Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kucinich Sucks

Read this, for instance. This actually isn't news to me. I thought the guy was a turd way back in 2004. Recall that he ran a presidential campaign on two planks: 1. ending the Iraq war and 2. single-payer health care. Of course, in deference to the time-honored tradition of getting progressives prepped for acquiescing to the Democratic Party, Kucinich ended up endorsing pro-war, anti-health care candidate John Kerry with a big smile.

Couldn't he at least have tried to make some demands? Joe Lieberman just about single-handedly axed the provision in the Senate bill that would have lowered the age requirement for Medicare. Couldn't Kucinich at least have exacted some compromises in return for rolling over like a docile old Labrador?

The Democrat establishment loves Kucinich. He gives the people who believe in, say, education and health care fodder for nourishing their illusion that the Democrats are actually a progressive force in US politics. Kucinich is a marginal force in the party, and he always has been. But the worst part is that he (and his ProgCaucus counterparts) are content being marginal. They are comfortable being irrelevant and co-existing with the forces that demand that they stay irrelevant.

The Dems have got to have a clown like him around, just to keep up appearances. And it's important that he's a clown... because they need someone who folds easily and makes no fuss when it's all said and done. Can the same be said for the right-wing of the Democratic Party? No. It seems to me that when those blue-dog fuckers talk, the Party bosses listen. And my sense is that when your politics are in step with Big Business (as the blue dogs and all right-wingers very much are) you have a lot more power and influence with Democrat leaders.

My view is that progressives need to divest from the Democratic Party. Even the most cursory glance at history tells us that real change does not happen merely at the ballot box. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed reluctantly when there was a large Democratic majority in both chambers and the most leftwing President ever to hold office. It was passed because the people in Washington did not have a choice: they were faced with a massive, independently organized social movement that was demanding (not sending checks, not asking nicely) that things change.

The same can be said of the militant, labor activism that paved the way for the Wagner Act and Social Security.

Progressives need to stop:
  1. apologizing for the Democrats on blogs and in op/ed columns
  2. self-censoring in writing in order to "be realistic" about the Democrats
  3. sending money to organizations that are not independent of the Democrats
  4. volunteering for and funding Democrat candidates
  5. defending center-right measures (like the health care bill) from far-right critics (like Tea Baggers)
  6. heavily investing themselves in the short-term success of the Democrats
Notice what I'm not saying: I'm not saying that we need to be stubborn "purists" who never support any measure unless it is 100% in-step with their preferred political solution. I am not against assessing a concrete situation and deciding what's possible and what's feasible: on the contrary, I think that we need to divest from the Democrats because I think this is the most realistic, feasible way to get even the modest reforms that most Americans want.

What's unrealistic, is electing a massive numbers of Democrats to office and then sitting back and just hoping that they will do the right thing. It's not going to happen.

Notice also that I'm not claiming that we should simply stop voting, or vote for some non-Democrat. I am making an entirely different kind of claim. What I am claiming is that we need to stop putting so much emphasis on elections when it comes to organizing, activism, and funds. We need to direct our energy, time, creativity and money elsewhere: the Democrats are a political black hole.

We need to build the social movements and be involved in starting new ones.

There are plenty of existing organizations, movements and fights that are already underway that we can be part of. Look around. No matter where you are there are struggles going on. For example:

Health Care:
Education (fighting school closings, cutbacks, etc.)
Campaign to End the Dealth Penalty
  • Here's the IL org, but I'm sure there are others.
Immigrant Rights
Housing and Tenant's Rights
Fighting for LGBTQ Equality
All-around Left-Wing Organizations
This list doesn't even begin to cover the ground. There are many, many more excellent, independent organizations I'm forgetting.


Richard said...

funny you should say this today

I said something similar over at American Leftist

but it goes deeper than the Democratic Party, the rot goes through the entire institutional infrastructure of progressive politics

fwoan said...

Bravo! I'm going to save this post and reference it a lot this election season. I want to take on the arguments that many use to stop themselves from voting third party.

Melvin said...

"I thought the guy was a tard way back in 2004"

Why the hell insult PWD on a progressive blog? Why be willfully bigoted at all?

Jenny said...

there may be hope for the public option however:

Jenny said...

there's also this:

t said...


I stand corrected. I actually didn't realize (until someone just informed me) that I the put-down was short for something that puts down PWD. But I concede that it's my fault for not knowing this already.

I amended it, so that its now the case that Kucinich is a "turd", which I do stand behind.

Melvin said...

thank you for addressing that, T; I appreciate it immensely.

And I have no quarrel with Kucinich being labeled a turd.