Kucinich's Ongoing Battle
in the Democratic Party
By Carl Davidson
Here's two quotes from a long piece by Ron Jacobs in Counter-Punch July 16:
"One would think that Mr. Kucinich would not give up so easily on his desire to get some antiwar language into the Democratic platform. After all, what does he have to lose? Instead, his supporters and the rest of the Anyone-But-Bush mindset are left to vote for John Kerry, a man who not only supported the Iraq war from its beginnings, but also hopes to expand it to NATO if he's elected. How is that any different from George Bush?"
"How times have changed. After 1968, the antiwar forces briefly took over the Democratic Party and ran George McGovern in 1972. Thanks to a lack of support from the party's corporate backers, an uneven campaign strategy, and a Republican campaign that included a number of dirty tricks, McGovern lost and the progressive forces within the Democratic Party moved back into the shadows. Since then, these forces have played a role that revolves primarily around keeping progressive independents from running a third-party campaign (a role ironically now also played by the third party Greens). By performing this role, these forces have prevented the progressive voice in US electoral politics from being heard in any effective manner and have helped create the current political situation in the US where most people don't vote and those that do have a choice that only represents the American right wing."
Jacobs is missing the point.
Kucinich didn't surrender on his antiwar plank; he was DEFEATED. He didn't have the delegate strength to push it any further, expect in his ability to speak his own views, should he get to address the convention. There's no shame in taking your forces as far as they can go, even if the other side wins out.
Now he faces a choice: he can leave the party and go out in a blaze of glory in the eyes of the third-party left; or he can continue his project of building a left-progressive grouping or faction among the ranks of the delegates in order to fight other battles, now and in the future.
In either case, he has to keep in mind the main task and where to aim the main blow vis-a-vis Nov. 2.
I think there's an appropriate struggle to be waged either way. The Green Party's Cobb campaign, with its 'safe states' tactics, is a good third party approach that will both help to unseat Bush and build the Greens; Kucinich's approach will also help unseat Bush while, if he plays his cards right, he could also help develop the forces for political independence within the Democratic party that will sharpen the antagonism to its 'corporate caucus' in the longer run.
The strategic idea is for these 'inside' and 'outside' forces, in good time, to unite as a broad electoral form of popular democracy, either as a third party or as a Democratic party purged of its corporate caucus. I think the former is far more likely than the later, but results on the ground will resolve the argument in the real world.
I also think Jacob's assessment of McGovern in 1972 is a bit overblown. McGovern's candidacy was both a reflection of the strength of the antiwar movement and the split in the ruling class over Vietnam. Even with McGovern, the bourgeoisie, albeit its peace-minded sector, was still very much in control of the Democratic Party; the Democrats hardly belonged to the popular antiwar forces even then at the peak of the battle.
To repeat a point I've made before: we are not going to have a clear effective choice between antiwar and prowar candidates in this election. (I'm assuming Nader will fizzle and the Greens will grow slightly on the margins.) Instead, we have a choice between two factions of imperialists, one of which at most disagrees with the policy of unilateral pre-emptive war.
That's a small difference, but it means we cannot be indifferent to which faction wins. That's why we are not endorsing Kerry or anyone else, but just bringing large numbers of new antiwar voters to the polls. They will do what they think best in their situation, whether it's a vote for Cobb or Kerry.
Believe me, if Bush is defeated, it will be seen as a repudiation of the war around the world, even as we continue to wage struggle against a Kerry White House the very next day.
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Kucinich's Ongoing Battle
Posted by Carl Davidson at 5:36 PM