Third Party & Independents Archives

Why I am Green, John Kerry, Part 3 of an Ongoing Series

On the ever greatening divide between the haves and have-nots in the United States Kerry is equally unreceptive to progressive thought. The only program to create jobs offered by Kerry was one filled with massive tax benefits and subsidies to companies who do not outsource jobs, hardly a progressive agenda (15).

Instead Kerry could have walked a progressive line and offered a restoration of the welfare benefits which were decimated during the Clinton years, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and introduce New Deal like public works programs. However it becomes obvious in discussing the Kerry campaign that he was more worried about pandering to moderates and conservatives than energizing the millions of progressives who showed their support for him.

A majority of progressives argue that our nation’s military budget has become bloated and is draining precious resources from needed domestic programs. Progressive candidates such as Ralph Nader argue a need for cutting the military budget, Nader’s campaign website states, regarding the bloated military budget, “The budget should move away from the deeply documented and criticized (by the US General Accounting Office, retired Admirals and Generals and others) wasteful , redundant “military industrial complex" as President Eisenhower called it” (16). John Kerry and Democrats in general however will not speak out against our nation’s massive military budget for fear of being seen as doves. Our current military budget exceeds $400 billion a year, when adjusted to include additional appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan it is estimated at approximately $650 to $750 billion a year (17). At no time during the 2004 election did Kerry call on cutting back this massive military budget, an act which would have helped to distinguish himself from Bush and the conservatives. In fact Dennis Kucinich was the only Democratic presidential candidate, the so called anti-war Howard Dean included, which made the bloated military budget an issue (18). Unfortunately, while Dennis Kucinich is the prototype of a progressive many of his Democratic comrades are not.

For a minute let’s forget that Kerry so far has shown total disdain for nearly all progressive platforms. Let us consider an argument made by many Democrats that it was important to vote Kerry because we could not let Bush appoint any more judges. In a roundtable discussion for Tikkun author and former Tikkun publisher Danny Goldberg made this argument stating, “I think one can disagree… with many of John Kerry's votes, as I do, and still see clearly and unequivocally that it's better to have him appoint Supreme Court justices… on every single issue that's important to progressives than George Bush” (19). Democrats have consistently made this argument to keep progressives in line, however the fact remains it is likely at the very best Kerry would be only minimally better than Bush.

While judicial appointments affect a wide variety of issues in our lives, when spoken of politically we are speaking of two main issues: abortion and civil liberties. As Democrats told us we needed Kerry to make the judicial appointments, how does he rank on these two issues for progressives? On the issue of abortion Kerry is certainly better for progressives who embrace pro-choice than is Bush. In fact Kerry can brag that he received a one hundred percent rating from Planned Parenthood (20). Unfortunately however, prior to the election when asked about abortion Kerry stated that he could consider appointing judges who were against abortion (21). Obviously playing to moderates and conservatives rather than staying true to those who had supported him.

While the argument that Kerry would be better suited in appointing judges who would maintain abortion rights certainly holds true, civil liberties is a different matter. Under the Bush Administration we have seen a grave betrayal of civil liberties and human rights. The Bush Administration brought us the evil Patriot Act, despised by nearly all progressives. But we are not here to discuss the evil deeds of Bush; we are attempting to see how Kerry does on the issue of civil liberties.

Kerry and a majority of Democrats actually voted for the despised Patriot Act (22). Since his vote Kerry has shown no remorse for what he helped do to civil liberties. Kerry’s support for the Patriot Act goes so deep that one of his aides bragged that Kerry supported ninety six percent of the Patriot Act and that Kerry was actually involved in writing some of the wording of the legislation (23). On civil liberties Kerry may be better than Bush slightly. However support of right wing legislation, such as the Patriot Act, can only help build a conservative movement and serve to harm the progressive movement.

Again citation numbers from this part of the ongoing series continue from previous parts, in order to view previous sections in this series please visit my profile. Thanks.
15. Thomas Harrison, “The 2004 Elections and the Collapse of the Left,” New Politics 10 (2) (38) (Winter, 2005).
16. Nader / Camejo 2004, “A Federal Budget that Puts Human Needs Before Corporate Greed and Militarism,” Available at http://www.votenader.org/issues/index.php?cid=14.
17. Thomas Harrison, “The Dead End of Lesser Evilism,” New Politics 10 (1) (37) (Summer 2004).
18. Ibid.
19. “The Progressives’ Dilemma in the 2004 Elections,” Tikkun 19 (5) (September 2004).
20. David Corn, “Kerry: No W. (& No Bill),” The Nation 279 (4) (August, 2004).
21. Ibid.
22. Thomas Harrison, “The Dead End of Lesser Evilism,” New Politics 10 (1) (37) (Summer 2004).
23. Alexander Cockburn, “Zombies for Kerry,” The Nation 279 (7) (September, 2004.)

Posted by Richard Rhodes at May 17, 2006 2:25 AM
Comments
Comment #148848

How many more Kerry Threads are there?

Posted by: Aldous at May 17, 2006 3:57 AM
Comment #148852

Well its based on a 30 so page graduate paper I wrote. There will be about 10 parts to this series. However every single piece I have wrote in graduate school has been about Kerry, nearly all of my research has been on Kerry, so you can expect Kerry posts to appear alot. People need to understand that Kerry did not help but hurt the progressive cause.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 17, 2006 4:23 AM
Comment #148870

Whine. Whine. Bitch. Girn. Whinge. Bleat. Snuffle. Whine. Whine. Bitch. Girn. Whinge. Bleat. Snuffle. Whine. Whine. Bitch. Girn. Whinge. Bleat. Snuffle. Whine. Whine. Bitch. Girn. Whinge. Bleat. Snuffle. *Yawn*.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 17, 2006 7:08 AM
Comment #148891

This is worse than that series Stephen wrote awhile back?

Posted by: Aldous at May 17, 2006 8:25 AM
Comment #148902

Richard:

What you have written appears to be well thought out and well researched. However, I’d have to say that its not all that well timed. Perhaps if Kerry makes another Presidential run, then the timing will be right for your Kerry series.

Better to focus on the issues in front of us than the ones behind us and the ones yet to show up in front of us.

You can take your considerable talents and use them for something more timely. You’ve shown the talent for writing and researching, which many don’t have. Best of luck.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 17, 2006 9:37 AM
Comment #148908

Joebag
I believe this series does focus on the overall issue in front of us today, just from a different angle.
It seems as if Richard believes America is ready to make that final jump to a different form of govt. and that he believes Americans are also ready for that.
I feel that rather than dwelling on kerry, we should debate whether our country should go the way Richard proposes or keep with our Constitution.
IS America ready to be more “progressive,” as Richard states OR, do Americans still believe in America?

And on a sidenote, isn’t it funny how liberals quickly try to change or ignore the topic when you start talking about stuff like this? It’s almost like they are afraid of it, why, with the elections so close and all, who would want the truth to come out?

Instead Kerry could have walked a progressive line and offered a restoration of the welfare benefits which were decimated during the Clinton years, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and introduce New Deal like public works programs. However it becomes obvious in discussing the Kerry campaign that he was more worried about pandering to moderates and conservatives than energizing the millions of progressives who showed their support for him.

Posted by: kctim at May 17, 2006 10:31 AM
Comment #148913

Sorry all, I forgot to delete that last paragraph. It is from Richards post and I was using it so I wouldn’t have to scroll up to read it each time.

Posted by: kctim at May 17, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #148923

No problem, kctim. And while this is about the 2004 election, it shows us what the Democrats have done to progressives. Therefore it is a call for progressives to support progressive candidates rather voting for someone simply because they do have a D next to their name. The fact remains that if we don’t stand up, we are gonna get Kerryed again (whether it be by the nomination of Hillary or of Kerry). Democrats please support the progressives in your party, please nominate Dennis Kucinich, Lynn Woolsey, or John Conyers Jr.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 17, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #148935

So you’re going to post 10 pieces of this hogwash?

That election is over and done. I prefer to hear your ideas on what we should be doing now.

And keep in mind that what one does and how one votes as a senator is not necessarily an indication of what they would do as president.

I submit that Kerry wouldn’t have gotten us into the mess we are in now. To so denigrate someone with a ten post diatribe who wasn’t even elected is a waste of my time.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 17, 2006 12:10 PM
Comment #149008

Richard-

The Democratic Party split into three candidacies in 1948: Truman, Thurmond (Dixiecrat), and Wallace (Progressive). It didn’t work out too well for the Dixiecrats or the Progressives, most of which returned to the Democratic Party (Thurmond became a Republican).

With most all conservative politics now removed from the modern Democratic Party, it appears you are advocating progressives overtake the leadership and direction of the party. Or they should leave and create their own party. Either way the outcome is a party that has a progressive ideology.

The flaw here is that the goal of political parties is to win elections, and in a country as diverse as the U.S. no single ideology could ever muster the vote (I hope). Just ask the Libertarians or the Greens. Yes, you would have a party that most reflected your political ideology and thinking, but you wouldn’t have too many elected officials representing you.

Posted by: George in SC at May 17, 2006 4:29 PM
Comment #149009

Uh, Richard, submit your paper to this journal.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 17, 2006 4:29 PM
Comment #149104

George in SC, I fail to follow your logic. The GOP was taken over by the NeoCon-Evengelicals in 1992. The GOP is still a powerful party. Why would the Democratic Party being taken over by Progressives be any different. They would still have all the machinery, grass roots organization, and wealthy donors of the Democratic Party as well as straight party ticket voters.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 17, 2006 10:42 PM
Comment #149192

Come on David, certainly neocons and evangelicals left the Democratic Party and were added to the GOP in the wake of Reagan, but that made the GOP all the more a a big tent party. ‘92 and the Contract was a conservative movement not a neocon. Although this administration has been painted (somewhat correctly at times unfortunately) as neocon or evangelical by people on the left and far left, neocons don’t have control of the party.

What makes it look like the neocons are running the ship is the war on terror. Neocons, evangelicals, conservatives, and business all align on a strong national defense and the defeat of terrorism (especially Islamic terrorism). And again since the neocons and evangelicals have become the whipping boys and girls of the left, the broad brush gets stroked.

But the GOP splits on government involvement. Conservatives and business types are limited government and the neocons and evangelicals are more proactive government on social issues. The further the war moves down the political spectrum the more the GOP divides as evidenced today by the low approval rating for Bush. He’s not losing support from Democrats and Greens, he’s losing support from his own party.

Just as the Democratic party struggled as a big tent, the GOP is merely doing the same. In a two party race you need these loose coalitions to hold in order to obtain office. By alienating the “Reagan Democrats” the Democrats shrunk their base too small, especially where you and I live. Now they have to run moderate right to try and get some of them back (which seems to bother Richard). My guess is the GOP will either hype up security in an effort to get the war back on the front burner, or they will go conservative again. But you will not see a neocon agenda this fall.

Look, you and I (and Richard) are tired of the two party system. I’d love to see three or four viable parties for each race. I could then vote for my mind’s creation: The New Federalist Party (limited national and more progressive local). But the reality is two party, and neither the Democrats nor the GOP are going to let that change without a fight. Or a revolution…..


Posted by: George in SC at May 18, 2006 10:22 AM
Comment #149703

The Progressive agenda does not have enough points in common with the traditional democratic base to result in a Progressive presidential candidate who could win a national contest. Many democrats are motivated by traditional values championed by the working class. The Progressive focus on specialty minority groups is not in the interest of the democratic base.

The best Progressive interest can look forward to in the upcoming presidential election is a bone or two. If the Democratic candidate makes too many concessions to the Progressive agenda, he/she will be unelectable.

Progressive candidates may fare better in the midterm elections where regional demographics are more narrow and potential constituents have more common concerns. If the Progessives succeed in increasing representation in these target districts, they will increase their eventual chance of significantly influencing the Democratic party as a whole. In order to win these battles, the Progressives will have to find a way to mobilize their star power to get involved in races with less visibility, read publicity. Progressive celebritys will have to do something about the lurking smurks they display whenever forced to visit nowhereville and deal with the resident rubes. Good luck with that.

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Comment #150071

Mental Wimp thank you very much for the link.

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