Revolution #57, August 20, 2006
Ned Lamont: False Hopes, Bad Terms, and Ticking Clocks
Many people see Ned Lamont’s victory in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary as a statement of massive disgust at Bush, and at the Democrats for kissing his ass. It is. But Lamont’s victory over Joe Lieberman in the primary is not something that will impact the current intolerable direction things are heading. Instead, there is a whole other way to go that has the potential to really put a halt to the crimes of the Bush regime. And the system— the media and the people who really run things—are telling you this themselves if you listen to them.
MSNBC put out the following analysis and spin right after the election result was announced: “Though polls show U.S. opinion has turned against the Iraq war, Ned Lamont’s victory will heighten Democrats’ vulnerability to charges of unreliability in the war on terror.”
Stop and think about that: polls show opinion has turned against the war, but being against the war heightens the Democrats’ vulnerability! How can this be? Wouldn’t the “logic of democracy” dictate that adopting a popular position would be a plus instead of a “vulnerability”?
No. It has already been decided that the terms of things are going to be over who can most aggressively prosecute the so-called “war on terror.” Of course, nobody asked you if those should be the terms – you just got told that. But if you don’t like those terms, self-delusion won’t help. You need to put your energies and resources into something else!
In line with what MSNBC told you was going to happen, the right-wing noise machine flooded the airwaves with messages from the most powerful people in the country practically accusing Lamont of aiding al-Qaeda. Am I exaggerating? Vice President Cheney said that the election of Lamont could encourage “the al-Qaeda types” who want to “break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.”
And then there is the fact that defeating Lieberman in the primary didn’t even push him out of the race—he just registered as an independent and already garnered support from many around Bush. Rather than repent his support for the war, and his slavish association with Bush, Lieberman went on the offensive, saying Lamont’s position on the war “will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.”
As a backdrop to all this, the Bush regime—with the unanimous, and one might say rabid, support of the leaders of the Democratic Party—was continuing to green-light Israel’s demolition of Lebanon; to press ahead in their bloody occupation of Iraq that is spiraling into civil war; and to jockey and position for an even wider war against Iran and possibly Syria.
Delusion and Self-Delusion… Or Confronting Reality
Across the blogosphere, liberal radio, and progressive people were abuzz with self-delusional boasts that the Lamont victory is the opening salvo of a “takeover” of the Democratic Party and a sign that the country is finally bending to the will of the majority who oppose George Bush and his wars.
First, Ned Lamont is not that antiwar. His web site features his position on the war, starting with a statement from him that: “Our troops are making their country proud with their service.”
No, they are not. Those troops were ordered to invade Iraq in the service of empire. Abu Ghraib…Haditha…the emerging exposures of rapes and massacres that may well be revealed to have been ordered or at least encouraged by commanding officers… This war is not something to be proud of. This war on the world, and the occupation of Iraq (and Afghanistan) are not wrong because they are “not working.” They are wrong because they are illegitimate, unjust, and immoral.
Lamont does have differences with Bush. He says that “[T]his war is not making us any safer. It’s time for U.S. troops to move to the background and let the Iraqi people step forward and take responsibility for their own destiny.” But Lamont’s starting point is wrong. Bush launched this war to expand the U.S. empire, not to make “us safer.” And Lamont’s position on withdrawal is awfully vague. Recent news accounts report that he favors a one-year withdrawal timeline for U.S. troops.
Time again for a reality check. What do you think things will be like if the Bush juggernaut is not halted a year from now? As Larry Everest wrote in Revolution #56:
“There is a murderous and potentially explosive logic at work here. On one hand, the Bush regime is compelled to stay on the offensive to realize its goals: any slowing down could stall and/or derail the whole juggernaut. What they’re doing on a world scale requires an unrelenting offensive, a dynamic in which any hesitation or retreat works against their aims and could potentially unravel the whole thing. This means that they are not going to easily pull back in the face of obstacles and difficulties, for example in Iraq, but instead envision battling through years of turmoil and upheaval to create their new world order… They are driven to push on through—even “escape forward” from the contradictions they face and create by widening the war, to both maintain its momentum and because they feel they can only deal with the difficulties they are facing on a larger stage.”
Shortly after the primary results, Lamont appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show. There, Lamont said that in a “worst case scenario,” which was defined as a wider regional war, the U.S. could not withdraw from Iraq.
What if Lamont defies the odds, sucks up the energy and resources of people who are outraged about the Bush regime, and gets elected to the U.S. Senate? Maybe he wages a lonely fight for a pullout of US troops from Iraq, sometime, maybe. Meantime, Bush and the crew of Christian fascist crusaders and neo-con McWorld-by-force fanatics push on and on, and the situation becomes more horrific, and more dangerous. And most tragic, as I’ll come back to, is the part about sucking up all the energy and resources of people who want to put a halt to the crimes of the Bush regime.
The Democrats Are Lashed to the Mast of the Ship of State… But Why Should We Be?
As much as there are Democrats who at times criticize how the war on Iraq was initiated, or even how it is being handled today, now that the U.S. has invaded they are concerned first and foremost with preserving the strength, unchallenged power, and overall interests of the U.S. as an imperialist empire, including in Iraq and the wider Middle East. If you listen, it is from this perspective of preserving America’s strength that Lamont criticizes aspects of how the war has been waged: “We are a much stronger country…when it comes to the war on terror when we’re true to what we stand for, and we’ve compromised a lot of that over the last few years… That weakens our country.” It’s not that the Democrats haven’t noticed how many people in “their base” hate this war, it is that the particular role the Democratic Party plays is to pursue imperialist interests while at the same time leading “their base” to believe that it is their will that is being expressed.
In a recent article in Rolling Stone, Al Gore was quoted as saying, “We’re all, in some ways, lashed to the mast of our ship of state here. Because the little group at the helm should resign. You know, Rumsfeld and that whole gang have made horrible mistake after horrible mistake…”
This metaphor, of madmen at the helm (steering a boat), and the Democrats lashed to the mast of the ship, is revealing about the role the Democrats play. They may not like the crew at the helm, but they are “on board” for the bigger agenda of imperialist world domination, and from that perspective, getting out of Iraq would endanger the whole ship.
You do not take over the Democratic Party; it takes over you. And the more you try to take it over, the deeper you are inserted into its pocket. The effort you put into it is like thrashing about in quicksand—the harder you thrash, the more immobilized you become until finally you are suffocated to death. Lamont is a perfect example—happy to take your money and your energies into channels that will just piss them away, while the Democrats on top continue to pursue what they perceive to be in the overall interests of the SYSTEM they serve.
Recall what happened several months ago, when the progressive world was abuzz with confidence about impeaching the President. At that time a poll executive admitted that among the population the most requested poll was one about impeachment, but stated that his firm wouldn’t conduct it because it was not being discussed by leading Democrats and therefore wasn’t legitimate. Then, recall how when Wisconsin Democrat Russ Fiengold made a motion for censuring the President and, despite overwhelming support from the people, was only supported by two of his fellow Democrats.
There Is a Way, There Is a Day!
If you feel like you have to vote, that’s one thing. But if you are giving your time, energy or resources to Lamont or the Democrats, that is not just a waste, it is counter-productive. Instead, you have to be part of rupturing out of the whole set of terms shaping the elections and be part of setting new terms through political struggle independent of those official channels.
The buzz among progressive people needs to very quickly change from false hopes of “retaking” the Democratic Party, to an active debate over the fact that relying on the Democrats and the midterm elections can only lead to disaster. October 5th, day of nationwide protests called by The World Can’t Wait and others, not November 7th, must increasingly been seen by millions for what it is: the only way that the crimes of the Bush regime can be brought to a halt.
Let me quote from an important statement issued recently by World Can’t Wait, “October 5: There is a Way! There is a Day!”:
Think of all the people who are deeply distressed over the direction in which the Bush regime is dragging the country—and the world… All the people who are outraged over the way in which this regime is arrogantly seeking to bludgeon into submission people in the Middle East, and throughout the world, while trampling on the rights of the people in the U.S. itself… All the people who care about the future of humanity and the planet we live on, and who recognize the many ways in which the Bush regime is increasingly posing a dire threat to this… All the people who are stirred with a profound restlessness by these feelings but are held back by the fear that they are alone and powerless; or who say that they wish something could be done to stop and reverse this whole disastrous course, but nothing will make a difference; or who hope that somehow the Democrats will do something to change this, when everyday it becomes more clear that they will not… All these people, who make up a very large part of the population of this country and whose basic sentiments are shared by the majority of people throughout the world…
Imagine if, from out of this huge reservoir of people, a great wave were unleashed, moving together on the same occasion, making, through their firm stand and their massive numbers, a powerful political statement that could not be ignored: refusing that day to work, or walking out from work, taking off from school or walking out of school—joining together, rallying and marching, drawing forward many more with them, and in many and varied forms of creative and meaningful political protest throughout the day, letting it be known that they are determined to bring this whole disastrous course to a halt by driving out the Bush Regime through the mobilization of massive political opposition.
If that were done, then the possibility of turning things around and onto a much more favorable direction would take on a whole new dimension of reality.
It would go from something only vaguely hoped for, by millions of isolated individuals, and acted on by thousands so far, to something that had undeniable moral force and unprecedented political impact.
That is the vision that can set new terms for all of society and can send a shock of reality-based hope across the world!
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