Jan 19, 2004
The contest for the presidential election now governs every move by the major players.
The general outlines programmed by Bush's handlers for his re-election campaign are clearly visible. On all fronts, Bush will attempt to deny reality and try to get away with it.
Bush's most important job in his campaign will be to pretend that the war in Iraq has gone away – in time for November. It's why he has set a deadline of June 30 to choose a "new" government in Iraq – and why he has pulled a similar phony deal in Afghanistan. These will serve as a smoke screen to pretend that there can soon be a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops – after the election, of course! Not a bit of it will be true – but that's what smoke screens are for.
Bush will also pretend that the economy is recovering and doing well, that his tax cuts and deficit spending are working, and voters can have confidence that more jobs and a more secure future are just around the corner.
Of course this will require mounds of lies about such data as mass layoffs, unemployment, rising numbers of workers who quit looking for jobs that aren't there, household debt, personal bankruptcies, and declining real wages. But the Bush team has had plenty of practice lying!
Bush will also attempt to run on his image as a God-fearing, morally engaged, far-sighted person. Opening this part of his show, he has so far offered to temporarily legalize Hispanic immigrants, offered a 1.5 billion dollar program to promote traditional marriage, and proposed sending astronauts to Mars.
Hopefully the Martians will avoid the increased oppression, hidden in the guts of his headline-making proposals, that Bush would visit on earthbound women and immigrants.
Bush's lies and hypocrisy are obvious to the vast majority of Americans. It's obvious that the war in Iraq is a real catastrophe. It's obvious that the economy is tottering on the edge of collapse. It's obvious that Bush mentioned Hispanics only in order to corral some votes, and it's obvious that he mentions marriage in order to please those who want to impose fundamentalist Christianity on society.
If any candidate for president would thoroughly and completely oppose this garbage, the election would be no contest.
If any candidate said their first act in office would be to sign the order for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, their vote would be a landslide.
If any candidate promised that the money saved by withdrawing from Iraq would immediately be put toward hiring two million workers to rebuild this country's roads, schools, and social services, their vote would be a landslide.
If any candidate pledged to raise the minimum wage to a livable $15 an hour, and to inaugurate national full-coverage health care, their vote would be a landslide.
But there aren't major candidates proposing those things. There are only Democrats. And that's not who the Democrats are.
The Democrats are like Howard Dean, who promotes an image of being against the occupation of Iraq, but has said troops can not be withdrawn immediately.
The Democrats are like Richard Gephardt, who says he is concerned about jobs but who proposes no more than increased corporate tax breaks and changes to NAFTA – as if those things could possibly generate any more jobs than what they already have – which is zero.
The Democrats are like John Kerry, who promotes himself as both a courageous war veteran and an experienced foreign policy statesman – and who has been in Washington inner circles for many years without providing any evidence that workers' problems are on his high-priority list.
And finally the Democrats are like Johnny-come-lately General Wesley Clark, promoting himself as a no-nonsense general who can solve the Iraq problem – but, like Dean, avoiding any commitments about getting the troops out of there.
These are the Democrats who are being selected, by the big money behind the scenes, as challengers to Bush. In truth, they are selected on the same grounds that Bush has been selected: in their years of service in high positions, they have proved their loyalty to the interests of the ruling class. They have proved their ability to efficiently defend the wealthy and the order of their society.
The working class needs other leaders. The working class needs a party of those who can lead the fights that are necessary, if workers' problems are to be solved. There is no such party today; there are no such candidates. But neither is there any reason for workers to try to choose among the available liars.