucus gave the Democrats a second chance after the Supreme Court selection of Bush, when it appealed to Senate Democrats to object to accepting the Florida electors. The objection of just one Democratic Senator would have forced an investigation of the racial voter profiling and a recount of the Florida vote. But not one of them -- not Wellstone, not Kennedy, not Feingold, not Boxer, not Clinton, not Kerry -- not one of the Democratic liberals objected.
And the Greens are supposed to stand down and leave it to the Democrats to fight Bush?
Yes, a Democrat might beat Bush. But no Democrat is going to beat Bushism.
Just as electing Clinton did not beat Reaganism, but took Reaganism far beyond what Reagan and Bush Sr. could accomplish, so electing a Democrat will not defeat Bushism to change the basic foreign and domestic policies of the US.
What was called Reaganism (to scare us into voting Democratic) was really a bipartisan consensus around neoconservative militarism and neoliberal economics. That bipartisan consensus was initiated under Carter, supported by the majority of Congressional Democrats during the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, carried far beyond what Reagan and Bush Sr. could do by Clinton, and is now being taken even further by Bush, again with the support of the majority of Congressional Democrats.
These policies were initiated under Carter, who increased the military budget beyond Ford's projections and got the US into covert military operations in Afghanistan with the hope, successful as it turned out, that it would provoke the Soviets to invade. The US began in 1978 training the Islamic fundamentalists who we now know as Al Qaida. Bush's military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is the Carter Doctrine in practice, which stated in essence that the US would go to war for oil in the Middle East.
Neoconservative militarism is the post-Vietnam foreign policy of the corporate rulers as they reasserted their post World War II policy of dominating the capitalist world. With the fall of the Soviet bloc, Bush Sr. declared a New World Order in which the US would dominate the whole world and make it safe for capitalist exploitation. The Clinton administration continued this policy through NATO expansion and its intervention in the Balkans without UN authorization, as well as the complex of trade and credit policies administered by the IMF, World Bank, WTO, and numerous corporate-managed trade agreements on the model of NAFTA.
Both parties are committed are just as committed to economic policies of neoliberal austerity. Again, these polices were initiated under Carter, who slashed social programs to increase the military budget and re-assert US interventionism with the development of the Rapid Deployment Force, adopted monetarism as fiscal policy with the appointment of Volker to the Fed, and began the attack on organized labor by refusing to support the common situs picketing law he had pledged the AFL-CIO he would support.
Neoliberalism includes cuts in social spending, hikes in regressive taxes, cuts in progressive taxes, privatization, deregulation, corporate-managed trade, union busting, and corporate welfare. In a nutshell, it means the stick of austerity for workers -- on the theory it will makes us work harder and raise productivity -- and the carrot of welfare for the corporate rich -- on the theory they will invest and the benefits of increased jobs and tax revenues will trickle down to the rest of us.
Neoliberal austerity is the post-Keynesian economic policy of the corporate rulers as they ran into the internal limits to profits and
growth under the Keynesian welfare/warfare state.
The new ruling class consensus is the austerity/warfare state of neoliberal economics and neoconservative empire.
And that ruling class consensus is the pro-war, pro-corporate bipartisan consensus.
What is now called Bushism is not radical departure, but a continuation of this bipartisan consensus, with the majority of Democrats in Congress voting for Bush's key programs: the tax cuts, war budgets, war powers, and USA PATRIOT Act.
Worried about Bush's global empire building? Empire building is a bipartisan geopolitical strategy of using military basing and control of oil in the Middle East and Central Eurasia to keep Western Europe, Russia, China, and Japan from challenging US hegemony. This geopolitical strategy is as prevalent in the pronouncements of Democratic national security advisors like Zbigniew Brzezinski as in those of their Republican counterparts like Henry Kissinger. The Bush administration's particular intellectual framework for empire coming out of the Project for a New American Century is authored by Democrats as well as Republicans, such as Clinton's CIA Director, James Woolsey, and Paul Wolfowitz, the former aide to the late Senator Scoop Jackson (D-WA). The Clinton administration's imperialist motives for supporting Star Wars were stated quite openly in the Air Force's "Vision for 2020": "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment."
Indeed, the Democrats' unadulterated support for empire goes back before Carter, before Kennedy and Johnson's Vietnam War, to another Democratic administration, that of Truman, with Dean Acheson's Cold War strategy of building alliances of US satellites to contain the Soviet bloc and make the "free" world safe for corporate exploitation. With the demise of the USSR's own empire, the US geopolitical strategy switched, "From Containment to Enlargement," as Clinton's first National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake, declared in a 1993 speech of that title, adding in words that sound like Wolfowitz's that US-led alliances would accomplish this by
"Diplomacy where we can; force where we must."
Worried about Bush's militarism? Remember that the post Vietnam hikes in military spending were initiated by Carter, taking them above the levels Ford had projected, and that the post Cold War military spending hikes were initiated by Clinton, taking them well above Bush Sr.'s projections. Bush Jr.'s further hikes have been supported by the majority of Congressional Democrats. The current mantra among the Democratic Party political consultants and pollsters is that the Democratic presidential candidate must be as "strong on national security" as Bush to be competitive in the 2004 election.
The Clinton foreign policy team was frustrated by the military's cautious Powell Doctrine. As Clinton's Secretary of State and then UN Ambassador, Madeline Albright, angrily told Colin Powell, now Bush's Secretary of State and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "What's the point of having this superb military that you've always been talking about if we can't use it?"
What about Bush's unilateralism? Wouldn't Democratic imperialism be a little softer, more "globalist." Not hardly. It was Clinton's Secretary of State and Brzezinski protege, Madeline Albright, who told the UN Security Council in 1994 regarding Iraq: "We will act multilaterally when we can, unilaterally when we must." And thus under Clinton the US bypassed the Security Council to impose regime change by military force on Iraqi Kurdistan, Kosovo, and Serbia.
How about Bush's domestic repression? The Clinton/Reno anti-crime and anti-terrorism bills instituted more than 50 new death penalties, emaciated habeus corpus, militarized domestic policing, gutted posse comitatus, legalized FBI and CIA domestic political spying, expanded the drug war, and subsidized expansion of the prison/industrial complex. The Clintonites sent in Delta Force to make sure the heads of anti-WTO demonstrators were cracked in Seattle. The post 9-11 detention of thousands without trial, any kind of hearing, or access to lawyers was done under the statutory authority of Clinton's Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act on 1996. The USA PATRIOT Act just expands this repressive authority further, again with the votes of the majority of Congressional Democrats.
Well, maybe the Democrats aren't as extreme about as Bush on domestic economic policy? Here again there is a basic bipartisan consensus. Carter initiated the neoliberal turn as the bipartisan consensus switched from military Keynesianism to military neoliberalism. Though neoliberalism is cloaked in the egalitarian sounding rhetoric of free markets, the reality is state enforcement of greater inequality: welfare for the corporate rich (investment incentives in theory) and hardship for workers (to motivate higher productivity in theory).
Today's corporate scandals are a legacy of Clinton's financial deregulation, media monopolization a legacy of his deregulatory
telecommunications act, the loss of 2 million jobs a legacy of NAFTA and the other trade deals Clinton made that are sending US manufacturing and backroom service jobs to cheap labor markets overseas. Bush's biggest contribution to the neoliberal agenda has been his tax cuts for the rich, which the Democrats enabled by declaring it a "victory" to pair down their size somewhat.
This bipartisan consensus is forged by the corporate ruling class through its media ownership and financing of publications, broadcasts, think tanks, and its two political parties, Democratic and Republican. To be sure, there are tactical differences within this consensus. No doubt the ruling class is split about Bush. Many of them are worried about the economic irrationality of the latest tax cuts, the destabilizing consequences of throughout the Middle East and Europe of the military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Bush's pandering to the domestically destabilizing social agenda of the Christian fundamentalists. And this faction of the corporate rich will support a Democratic version of the bipartisan consensus, the Slick Soft-Right of a Clinton rather than the Crude Hard-Right of a Bush Jr.
But that is their fight, not ours!
Our fight is to get our alternatives into public debate in the 2004 election: -- cooperative security instead of the US as global occupation force, -- renewable energy instead of oil imperialism, -- economic security through national health care, guaranteed income above poverty, jobs for all at living wages, fair trade, and progressive taxes instead of the neoliberal regime of motivating the poor with hardships to work harder and the rich with corporate welfare to invest, -- economic production in an ecologically sustainable balance with nature instead of endless growth through environmental marauding by the military-industrial complex; -- repealing repressive laws to restore civil liberties and dismantle the prison-industrial complex instead of PATRIOT Acts and drug wars, -- a multi-party system founded on proportional representation and public funding of public elections instead of a state-sanctioned, corporate-financed two-party system with two right wings.
Our fight is to get as many votes as we can for the Green Party candidates for the Presidency, House, and Senate. The more votes we get, the more seriously our alternatives will be taken by the public and the more we will be able to further organize and mobilize around them.
One thing is certain. These alternatives will not be heard without a Green campaign. We will not have the vehicle needed to organize people around real alternatives. If the Left tails the lesser-evil Democrat again, which has been the dominant strategy of what passes for a Left in the US since most of it collapsed into the New Deal coalition in 1936, the whole debate will shift further to the Right again.
Let us clear up some fantasies about Kucinich. The other candidates are clearly pro-war, pro-corporate candidates. But Sharpton and Kucinich sound progressive.
Sharpton, as we in NY know, is playing for patronage. That is what he did with his senatorial and mayoral campaigns. He wants to be the black political broker for patronage to the black political class. We know from his history that he will more likely support a Republican to spite Democrats who snub him than a Green. We should definitely keep the door open to his supporters and even to Sharpton himself, but let us not be naïve about what his objectives are in the Democratic presidential primaries.
Kucinich sounds like Nader on his policy proposals. But he is not running for president. He is running to build his national stature and fund base to get ready to run for US Senate from Ohio. He will pull out no later than Super Tuesday next March 2 in order to file in Ohio in time to run for re-election to Congress in 2004.
But Kucinich is not like Nader in that he opposed independent politics and the Green Party.
"I have no interest in a third party candidacy. None," says Kucinich. "I want to do it the other way -- bring third party candidates into the [Democratic] Party and get support in the primaries." -- Ruth Conniff, "The Peace Candidate," The Progressive, April 2003
[Kucinich] recently told the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "The Democratic Party created third parties by running to the middle. What I'm trying to do is to go back to the big tent so that everyone who felt alienated could come back through my candidacy." -- CounterPunch, April 2003
The second quote is particularly important to think about. He does not say take the Democratic Party away from its corporate rulers. Rather he wants to bring the wayward Greens into coalition with the Democratic Party's corporate rulers in a "big tent." The whole point of the Greens as an INDEPENDENT party is our independence from the corporate rulers. We want to build a coalition of all of the popular constituencies that are exploited and oppressed by the corporate rulers. That's a big enough tent to win elections. But it's a different tent than the one Kucinich wants to build.
Inside the Democratic Party, the Left enters into coalition as subordinate partners with the very corporate rulers who are violently committed to maintaining the system the Left presumably wants to transform.
When the Left supports the Democrats, it commits suicide and disappears. The Left surrenders its voice in the election to the Democrats, who will then triangulate Right to cut into the Republican vote. The Left surrenders its very identity as an alternative for a different world by supporting a (hopefully) lesser evil administration of the status quo.
We cannot rely on the Slick Soft-Right Democrats to fight the Crude Hard-Right Republicans. The Democrats haven't done it during the first two and half years of the Bush administration. There is no good reason to start relying on them now. The best defense against the Hard Right is not defensive support for a Softer Right, but a strong offensive around a real campaign for a progressive alternative.
The minute the Greens fail to mount a serious campaign (whether by openly supporting a Democrat as the lesser evil or doing it backhandedly by staging a "strategic" campaign of not competing in swing states) is the minute the public will stop taking the Greens seriously. What little leverage Kucinich and Sharpton may now have to push the debate to the Left will vanish as the Democrats are then free to take votes to their Left for granted.
Cynthia McKinney is the future of progressives in the Democratic Party. She is the poster child for what Democrats do to their progressives. When the Democratic Leadership Council and the AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Commission) targeted her for defeat because she had the temerity to call for justice for Palestinians, the Democratic leadership ran away from her, from Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, and John Lewis in her home town of Atlanta to Jesse Jackson Sr., Terry McAulliffe, and Bill Clinton
nationally. They let a Republican judge who supported right-wing fundamentalist Alan Keyes in the 2000 Republican primaries re-register as a Democrat and beat McKinney with Republican votes in Georgia's open primary system.
The spoiler argument against a Green run for president is garbage. The Democrats spoiled the election by, first of all, offering a phony
alternative to the Republicans. And then the Democrats spoiled their own election by not fighting for what they had won in Florida. Contrary to the Nader-Elected-Bush refrain of the Anybody-But-Bush Democrats, Nader probably helped Gore beat Bush in the popular vote. Analysts as different as Alexander Cockburn on the Left and Al From, chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, on the Democratic Right, note that exit polling data show that Gore did better with Nader in the race than he would have without Nader. While From uses this data to preposterously counsel Democrats to ignore their Left and run to the Right, Cockburn's explanation is obviously more persuasive: Nader's campaign forced Gore to articulate some populist, anti-corporate themes that brought many
disillusioned Democrats back into the fold. Without Nader in the race, these Democrats would not have voted, and many of Nader's voters would not have voted either.
A Green campaign in 2004 doesn't have to win the presidency to define the debate, move it to the Left, and begin to undermine Bushism, which is to say, the bipartisan policy consensus. Truman made his remarkable comeback to beat Dewey by stealing Wallace's thunder and campaigning on the Progressive Party's economic and social agenda. Perot's 19% in 1992 made
budget balancers out of both corporate parties and set the course for federal budget policies in the 1990s. To define the debate, the Green campaign just has to be serious about getting every vote it can in every state.
At the least, that kind of campaign makes the Greens a threat to "spoil" the Democratic side the two-party charade and thus compels attention to our campaign. Much better would be a double-digit vote percentage, which could leverage some reforms during the next administration and lay the foundation for further gains at all levels in future elections.
Nothing would be more dispiriting for progressives than a self-defeating, defensive campaign for a pro-war, pro-corporate Democrat. And nothing would be more inspiring than an all-out Green presidential campaign for what we believe in. That kind of Green campaign could be a rallying point for progressives and social movements and begin to turn the tide against the pro-war, pro-corporate bipartisan consensus.
Howie Hawkins Biographical Sketch
(adapted from http://www.nygreens.org/howie.htm)
Howie Hawkins, 50, of Syracuse has been active in movements for peace, justice, the environment, and independent progressive politics since the late 1960s. He was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 and the Green Party in the United States in 1984. He currently is one of the New York representatives to the GPUS Coordinating Committee, and he is President of the Green Alliance (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GreenAllianceUSA) -- an organization dedicated to replacing capitalism with eco-socialism.
The New York Green Party ran Hawkins for State Comptroller in 1998 and 2002. Hawkins has also been the Green Party's candidate for Syracuse Common Council, Syracuse Mayor, Onondaga County Executive, and U.S. Congress from Syracuse. --Mark Knapp
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