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"John Kerry had adopted positions on foreign policy that were nearly identical to Bush's. What, then, was left to distinguish him from the incumbent?" 



Losing ground looking for Mr. Bushlite: Why The DLC's Candidate, John Kerry, Was A Bad Choice For Democrats
Posted December 8, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org

By: Evan Augustine Peterson lll, J.D.

One should avoid drawing simplistic conclusions in the wake of an extraordinarily complex national election with so many independent variables. Nevertheless, the Democratic Party needs to recognized that it has been compulsively displaying a pattern of self-defeating behavior, as in "Oops -- we did it again!"

Consider this:

(1) in 2000, Democrats nominated the Democratic Leadership Council's ("DLC") favorite plutocrat -- Al Gore -- as our party's presidential standard-bearer, and we lost; and

(2) in 2004, Democrats nominated the DLC's favorite plutocrat -- John Kerry -- as our party's presidential standard-bearer, and we lost.

Even a child could see the pattern in that behavior; indeed, it's almost a Freudian repetition-compulsion!

If John "The Real Deal" Kerry was the answer, what was the question?

A month after the US election, Democrats should be willing to admit that we were largely responsible for having defeated ourselves. After all, a majority of us voted for the DLC's "Anybody But Bush" nominee during the Democratic primaries. Those who did so ignored the fact that John Kerry had adopted positions on foreign policy that were nearly identical to Bush's. What, then, was left to distinguish him from the incumbent? [1]

We ensured our own defeat by nominating the "ABB" candidate that nobody really liked. Kerry ratified "preemptive war" and adopted Bush's Iraq War, which disenfranchised antiwar Democrats. And Kerry unwisely focused his acceptance speech on his Vietnam War experience, when everyone knew that he'd also been a prominent antiwar activist. These unexplained biographical self-contradictions alienated Independents and disgruntled Republicans, who ultimately concluded that he was a pale imitation of the "War President." [2]

The DLC Offers One Losing Strategy: Looking For Mr. Bushlite, The Artful Dodger Democrats ought to re-think their impulse to nominate the DLC's preferred presidential candidates. The DLC's Al From and Ed Kilgore contend that their presidential candidates are more effective because they're "centrists." However, this is false. Their unprincipled candidates have an eight-year history of being too pusillanimous to defend themselves from the Republicans' favorite attack mantra: "You can run from the 'L' word, but you can't hide from the fact that you're a liberal!"

Since 1996, the DLC's presidential candidates have tried to run away from the "L" word, but in the end, they always end up being negatively defined as "liberals." Therefore, why not just nominate a REAL liberal? Someone who'd be willing to embrace liberalism and fight courageously for recognizable Democratic principles! Someone who wouldn't pander to a small percentage of swing-voters by adopting "Bush-Lite" policies! Someone who could energize non-voters, because 40% of our electorate didn't bother to vote in 2004!

If the DLC is the answer, the question must be "Why not convert to Republicanism?"

The DLC contends that it creates successful candidates by co-opting right-wing issues, which is know as "triangulation," or "I'm a Republican too!"

However, that's false! In 2000 and 2004, the DLC's candidates LOST their races because their triangulation strategy failed to persuade enough moderate and independent swing-voters -- especially in the South, the Midwest, and the Inland West. Meanwhile, the DLC's rightward-creeping "centrism" has managed to demoralize the Democratic Party's base voters everywhere.

Why not just acknowledge the glaringly-obvious truth: the DLC's candidates have been compiling a LOSING record since 1998. Therefore, they deserve to be re-defined downward as "INEFFECTIVE" and "UNSUCCESSFUL"! [3]

In short, how many drubbings must the Democrats endure before the Democratic National Committee ("DNC") finally realizes that the plutocratic DLC is offering them a LOSING strategy? When will the leaders of the Democratic Party stop hiring the DLC's habitually-losing political consultants, stop prostrating themselves before the Golden Calf of regressive Republicanism, and start selecting progressive candidates who are capable of playing hardball in defense of our core principles? [4]

First Conclusion: The Democratic Party must STOP looking for Mr. Bushlite!


Consider this statistical evidence, which shows how much ground we've lost between Gore vs. Bush in 2000 and Kerry vs. Bush in 2004:

(1) Al Gore won 21 states and the nationwide popular vote by +500,000, but then lost in the Electoral College because the US Supreme Court intervened to stop the recount in Florida (otherwise, Gore would've won 22 states AND the Electoral College);

(2) John Kerry won 19 states, but lost the nationwide popular vote by -3.5 million, and lost in the Electoral College by 286 to 252;

(3) therefore, Kerry's presidential candidacy INCURRED A NET LOSS OF TWO STATES AND A WHOPPING 4 MILLION VOTES to the Republicans [5];

(4) comparatively speaking, Kerry also LOST ground among what had been the Democratic Party's most solid voting demographics -- women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and seniors;

(5) from 1968 through 2008, the White House will have been occupied by a Democratic president for only 12 of those 40 years (i.e., for 3 out of 10 terms); and

(6) in 2004, Democrats lost four seats not only in the House of Representatives (where the Republican majority is now 228-207) but also in the Senate (where the Republican majority is now 55-44).

One could go on citing disturbing statistics, but the aforementioned revelations should suffice to convey two loud-and-clear messages.

The DLC's preferred "centrist" candidate -- John Kerry -- proved to be a bad choice for Democrats. Consider that Bush was widely viewed as vulnerable to defeat because he'd compiled a terrible domestic and foreign record; nevertheless, Kerry's performance against him was CONSIDERABLY WORSE than Al Gore's! [6] Second, if the Democratic Party suppresses grassroots proposals for major reforms and allows this nationwide decline to continue unabated, it will relegate itself to the dustbin of history, and the left will be forced to live in a one-party autocracy or to provide a real alternative -- like Lech Walesa's Solidarity Party in Poland.

Second Conclusion: It's time for the Democratic Party to reform itself, starting with some addition by subtraction! Instead of rewarding the DLC's perpetual losers, it's time for the Democrats to hire better talent. We need to cultivate better candidates who aren't silver-spoons from the DLC's to-the-manor-born plutocracy. And we need to recruit better political consultants -- especially for the hotly-contested races -- well before 2006! [7]

Consider the track record of Kerry's now-discredited political consultants:

(1) the DLC's perpetual loser, Bob Shrum;

(2) DLC-affiliated Bill Clinton's "rajin' Cajun," James Carville; and

(3) Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts specialist, Mary Beth Cahill.

At every stage of the 2004 campaign, Karl Rove out-strategized and tactically outmaneuvered this troika. They started out badly at the Boston Convention, where they grossly overemphasized Kerry's four-and-one-half months of Vietnam combat experience in a failed attempt to make him credible as commander-in-chief. They were still trying to find a coherent theme during the race's final weeks, when they badly overplayed a purely collateral matter -- the US military's ostensible failure to destroy explosives at one facility in Iraq.

Perhaps worst of all, Bob Shrum decided to "take the high road" by muzzling Kerry for approximately five weeks while the "Swift-Boat Veterans For Truth" were smearing his reputation with attack-ads. Shrum should have extinguished that fire immediately; instead, he waited until the state polls showed that the ads were having a devastating effect. By then, his candidate's feeble media rebuttal was a classic case of "too little, too late." The questions about Kerry's fitness to be commander-in-chief had gone unanswered for so long that he ended up being negatively defined by default. The race shifted irreversibly because people were mumbling to themselves: "If Kerry can't even defend himself from these swift-boat guys, how can we possibly believe that he can defend the USA from al-Qaeda?"

By late summer, it was painfully obvious to the political cognoscenti that Kerry's overpaid DLC consultants were getting their clocks cleaned strategically and tactically. They were juxtaposing an overcautious defensive campaign against Karl Rove's bold offensive campaign. They never formulated a realistic game-plan that actually could be implemented -- and not merely because they were too out of touch with the electorate. They simply lacked sufficient talent. Hence, it's safe to conclude that the Kerry troika was collectively out of its league, and no match for Karl Rove and Karen Hughes.

Third Conclusion:
The Democratic Party must jettison the DLC and adjust their rightward course now. If they don't, it's foreseeable that:

(A) the USA's government-corporate-media complex will continue to brainwash the national electorate into a militaristic mindset without any formal opposition; and

(B) voters will continue to prefer The War Party's increasingly-neofascist candidates over the DLC's pale imitations.[8] Therefore, the Democrats will lose more ground if they stubbornly cling to their "triangulation" strategy -- especially in their presidential races, unless another Ross Perot emerges to siphon votes away from the Republican right. Why?

In politics, the electorate's perception is reality. Voters will always prefer "the real thing" over "the pale imitation," and "the devil we know" over "the devil we don't know." This certainly proved to be true in 2004, when voters were forced to choose between:

(1) Bush, whom Rove had positively defined as the folksy straight-talking man of faith in private, who's the "strong" führer-figure that we "need" in public; and

(2) Kerry, whom Rove had negatively defined as an unlikeable metrosexual elitist in private, who's the unprincipled flip-flopping "Bush-Lite" chameleon that we don't need in public.

Fourth Conclusion:
In 2008, Democrats should fight their repetition-compulsion to nominate yet another rich DLC-affiliated US Senator. New York's Senator Hillary Clinton could become an outstanding Senate Minority Leader, but she already has very high negatives in nationwide polls, so she won't make a very good presidential candidate in 2008. If Senator Clinton is nominated, the Republicans probably will counter by nominating either Florida's Jeb Bush or California's Arnold Schwarzenegger -- if they can pass a constitutional amendment to legitimize their foreign-born candidate. In either scenario, the predictable outcome would be a godsend for TV's late-night comedians, but terrifying for everyone else: a White House that's run by one of two neofascist Reichsführers -- an utterly-corrupt "Bush III," or a strutting Mussolini doppelgänger known as "Ahnult The Narcissus Narcosis."

The Bottom Line:
The Democratic Party's reliance on John Kerry to defeat George W. Bush was roughly comparable to Dorothy's reliance on the Cowardly Lion to defeat the Wicked Witch in the Land Of Oz. Of course, the fictitious Kansan Dorothy knew better than to place all of her hopes on a Cowardly Lion, whereas the real-life urban Democrats seemingly lacked her common sense because they actually chose the overcautious Kerry. Only "seemingly," because our recent losses have been orchestrated by the DLC, which was created by plutocratic collaborators -- covert allies in the Republicans' relentless class warfare to benefit the upper class at the expense our middle and lower classes -- in order to infiltrate the Democratic Party, and then to push it ever-further rightward while intentionally loslng races that look "darned close."


[1] Naomi Klein's wise 11-26-04 CD/TN essay, "Kerry And The Gift Of  Impunity."

Also Tom Hayden's 11-24-04 CD essay, "How To End The Iraq War," for the position that Kerry should have taken, and that Democrats still ought to take, on the Iraq War: 

[2] Arianna Huffington's 11-3-04 AO essay, "Anatomy Of A Crushing Political Defeat."

[3] Results from the 2004 exit-polls make it clear that Democrats have failed to adequately address the right's highly-selective culture war over just a few moral values.

A. However, doing God's will is nowhere near as simple as the religious right's fundamentalistic reading of the Biblical scriptures would have us believe. For instance: 11-26-04 ICH essay, "President Bush, I Need Some Advice Concerning God's Laws And How To Follow Them."

B. The right's militaristic-evangelicals have ignored "super-sessionism," or the fact that some of Jesus Christ's New Testament teachings were clearly intended to supersede the Old Testament, as noted in Karen Horst Cobb's 10-25-04 CD essay, "No Longer A Christian (But Still A Disciple)."

[4] For instance, here's a post-election issue on which we must urge our Democratic US Senators to stop playing patty-cake and start playing hardball with the Republicans.

A. UIUC Professor of International Law Francis A. Boyle's 11-18-04 CP essay, " The Dems Are Caving On Gonzales: War Criminal For Attorney General?"

B. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 11-22-04 NFNZ essay, "Why The USA Must Reject Bush's Evil Nominee For Attorney General: Alberto R. Gonzales Wrote 'Torture Memo' That Paved The Way For Abu Ghraib."

[5] Joshua Frank's 11-27-04 CP interview makes it crystal clear that independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader wasn't a factor in the Democrats' 2004 loss, because Nader received only 500,000 votes nationwide, whereas Kerry lost by -3.5 milllion votes.

[6] Joe Trippi's 11-30-04 CD essay, "Only The Grassroots Can Save The Democratic Party."

[7] Arianna Huffington's 12-01-04 AO essay, "Can The Democrats Make 2006 Their 1994?"

[8] Even the Republican paleoconservatives realize that the Bush neocons aren't really conservatives, but rather are neofascists, as Paul Craig Roberts contends in his 11-26-04 CP essay, "The Era Of End-Timers & Neo-Cons: Whatever Happened to Conservatives?"

[9] Howard Zinn's 12-2-04 CD/TP essay, "Harness That Anger."

Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D.
Executive Director
American Center for International Law (ACIL) 

See also:


©2004EAPIII Author: Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D., is the Executive Director of the American Center for International Law ("ACIL"). EvPeters8@aol.com



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