Sunday, December 02, 2007

Radicals needed

One of my favorite bloggers, and in fact one of the top political blogs out there, is Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque. He understands the big picture, is consistently informative, and his writing has that quality of righteous indignation at the corporate state that is a prerequisite for political sanity in our time. He doesn’t see all the evils of our system as caused by Bush-Cheney, but regularly points out the complicity of both parties in the misbegotten drive for American empire. (The most recent example of his work along these lines is here, but you can find this penetrating insight throughout his blog.)

Regarding the Bush administration’s various operatives and other functionaries, particularly in the contexts of appointment and confirmation, Floyd is fond of pointing out that anyone who is willing to work at high levels for this blood-soaked regime is by definition assenting to its criminality, and is therefore unfit to serve our country. I agree with him, and I think it’s important to grasp the principle involved here if one is to maintain a realistic view of the political situation. It is one thing to say that so-and-so is a bad president, or attorney general, or whatever—or to say that one disagrees with the policies of a given administration or party. It is quite another to say that so-and-so is a criminal, that the administration is a criminal operation, and that (in the only possible conclusion that follows from this) said administration or government is illegitimate.

The list of abuses is a long one, of course. The case for impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors has long ago been made thoroughly and convincingly. Prior to all this, however, even prior to the grave crimes against humanity committed in the name of a phony war on terrorism, this administration is essentially illegitimate because, I would argue, of the deliberate perpetuation of fraud and abuse in the electoral system. Any persons or organizations that take away the people’s suffrage by either falsifying or suppressing the vote, has violated one of the most basic values of our republic. If the state cheats on the vote, so that the voting public may no longer trust that the announced results of an election are true, the most basic element of legitimacy, the connection between the people and the elected public servants, is completely severed. This is not to say that the voting process hasn’t already been compromised, manipulated, degraded, and trivialized to an incredible degree over the years. But there’s a yawning gulf between the perception of general decadence in the electoral system, as serious as that is, and the perception of outright fraud and illegality reversing the actual objective results of a given vote. The former represents corruption; the latter goes further into dictatorship. In other words, it is truly subversion, and in my view is tantamount to treason because it completely invalidates even the appearance of government legality.

Now, this subversion occurred not only in the 2000 election, but in the 2004 election as well. And the crime of 2004 was actually more serious, since it was perpetrated by the administration in power in the White House, and thus indicates an even more dangerous incursion. The media has maintained an almost universal, deathly silence on the fraud of 2004, precisely because the implications are so frightening. For the Bush administration to have criminally re-elected itself would clearly identify it as an illegitimate government, thereby raising the bogeyman of a “Constitutional crisis” for which the establishment and its media have no stomach. Perception of the fraud on the part of the public is, however, widespread, and especially damaging to public trust. Furthermore, underneath the recent scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys is the greater scandal that the administration sought to use the Justice Dept. to subvert the electoral process. This is of course not as well known by the general public, but it is known by the Democratic leadership. In their own self-interest, then, the Democrats pursued that investigation, at least to the point of forcing the Attorney General from office, but it’s not clear if things will go any further at this time.

Which brings us back to Chris Floyd’s point about appointees and confirmations. You may note that even Russ Feingold, one of the more principled progressive Democrats in the Senate, voted to confirm Michael Mukasey to replace Gonzales as AG, even while expressing misgivings. Mukasey, of course, refused to say whether waterboarding is torture, and that’s what got the headlines. But in general he’s been an advocate of the police state, and his history includes a close relationship with crypto-fascist Rudolph Giuliani. Floyd’s principle applies, as always. Anyone who would be willing to work for Bush is by definition unfit to serve the country. But the principle is considered unworkable in the context of Congressional politics. Democrats, even liberals like Feingold, are afraid to oppose Bush in everything, because they are afraid of being painted as unprincipled obstructionists. On a deeper level, the Democratic Party must believe—or at least must publicly appear to believe—in the legitimacy of the government. To admit that we are being governed by a criminal outfit would constitute, once again, a “Constitutional crisis,” which in the mind of a politician is feared as a dangerous disturbance of the peace, a stepping out into the dread unknown. Better, they think, to bide their time and elect a Democrat to the White House in 2008.

This is assuming that the election of 2008 would be fair. But wait—that’s exactly the problem. We can no longer make any such assumption. This is precisely the most basic underlying reason for the illegitimacy of the present regime. There is no assurance that the vote will not be falsified again. It’s sheer foolishness for Democrats to continue to postpone their opposition to an illegitimate regime by putting their faith in an electoral process already subverted by said regime.

Having said all that, we come to the much more serious crisis, which is a crisis that predates the ascension of Bush and his friends to power. Both political parties are complicit in a long-term imperial project, a drive for world hegemony that goes back, at least in its most threatening form, to the end of World War II and the beginning of the so-called “Cold War.” That’s the paradigm that is strangling us. The crisis of Bushism is serious enough, since it threatens a takeover by what is, in effect, a neo-fascist cabal that would destroy what vestiges of freedom we have left. But even if the neocon and rightist Republican movement is defeated domestically, the imperial project remains in place, regardless of which party is in power. Those putative progressives who expect the struggle to relax when (if) a Democrat occupies the White House, are living in a fool’s paradise indeed.

The correct political strategy in the long run is to oppose the Bush administration in everything. Bipartisanship has been dead a long time, and it was killed off quite deliberately by the Republican Party. Those who still believe in it and try to practice it will lose every single time because they’re playing by defunct rules. Those who support the Bush administration in anything, regardless of party, need to be opposed in regards to that support. If my representative in the House is a Democrat, and she votes to keep going in Iraq, or to confirm some crackpot Bush appointee, or whatever, she needs to know that I oppose that, and she can’t take my vote for granted. More significantly, we need to oppose imperial policies regardless of which party supports them—in this respect we can see how it makes perfect sense for people to stage protests at Nancy Pelosi’s office, and for Cindy Sheehan to talk about running against her. I don’t give a damn who is annoyed about it. The times are too serious for half-assed measures.

1 comment:

Mauigirl said...

Well said. You're right, no one wants to admit it, but we are indeed in a constitutional crisis here. Jefferson said every generation might have to have its own revolution and we may have finally reached that point. Thanks for the link to Floyd, hadn't seen that one before. Excellent stuff.