America’s Pathetic LiberalsAuthor of this text: John Chuckman
You might think from the way the
progressive press laments Al Gore's decision not to run for President again that
there had been a genuine loss to liberalism in America.
But that's not quite the way I see it. Although few
candidates ever came better groomed for high office than Mr. Gore, it is his
performance in the 2000 presidential election that must be lamented.
he won the popular vote¾teaching a new generation of Americans that being elected is no guarantee of winning
under the arcane and anti-democratic provisions of America's 18th century
Constitution. But with an opponent like George Bush, Mr. Gore should have won
that vote by a large enough margin to make the entire business of Florida and
the Supreme Court irrelevant. He should have, as they used to say, „mopped
the floor with" an opponent as inarticulate, unimaginative, and with such a questionable background as Mr. Bush. But he didn't.
remember, once or twice, hearing some tough words from Mr. Gore and thinking
perhaps he had found his voice, only to be quickly disillusioned over the next
day or two. Well, what could you expect from someone who chose to open his
campaign by speaking about family values? "My God," we'd had an earful
of that tired, insincere, and exploitative theme from Republicans over the
previous couple of decades. You might say Mr. Clinton's impeachment was the
family values impeachment, spearheaded, as it was, by a Republican leader who
was sleeping with a staff member and a gross, pompous old phony who used to go
nightclubbing with someone else's wife.
know some will say the impeachment was about honesty, but, please, where is
there recorded a single honest word from Gingrich, Hyde, Thurmond, Helms, Armey,
DeLay, or Gramm?
course, apart from being the phony family values impeachment, it was an
embarrassing demonstration of incompetence. All that massive effort and expense
without so much as having taken a head count on the likelihood of success?
Gore's ineffectual campaign never touched this claptrap and hypocrisy. He was
afraid to do so, even though he had a record as one of the straightest arrows in
Washington. He simply ignored a massive, steaming heap of garbage that had been
left on America's front lawn in Washington. Yet, he managed to blame Mr. Clinton
for his loss.
is with no regret whatever that I wave goodbye to Mr. Gore, not that I believe
there is another at-all-likely candidate of any real merit waiting for his or
her chance. (Note: I include her despite knowing that over vast stretches of
America this is as grievous an error as denying the self-evident truth that all
women should wear frilly aprons and bake cookies, à la Tipper. She won't
be missed either. Is there not something hopeless in that ridiculous nickname
for a middle-aged person?).
we have Mr. Lott's remarks about Strom Thurmond. Suddenly, there is a deluge of
articles and comments about how terrible his words were, about how Republicans
are in bed with racists. Well, Mr. Lott has a very long record, and Mr. Thurmond
has an even longer one. The greatest disgrace concerning these men is that a large body of Americans has voted repeatedly over decades to keep them in high
office. Perhaps, most ridiculous of all, American liberals seem to forget that
Mr. Thurmond started as a Southern Democrat.
the 1930s, Eleanor Roosevelt prodded the great Franklin to speak against the
horrible lynchings of black people in the South, but the President felt that
politics would not permit this. Southern Democrats were a key part of his
political coalition, and Southern Democrats were segregationists, and far worse
in a number of cases. So Franklin kept quiet on lynching, and, in some southern
states, lynchings continued to be occasions for family picnics. I can't resist
pointing out the historic family values connection here.
evolution of the contemporary „southern strategy" in American
presidential elections is based on little more than the fact that the same
people who used to be Southern Democrats (the Republican party having become
anathema in the south for more than a century after Mr. Lincoln's „evil"
Civil War) switched to being Republicans after the Civil Rights movement and Mr.
Johnson's „evil" voting rights legislation of the 1960s. Such is the
slow path of progress.
Trent forgot himself and will now likely pay the price. Neanderthal Republican
hacks like columnist Jeff Jacoby already have the kettle to the boil for
rendering Lott's hide, a fact which should alert us that some deeper political
reason lies behind these rare Republican chest thumping displays over principles
of decency. Again, I will wave goodbye with not a twinge of regret, although
sure in the knowledge that no better person waits to take his place. I can't
help feeling scorn over American liberals' satisfaction at Lott's pathetic
that is, when weighed in a balance against a lifetime's work in the cause of
backwardness and stupidity.
Of course, thanks in part to Mr.
Gore, we now have a President for whom competence is not even an issue. He is
the first Disney-World-diorama President, capable only of looking as though his
plastic coated, mechanical jaw actually makes the sounds coming from his
computer chips. He has earned a place in history, though, having demonstrated
that the presidency itself is now a Constitutional institution of questionable
relevance. The druid-priests to imperial plutocracy who scurry around the White
House keeping his servomotors running and downloading new sound bites onto his
creatures actually now running America¾could
do just as well or badly if the Bush display were packed up and stored away in
the Smithsonian's basement. Perhaps most pathetic is American liberals' constant
looking to the Democratic Party as savior. Many progressive sites on the
Internet display counters with the number of days remaining in Bush's term.
„Excuse me!" as many Americans annoyingly say when making a rude
point, but are we talking about the same Democratic Party that has not said a word about mistreatment of prisoners, torture, and murder since 9/11?
Clinton's foreign policy, while lacking the Appalachian-throwback character of
Mr. Bush's, was often belligerent, often badly conceived, and largely reflected
the same set of interests. Dare I also mention Mr. Johnson launching into what
was to become the holocaust of Vietnam? Or the charming Mr. Kennedy trying
repeatedly to assassinate Mr. Castro, beginning the flow of troops to Vietnam,
creating the corps of professional thugs called the Green Berets, and nearly
engulfing the world in nuclear war? Or Mr. Truman's dangerous fiasco in Korea?
The same jingoistic, imperialist impulse remains dominant.
But I suppose there is relief in longing for a friendlier face like Mr. Clinton's.
That way you can feel a whole lot better about what is going on. And it still
will go on, no matter whether Bush remains or not.
the world's point of view, there is actually some painful merit in Bush's
holding office. I believe already, without the President's crowd fully realizing
what they've done, forces have been set in motion for historic realignments in
international affairs. Bush's Texas-barbecue-and-lethal-injection crowd is
driving all civilized nations on the planet to reconsider aspects of their
relationship with the United States, something that likely will have profound
consequences over the next few decades.
Chuckman encourages your comments: jchuckman@YellowTimes.org
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in the 2003 January/February issue of the American Rationalist ©.
« Society (Published: 06-06-2003 Last change: 21-09-2003)
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