The 2012 presidential campaign is already upon us, and that makes this a propitious moment to discuss America’s slide down an ever steeper slope. Next year we will be asked to decide between two major parties which differ only stylistically. One side exults in ignorance and mean spirited bigotry. The other appeals to and attracts a seemingly more intelligent crowd who would rather die than vote for someone who proclaims themselves to be part of the mean, stupid group.
It doesn’t matter that their president is embarking on war of aggression a la George W. Bush. Their president is smarter. While Republicans openly appeal to the lowest common denominator by voting to declare that climate change isn’t real, the president of the pinky in the air, intellectual crowd supports lies about “clean” coal and the safety of oil drilling and nuclear energy.
He is a former law professor who writes his own books and speeches while his predecessor was a yahoo who was easily the butt of jokes. No matter that the smarty pants president extends tax cuts to the rich, starts wars, and claims the right to put anyone behind bars based on his whims. In other words, because he is a Democrat he can do anything, no matter how hostile to the public interest, and still be considered better than any Republican.
Yes, the Republicans have once again made political theater their specialty. They move from denying immigrants their rights, to stoking fears of Muslims and non-existent Sharia law, to making warfare on female sexuality and reproductive rights. Yet at the end of the day we must remember that this is, in fact, just theater. The issue of real importance to them is maintaining the empire, and that means destroying what little is left of the rights of all citizens, and empowering corporations and wealthy individuals even more.
Democrats are equally complicit in carrying out these dirty deeds. It is time to declare that votes for Democratic presidential candidates put the American people no closer to getting justice or fairness from their political system. There should be no hesitation in saying that it is acceptable not to vote for Democratic candidates, including one Barack Obama. He knows that he must throw Democrats the occasional bone, and he enters office signing the Lettie Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. If nothing else he is shrewd, and just when he hears grumbling about his lackluster ability to deliver for his base, he does away with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Anyone who questions the Obama record will be reminded of the occasional victory for progressives and will then be told that there was nothing else to be had. But the abilities of the Democrats to deliver for their constituents are not as meager as they would have us believe. The appointment of a Latina Supreme Court justice, or the end of gay discrimination in the military are laudable, but don’t make up for the other outrageous behaviors and actions.
The imperatives of empire go ever forward, and Republican efforts to end Medicare differ from Democrats only in that they are upfront about their intentions. After all, it is Barack Obama who appointed a commission to investigate entitlement “reform.” Social Security and Medicare don’t need reform, they need to be defended, in particular by the Democrats, and truly remain the “third rail of politics,” left off the table when discussion turns to cutting what little remains of a safety net for Americans.
The argument in favor of keeping Democrats in power should have lost all power by now. Even when Democrats win, they refuse to do anything that would keep voters in their corner. The Obama landslide of 2008 was followed by the shellacking of 2010 and the loss of the House. Control of the Senate doesn’t seem to mean much, because Obama refuses to use it to push a Democratic agenda. Anything that might have been called a success was off the table and Obama did what he does best, find ways to give Republicans what they want while telling Democrats that he can do nothing for them.
If he wins again we have nothing better to look forward to. A Democratic president, Senate and House were unwilling to protect ACORN or to present a single payer health care plan, stop endless wars abroad or the continued bail out of the banking system.
What should the Democratic “base” do to keep their issues on the agenda? It is simple. We must stop being the base of the Democratic Party. The lesser of two evils is still evil and lately, Democrats aren’t much less evil anyway. The discussion must be how to proceed without the Democrats, not continuing to take the same actions and expecting a different result.