Tuesday, February 08, 2005


"I think it's pathetic," says James Carville. "It's so indicative of the Democratic Party. Now we're just playing into every stereotype: We're weak, disorganized, flopping around. ... Somebody should have fixed this damn thing in November. I wish someone would have taken charge and three or four people would have gotten together in a smoke-filled room. ... They're not running for president! They are running for party chair. This is supposed to be a rigged deal. You think the Republicans would do it this way?"

Amazingly explicit in its contempt for the very essence of democracy, the above quote is from the mouth of US Democratic Party 'consultant' James Carville [<-read the list of slimeballs he was cosultant for!], in a longer article written with a similar ridiculously anti-democratic and pro-party-establishment slant, quoted at length by Steve Gilliard.

This article reflects the Democratic Party establishment's (and their media hacks) wringling and wincing at the now certain prospect that the de-facto party leadership, the chairmanship of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will fall to Howard Dean, the choice of the party members, rather than any of the spineless establishment candidates.

It was not without irony how the Republicans, their media hacks, and the Democratic Party establishment, and their media hacks, last year all teamed up to paint then-Presidential-candidate Dean as a 'radical', and a 'raving' one to boot. In truth, Dean is none of the sort: he supports death penalty on what I concluded to be opportunistic grounds, he is pro-gun, he has not done much for the spread of alternative electricity generation in his tenure as Governor of Vermont, and a balanced budget (which he achieved) counted more for him than maintaining the level of social services. He was only against the Iraq war, not all imperial wars or martial international confrontations, and he suffers from an ailment common among US democrats: economic nationalism, i.e. demanding poor countries to curb development so that a rich country can maintain its middle class living standards. (I thematised this earlier, as did Zeynep @ Under The Same Sun more cecently.) If you look for a true progessive (if plain common sesne is being progressive), your address is Ralph Nader. As for his 'raving', let's recall that that was a dishonest media distortion, see the so-called "Scream".

The worst irony in the previous was that the mantra repeated by the Vichy Democrats & media surrogates, that a 'far-leftist' Democrat leader is the ideal opponent for Republicans, was a soundbite originally peddled by the Republicans. I mean, if the Repubs really do think that someone not doing everything to avoid being smeared a 'liberal' is the easiest opponent, then why announce it loudly before he is chosen? Maybe because, in truth, they fear him for looking convincing(/-ed) and honest, able to move the Centre rather than chase after it as it moves Right, while they know how to get the Democrat party establishment to play to their tunes?

While I would have voted for Nader both in 2000 and 2004 (had I been American), I have argued before that, in the absence of strong local voting traditions, the US majority election system by its nature virtually necessitates the formation of a two-party system, in which the two big parties in power will - and more to the point, by the nature of the system, can - prevent any third usurper from establishing itself. Which also allows the two bigs to ignore the people's will if they team up. I deem this amply proved by the hideous way the Democrats massacred Nader's campaign last year, and the Kerry platform. (And that's why I laughed out aloud when Juan Cole crowned his repeated railing against the proportional election system by calling it "the least democratic system one can imagine".)

So, I argued, while third parties can force the hand of one big party by raising the fear of taking just enough votes to make it lose, a progressive systemic change (from within the system) can only be achieved either by a hostile takeover from within one party, or from outside the party landscape - i.e., a civic movement forcing something on the two bigs.

I think Dean's future DNC chairmanship's significance could be seen in this light. He owes his gaining power and eventual maintenance of power to a grassroots movement of millions of party activists who more carried than followed him. Altough this is the same crowd that to the most part succumbed to the Anything But Bush line and fell in line behind another DLC/McAuliffe-ite DNC campaign, as I gave sings of after the elections, I still think they are something genuine, (unlike Kerry) worth of sympathy and support, and with positive potential (shades of the sympathy for the Orange crowd vs. the problems with Yushchenko-Tymoshenko-et-al here).

But, venturing on the bleaker side one last time, of course, no one should think the old party elite is now dead and dismissable. I fully expect them to keep on stabbing in the back in the mindset shown by Carville and the quoted article's author, bent on ruining Dean, planning the triumphant return for afterwards - telling sucker party members and voters still remaining then, 'see what a disaster you brought - now let the professionals do it again!'


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