Should We Even Try?
People really HATE Bush now. Even liberals are clamoring for the election of a man who supported the Gulf War and the Patriot Act, a man who opposes gay marriage, just to get Bush out of office. Once again Americans are told they have to rally behind the lesser of two evils.
It’s a game of “good cop-bad cop” that liberal and conservative parties play out in Western democracies. In the US it’s Democrats vs Republicans, Labor vs Conservative in the UK, Parti Socialiste vs the Gaullist RPR in France, Socialist vs Christian Democrat in Germany etc.
It goes like this: the conservative bad cop bangs your head on the table, quick kick to the kidneys where it won’t show, closes your schools and hospitals. He leaves the room threatening further interactions of an electrical nature. The good cop, liberal, walks in. He’s sympathetic, “I feel your pain” he says to you. He deplores the extra-legal actions of his rogue colleague but there’s nothing he can do about it. He wants to be your friend. He wants to help - but he can’t. He can’t help you unless you’re willing to help him out. Just sign this confession; just vote for his party, and you can go on your way.
Well, Republicans do cut funding for health care, they execute people, they drop bombs on cites. One thing you can always say: when Republicans are in power, more people will die. Of course Democrats kill people too. Clinton’s War on Women and Children dismantled welfare in the US. He bombed Iraq many, many times and once, even a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan. Tony Blair. the Laborite, is in Iraq up to his elbows.
What's the Difference?
There’s a revealing story told about Bill Clinton in 1992. He was going into the primary in New Hampshire. In Arkansas, a mentally damaged man, Ricky Ray Rector, was scheduled for execution. Rector, after killing two people, had turned his gun on himself and blew away 1/3 of his brain. He was so severely retarded that, after his last meal, he saved his desert to finish off after the execution.
If Clinton had stopped the execution, he probably never would have become President. Only four years before, the Democratic candidate, Dukakis, had been crucified because Willie Horton, a paroled prisoner from his state, had been convicted of subsequent crimes. Clinton had once opposed capital punishment, but he allowed the execution of Rector to proceed.
The doctors had trouble finding a vein to administer the lethal injection and the execution was delayed for over an hour.. Carolyn Staley, a friend of Clinton’s heard about the delay on the radio and called the candidate. She told him:
I just wanted to let you know that I'm praying for you about the execution tonight,' and he replied in a groan: 'It's just awful. Just terrible, terrible.' As she recalls it now, 'I heard in his voice a self - a depth of anguish - I'd never, never heard in him before.' She then told him: 'You know, he's not even dead yet.' 'What?'she remembers him exclaiming. 'What?' He just groaned, she remembers.
Marshall Frady, “ Death in Arkansas,” New Yorker, Feb. 22, 1993
In other words, Clinton did not enjoy killing Ricky Ray Rector. He took no pleasure in the act. In contrast Bush, as Governor of Texas, would laugh and prance and mock his victims before killing them. The main difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans kill people because they enjoy it, Democrats kill people too, because they’re afraid not to.
Why are they like that?
Recently Minnesota had a 3rd Party Governor, Jesse Ventura. He was a buffoon, but he did have his own integrity. The State Legislature passed a bill requiring children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school every day. Ventura had been a Navy SEAL in the Vietnam War, but he vetoed this bill. He did so because, as he put it, “patriotism has to come from the heart.”
Of course patriotism has to come from the heart, if it's going to mean anything. And religion too, which Republicans are trying to force back into public schools. What this says about Republicans, is that their agenda, from anti-abortion to pro-military, has nothing to do with genuine patriotism or religion or with any real values. It’s all just about control, like you do with school children.
Republicans, and conservatives generally, live very narrow and joyless lives. They have sacrificed everything, relationships, personal integrity, any innate sensitivity or intelligence, to the job of making money. It is an endless task, because no one ever seems to have enough money. But even when they are “rich enough”, they’re still not happy. They have given up everything that makes life worthwhile and now life has passed them by. They have nothing to show for their sacrifice but their adherence to a rigid and artificial set of “values”. The have destroyed their own lives and now they want to destroy yours.
Democrats, and again liberals generally, want to make your life easier. They support higher wages and personal choices. They are decent, middle-class people who want you to become more like them (a legitimate source, incidentally, of working-class antagonism.) Democrats want social change, but nothing really radical like worker control or, fer Chrissakes, an equal distribution of property. In fact the liberal agenda is meant to prevent real change. When people are comfortable, they’re not going to demand too much of the rich.
By and large it’s a sensible and successful strategy. And it puts radicals, such as myself, in the position of dismissing marginal improvements in people’s lives, on the principle that things have to get worse before they get better.
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