Should a US Dem victory be celebrated?

Gore Vidal thinks so:
"This is the most important vote that you'll probably ever cast. Because should this gang of thugs continue in the two houses of Congress, there isn't any chance of getting the Constitution back...."
So too does Polizeroes Bob:
"The Democrats swept into power with an antiwar mandate from the people. They must be forced to deliver. Among other things, that's what the revolution will be about....The pendulum, at long last, is swinging to the left. Let's use it, exploit it, organize around it, and bring real change to the country. Sure, most Congressional Dems are still warmongers. But something fundamental shifted in this country yesterday. Better times are coming..."

The groundswell was such that Stan Goff was plugging actively for a Dem victory, as was Michael Moore,..

Joaquin Bustelo on Marxmail writes in similar vein:
"But when someone attacks your community they way that Republicans have been attacking Latinos, people are going to do something about it. And if some Democrat politician is the only thing to hand that can be used as a club, that's what people will use.Yes, I know all the problems and limitations with it. But I can't help feeling good about it. And a word to Democrat politiqueros: you don't own us, you owe us. If you think you can stab us in the back with impunity, just look at what happened to Bush and his friends this time around. .."
Like Walter Lippmann I listen to Democracy Now! and at least there there has been a conscious attempt to showcase the electoral presence of the US Green Party. The core issue in that coverage was the fact that GP candidates have often been physically excluded from two party debates.

But the flavour with which so many activists have embraced the Dems success I think presents a major challenge for them to take that enthusiasm -- which no doubt reflects a broader delight -- further. Changes in Congress and the presidency mattered not one iota to how the Vietnam War was fought -- despite those candidates who posed as doves.And it is nauseating to see this Dem cabal embraced when you know how gratuitous and servile they have been on the war and around issues of anything else you care to mention.

The Australian ALP is -- to coin a phrase -- "better at being a lesser evil" than the US Dems. Nonetheless there has been, as Walter points out, a deeper disenchantment with the system of democracy under Bush as Gore Vidal will tell you there has been no presidency -- perhaps ever -- that has gone further in undermining the US constitution. (Outside of Lincoln's I guess during the Civil War.)

So the question is: what happens now? And I think the conundrum is universal and applies as much here as there. As Tim Gooden put it in regard to the ALP:
"Everyone knows that we need to get rid of the Howard government and of course a Labor government would be a step forward from the Howard government but that's not the end of the story," said Gooden.

"The problem is that the ACTU has no Plan B for if the Howard government is re-elected or if the Labor Party is elected and then betrays the movement. There's also the problem that the ACTU has only ever had an electoral strategy for fighting Howard's anti-worker laws. They haven't had an industrial strategy."
And I think that the tragedy of the US result is that after the US Greens went belly up from the Democrats at the last race that there has not been a greater coming together on the left outside the Dems since then. I think last time the GP let the side down badly and what little was made up was made up by the determination of Nader and Camejo to run and do what they could.

But what is so fascinating when you peek into the discourse on the America left is how much that discourse is formatted by the available options. If the Dems are the lesser evil to the Republicans, debate is contained within the political confines of what the Dems are prepared to offer. It's the same here with the ALP:as many who we know seek to celebrate only what's good in what is on offer from the main oppositional party -- regardless of how short & how shallow that list may be. Also in this debate in the US left is this rider to the effect that because the Dems are a capitalist party that there is something unprincipled in being excited about its success.Better, it is presumed, that the laurels be spent on a "true working class alternative" like, say, our, umm, ALP.

But damn it, says these comrades, I'm excited! [But I wish I wasn't! So I apologise.]

But there's a confusion there that mixes too many things up in way of outlook and attitude. The PRIMARY REASON why you may feel good about a Democrat success or an ALP victory is because it offers you another plain or rostrum to take the political debate a notch higher. That's the key issue and I don;t see why some folk, like Bustelo should be apologetic about their delight. They DO NEED to apologise if they don't have a strategy to really exploit this victory-- thats' the key thing. Otherwise -- like apologists for Laborism -- all you offer is more of the same ole same ole either/or. And all you can hope for is another ALP or Democrat victory as that formats and constrains your political universe.

Filed in: , ,