In general I'm feeling pretty good about the political scene these days. The chicken-hawks are running scared (but of course they would). Even Tom DeLay, “The Hammer”, is not particularly happy when 43 comes out in favor of a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. This, as Josh Marshall points out, is not something most Republican members of Congress want to vote on. It secures their base, but it angers people who are on their fringes. Seems to me that if, after four years, you're angering the swing voters in order to secure your base, you're in what Firesign Theater memorably called “deep-dish sheep-dip cherry-stone pie”.
The Hammer is so scared of the vote that he's not enthusiastic (Leo: “You will give this President your full-throated support or you will be playing celebrity golf”) about Shrub's self-serving announcement on an issue that's central to maintaining the wacko Christian-conservative base. (Hey, they've called people “wacko liberals” for so long, they deserve a bit of recompense.) A person with no morals, but a constant finger in the wind, is not particularly happy to take a stand, even though he knows precisely what stand his base wants. Which will underscore the fact that his base constitutes no more than twenty percent of the population, while the people who think that the kindest thing you say about him is “scumbag” constitute most of the rest. And he and his so-called leader have pissed off the population with so many lies, and so many deaths, that he doesn't have a prayer, regardless of who he prays to, of maintaining his position of power. And his so-called leader won't even be around for the next legislative session to suffer with him.
So here's what scares me: the fact that things are going so well. Put yourself in my position, about to vote in your ninth Presidential election, and you've never voted for anyone who won. But the guy you oppose has already shot himself several times in each foot, and is currently aiming the gun at his head. You're scared, right?
So what do you do? Well, my theory remains what it's always been: vote for what you believe in. Climb aboard the John Kerry train? Right. Kerry was and remains wrong on Iraq, NAFTA, health care, unions, in fact everything I care about. Sure, thirty years ago he gave a great speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but since then he's done whatever his “leader” tells him to. And the spot where Terry McAuliffe has his head lodged can't be described in polite company.
On the other hand, there is a candidate who's right on all these issues, and others besides. Therefore he's called crazy by people who agree with him, and worse by people who don't. I mean, given the fact that we all agree these things are true, what would possess a politician to say them?
I could go on, but you see what I mean: obviously crazy. No one in his right mind would claim that the US should stop bombing the weakest country that has extra cash on hand. How would we pay for our SUVs, and the oil to run them? And what's more important: our shallow, insecure natures and the lies that make us forget about them, or the ability of the following generations to eke out an existence on the face of the planet we've ruined? Easy answer; just check with VH1. Sumner Redstone would never steer you wrong. Unless it made him money.
But all ranting aside, there's a serious point here. If you like Bush's policies, but not his personality, you're going to be very happy with Kerry. He speaks better; he meets Peggy Noonan's test of being able to remember talking points; and he does what the corporations tell him to. Except that his corporations don't tend to be heavily invested in oil, so he won't be defending Saudi Arabia by withdrawing from the Kyoto treaty, or redacting that particular part of the report on 9/11.
You might think of him as a kinder, gentler compassionate conservative.
If, on the other hand, you think the Democrats need to have the hell scared out of them, if they need an injection of backbone, you have one, and as far as I can see only one, choice: Dennis Kucinich.
If you're against the war in Iraq, against NAFTA, for universal health care, against the death penalty, for decriminalization, and so on, you can (1) not vote, and take whichever candidate your opponents choose; (2) vote for someone who's against everything you believe in; or (3) vote for someone who believes and has acted on exactly what you believe in. He has no chance to get the nomination? Maybe not, but he's changing what the presumptive nominee talks about. The only way to force the Democrats to be anything other than what they really are, which is Republicans, is to make it clear to them that they will lose again if they don't claim to agree with you. And people are doing that in surprisingly large numbers as the campaign goes on. Here's John Nichols in The Nation (which, in another bad sign of success recently passed William F. Buckley's National Review in circulation:)
Kucinich's 30 percent finish [in Hawaii] tied the strongest previous showing in any primary or caucus for a candidate stressing an anti-war message: Dean's 30 percent showing in Washington state.
As Dennis says:
It's time for America to resume its glorious journey: time to reject shrinking jobs and wages, disappearing savings and rights; time to reject the detour towards fear and greed. It's time to look out upon the world for friends, not enemies; time to counter the control of corporations over our politics, our economy, our resources, and mass media. It's time for those who have much to help those who have little, by maintaining a progressive tax structure. It's time to tell the world that we wish to be their partner in peace, not their leader in war. Most of all, it is time for America to again be the land where dreams come true, because the government is on the side of its people.