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The Black Agenda Report

How Democracy Works: Democratic Deceit and Denial on War, Impeachment, Health Care and Prisons

Bruce Dixon

Most Americans, and most Democrats want an end to war. Most Americans favor impeachment, and when alternatives are described to them, most favor a single-payer health care system on the French or Canadian model. When Republicans captured the House and Senate in the third year of Bill Clinton's administration the media declared the president "irrelevant". Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006. Why can't Democratic leaders do what Democratic voters elected them to? The general problem facing Democratic party leaders can be summed up this way.

How do we get elected one more time without giving Democratic voters any of what they want? How do we get elected without ending the war and the policies which led to it, without impeaching Cheney and Bush, without delivering health care? How do we run a woman presidential candidate who's not quite pro-choice, or a black one who's not really not all that committed to addressing issues like the nation's policies of black mass incarceration?

Unfortunately, they seem to have it all figured it out.

After more than five years of lies and a million dead Iraqis, most Americans are ready to seefather and childiraqi father and child the troops brought home. But Democratic House and Senate leaders, along with Democratic presidential candidates, except Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, have cynically decided to let the war continue through the rest of George Bush's term in office, to give them something to shadowbox with, proposing ineffectual time lines, irrelevant benchmarks and gimmicks like "more rest for the troops".

Corporate media obligingly depict this as real, if ineffectual opposition to the war in Iraq, while continuing to promote the so-called "war on terror" that will lead to more Iraqs in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

Though Democratic voters overwhelmingly favor impeachment of Cheney and Bush, as do a majority of Americans, party leaders want no part of this either. Even Detroit's John Conyers, who sponsored impeachment bills last year when he was in the minority, and is now chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, refuses to do so this year, he reaffirmed to more than 300 disappointed citizens at his office on Monday. Shortly after that announcement, 30 of them, including Rev. Lennox Yearwood were arrested on the spot.

The focus-group tested phrase "universal health care" is also once again on the lips of every Democratic presidential candidate because they know this is what the vast majority of the American people want. Still, with the sole exception of Dennis Kucinich, a co-sponsor of the Medicare-For-All bill in the House, not a single Democratic candidate for president is willing to take on the parasitic private health insurance industry, which sucks up twenty to thirty cents of every American health care dollar in advertising, billing and profits.

With Democratic leaders and corporate media omitting all discussion of Medicare-For-All or any form of single payer health care, private insurance companies can confidently switch a portion of their generous campaign donations from Republicans to Democrats without fear that anything will change.

In the same spirit, candidate presidential candidate Barack Obama's commercials on South Carolina black radio begin with the drive-by observation that there are more young black men in prison than in college before abruptly changing the subject, leaving trusting, and hopeful souls to imagine that electing him will somehow address that issue. After all, as Obama supporter Oprah Winfrey has assured us, wishful thinking really does make it so.

This is the substance of mainstream political discussion in the Democratic party. Deceit, denial, omission, and wishful thinking. So far, it's working. Corporations who till recently only donated to Republicans candidates are including Democrats in their portfolios. Front runners Clinton and Obama are raising more cash than any Republicans this year, most of it from the very wealthy. So you see that the Democratic Party, and democracy really do work. Never mind what Democratic voters want.

Bruce Dixon is Managing Editor of The Black Agenda Report.

© 2007 The Black Agenda Report

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