[Marxism] Echoes of Kennedy-Nixon: Bush-Kerry-Nader in 2004

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Mar 23 20:03:04 MST 2004

John Kerry's campaign against Bush is  beginning to remind me of the 
1960 Kennedy campaign against Nixon in 1960.  With the liberal and
"peace" vote sewed up on the basic theme of "anybody but Nixon," Kennedy
was free to campaign on the need for a massive nuclear buildup (the
claim that a "missile gap" had developed in favor of the Soviet Union
under the Eisenhower administration) and the need for a stepped-up drive
to topple the Cuban revolution. 

Kerry calls for maintaining the current US occupation of Iraq,
Afghanistan, and Haiti. He is now criticizing the administration for not
taking further action against Venezuela, while complaining about the
"troop gap," the need for a much bigger US military force, possibly
including (though he will not say so before November) the draft. 

Kerry knows that at present, with modest exceptions, antiwar forces will
vote for him no matter what. He has been bolstered for overtures to the
right by the hysterical campaign of some liberals and leftist against
Nader (and anyone else who might follow suit) for offering an
alternative for people who have just about had it with the Republicans
and Democrats. 

The attacks on Nader were an open invitation to Kerry to shift rightward
in the election, and treat the left vote as in his pocket -- and some of
the liberals who blasted Nader probably understand the dynamic.  After
all, the Nation, which is leading the Stop Nader forces has been
representing various incarnations of middle-class liberalism for well
over a century now. They have been around the block a few times. 

After all, given the dynamics of US capitalist two-party politics, isn't
it NECESSARY for Kerry to move rightward to win the election, using his
anti-Vietnam war record to lend moral credibility to this shift? And
shouldn't Anybody But Bush try to defeat Evil Incarnate (Bush, of
course) BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY? Of course. 

That's really the why of the attack on Nader. To get him out of the way
or marginalize him so that he places no pressure on Kerry to adopt left
positions in order to counter Nader.  Some of Nader's critics, for
example, blame him for putting pressure on Gore to take a populist-type
stance, thus making it easier for Bush to win more conservative voters.
The debate isn't just about who voted for Nader but about what Gore had
to do, and what Kerry might feel pressured to do, prevent more from
doing so.  These are part of the pressures that help US mainstream
politics shift incrementally almost constantly to the right, despite
shifts in public opinion that are often in the opposite direction. 

Thus, instead of waiting until he is in office, he is able to reach out
right now to the growing body of hawkish forces -- generals and former
generals, big business think-tankers, and even conservative ideologists
-- who think that Bush has been carrying out the "war against terrorism"
in the wrong way, or not adapting quickly enough to the need to modify
(or perhaps not capable of modifying) his tactics.  He is identifying
himself with their view that such projects as toppling the Syrian or
Iranian governments, dealing blows to the Palestinian people, defeating
the popular movement in Venezuela (which is shaping up as a big
challenge to the domination of the Americas by US big business), and
isolating Cuba needs a new face, a credibility which hasn't been
destroyed by the exposures about the WMD, and a m

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