The Return of Al Gore? Red Nightmare, White Knight, Blue Balls (counerpunch)

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Tue Nov 26 20:24:47 MST 2002


CounterPunch



November 26, 2002

The Return of Al Gore?
Red Nightmare, White Knight, Blue Balls

by ANTHONY GANCARSKI

I guess there's just something in the air that makes me want to revisit
propaganda filmstrips. Recently, I had occasion to watch "The Red
Nightmare", a 1962 short about a Caucasian gentleman who dreamt about
living in a Sovietized America where folks were gunned down after mock
trials for deviationism and the like. Produced under the auspices of the
Department of Defense, the movie comprised a small part of the Kennedy
Administration's efforts to combat the monolithic Communist conspiracy; it
featured the oracular Jack Webb as on-screen narrator.

The America of the Red Nightmare was not a friendly place. It featured
soldiers standing sentry on downtown street corners. Entering private homes
without consent, to make searches likewise without invitation or sanction.
A militaristic mien amongst the unarmed citizenry, always looking to report
any outward expression of sedition to the proper authorities. The Amerika
of our hero's troubled sleep bears something of a resemblance to today's
United States -- we expect that our emails will be read, our keystrokes
monitored, our conversations overheard. If one proposes to his fiancée in
the K-MART parking lot, he can feel secure in the knowledge that video
documentation of that special invitation exists. We buy into the idea that
governmental surveillance is beneficial to our lives, with a hope that we
are being protected from someone.

But exactly who are we being protected from? Our "fellow Americans", strung
out on simple sugars and complex problem-sets, driven mad by living in a
land locked in thrall to fake teats and real guns? "Islamic
Fundamentalists" such as those thanked in the credits of RAMBO III --
PIPELINE TO FREEDOM? Lost in the relentless bleating in the mass media that
"everything is different since 9/11" is the central fact that the War on
Terror, the War on Drugs, and other related product-lines are rooted in the
federal government's own Sovietized dedication to overreach.

Perhaps the central government really isn't best equipped to address what
once were community concerns. Whatever one's feelings were on, say, Opium
Dens or personal misuse of laudanum, it was once assumed that Washington
had no salient interest in monitoring acts of individual consumption.
Similarly, it was not expected that the Armed Forces were intended to
police oil rigs off the coast of Africa. It is unavoidable that the
exponential rise of the federal government's role in the lives of Americans
is concurrent with an expansionist foreign policy, an expansionist prison
policy, and the purposeful undermining of social structures.

Never mind all that negativity, though. The Democrats have a solution to
these problems who very well could be ready to grace us once more with his
presence in 2004. If you believe THE NATION, it's time to get behind a
candidate who is every bit as personable and principled as he is electable.
Yes, that bulwark of acceptable progressivism has yet again joined the NEW
REPUBLIC in getting on the Al Gore bandwagon. As William Greider puts it,
the "winter book has Gore as odds-on favorite for the '04 nomination and
the recent refurbishings look like a smart play."

Oh, don't laugh. You thought of voting for him once, maybe. Perhaps you
entered the booth but were too hopped up on painkillers to punch the card
correctly. In any case, THE NATION seems bound and determined to ensure you
get a second opportunity to check the box next to the jackass. Two recent
articles perhaps best illustrate the magazine's dedication to Candidate
Gore and his quest for the presidency.

Ronnie Dugger, who delicately describes himself as "having played a role"
in the political ascension of Ralph Nader, was able to secure print
clearance for something called "Ralph, Don't Run". Undoubtedly, this is
just one of a series of pieces THE NATION will run in the next two years;
impassioned pleas to various people to step aside and let a Democrat take a
dive in a two-man race, as God apparently intended.

Dugger makes the expected arguments for his Judas kiss. What Bush has done
in the course of his Terror War, essentially, is "dramatically worse in
degree and kind" than what Gore may have done. Despite the incumbent
party's "empty campaign" in 2000, when it was running against someone who
was actually making populist arguments, Nader supporters from that bygone
era should argue against their own experience and work within the
Democratic Party, on the proposition that the Dems will fight for their
core convictions this time. Even as their nominee fought against those same
convictions last time, and so many times before that.

Of course, it's not for Ronnie Dugger to bring up those minor points of
history. Not when he's telling us that "progressives, and Senator John
McCain as well--know and say that both parties have sold the people and the
government to the highest bidder" as a prelude to telling us that "we don't
have the right" to support Nader "knowing it will help elect Bush". Talk
about your monolithic conspiracies! Never mind that there are Nader
supporters who wouldn't vote for Gore or his ilk under any circumstances;
apparently, those people don't exist in Ronnie Dugger's political calculus.

Of course, Mr. Dugger would see all kinds of nifty visions if he had a toke
of what his colleague William Greider was smoking when he wrote "Gore
Story". Apparently, Mr. Greider finds it "promising" that Candidate Gore
has vowed to "speak from the heart and let the chips fall where they may".
In the face of what Ronnie Dugger represents as an "emergency that has
materialized as if in a nightmare", progressives are to turn their
attention to ensuring that single-payer health insurance is part of the
Democratic platform in 2004. Even as Greider himself concedes that the
party's "platforms are empty because they belong entirely to the insiders."

Left unaddressed by both authors are numerous key points. Like why anyone
should bust his ass for a Democratic Party that will sell him out,
inescapably, for the interest of one corporate donor or another. Or why we
should expect the current version of Al Gore to be replete with the heart,
conviction, and moral fiber previous versions lacked. Those questions are
not for such as Dugger and Greider -- or even Eric Alterman -- to consider.
The role of such journalists is a time-honored one. To ask those of us with
political consciousness to blind our eyes for one more election cycle. So
that we can trust their candidates to tell us the truth about what "our"
government is doing to us, one more time, only to find that trust betrayed
so often that the betrayal finally cannot be forgiven. For every Kucinich
in the Democratic Party, there is a Lieberman, a Bob Graham, or a John
Breaux; a shadowy figure of the center much more willing to start wars than
to end them. It is time for us to break with this Democratic Party, once
and for all, leaving it to its fate. Just as it has left us.

Anthony Gancarski, a regular contributor to CounterPunch, recently had his
work recognized in Utne Reader's "Web Watch". Email him at
Anthony.Gancarski at attbi.com.

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