A letter to three Democrats: it isn’t about you

Let’s take a moment to think about a particularly disconcerting “what if.” What if a Republican wins in November? What if we’re looking at four (probably eight) more years of Bush-like governance? What will that mean? What will it do to progressive dreams? To the nation as a whole? 

There’s actually no mystery to the answer. Whatever else one may accuse the Republican candidates of, one thing they’re clean as a whistle on is giving fair notice of the truly radical nature of their agenda (the same radical agenda, of course, we’ve been living under for the past seven years).

What will that mean? Well, here are just a few things:

– It will mean a Supreme Court with not just four radical Scalia-style right wing judicial activists (with a fifth justice who usually, but not always, goes along with them), but six, seven or even eight such justices. An ultra-reactionary Supreme Court of a type not seen in this country for 70 years, a Court happy to use principles of federalism to strike down federal legislation designed to protect workers, consumers and the environment, but equally happy to ignore federalism in order to strike down state statutes passed to achieve these same ends.

– It will mean war without end in Iraq. Year after year of staggering human loss. Year after year of treasure, desperately needed here at home, being thrown into a black hole of stupidity. A waste of resources that will gradually sap this nation of its greatness.

– It will mean more wars like Iraq — maybe against Iran, maybe Syria, maybe even North Korea, as the neoconservatives continue to double down on a losing bet.

– It will mean an America that gradually grows less free, as we continue to be led by people who see fear as a political opportunity, rather than a common nemesis to be expunged. 

– It will mean ever increasing inequality between the rich and the poor, with ever fewer Americans enjoying a standard of living that falls between the two extremes.

– It will mean Americans living in an increasingly undemocratic society as the growing wealth inequality carries with it increasing political inequality.

– It will mean the end of reproductive choice for women.

– It will mean a United States that continues to sabotage efforts to address global warming until, quite possibly, it will be too late to prevent an almost unthinkable worst case scenario (assuming it isn’t already too late).

To borrow from Rick in the movie Casablanca, it isn’t hard to see that the desires for high office of three little candidates in this crazy world don’t amount to a hill of beans. Yet, right now, by making this campaign profoundly  personal in the pursuit of individual glory, and in the process seeding anger deep into the heart and soul of the base of the Democratic Party, these three candidates are sabotaging our best chance to snuff out this nightmare. And that is nothing less than irresponsibility of historic proportions. It must stop now.

And no, I don’t think the three major candidates bear equal blame. Anyone who has been reading my posts knows where I think the majority of the blame lies, even if none of the three have been angels.    

But you know, as a litigation lawyer I’ve seen a lot of tragic outcomes. And at the end of the day, regardless of which driver, for example, was at fault in a fatal accident, everyone is still as dead.

And in case you think I’m exaggerating the danger here, let me tell you what set me off on this rant. About an hour ago a good friend of mine came to visit: he’s a longtime Democrat, of the hard-boiled school. He likes a good fight — the sort of person who can admire the skill behind of an expertly placed political knife in the back.

Here’s what this hard-boiled politico said to me: “Steve, when the nomination is settled, you need to take me aside to remind me of why I have to vote Democratic. Because I’ve got to tell you, right now I can’t see how I can vote for Hillary Clinton.  I just don’t like her. I used to, but after the debate, I just don’t anymore.”

I have no doubt whatsoever that conversations just like this are happening all across the country. Sometimes the object of the anger is Hillary Clinton, sometimes it’s Barack Obama.  In the case of Edwards’s supporters, I’m sure sometimes it’s both of the above.

This campaign has gone past the point of people taking it personally. It’s becoming the kind of taking something personally that engenders anger that will still be with many people come the general election. And have no doubt: that is precisely the sort of thing that could put a Bush-style Republican back into the White House. And if you don’t think so, you’re not paying attention.

God damn it, at the end of the day, this isn’t about any of these three candidates. It’s about leading America back onto the path of greatness. And to the extent that all three of the leading candidates have made it about them at a personal level, they’ve all already failed the party, not to mention the nation.

The time to step back from the brink is now. Once the nomination has been settled, it will be way too late.  

Update:  I need to add something. Many commentators, in defending the current epidemic of Democratic primary hardball politics, point out that if the three leading candidates in general — and Obama in particular — can’t handle intra-party attacks — then it’s unlikely they’ll (or he’ll) be able to handle the much more ferocious attacks sure to come from the other side in the general election. This is true, but it’s also beside the point to what I’m saying.

The problem here isn’t that the candidates are being abused; it’s that many of their supporters are becoming irreconcilably angry at the other candidates, one of whom may be the nominee. That, obviously, won’t be a concern in the general election. We don’t care how angry our people get at the GOP nominee. 

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16 Responses to “A letter to three Democrats: it isn’t about you”

  1. www.buzzflash.net Says:

    A letter to three Democrats: it isn’t about you…

    God damn it, at the end of the day, this isn’t about any of these three candidates. It’s about leading America back onto the path of greatness….

  2. commonsense Says:

    The Bush administration has been a disaster, but that does not mean ANY Democratic administration would be better. All these doomsday scenarios don’t fly. Republicans predicted equally dire things when Clinton was elected. I for one will be not stampeded into supporting Hilarious Clinton on any terms. If the Democratic Party wants to do itself and the rest of the country a favor they will stop the trashing of Barack Obama by a real bunch of sleazeballs and get down to the serious business of returning this country to the middle class. Anything else is sad commentary.

  3. lastbastionofreason Says:

    ABR! ABR! ABR! Both Obama and Clinton(s) have completely forgotten that the most important thing for the United States and the world, is that Anybody But a Repubican is the only thing that is important.
    I DON’T CARE IN THE LONG RUN, WHICH DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE GETS ELECTED. LET’S JUST GET THE ONE WHO CAN BEAT ANY REPUBLICAN. I do have a candidate which I support. And I will try to get that person chosen, but I will support any Democratic candidate to be elected President of the Untied States.
    Stop eating our young! Most American’s are sorely disappointed that after the 2006, with a mandate to get out of this war, to get this Administration to keeping their oaths of office to the Constitution, that they have done nothing! If you keep this in-fighting up, you will lose big. Not just the White House, but the Senate and House. Bigger than that, you will lose this world! You will lose our Rights. You will lose this country!
    JUST STOP! Do what is right, for US!
    Fight only against the Republicans. Any of you will be better than any of them. Fight against the last seven years and the fact that all of the Republican Candidates will continue these same policies. They will destroy US. They will destroy the world!
    Also, why is John Edwards being ignored, in the polls they take and the coverage, by the MSM? Should the MSM decide who is in and who is out? Kucinich should be covered also. Anyone who is running should be covered! The MSM will tell you that they only are covering the top ones, but that is not true on the Republican side. All of theirs are covered, even Thompson was covered up to the moment he withdrew because of lack of support. The MSM have way too much power and remember, they are all owned by Republicans. Demand that they cover the news, not decide what/who is news!
    Also, is anyone else bothered by the fact that FOX is the ONLY news covering the Democratic National Convention? They will feed to the others. But they will decide what to cover. Do you really think they will fairly cover this? Do you think they will have non Republican agents/reporters (don’t think they even have any of those) asking the fair questions?
    If our candidates can not stop their childish fighting, make sure that we the voters, we the citizens, remember that we are united against the Republicans. Work for your candidate, but stay together as Democrats!

  4. person Says:

    I have learned through experience, that even at the local level, things are run by the people who decide that they’re going to run things. The idea that this is a country run by the people is only true if the people make the effort to run the country. And that isn’t happening in this election, in spite of all the disasters of the Bush years. We couldn’t have a better example than the Clintons, the ultimate pushy power couple. It doesn’t matter to them what they have to do to win. They’ve swallowed the lessons of Rove/Bush whole.

    We need to keep in mind that a Clinton dual candidacy is the Republicans best shot at winning in November. Not only does it rally them but it depresses the Democratic base (literally).

    But more important we need to keep in mind what we want to happen in this country. Do we want the status quo? Or does something new have to happen. To me it’s single-payer healthcare, an end to imperial American foreign policy and real mobilization on saving the planet which requires breaking the grip of corporate power.

    None of those things are going to happen even if the Clintons get the nomination and win in November. Because they represent the status quo. Who runs this country? The people or the self-appointed?

  5. Chuck Says:

    Speaking of unintended consequences, (all that election stuff,) I urge everybody to go back and read Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” and think of “Ice-nine”.

  6. martin weiss Says:

    This un-America has been with us longer than seven years. Most recently it began during WWII, but the original founding of our government was necessary to limit the influence of big money over the lives of people who realized that political and economic freedom are two sides of the same coin.
    Remember, most of the big ranches were owned by British royalty. The East India and Hudson’s Bay Co.’s used assassins to enforce their contracts.

    Since WWII, the big money has been in munitions. Oddly, during the Civil War the Bush family sold munitions to both sides. They sold war materiel to Germany after the outbreaks of both WWI and WWII. Their fortune was founded by the transport of slaves, as was Lloyd’s of London.

    The only person to get away with naming this beast was Eisenhower. Read his farewell address. When Kennedy was talking about getting out of Vietnam and eliminating the CIA, he was shot. The “Defense” industry would have lost twelve billion dollars a month, which, in 1963, was real money.

    Another blogger accurately called what we now have the military-industrial-agribiz-international banking-big pharma-big oil complex. The result is the same as having a feudal state. We have barons, dukes and princes, but they exist at our consent.
    These forces have always been with us. America has not yet realized the promises of her founding documents. With that in mind, I recall the Chinese proverb: “ruling a large country is like cooking a small fish– very little stirring, else everything turns to paste.” For that reason, my vote will go to any Democrat. If that doesn’t work, more extreme measures may be indicated.

  7. RJHall Says:

    Actually, though, to borrow from Captain Renault in the movie Casablanca, the Democratic candidates, even at their best, just say “I am shocked, shocked, that there’s gambling going on here!” I mean, not only would the points on the list probably happen if a Republican were the next president, but also almost if not every one of the points on that list would STILL happen if one of the Democrats were the next president too, even if they occasionally pretend shock and speak out against some of them sometimes. War without end in Iraq is obvious for Hillary Clinton and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened for the others who now make promises (about pulling out some troops though not all military bases) to us too, since it is just too profitable for their powerbrokers for them to want to REALLY stop it just yet. None of the candidates even say they want to take war with Iran or anyone else off the table. None of the candidates really want to actually DO anything to REALLY end economic or political inequality. Even Al Gore, who negotiated the laughably ineffective Kyoto Protocol with its market-based mechanisms for emissions trading and carbon sinks that have not only not encouraged any polluter in the world to stop polluting but have actually allowed them to pollute more, wouldn’t actually DO anything that would REALLY help prevent climate catastrophes, since for him no less than the Democratic candidates, all solutions to environmental crisis that don’t make the rich richer and the poor poorer really are off the table. Abortion is almost unavailable in practice for most women in the U.S. anyway, whether or not Roe is explicitly overruled. Even on the Supreme Court, where it is obvious that Republican presidents would nominate more radical Scalia-style right wing judicial activists to replace the aging non-radical right wing justices, I’m not so sure anymore that Democratic presidents would do much better. I mean, Breyer and Ginsburg seem “liberal” compared to Scalia, but even 15 years ago they were as far left as Bill Clinton was able (and willing) to go, and these days probably even they wouldn’t be confirmed; there will certainly be no more Brennans or Thurgood Marshalls on the Supreme Court now or in the near future no matter who the president is. As Jeffrey Toobin remarked in his recent book “The Nine”, 20 years ago a prospective Supreme Court justice (Bork) was rejected because he was too far right, but under today’s political climate another prospective Supreme Court justice (Harriet Miers) had to withdraw her name because she couldn’t convince the political and religious powerbrokers that she was far enough to the right. So actually, I kind of suspect the list might be a good prediction for what will happen in the next few years no matter which face appears at the top of the U.S. government. Any changes would be matters of style, not substance: at future world climate conferences, maybe the E.U. and the U.S. would no longer play “good cop – bad cop” with the future of the planet if a Democrat were president of the U.S., but they would probably find some other show to perform to underline the same result of no real change or even progress. See, I can be cynical sometimes too! Move over, Chuck!

  8. doni76 Says:

    Listen guys, I am not a political genius nor am I a junky. But I do care about this country and where do we go from here. Look I understand your anger but this election is way too important to be too negative.

  9. junemcg Says:

    At this moment, I am so angry with HillBilly. I have decided that, should they win the nomination, I will not vote for them. I know this is helping the repugs win but I can not support this type of behavior. Will somone out there PLEASE tell Bill to go home and shut up? HillBill was right when she said they (Obama and Clinton) have strong spouses speaking for them but Michelle has NEVER been mean and nasty. She is calm and stays on message about what Barack will accomplish for US. She is not his attack dog like Bill is Hillarys. Bill, do we have to remind you of how you went on record as lying?

  10. beachbum08 Says:

    My husband & I have been talking about this, even before this last debate. Feel that the media leads the candidates into this via manner in which questions are asked, stories about their “toughness” etc. But the candidates do not have to play into the hands of the media, the Republilcans, and everyone else who benefits from maintaining status quo. The correct response to the provocative questions and stories is the main theme of this letter: “This 2008 election isn’t about me as a candidate. It is about America and making sure that we continue to assure that what makes America great, unique, and the best it can be is to elect a candidate who believes in America as a beacon of freedom and equality for all.” This letter should be sent to Clinton, Edwards, and Obama over and over again in hopes that some bright, insightful staffer will make sure that each candidate sees it.

  11. Marshalldoc Says:

    The disturbing thing about this thread is the disconnect between the immediacy of the issues we face in the upcoming election and the likelihood that any of the top 3 Democratic candidates will have the personal commitment to stand strong and take the unpopular, but absolutely necessary, actions needed to attempt and reverse the course of our ‘ship of state’.

    Clinton & Obama are, essentially, two sides of the same coin. They are old-school D.C. politics as usual and their willingness to indulge in old-school political mud-slinging as usual confirms it. They, neither of them, made the effort to attend the global warming debate or make it a central issue in their public campaigns… too likely to off-put the middle of the road to right-wing voters who still feel ‘the science isn’t in on global warming’ whom they hope to co-opt. Similarly, they’ve been less than straightforward regarding their commitment to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and there’s been no talk from them regarding the need to disconnect the military-industrial-congressional complex from the business of running our country. Much the same can be said of Edwards but with less emphasis.

    There’s no question that, in usual times – such as the 80’s & 90’s – the differences between Democratic candidates and Repug candidates were such that the differences between them amounted to highly significant issues (especially on the issues of civil rights and entitlements).

    We are faced with the issue of continuing to fund a disastrous war (both for the Iraqis, the American dead, wounded, and their families, and for the American economy as well) we can no longer afford and the issue of making the radical changes in our economy, living standards, and energy policy needed to make as timely as humanly possible approach to the threats of global warming.

    I submit that business as usual, politics as usual, candidates regardless of their differences on other, lesser (but in other times truly consequential) issues, will be inadequate to deal with the overriding challenges facing us and, consequently, they are all essentially the same. Their needs to make political allies, accept corporate funds, and the compromises necessary to ‘achieve consensus’ will prevent any effective address to the issues at hand.

    Thus, the only candidate willing to do those necessary things and take his issue to the people for their endorsement in the face of unwilling, unyielding, congresspeople, corporations, and the defense establishment is Dennis Kucinich. Although he’s been utterly marginalized by the press, the DLC, and the rest of the mainstream, he is the only candidate who is able to pursue the needed policies with the necessary vigor.

    We no longer have time for “politics as usual”.

  12. Enobie Says:

    You’re so right, Marshalldoc, “We no longer have time for ‘politics as usual.’” Our economy is about to hit the wall, energy is in crisis, the military-industrial complex has become the all-powerful force Ike warned us of—the problems are legion and mostly caused by our (meaning the USA) complacency, ineptness and chauvinism. There are solutions, but they will probably require more political will than we can muster.

    Read “The Long Emergency” and the rest of Kunstler’s writings for a taste of grim reality. Watch “What a way to go, life at the end of Empire” for a frightening wake up call. I’m not optimistic that any candidate from either party will be able to stem the inevitable. As Chuck replied above, the “Ice 9” is loose already and unless we, as a society, really start to understand that, I fear we’re doomed.

  13. alwayshope Says:

    We should remember that when we fight among ourselves, when we denigrate our candidates, when we doubt the resolve of our party and fear a loss, we play into the hands of the GOP. They have gained unprecedented power by being united. We risk losing only if we become single-issue, radical and uncompromising, in other words, like them. Our unity comes from purpose, not fear of division but we need to fear division.
    I think it was Will Rogers who said. “I don’t belong to any organized political party! I’m a Democrat.”
    Our diversity has been a strong point but there comes a time when we must declare ourselves as loyal to something we all have in common: the knowledge that we must defeat the republicans.
    This is just a preview of a very nasty race to come.
    I’ll vote for whoever wins the nomination and I’m not going to hold my nose if it’s Hillary or Obama, I’m going to proudly vote for a Democrat because I’m a Democrat, damn it.

  14. Buckywunder Says:

    “I’ll vote for whoever wins the nomination and I’m not going to hold my nose if it’s Hillary or Obama, I’m going to proudly vote for a Democrat because I’m a Democrat, damn it.”

    Um, that’s the problem right there. We have a Democrat here who doesn’t even recognize the third (or fourth) candidates in the race for the party nomination who would actually fight for them.

    As a Green Party member who swings Dem when they have a non-DLC candidate, I am more and more disgusted with the national party. It is completely controlled by Bob Shrum-Terry McCauliffe-James Carville types with ties to corporate donors who pull the strings — and NOTHING changes! Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are pawns.

    [I dare Clinton supporters to watch "Our Brand Is Crisis" where the James Carville, et. al. consultant group goes down to Bolivia to run the "status quo" candidate's campaign based completely on marketing and focus groups. Democracy is an afterthought. While their candidate just barely won, he screwed up the country so bad that he had to resign and a populist, worker took over and is now righting the ship along with Chavez in Venezuela and Lula in Brazil.]

    No one is held in contempt, no one is going to jail, no one is being impeached, no one has to face any, ANY responsibility for driving the rig known as the United States of America into the ditch. Now, granted this has been going on since the Carter administration (the Trilateral Commission? Anybody?), but I keep thinking that people will wake up to what’s going on. Right?


  15. crowmd Says:

    I’ll tell you what makes this campaign sad,and scary. The fact that all you get every day now for over a year!! Whenever you turn on ANY NEWS CHANNEL you get headlines like ” HILLARY SNUBS BLACK MAN!!” or “OBAMA LOOKS AT WHITE WOMAN!!”
    It’s the same crap day after day,but you have to ask yourself,why do you hardly ever hear any mudslinging about what the republicans are doing? And believe me they are doing it too each other just watch one of there local commercials.
    Hmm,you think maybe it’s because our corporate owned media which is basically ALL OWNED by just 4 major corporations are run by republicans.If you want to get an informed opinion on any candidate.Do your home-work,go to any of the government web-sites and find out how the candidates voted on which laws and then find out why! they voted that way.
    Time to turn off the tv and put down the newspaper and get informed. Hell,you can even read the blogs and read the foreign press online and see what they have to say but beware,guys like Rupert Merdoch owns foreign newspapers and radio stations also.

  16. alwayshope Says:

    Um, that third party thing sure worked out well in 2000, didn’t it?
    I have a real warm place in my heart for Nader. Thanks Ralph, for the Bush administration.
    My guy, Kucinich, is not going to be president. I have to make a new choice.
    I have respect for the greens but the next president will be either an R or a D.
    And yes, the DLC can be disappointing, even maddening but we have got to get these criminals out of office before we can do anything about holding them responsible for their crimes.

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