Friday, August 10, 2007

Campaign '08 Update 8-12-07: Open Letter to Democratic Primary & Caucus Voters -- Turn This Race Upside Down!

The Candidate, A Film by Robert Redford (1972)

And like "The Bourne Ultimatum," America has been held hostage to a fictional narrative since 9/11 that has virtually nothing to do with the reality at hand when it comes to America’s needs, including our national security. The continued acceptance of the Bush fictional narrative about Iraq is like being in a darkened movie theater, in which reality only seeps in when someone opens the rear door and a splash of light momentarily enters into the darkened room.
A majority of the members of Congress continues to pretend that America’s national security can only be protected by supporting the deeply and profoundly detached from reality fiction peddled daily by the Bush Administration. But that fiction is a destructive one, because it is so divorced from reality that it leaves us as a nation more vulnerable to terrorism with each passing day. It is a fiction created to hide other political and personal agendas.
When Will America Awaken from "The Bush Ultimatum"?, Mark Karlin, Buzzflash Editorial, 8-11-07

Campaign '08 Update 8-12-07: Open Letter to Democratic Primary & Caucus Voters -- Turn This Race Upside Down!

By Richard Power

If there is a small "d" democratic institution in the USA that could still be wrested free of big money interests, and made directly responsive to the will of the people, it is the big "D" Democratic presidential nomination process.

Earlier this year, I argued that speculation about the 2008 presidential race was an indulgence we could not afford, because there was a Constitutional crisis coming, and the fate of the Republic could be decided by this Congress, perhaps even within the first six months of its being sworn in.

Well, we are indeed in the midst of that Constitutional crisis, and it is dire, although most people in the US mainstream news media and the political establishment do not even want to acknowledge its existence. And whether or not this Congress is up to the challenge is yet to be determined, although there are disturbing signs of weakness or worse.

Why would a Congress, in which many members on both sides of the aisle have denounced Alberto Gonzalez as unworthy of his office, be empowering him to violate the Constitutional rights of US citizens? Why would they give this lawless regime more than it asked for? Why do the Democrats refuse to filibuster, even when they are in the majority?

Sometimes, particularly at moments such as the one we all suffered through last week (i.e., when this Congress gave the Bush-Cheney regime expanded powers to violate the Bill of Rights), I wonder if the anti-constitutional coup that was launched in 2000 is complete, and the Democratic leadership is really some sort of hostage. It is just as plausible an explanation as any other at this bizarre point in our history.

Early this year (although of Words of Power will not endorse a candidate until much later in the process), I also published a short list of preferred candidates for Democratic presidential nomination in 2008; it consisted of three announced candidates, and two potential candidates: former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), plus Al Gore, the man who was elected President in 2000, and Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander, who is currently leading the resistance against the next step in the implementation of VICE _resident Cheney's secret energy plan, i.e., war with Iran.

So far I have avoided commenting much on either the debilitating string of debates, or the insidiously banal coverage of the US mainstream news media.

But that is going to change.

Consider this ...

A grass roots uprising in the Democratic primary and caucus process could turn this race literally upside down.

A grass roots uprising in the Democratic primary and caucus process could trump the big money interests.

A grass roots uprising in the Democratic primary and caucus process could change the nature of the debate, and re-define the election next year. A grass roots uprising could restore the republic, renew the promise, and redeem our collective honor as a country.

And such an uprising is do-able. It is within our grasp.

Yes, I know, in practical terms, how much money it costs to "mount a serious race" these days.

But within the context of the Democratic primary and caucus process, a grass roots uprising could defeat the big money.

So I am calling on you to turn this race upside down. Do not succumb. It is not inevitable. Turn this race upside down!

We have been through so much.

Looking back on the 1990s, yes, there was progress and hope, but there were also setbacks and ominous portents.

On one side, NAFTA, GATT, "Welfare reform," the Telecom Act were being shoved down our throats, with a vague promise to fix them later (then "later" was stolen).

On the other side, Kenneth Starr, the Arkansas Project, and the whole of the vast reich-wing conspiracy was trying to lynch President Bill Clinton and his wife, and by destroying them snuff out all hope.

Despite all the adversity and all the political compromise, Clinton-Gore was, indeed, building a bridge to the 21st Century and the reactionary forces in this country wanted it blown up before we all escaped into the future.

All the while, there was the shell-of-man-formerly-known-as-Ralph-Nader whispering the big lie that there was no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, between Al Gore and George Bush. Of course, there was a great difference, morally, spiritually, psychologically, politically, historically.

And there still is, but it is blurred even further in the Orwellian mind world that has sprung up in the last seven years. Unfortunately, the whispering of that big lie will get louder and louder inside the heads of many of our fellow citizens -- unless you turn this race upside down.

This is a very dangerous moment.

But you can have a revolution without blood, i.e., you can have an Evolution, if you turn this race upside down.

There is no downside.

I do not mean any ill will toward Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or Barack Obama (D-IL). I have no desire to weaken either of them. But they are still too close to the forces of complicity and capitulation within the political establishment; and their rhetoric often smells of it. (Although Obama has been breaking out of it recently. He is trying to get over to our side of the cliché divide. Bravo.)

When I hear Clinton, I remind myself of what Gore Vidal told Air America's David Bender -- that she would make a great President. When I hear Obama, I remind myself that Cornell West told Amy Goodman that he has Obama's ear. (Certainly, you cannot question the conscience or clarity of mind of either Gore Vidal or Cornell West.)

Even if Sens. Clinton or Obama eventually win the nomination, turning this race upside down along the way will make them stronger, and better candidates.

There is no down side.

If you vote for Edwards, Richardson or Kucinich, you will change the debate, you will force it not to the left, but into the reality of where we are, i.e., in an emergency situation both for our country and the world.

Flood the voting booths on primary day. And here is the rule of thumb -- whichever one of the three (i.e., Edwards, Kucinich or Richardson, is in the best position to overtake the "frontrunners" in your primary or caucus, vote for that candidate.

Reward Edwards for ditching the Beltwayistan cliches and speaking directly and forcefully. Edwards has made a choice. Biden can talk all he wants about who Edwards was, but it is who he is now that has some meaning.

Edwards had a choice, two choices really -- one on how to run this time, and one on whether or not to keep running when his wife received her diagnosis. In making both choices -- i.e., to run for the truth, and to run in the face of mortality -- he did well for himself, his country and his family.

Edwards is ahead in Iowa, because he has abandoned the politics of Beltwayistan and chosen instead to speak truth to power on poverty, trade, lobbyists, climate change, health care, Darfur, and even on the prevailing culture in media and politics.

Do not let what happened to Dean, happen to Edwards. Do not let the Iowa caucuses be about who comes in second. Do not let the US mainstream media turn the Iowa caucuses into a feeding frenzy of distortion over a video clip taken out of context.

Reward Kucinich for speaking directly and forcefully. Reward him for entering legislation to pursue the impeachment of Cheney. Reward him for having only 30K in his personal bank account (sadly, the mark of an honest politician). Reward him for having a young, beautiful, intelligent activist wife with a pierced tongue.

Of all the potential nominees, only Dennis Kucinich would run the risk of getting McGovernized, i.e., being framed as too far out in front of the mainstream mind-set ideologically. Although arguably, the country is in much worse shape economically, geopolitically, environmentally, and constitutionally than it was in 1972, and the people know it.

Shrum and Carville would call a surge for Kucinich a suicide wish, but Shrum hasn't had any credibility for years, and Carville lost what he had the day he signed a letter to Judge Reggie Walton asking for leniency for Libby.

Reward Richardson for being a) not a senator, b) a successful governor, c) the most experienced person, and d) somebody other than one of the frontrunners.

Turn this race upside down!

And yes, if you turn this race upside down, it could open the door for Al Gore to bring the Party back together by getting in. It is, after all, Gore who is (and was from the beginning) right on Iraq, right on Global Warming, right on the US Constitution, and right for the 21st Century.

Furthermore, if you turn this race upside down, and Cheney succeeds in starting a war with Iran, Gen. Wesley Clark would be in the right place at the right time on the right issue with the right credentials to step in and take the Party and the country in a new direction.

Sens. Joe Biden (D-DL) and Chris Dodd (D-CT)? They are both capable of being President, they have had worthy careers, but they have spent too long in the Senate.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel? I have great respect for Mike Gravel's past, but during a recent on-air interview, Nova M's Mike Malloy exposed some of the weaknesses in Gravel's current thinking.

The leadership is telling everyone to focus on 20008, forget impeachment, etc. -- OK, here is our response, we will turn this race upside down!

This much at least is within our grasp.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Campaign '08, click here.

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