The Thistle Volume 13, Number 1: August 29, 2000.


Politics in Transformation:
From Growing Corporate Control to Rising Popular Demand


First off, forget Bush. Anyone who cares to look at the Republican platform or the state of Texas would realize that his tele-prompted advertisement at the convention was nothing more than a string of lies, tied together by a skilled speech writer who either knew nothing of Bush’s record or chose to utterly ignore it. The Bush campaign of love, inclusion, children, education, and environment would be laughable, if not for the number of supporters who conveniently forget that his state ranks among the worst in all rankable issues, from the incarceration of minorities to child poverty, from a neglected school system with low test scores to the most polluted city in the country. And what can be said about love except that Bush and Cheney both made their money off of oil, and have a deep love for that industry and of the status quo of disparity. No more Bushit.

As for Gore, by turning to the right of his centralist position to pick Lieberman for his running mate, Gore has literally turned his back to the liberal left, assuming that he has locked down the liberal vote and could go after conservative ones, as was his explicit campaign strategy. Like his attempt to solicit votes from hardcore Republican Cuban exiles in Florida by supporting the stay of Elian Gonzalas, or his follow-the-leader stance in support of the death penalty while stating that mistakes do happen, Gore couldn’t be more wrong. Ignoring popular support for Senator Diane Feinstein, a solid democrat with a solid record, his choice in Lieberman shows his political orientation, and gave those previously wavering between Nader and Gore a clear progressive and not-progressive choice.

Looking down the political future without third parties, what will this campaign bring for the next two election cycles? If Gore wins, we will have at least four years of hawkish, centralist politics. Economic sanctions in Iraq, military aid to countries with severe human rights violations, increase in military spending, and national missile defense deployment, all issue with bipartisan support with Clinton leadership, will continue. Having been a part of building NAFTA, Gore will spearhead its expansion to Central and South America, reinforcing U.S. military control with economic bondage. Support for corporate interest, such as the protection of genetically modified organisms including food, will also likely continue from the Clinton administration.

In 2004, if Gore cannot retain enough popularity for a second term, the Republicans would be in an excellent position to take over with a super-conservative ticket; and if Gore were to win, he would set up the conservative Lieberman for 2008, pushing American politics further to the right than this 2000 election.

If Bush wins, we all know he would set this country backwards with four Supreme Court Justices and programs that would take decades to recover, just as his daddy and Reagan did, and Cheney will serve as the key CIA/military connection. In 2004, if Bush wins again, he could set up Jeb Bush for a family dynasty in a democratic country. Meanwhile, the Democrats might wise up and try to run a more progressive ticket to recapture the lost vote in 2000, but the damage would merely be slowed down rather than reversed.

If none of these scenarios seem attractive, it is because the two parties are more uniform than ever. A review of the publicly disclosed campaign contributions list (available from the Center for Responsive Politics ) reveals that a minute fraction of American citizens, if you count corporations as individuals with rights as U.S. law does, contribute the bulk of campaign money to both parties. And while Bush has raised more money than any other Presidential candidate ever, and this is months before the actual election, many corporations are also giving to both parties, securing their interests regardless which party wins. Beyond funding the specific candidates, the national conventions, and the parties, passing through massive loopholes in donor restrictions, corporations also control the media and the debates. Perhaps the most appalling example is that Anheuser-Busch donated $550,000 to be the sole sponsor of the Presidential debate in St. Louis mid-October, one of a series controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates that is locking out third parties with enough popular support for federal recognition. This is not a real democracy.

In choosing the lesser of two evils, we are endorsing the evil of two lessers. The American people have been deprived of choice, while a few have found an effective way to dictate politics, and hence our lives. We can refuse to participate in a rigged race, where in 1999, corporations already selected for the entire country the four candidates who will run in the primaries with tens of millions of dollars each.

Some argue that there is too much at stake, that this is not the right time for a "feel-good vote." When would be a good time to vote for someone who represents our values rather than settling for someone who will do the least damage? Should that not be all the time in a functioning democracy? Every election is important; every cycle, the American people face the same dilemma. Voting for the lesser evil each time will only guarantee that the next time, there will be the same (lack of) choice.

The Democrats, as a party line, will further equate that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. But instead of trying to persuade liberal voters who see Nader as the only candidate they can support with their conscience, it would be much more effective for people who feel this way to canvass eligible voters who don’t go the polls. Politics in United States is not a zero-sum game, not with over half of America staying home on Election Day. Nader is drawing a lot of support from people who have previously stayed out of politics in disgust, and if the Democrats believe in Gore and Lieberman, they can secure a double victory by drawing out old and new voters, hence increasing absolute and percentage points for their candidates, while decreasing percentage points for the Republicans and revealing the actual lack of a base for their main opponents.

However, the Democrats do not offer their own party members, let alone the general public, a viable ticket. The San Jose Mercury News reported after the National Convention that "the Democratic Party’s move to the middle may be difficult for some to face, but even California’s left-wing Democrats, arguably among the nation’s most liberal, are getting used to the idea --- albeit begrudgingly." Because of overwhelming party politics, even the politicians are forced to endorse something they may not fully believe in. The people, meanwhile, are marginalized. "Will we have some critics say we’ve gone too far to the center on some issues? Perhaps," said Kam Kuwata, a campaign consultant. "Will it constitute a majority of the party? Absolutely not. They are a shrinking constituency." This is the same shrinking constituency that the Democrats are afraid would swing the election to Bush.

For people who care about more than just corporate profits, who do not think privatization is the right answer for everything from schools to health care, prisons to social security, the Republicans are always out of the question, which leaves us with little option. Being stuck in a dysfunctional two-party system, the Democrats are used to depending on a few differences to collect easy votes. "The election is about a woman’s right to choose, raising the minimum wage, protecting the environment, adding to Medicare prescription drugs," said Bob Mulholland, political adviser to the California state party. "None of those things are going to be done by the Republican Party," but the Green party have also been fighting for these issues, and will not back down from corporate interests nor rely on military and economic might to create and maintain inequality. Now is the time to push what democratic power we have left and let our values be recognized.

The year 2000 could launch the Green party in the American public. Voting support for the Greens as a first step, followed with accountability through active, political participation by the people, will build on the movement for real bottom-up grassroots democracy and add substance to local, state, and future Presidential elections. To resist a lack of choice with a guaranteed loss in Bush/Cheney or Gore/Lieberman, to avoid equally absurd corporate choices in 2004 and beyond, to discuss social justice and environment issues on the national agenda, and to vote for our true values and ideals, from equity to human welfare, please don’t throw your vote away by not voting or by supporting the corporate party paradigm, thereby allowing a small group of people to make decisions for you. Instead, get involved, spread the word, mobilize the non-voters that make up half of America, and exercise your right to vote for Nader and LaDuke.

Dick Cheney’s voting record:
Moving the Republicans to the Right

1979: Voted twice against creation of the Department of Education.

1982: One of 54 House members to oppose extending aid to low-income homebuyers.

1983: Voted against the Equal Rights Amendment.

1983 and 1985: Opposed using federal funds for abortion even if the life of the mother was endangered.

1984: One of 9 members to oppose EPA research and development.

1984-5: Voted to eliminate citizens’ rights to sue hazardous waste dumping damages.

1984 and 1986: Opposed Head Start funding.

1985: One of 21 House members to oppose banning on armor piercing bullets.

1985-6: Voted against bills to reauthorize college student aid.

1985 and 1987: Voted against reauthorization of the Clean Water Act.

1985-8: Repeatedly opposed sanctions on South Africa.

1986: Voted against a resolution calling for Nelson Mandela’s Freedom.

1987: One of 16 House members to oppose reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act.

1988: One of 4 House members to oppose a ban on the production or the importation of any firearms that do not contain at least 3.7 ounces of metal.

1988: Voted against allowing federal funds to be used for abortions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

1988: One of 9 House members to vote against allowing federal employees to take time off for sick family members.



T O P

The Thistle Volume 13, Number 1: August 29, 2000.