Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ready, Get Set

Who knows what tonight’s debate or the next twenty days will bring, but it is heartening that even Rush Limbaugh is now asking what Sarah Palin’s plans will be after November 4. Saner pundits too are pondering the question of the GOP’s future and Palin’s role, if any, in it. The prevailing assumption, of course, is that John McCain has no future. The only question, currently of interest to the commentariat, is how culpable he has been in bringing about that outcome. [The consensus still is that it’s mainly “the economy, stupid.”]

But, again, anything can happen, and this is no time to be complacent. The first order of business, for the next twenty days, is therefore to insure that McCain-Palin lose, and that they lose in the best possible way.

This does not necessarily imply that the best thing to do is to pile onto the Obama bandwagon. Since I live in a “safe” state, I’m still “undecided” – between Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader. There is some danger, of course, that, as November 4 approaches, so too will panic, and that I’ll end up hating myself for voting for Obama. In the coming days, I expect to be thinking hard about how I and others in my situation can get the most bang, as it were, out of our feeble votes.

In any case, now is plainly the time to get ready for the struggle to come. Obama started out his primary campaign as a center-right Democrat, barely less onerous than Joe Biden or the Clintons, but worse than all the rest. Since winning the nomination and especially since the conventions, he’s been surging to the right – to the point of caving in entirely on retroactive telecom immunity and the shameless Wall Street bailout. And, of course, he no longer even tries to maintain the pretense that his is an anti-war candidacy. On the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, Obama-Biden are about as onerous as McCain (and Palin too, insofar as she is able to hold a “secular” thought on the subject).

Therefore, if not now, then in twenty days (and not a day later), it will become urgent to agitate for “real change” and to organize to bring it about. What this will include is obvious enough; some of it even found its way into the Democratic primaries, back in the days when Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were still included, and when John Edwards offered a more “realistic” prospect of amelioration on the domestic, if not the international, front. What is called for is not especially “radical,” though that could come later, if all goes well. Here, in no particular order, is a far from exhaustive list:

-ending both on-going Bush wars;
-“supporting the troops” by spending serious resources reintegrating them into society;
-supporting the Bush wars' victims in Iraq and Afghanistan by offering genuine, no strings attached reparations;
-bringing the perpetrators of those wars, at least Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice, but ideally also their principal underlings, to justice;
-launching far-reaching government interventions into the economy with a view not just to diminishing economic turbulence but also to empowering the labor movement and other “civil society” organizations (some not yet even formed);
-restoring civil liberties, including privacy rights and protections for political protesters and other dissidents;
-ending torture, indefinite detentions and other violations of international morality and law currently “justified” by the so-called War on Terror.
-appointing federal judges who will not impede progress in advancing civil and reproductive rights or block efforts to employ the federal government to promote liberty and equality;
-promoting sane sentencing policies and ending judicial murder at the federal level;
-restoring the integrity of the Department of Justice, making it work in ways that enhance, not diminish, Americans’ rights and freedoms;
-changing American foreign policy in the Middle East, including Israel/Palestine, with a view to de-militarizing the region, quashing religious fanaticism, stopping ethnic cleansing, and promoting justice for all its peoples;
-ending efforts to establish American satellite states around Russia’s borders; and
-establishing “normal” relations, based on mutual respect and international law, with all the countries of Latin America, including Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.

There is no reason to think Obama and the band of Democrats he’ll bring with him to the White House will do any of this or much else that is estimable (and embarrassingly “moderate”) – unless “we the people” make them. Ready, get set.. and (in just three weeks time) go!

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