November 2 is Election Day. On November 3, 2004, a new movement must begin, regardless of that election’s outcome. If Bush emerges triumphant the reasons for opposing his regime are obvious. His agenda is so horrific that opposition is a necessity. America must be saved from corporate corruption, a loss of individual rights, and unending war that threatens the entire world.
Of course the painful situation we find ourselves in makes the possibility of a Kerry defeat unthinkable. It would be the worst electoral defeat of a Democrat presidential candidate in modern political history. It would be worse than the Gore defeat of 2000, worse than the landslides that sent George McGovern and Walter Mondale packing. If a president who cheated his way into the White House, presided over the loss of one million jobs, and made war based on lies isn’t defeated, the recriminations and blood letting must be immediate, public, and uncompromising.
There should be no talk of being positive and unified when the Democratic party is in shambles. The clumsiness of John Kerry on the campaign trial is not only a reflection of Kerry the man, but of the dysfunction promoted by the hapless Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Leadership Conference. The only outcome worse than a Kerry defeat, would be continued deference to the people who made it happen.
The party leadership, including the deified Bill Clinton, must be exposed by this movement as the architects of a disaster. Democrats who stood up to Bush when their leaders took a dive must liberate themselves from the belief that the people who have run their party into the ground know more than they do or are deserving of any respect.
Hard truths must be discussed if George W. Bush stands on the steps of Congress with his hand on a bible in January. One of the hardest truths is the fact that the corporate media is the enemy of the Democratic party. Never again should a front runner be dethroned because selective television editing makes it appear that he screamed too loudly. The bloodless assassination of Howard Dean came about through an unholy alliance between the corporate media and Democratic big wigs and was the beginning of the Democrats ignominious slide to oblivion.
The biases of the corporate media are obvious and present the biggest obstacle to the election of a Democrat to the presidency. On November 3rd Democrats must begin saying loudly and unequivocally that the media are biased. The television networks no longer have even a pretense of objectivity. The talking heads of television news made hay out of the Dan Rather document fiasco, but refused to do even minimum reporting on the same story that was first told during the 2000 campaign. It was proven then that George W. Bush was missing from both his Texas and Alabama Air National Guard units for over a year. The young George W. Bush made no bones about his privileged treatment. In fact he bragged to one of his professors at Harvard business school that his father’s connections helped him to party stateside instead of in the Mekong delta. Dan Rather could have saved himself a lot of trouble with some good old fashioned reporting.
Progressives must begin a new movement on November 3rd even if the unlikely but still hoped for Kerry victory becomes a reality. The Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Leadership Conference will crow that their dubious strategies were in fact brilliant. Their claims should not go unchallenged.
The listless Democratic National Convention was a waste of precious time. An undecided voter was either still undecided or a Bush supporter after the Democrats used up four days of television time without coherently and pointedly telling viewers why they shouldn’t vote for Bush. Even if Kerry manages to overcome this lost opportunity, he should not be allowed to forget that going on endlessly about swift boats was not very swift.
In short, progressive Democrats must remain visible and vocal in a Kerry administration. We cannot fall victim to the argument that our criticism should be muted because Kerry is better than Bush. The expression “damning with faint praise” comes to mind. How hard is it to be better than a fascist? That dubious distinction forces the painful vote for Kerry, but it shouldn’t keep anyone from speaking up if Kerry forgets who put him in office.
President Kerry should face thousands of demonstrators if he continues the disastrous occupation of Iraq and the take over of Haiti. If a Million Worker March must take place under his administration then so be it. If President Kerry doesn’t defend affirmative active or the social security system he should realize that there will be a price for him to pay when he needs support from his own party.
Kerry should not think for one moment that he can bring back the days of slick Willie and his triangulations. Democrats have already seen that movie and know the bad ending all too well. As the song says, we won’t get fooled again. On November 3rd, no matter how the headline reads, there will be a movement for change. The remaking of the Democratic party will have begun and the change will be for the better.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer living in New York City.
Copyright 2004 Black Commentator