[Marxism] Marc Cooper on the DP convention

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 22 11:54:06 MDT 2004

(Talk about cognitive dissonance. Marc Cooper, one of the most strident 
anti-Nader voices, practically makes the case for Nader in this baleful 
account of the upcoming DP convention. Meanwhile, this issue of the LA 
Weekly contains an article by Micah Sifry--referred to below by 
Cooper--who I had a dust-up with the other day over the Nader question. 
Co-written with Nancy Watzman, it takes aim at the cash big corporations 
are showering on delegates to make sure they have a grand old time, 
which leads them to opine, "By hosting all these lavish parties, they 
get to cajole lawmakers up close and nurture social relationships that 
will pay off with phone calls returned and bills favorably written down 
the line." Sounds like that Reform Party hobgoblin, Ralph Nader, doesn't 

LA Weekly, JULY 23 - 29, 2004

The Boston Braying Party
The Democratic Convention misses the point
by Marc Cooper

Writing in The Wall Street Journal recently, Publishers Weekly news 
editor Steven Zeitchik neatly coined the term “flockumentary” to 
describe such films as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and Robert 
Greenwald’s Outfoxed. These are movies, he said, that people attend en 
masse, “to nestle together in easy confirmation of their most cherished 
beliefs,” an act of reaffirmation and self-validation rather than 
enlightenment or education.

Now the same flock is about to get fleeced by that biggest of 
made-for-TV extravaganza productions, the mother of all 
schlockumentaries — this coming week’s Democratic National Convention. 
The twist is that the faithful will bah and bray approval, this time of 
a script they don’t really agree with very much at all, if they even 
know it. No easy confirmation here of their more prized values and 
priorities. But the show must go on anyway.

In this year’s Democratic campaign, nearly all the energy, the political 
pop and electoral effervescence, has come from the party’s left: from 
the Deaniacs, the Moore worshipers, the anti-war protesters and the 
Orthodox legions of MoveOn.org. While Presumed Nominee Kerry was 
mumbling as usual these past months about staying the course, the folks 
really bringing it on — campaignwise — were all these lefties. Take them 
out of the mix, and this year’s Democratic campaign falls as flat as . . 
. well . . . your average Kerry stump speech.

But the sad irony of this Democratic left is that it arrives at the 
Boston convention utterly powerless and mostly ignored. Check out Micah 
Sifry and Nancy Watzman’s piece in these same pages this week to see 
just who — among banks, telecommunication companies, Big Pharma and, 
yes, even Big Tobacco — has coughed up $39 million to finance Democratic 
Convention doings and to buy the meatiest slabs of insider influence.

For months lefty standard-bearer Congressman Dennis Kucinich sustained 
his lonely campaign (I think it is still going on!) and, when asked by 
many — including yours truly — what the point of it was, he and his 
supporters answered that they were patiently building up forces to take 
to the convention. You know, peasants with pitchforks — progressives 
with clove cigarettes, ready to lay siege to the centrist establishment 
and make the voice of “the movement” mightily heard.

But when the party platform committee met last week, Kucinich 
immediately surrendered his fight to include a plank for immediate 
American troop withdrawal from Iraq. Not because Kucinich “sold out” — 
as some of his more knuckleheaded acolytes now whine. But rather because 
Kucinich made a cool-headed appraisal of the real balance of forces 
inside his own party and rightfully concluded he didn’t have a prayer 
(which, by the way, re-floats the question of what his campaign was 
about anyway).

So, as the curtain rises next week in Boston, the simple operational 
principle will be, as always, money talks — dissidents, walk quietly to 
your seats and applaud the show. The assigned role of the assembled will 
be to serve merely as compliant props for the TV show. The biggest of 
American and staunchly pro-Democratic labor unions — the SEIU and AFSCME 
— have passed resolutions calling for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. And 
though they have given millions to the party, there will be no 
convention-floor debate on those resolutions, or on anything else, 
except if you want chicken or salmon for dinner that night. Stand up and 
cheer on cue, wave your signs up and down when the candidate appears, 
march around the floor a couple of times for the “spontaneous floor 
demonstrations.” If, however, you have something uncomfortable to say, 
step outside, please, and climb into one of those designated protest 
areas where you will be permitted to chant under the open sky to your 
heart’s content.

Or you can stay inside, or even watch at home on TV, and, with pen and 
paper in hand, keep score to see how many of your highest hopes are 
addressed. We already know there’s no difference between Kerry’s and 
Bush’s positions on Iraq. But listening closely to the proceedings 
(which promise us an Oprah-like intimate view into the persona and soul 
of John Kerry), maybe you can fish out what Kerry’s position is on 
national health care. Or what’s that big sweeping anti-poverty program 
he’s introducing? What’s his inspirational national-youth-service 
program that will tap into the post-9/11 cooperative mood he says Bush 
has squandered? Or maybe you can discern his position on free trade? His 
take on the Middle East? His plans regarding the Cuban embargo? When you 
do, just for the hell of it, note it down and let the rest of us know.


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