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Is There an Election?


2008 continues to be touted as the most wide open Presidential race in decades.  The near unanimous chorus was echoed in a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal:

"For the first time in 80 years, no incumbent president or vice president from either party is seeking the White House, creating an unusually unsettled campaign with no obvious front-runner. Power in Congress is divided so evenly between the two parties that neither has really been in control since the 2006 elections. Now, in the wide-open 2008 general election, voters will declare whom they want to run the executive and legislative branches.

Americans will make that choice at a time when they are distinctly uneasy. Record numbers of voters are choosing to declare themselves politically independent — and thus open to moving either left or right. Both the Republican president and the Democratic Congress are receiving historically low public-approval ratings, another sign of voter unease. More broadly, The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has in recent months found the nation to be in the midst of the most prolonged period of public dissatisfaction in 15 years, as measured by the share of voters who say the country is “on the wrong track." 

With a restless American electorate thirsty for real change, and early primaries that are neck-and-neck with no clear frontrunner, one could almost be led to believe that this is a very exciting electoral season, one that demonstrates what a vibrant and healthy democratic system America has. But of course, this is far from the reality. The plain truth is that there is no election.  The winner has literally already been chosen.  We know who will be inaugurated on January 20th, 2009.  The President-Elect will be for permanently leaving thousands of troops in Iraq, will refuse to commit to reducing US troop levels in Iraq by 2013, will continue to violate international law by making threats against Iran including proclaiming a preemptive nuclear strike is "on the table," will wish to escalate the mass murder of Afghans, will maintain the "special relationship" with Israel and have supported their 5th invasion in 30 years of Lebanon, will be rejectionist on Palestine and refuse to negotiate with the Palestinian’s own democratically chosen representatives, will continue supporting despotic and tyrannical regimes throughout the world like the Saudi Royal Family, will be committed with a few caveats to neoliberal globalization, will refuse to push for single-payer health care, etc.. etc.. On nearly every major and important issue all the viable candidates from both wings of the Business Party; Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, toe nearly the exact same line on key policies, and merely quibble on how best and how hawkishly to implement them. Far from being a historic "wide-open" election, this illustrates how strikingly narrow the political system is in the United States and the far-right bias of the mass media that accepts the legitimacy of these positions, and harshly punishes the slightest deviation from them despite being views far to the right of the US population according to consistent public polling. Essentially, we have been left with Henry Ford’s Model T choice: You can have it any colour you like as long as it’s black.

There is simply no election if by an election one means a fair and free vote where candidates that represent majority public opinion are allowed to participate in a serious way.  What we have instead is a gerrymandered and Diebolded popularity contest where one flips a coin to choose which 100 million dollar corporate mascot you would most want to have a beer with.

However, notwithstanding the similarity of their policies, some candidates could be worse than others.  In the Democratic wing of the Business Party, Hillary Clinton is likely to be the most jingoist and reactionary, and will also be highly influenced by one of the worst mass murders of the late 20th century.  Bill Clinton was a more successful Republican President than George W. Bush who cut spending and taxes, spearheaded NAFTA, emaciated welfare, and bombed more countries than Bush II.  Clinton II will also be less electable than the other Democratic frontrunners in the General because of her high negatives, transparent phoniness, and vulnerability to accusations by the Right Wing Noise Machine of flip-flopping on national security issues similar to 2004 when the Kerry campaign was badly damaged due to his clumsy and inept attempts at trying to court the anti-war base of the Democratic Party while being pro-war at the same time.  Clinton has had just about every position on Iraq, and then some.  She will no doubt bring out more women to the polls, but simultaneously will not invigorate or mobilize the base of the Democratic Party because she is widely perceived as the most establishment and DLC-tied of the candidates, when the mood amongst the rank-and-file is more progressive and antiestablishment.  There is something nauseating about lesser-evil politics, but if it is true that Clinton is the least desirable Democratic candidate, stopping her from winning the nomination unfortunately means an Anybody but Billary tactical voting strategy that leads one to reluctantly plug-one’s-nose for Obama or Edwards as the decisive Super Tuesday nears.

Although, as mentioned, the difference would be nearly negligible because of a system that has grown so corrupt, undemocratic, and degenerate that a candidate isn’t even allowed to advocate policies that are held by the majority of the electorate without being marginalized, like Congressman Kucinich.  As Noam Chomsky has discussed concerning the Propaganda Model, an intense and heated debate within a very narrow and limited framework which presupposes the Party Line creates the illusion of diversity and democracy. His observation is quite apt and in harmony with this "election" — it is a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.

 

 

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