Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Political Poet Responds!

The Political Poet who sent me the email about supporting Kerry has responded to my letter, printed below. I thought, in fairness, I'd print his response. Then, because it's my blog, I print my response to his response. We probably ought to stop it there.

Let's see, I'll put his comments in Blue and mine in Red. Oh, wait, let me see what the CNN in headline is first. Oh, look at that: "Kerry Promises More Troops." Looks like I'm already ahead in points.

I should also note that Mr. Schiller, the poet, said he was not going to support Kerry until LAST NIGHT. I got the email this morning. That is seriously fast politickin'.

Here we go (you'll have to scroll down one item to find my original letter):

I agree with 99% of what you're saying, which is why I backed Howard Dean. Up until literally last night, I was going to campaign against Bush but not for Kerry. However, it dawned on me that Kerry did promise to rapidly end the war with international help- so the only way we can expect him to keep that promise is if those who want him to keep that promise support him in the election. If he were to win with only the support of people who either support the war or are neutral on it, then those of us who oppose the war would be in an even weaker position to expect him to keep the promise he made. I agree with all the criticism you're leveling at the DNC for soft-pedaling this issue, if Kerry were President he have no choice but to work with the Democrats in congress (unlike Bush who doesn't even acknowledge their existence). Although some Democrats voted for the war, they have consistently at the very least been divided on the issue. The republicans probably would not support most of Kerry's agenda, which means in order to accomplish anything at all, he would be forced to work with people like John Corzine, Bob Menendez, Barbara Boxer, among others, who both opposed the war and have been among Bush's biggest critics. At the moment, it is easy for the DNC to silence these people because everything being proposed in congress can pass with the support of just Republicans and a small percent of Democratic defectors. If the presidency was in the hands of Kerry, the republicans would revert to their obstructionist tactics as usual, which would make it a necessity for Kerry to work with the very members of congress who inititally backed Howard Dean and who want the war to end immediately. He would also be much more vulnerable to criticism from the liberal wing of the party if in office, and he would be less able to afford being criticized by those people, than Bush whose party base actually likes war. The chances of this war ending are thus much higher if kerry is elected. It's the only way to give the liberal wing of the congressional Democrats any voice at all, because it's the only scenario in which their votes on legislation would be needed by the administration in power.

Here's my response. Since I am also the debate judge on this site, I'm happy to say that I won!

I think I used to have that game, but I lost some of the pieces. The blue ones were pretty.

I have to say, that though I respect your opinion, that has to be the most uninspiring reasoning I've ever seen for voting for someone. And since you are a poet, whose facility with words is of a higher order than most, this leaves me a bit sad.

If one wades through your chain of reasoning, it is probably sound...I really don't know. I really have no insider knowledge of how laws get made in Washington, though I fear that it is a far less rational process than you envision. I do worry that Kerry will simply continue his "bold" move to distance himself from liberals by allying with moderate and even more conservative Republicans, who will still have a pretty large number of Representatives and Senators even if they lose some ground. He also has proven to me quite clearly that he is so mired in fear over what the rightwing might say about him or accuse him of, that the Bill O'Reilly's and Rush Limbaughs will have as much influence over him as Barbara Boxer or whoever.

No, I think Kerry and the current state of the Democrats is best summed up by two images. The first is a wire cage fitting a mere 1000 people designated as a "free speech zone" in Boston during the Convention. Please don't go blaming the local government for that absolute travesty. I understand there are a few very prominent Democrats from Massachussetts that could have nipped that in the bud. In the future, when analyses are written about exactly how America drifted into fascism, the picture of that cage will serve as the symbol of the Democratic Party's cowardly retreat.

The second image, clearly tragi-comic in nature, is that of former Green Party Senatorial Candidate Medea Benjamin being led out of the convention in handcuffs. You see, Medea was one of the prominent Greens who worked so hard to prevent Ralph Nader from challenging Kerry for votes. Her crime? Unfurling an obscenity free sign condemning the war in Iraq. This image will be the one they use to illustrate the analyses of why a legitimate third party became an absolute necessity in American politics. Or, alternately, how the lack of one allowed the aformentioned fascism to take hold.

Actually, I'd have to add another image, one that had to be painful for you, which was Dean, taking his greatest line of the campaign and twisting it: "We ALL represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." I hope you were not made physically ill, as I was, by this complete abandonment of every principle his campaign stood for. I would also add, as an aside and an unproven theory, that Dean did not simply screw up his campaign. The DLC and the conservative, business oriented Dems did him in. Clinton et al know what they are doing. I've even heard that their support for Clark was merely a way to get votes from Dean till Kerry could emerge in all his unglory. That is speculation, of course. But I can think of no other reason for Deans sudden fall. (I also have to say that I didn't completely buy his sudden conversion to populist/progressive, but I liked what he had to say.)

Kerry will win or lose regardless of my vote. I am in a "safe state" for Bush. In fact, I predict that more people will vote for Kerry than for Bush, though we know that has very little to do with who gets to be President.

I'm going to leave you with this quote:

"The Administration’s Iraq policy has failed – militarily, politically, diplomatically, and with relation to our own people.

"We condemn the Administration’s breach of faith with the American people respecting our heavy involvement in Iraq…. The Administration’s failure to honor its own words has led millions of Americans to question its credibility….

"We pledge to adopt a strategy relevant to the real problems of the war, concentrating on the security of the population, on developing a greater sense of nationhood, and on strengthening the local forces….

"We pledge a program for peace in Iraq – neither peace at any price nor a camouflaged surrender of legitimate United States or allied interests – but a positive program that will offer a fair and equitable settlement to all, based on a principle of self-determination, our national interests and the cause of long-range world peace."

This, of course, is not from the Democratic platform of '04 but from the Republican platform of '68. See all the wiggle room? See where it led?

I appreciate your involvement in the political process. We'll work together on the next one!


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