[Marxism] Fwd from Bill Totten: Counterpunch on Right Wing Duopoly
james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Fri Aug 27 00:21:57 MDT 2004
Why Perot Was the Last Serious Challenger of the Politcal Duopoly
by Adrian Kuzminsky, Counterpunch (August 18 2004)
John Kerry's pro-Wall Street, pro-war, anti-labor, anti-middle class,
right-wing presidential campaign may be the final nail in the coffin
of the American political process. The shutdown of American politics,
now complete, has long been in the making, going back at least to the
trainwreck of the Democratic Party over Vietnam at its 1968 national
convention. Up until then, the Democratic Party stood clearly if
imperfectly for greater social justice, as manifest in the civil rights
and social legislation of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, and the New
Deal before that, and it commanded the majoritarian electoral power
necessary to deliver the goods.
The crisis of Vietnam shattered the coalition of neo-imperialist cold
warriors and social activists which had sustained the Democratic Party
for a generation after World War II. In the McGovern campaign in 1972,
the social activist wing seized control of a shrunken party while the
neo-imperialists and cold warriors began their drift to the right.
McGovern's humiliating defeat confirmed the new minority status of
the Democratic Party.
The political vacuum was filled by a reenergized conservative movement
focusing on patriotism, 'free enterprise', and a militarily reassertive
America. Shocked by the Vietnam defeat and the 'excesses' of the
counterculture of the 1960s, wealthy political conservatives like
Richard Mellon Scaife, Lynde and Harry Bradley, John Olin, Joseph Coors,
David and Charles Koch and others, funded a series of foundations,
publications, university chairs, and media outlets to promote the free
enterprise system, corporate power, and renewed American leadership in
the world. (See "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a
Brief History", by Lewis H Lapham, Harpers, September, 2004.)
As a result, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute,
the Cato Institute, the Howard Pew Freedom Trust, the Business
Roundtable, and later, entities like Fox News and conservative talk
radio, succeeded in redefining political discourse in America in favor
of the conservative agenda. The alliance with religious fundamentalists
- who were left out of the progressive New Deal-Great Society coalition
- beginning with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, ensured a grassroots
base for corporate power and an uncritical sympathy for right-wing
Israeli governments. At the same time, southern voters (many of then
fundamentalists) alienated by the civil rights commitments of the old
Democratic party, moved into the Republican Party, a development
heralded by Nixon's southern electoral strategy.
The minority status of the Democratic Party was disguised by its
lingering control of Congress (until 1994) and the fluke election
(thanks to Ross Perot) of Bill Clinton. Social activists and
progressives of various sorts remained the party's base, even as party
leaders, embodied in the Democratic Leadership Council, sensing the
limited electoral appeal of the progressive agenda, steadily drifted to
the right. Their failure to rearticulate a compelling vision of social
justice and democracy sealed the party's fate. Conservative attacks on
'big government', and their promotion of 'deregulation' not only of much
of the economy but of campaign financing, solidified the corruption of
the political process. As early as the Carter years, conservatives
captured the leadership of the Democratic as well as the Republican
parties, and created the two-party, right-wing duopoly which now
The right-wing duopoly is now virtrually impervious to challenge, as the
careers of figures as diverse as Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Howard Dean,
and Denis Kucinich demonstrate. Kerry's right-wing campaign for
president, echoing the exploitative domestic and aggressive foreign
policies of Bush, confirms the end of meaningful political discourse in
the United States. There are simply no remaining effective instruments
of political action available to the restless masses, who are probably
a majority of the country, and most of whom, as a result, no longer
participate in the political process at all.
Voting for Kerry is marginally better than voting for Bush, or wasting
a vote for Nader. But it's rather like voting for Marius and Caesar
(the Democrats) rather than Sulla and Pompey (the Republicans). A more
benevolent despot is always better than a less benevolent one, but
despotism it remains all the same. Can we pretend otherwise any longer?
What is likely is the continued consolidation of the right-wing duopoly,
most evident in the erosion of civil liberties and the war on terrorism.
Somewhere along the line, America lost its political freedom without
even realizing it. The last meaningful opposition to the duopoly was
perhaps Ross Perot's presidential candidacy in 1992. His presence in
the presidential debates and his subsequent garnering of almost twenty
percent of the vote - in spite of dropping out of the race and then
reentering it - may be the most underappreciated event in recent
American political history. Perot was no social activist liberal, but
he showed what an open political process might achieve. Afterward,
the duopoly regrouped and created a rigged, 'bi-partisan', corporate-
sponsored debate commission dedicated to making sure that no third party
candidate would ever again enjoy such exposure to the voters.
The coming darkness is the eclipse of American political freedom and the
unchecked reign of a venal, arrogant, and ignorant ruling class. Onerous
as its depredations at home are likely to be, even more omnious is its
immoral, illegal, and criminal policy of preemptive war abroad - a
policy fully endorsed by Kerry. There is no end to the war on terrorism,
since a terrorist is increasingly defined as anyone who opposes the
duopoly at home or abroad.
It has always been madness to try to remould the world in one's image,
as we see most recently in the war in Iraq, but it is a vastly greater
madness in a nuclear age. The lesson of 9/11 was that resentments born
of decades if not centuries of perceived wrongs will find their target
if those wrongs are not addressed. The ultimate equalizer, in our time,
is the nuclear bomb and this the terrorists will sooner or later obtain
and use if they continue to be provoked. This will be the final, bitter
fruit of the loss of our political freedom, and it will be made the
ultimate justification for the tyranny now established upon us.
In a dark age, it is the responsibility of those who care about things
like political freedom and democracy to struggle to ensure that those
values somehow survive and are transmitted to future generations, even
if they can no longer play an effective public role, much as the monks
of the middle ages preserved the learning of antiquity for a better day.
That day will come, but likely not in our time.
Adrian Kuzminski is Research Scholar in Philosophy at Hartwick College
in Oneonta, New York, and a former official of the Green Party in New
Please also see:-
"Where have all the children of the left gone?"
by Nick Cohen, New Statesman (August 16 2004)
"Democrats' Pro-war Nominee Difficult to Explain"
by R W Bradford, Seattle Times Op-Ed (August 18 2004)
"The Single Party"
by Joseph Sobran, Sobran.com (July 27 2004)
Bill Totten http://www.ashisuto.co.jp/english/
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