[Marxism] Alexander Cockburn: Democrats Richly Deserve Nader

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 23 11:43:19 MDT 2004


LA Times, July 22, 2004
COMMENTARY
Democrats Richly Deserve Nader
By Alexander Cockburn

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.

Of course, the Democrats richly deserve the challenge. Through the 
Clinton years the Democratic Party remained "united" in fealty to 
corporate corruption and class viciousness, so inevitably and 
appropriately the Nader-centered independent challenge was born, 
modestly in 1996, strongly in 2000 and now in 2004. 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…. Of course the roles are sometimes 
interchangeable. It was President Truman who broke the 1946 railroad 
strike, asked for legislation to conscript strikers and initiated the 
heavy fines against the miners' union."

There you have it: The laws — including the Taft-Hartley Act, supported 
by 106 Democrats in the House — that led to the destruction of organized 
labor were passed by bipartisan vote, something you will never learn 
from the AFL-CIO or from a thousand hoarse throats at Democratic rallies 
when the candidate is whoring for the labor vote. During President 
Clinton's years in office, union membership as a percentage of the 
workforce dropped because he did nothing to try to change laws or to 
intervene in disputes.

Clinton presided over passage of the North American Free Trade 
Agreement, insulting labor further with the farce of side agreements on 
labor rights that would never be enforced. By 1996 nearly half of all 
private employers were running aggressive anti-union drives, with 
familiar threats to relocate; less than 20% of private-sector workers 
trying to win a union contract got one.

And what does John Kerry propose to help workers? Raising the minimum 
wage to $7 an hour by 2007, which would bring a full-time worker up to 
two-thirds of the poverty level.

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.

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.

-- 

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