Friday, December 10, 2010

Nader? Really?

Norman Thomas, probably running

Well yes, I do think Chamberlain is a decent comparison for the situation, particularly if you understand that Chamberlain, at the time, may well have been making the best deal he could make, since obviously the Brits were absolutely and certainly not ready for the German war machine.  That's what Dunkirk proved, right?  So to actually understand Chamberlain you have to understand that.  The name isn't a cuss word.

So now Lawrence O'Donnell has a panel of Alan Grayson, Jane Hamsher, the editor of Tikuun, and Nader?  Nader?  Mr. Nader has certainly over his extensive public authorial life had many intelligent things to say about the American condition.  He was in the forefront of those who recognized that, no, corporations really didn't care so much about the citzen's wellbeing, other than that the citizen had enough money and credit to purchase the Mcguffin of choice.  That is, Ralph Nader understands that corporate power has molded America into a corporate vision of democracy, where "freedom" means the economic freedom to operate.  This corporate molding of America has gone on apace until now corporations are actually citizens, and since they have most of the money, they are in fact, taken as a group, the most influential citizens, owning probably a majority or at least a relevant minority of Senators, and plenty of House members, and quite a few governors, state houses, county commissioners, sheriffs, and justices of the peace.  Nader saw it coming early, and he's been fighting it, with some success, for a long long time.

But back in 2000, let us recall, Mr. Nader managed to accomplish the election of George W. Bush.  This is  a kind of existential proof.  Just like Dunkirk.  So, I understand the frustration, the exasperation, the annoyance.  I would like to see Congress simply let the Bush Tax Cuts expire, and see how things actually shake out after that.  I would like to see the Democratic Party, and Mr. Obama's Administration, make the argument, and forcefully, that if the Bush Tax Cuts expire, this is the last consequence of The Bush Tax Cuts and not current administration policy.  And I would like to see the Administration, and the still-Democratic Senate, then present bills to remedy the problems with the tax code which will follow the restoration of Clinton era rates, hopefully without including new mistakes, such as lowering the "social security" tax rate.  Hell, maybe they could raise the social security tax rate ceiling just a bit?  Who understands why there's a ceiling on that?

But there's two things about Nader, and the idea that Obama needs primary opposition to some how "make" him toe the line.  One is, Nader got George Bush elected.  The other is more from Obama's side of it.  It's unseemly for Obama to be arguing the case I'm arguing, which without mentioning Nader by name, he sure is.  Obama cannot say "look, make a primary fight and it'll be just like Kennedy-Carter, or Nader-Gore, and you know how that turned out."  But Democrats cannot forget that either.

This is exactly the difference between words and events, the demarcation point.  The Democratic Party must attempt to remain in the real world, where events occur, rather than retreating to yet another abstract world, where anything goes.  The Republicans already live on an abstract planet where anything goes.  We don't need another major party to go "there."  Democrats are and must remain reality based.

Mr. O'Donnell, of course, is yet another shrewd journalist/entertainer.  He's fine with bringing Nader into it.  But it's a cynical play, and Republicans and Fox News already own cynicism pretty much.  If he must bring Mr. Nader's voice into the conversation, then Mr. O'Donnell owes us to have a discussion of Don Quixote next week.  The country can't afford another round of George Bush.  Or some gawdawful President Huckabee, or President Gingrich, or President Pawlenty.  Republicans aim to entrench still further, with each turn of the wheel, the America of International Corporate Citizenry.  In this America, its former human citizens, who love, bleed, have children, sing songs, cry, get sick, get well, die--people--are "a means of production." 

We can only hope that at some point the contradictory alliance between vast numbers of ordinary people with simple religious or "small town" values (which sadly include, too much of the time,  unconsidered racial  and minority prejudices--see, e.g., Uganda's "kill the gays" bill, discussed in depth just prior to O'Donnell's show), and a fundamentally materialist philosophy which views those people as fodder; that this contradiction will become more apparent.   At that point, if there is still a vote, the winds may change again.  Meanwhile, we all need to stay in the real world, where there are two parties, and a vote for a "third" choice is nothing but a kind of illusion, making the voter feel briefly better, but doing nothing but most likely the opposite of the hoped for result.

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