Power conceding nothing without demand, as usual by Jenny http://michiganimc.org/feature/display/7637/index.php
The easy smile on Kerry’s face as he conceded to Bush should have made a few things clear.
There are reasons why Kerry conceded so quickly, there are reasons why he never mentioned a single instance of voter fraud or intimidation throughout the day on November 2nd as widespread evidence of disenfranchisement was surfacing (at least through independent media outlets) and there are reasons why he didn’t use his concession speech as an opportunity to articulate even mild opposition to Bush policies.
The reasons are rooted in the fact that Kerry has much more allegiance to elite power in the U.S. than he has or ever will have to the millions of disenfranchised and unrepresented voters in this country.
Speaking out against voter fraud would carry an implicit challenge to the myth of American democracy.
Why should Kerry take the risk of challenging the legitimacy of the system? He is a pro-war, neo-liberal imperialist of the millionaire class. He has nothing to lose and much to gain from another 4 years of the Bush administration.
Given this realization, it’s critical that everyone, from the Democrats who actually saw Kerry as an alternative to the liberals who merely wanted “anyone but Bush” conduct a serious interrogation of how the notion of “electability” dominated political discourse leading up the Democratic primaries.
Many people opposed to the Bush administration’s policies supported Kerry because of his so-called “electability.” At the altar of “electability” many progressive people sacrificed their politics and their self-respect. November 3rd has arrived and we are left with the devastating failure of this logic – not only is Bush still President but national political discourse is even more entrenched around a pro-war, neo-liberal imperialism.
It is worth considering what we would be left with other than defeat, had the Democratic Party thrown its support behind Carol Mosley Braun, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton or even Howard Dean. We might still be faced with Bush on November 3rd, smirking and basking in the glow of illegitimate power. But we would also have a country that was at least talking about the possibility of ending war on Iraq, protecting civil liberties, and challenging the many forms of racial social and economic injustice that are endemic in this country. We might have heard corporate media pundits being forced to talk about something, anything new.
The Democratic Party would do well to prioritize substance over “electability” in future elections in order to avoid the shame and disappointment at having spent four years accomplishing nothing.
But liberals and semi-radicals shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for that to happen. If all the “get out the vote” energy that has been mobilized around this election is to have any lasting strength, it is going to have to start building power outside of, even in opposition to the great farce of national electoral politics. Rather than having coalitions driven by young voters’ tepid support for a pathetic Democratic candidate, they should be driven by real campaigns to end U.S. imperialism at home and abroad.
In other words, groups like the League of Pissed off Voters should not skip a beat in channeling its energy into the new anti-war movement that is inevitably going to emerge. On regional and city levels the League should engage with local elections and ballot issues. But beyond that, there is no reason why the League if it stays organized, can’t do everything from prevent a hospital from closing, stop an incinerator from being built, demand educational justice, fight the prison system and build powerful community institutions that will work to end violence against women, police brutality, homelessness and any number of other things.
For radicals who already prioritize community organizing, fighting oppressive institutions through direct action and building visionary structures of mutual aid and empowerment in the ashes of those institutions, November 3rd is a day like any other. Their daily lives are the work of revolution. I’m thinking of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization , who right now is planning “projects of survival” for this winter, which include public housing takeovers, so that no Detroit resident will face eviction, water shut-offs or lack of heat without community resistance.
I’m also thinking of Sista II Sista in Brooklyn, NY – a freedom school for young women of color that not only builds the political, spiritual and physical strengths of young women, but is challenging patriarchy and violence in their community by creating a collective, women-led, community-based alternative to the police. I’m even thinking of the Indymedia network, which doesn’t waste time reforming corporate media, but creates free, participatory media outside of corporate structures. It is one of the world’s largest all-volunteer-run, decentralized organizations. As such it presents a formidable challenge to the corporate media.
These are models that if supported, studied, replicated and improved upon will bring us to a radically different place in four years. And even if we find ourselves listening to another sniveling Democrat read the same speech that Gore read in 2000 and that Kerry re-read in 2004, with the same shit-eating-I-love-America-grin, it won’t really matter because maybe in four years we’ll be organized enough to make demands.