Alexander Cockburn has a piece in today's Los Angeles Times that is sure to boil the blood of all liberals.
Always partial to monopolies, the Democrats think they should hold the exclusive concession on any electoral challenge to George W. Bush and the Republicans. The Ralph Nader campaign prompts them to hysterical tirades. Republicans are more relaxed about such things. Ross Perot and his Reform Party actually cost George H.W. Bush his reelection in 1992, yet Perot never drew a tenth of the abuse that Nader does now.How little has changed in 55 years! But I digress.
Of course, the Democrats richly deserve the challenge. . . .
The rationale for his challenges has been as sound as that of Henry Wallace was half a century earlier. I quote from "The Third Party," a pamphlet by Adam Lapin published in 1948 in support of Wallace and his Progressive Party. "The Democratic administration carries the ball for Wall Street's foreign policy. And the Republican Party carries the ball for Wall Street's domestic policy . . ."
Let us suppose that a Democratic candidate arrives in the White House, at least rhetorically committed to reform, as happened with Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Clinton in 1993. Both had Democratic majorities in Congress. Battered from their first weeks over unorthodox nominees and for any deviation from Wall Street's agenda in their first budgets, both had effectively lost any innovative purchase on the system by the end of their first six months, and there was no pressure from the left to hold them to their pledges. By the end of April 1993, Clinton had sold out the Haitian refugees, put Israel's lobbyists in charge of Mideast policy, bolstered the arms industry with a budget in which projected spending for 1993-94 was higher in constant dollars than average spending in the Cold War, put Wall Street in charge of national economic strategy, sold out on grazing and mineral rights on public lands and plunged into the "managed care" disaster.Now I wouldn't go as far as Cockburn does, but do note that there is not a whit's worth of difference between the foreign policies of Bush and Kerry. The Republicans are downright scary on domestic issues, with the budget, tax cuts and labor policy being at the top of my list, but Kerry is only marginally better.
One useful way of estimating how little separates the parties, and particularly their presidential nominees, is to tote up some of the issues on which there is tacit agreement, either as a matter of principle or with an expedient nod and wink that these are not matters suitable to be discussed in any public forum: the role of the Federal Reserve; trade policy; economic redistribution; the role and budget of the CIA and other intelligence agencies; nuclear disarmament; allocation of military procurement; reduction of the military budget; the roles and policies of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and kindred multilateral agencies; the war on drugs; corporate welfare; energy policy; the destruction of small farmers and ranchers; Israel.
In the face of this conspiracy of silence, the more independent challenges the better. Nader is doing his duty.
Is "marginally better" on domestic policy worth connecting the arrows for Kerry on November 2, knowing that his foreign policy might actually be worse than Bush's? I'll let you decide that for yourselves.