The repudiation of the Clintons by rank-and-file Democrats has to be reckoned a huge victory for xDems and progressives of all stripes. For the first time in a generation, the party of Roosevelt seems to have rediscovered the public interest. Obama appealed to voters dissatisfied with the status quo, veering dangerously close to policies that could serve the public at the expense of corporate oligarchs and their minions in government. The message resonated with enough Democrats to nail down the nomination, and xDems deserve some of the credit for moving the discussion in this direction.
Think back a few short months to the days when Clinton was the darling of the embedded mass media. She was the presumptive nominee at National Public Radio, whose editors assiduously avoided mentioning that her husband, a known sexual predator, would be wandering around Foggy Bottom for several years with nothing to do. As president, he’d betrayed the peace movement, the labor movement, the human rights movement, the environmental movement, and the universal health care movement for the whole of his tenure, and now his wife, who’d supported him at every turn, wanted to be president.
Democrats don’t usually pick their strongest candidate. Rather, they tend to nominate the one that’s prescribed for them by the people who supply the money for national politics. Corporate lobbyists relay their selections to the embedded mass media–who receive a substantial chunk of the money invested in this process–and the media pass these selections on to Democrats, who accept them regretfully but respectfully. Money talks.
But not this time. The big money was on Clinton, and she lost. There was big money on Obama, too, but he was not the first choice of power brokers. He was the first choice of Democrats on the street, however, and he got more support from small donors than any candidate in recent memory. These people carried the day, an unprecedented event in the lives of many of them. Nobody will deny the candidate due credit for his victory, but his supporters had to weather powerful political forces for him to prevail. Dissident, small-d democrats helped bolster their cause, sometimes with a primary ballot, but always with a clear warning to upper-case Democrats that a right-wing candidate like Clinton wouldn’t be tolerated.
Obama’s nomination and election are not likely to mark a turning point for the anti-war movement, the labor movement, the human rights movement, the environmental movement, or the universal health care movement. Obama will be frustrated at every turn. The bankers will ensure that he faces astronomical interest rates. War profiteers will accuse him of cowardice and treachery. Bigots everywhere will be stirred and shaken by professional political manipulators in the media.
And then there’s Congress. The typical incumbent, regardless of party affiliation, will be financed by the same corporate patrons that bought the Clintons and, facing token opposition, will resume the process of preserving the status quo. Obama will be expected to comply or perish and may have to settle for modest changes that won’t affect the distribution of power and wealth. Here, too, xDems can be influential. Progressive candidates have emerged in congressional districts across the country, challenging Democrats from the left and forcing debate on issues of peace, justice, and principle. Some might even win.
If there’s a peace candidate running in your district, track him or her down, sign a petition if there is one, cough up a few bucks, and volunteer. If there is no peace candidate in your district, threaten to withhold your vote from the Democrat until you get detailed commitments to end the war and bring the crooks in government to justice. Make a contribution to my campaign (I’m running against Congressman John Larson in Connecticut’s First District. Visit www.fournierforcongress.org), or get involved with a third-party candidate in a local election. Or become a candidate yourself.