Here it is, 2 1/2 weeks from another election, and all those questions posed by the left have re-emerged.
I have argued two things here and elsewhere that I need to reiterate just for October-November 2006: (1) Grand Strategy genrally does more to hold things back than it does to advance them, and they never work the way they were planned anyway, and (2) tactical agility requires that we reject all categorical imperatives.
While he ends up arguing or a Grand Strategy, Bill Fletcher’s recent piece giving the elections some historical context is a must-read for anyone who wants to know why RACE is inescapably one of the elephants in every electoral living room. GENDER is the other, of course, especially in these warlike times. These two elephants take up so much room that they squeeze CLASS right out. The reason this is important this time is that, while people of color, women, and LGBT folk have a great deal to fear from both parties, there is little doubt that the Republicans represent a very serious and immediate threat that can not be ignored. The same holds true for the working class (even those who still think they are in the “middle,” ha ha), but the sheer political and ideological force of white nationalism and patriarchy remains an effective prophylaxis against any kind of class solidarity here in the good, old US of A.
The threat the Republicans present to the one thing we all have in common that transcends ideology and relative social power is the biosphere, which no doubt both parties want to hand over to their elite backers, but toward which this particular adminsitration has taken on a kind of gleeful pillager’s attitude.
No one has convinced me that the Revolution is around the corner to nullify the whole fixed electoral system, so it looks for all the world that the only option is to face the fact of this election — as it is — and vote a straight Democratic ticket. Fletcher’s article, referenced above, makes some interesting pints about these parties being blocs, as opposed to coherent political formations.. which supports my own belief that — in this election, and not as some general rule — it is imperative that people turn out, and turn out massively, to dis-elect the Republican Party.
The Leftist categorical imperativists (never vote Democrat) will have my head for saying this. They are welcome to it. I know the arguments by heart, and have made them myself. But this election is not merely a referendum on the characters of the Democrats. The kind of puritanical impulse that poo-poohs us any time we vote – setting up tyhe straw man that we are “endorsing” Democrats — frequently says that since the US exercises a great deal of control over the UN, we should count that institution as irrelevant, too. The fact that the UN fight over the Iraq war delayed the ground offensive and gave the Turkish government the backbone to deny the US a Northern Front… conferring real tactical advantages to the resistance… doesn’t seem to faze this kind of posturing… or the fact that Venezeula is coming very close to wining a seat on the Security Council, with all the implications of that.
I abstained from the last election because the Democratic Party took the issue of the war off the table; and because I believed the world would be better off after the Bush adminstration spent a bit more time exposing the true character of today’s mono-imperialism. I still stand by that.
This year, however, I will work a polling site for the Democrats.
My “issue,” if we are restricted to one, is the war. The majority of my fellow US voters now agree with my position that the US needs to get its ass out. I’m all about “cut and run,” and may get a nice t-shirt saying just that. But a lot more has happened, and even though it took a sex scandal to hit the tipping point, the polarization of American society ( a good thing, in my view) has increased, there is rumbling from the ‘hood to the ‘burbs, and political changeovers are inherently destabilizing (also a good thing). This disequilibrium creates space for popular movements to operate.
Moreover, the actual period is unique. The Republicans have made an absolute shambles of everything (give them enough rope…), so much so that the Dems will unlikely be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again. The Dems are looking to 2008. If they take the House of both the House and Senate this year, then they will chair all the committees. Motivated by the need to shred the Republican Party prior to posting whichever nitwit they post for the 2008 Presidential Follies, they can use those committee chairs to issue subpeonaes… lots of subpoenaes, subpoenaes like snowflakes fluttering across the Ameircan political landscape.
They will try to limit the ways in which they follow up on investigations, and the press will spin the outcomes to avoid any mention of the unmentionables (imperialism, class, gender, race), but even that doesn’t work anymore. We are wired. And a special dynamic follows periods of revelation, a more generalized mistrust of power, an essential delegitimation.
The Democratic Party as a bloc (see Bill’s article linked above) will be as subject to the turbulence and motion of its constituent sectors as any Parliamentary system… if those sectors are organized. We won’t have the Republicans to hold accountable for the war any longer, so we can fight one enemy instead of two. For the next two years, as the Republicans try moving to the “center” (whatever the fuck that means), the Democrats will be placed in the uncomfortable position of pressure for a left-shift from essential constituents (Black voters, women voters, labor & lawyers), when all they’ll want to do is compete with Repugs for that “centrist” (read: WHITE!!!) vote.
Beyond that, I make no predictions. The reason I don’t buy Grand Strategy is because I am a devotee of complexity theory that tells me the same thing life experience has… no one can ever be smart enough to predict the future. If they tell you they can, be sure they are not about to pee on your leg.
Tactics, however, can be beautuful things. But when you don’t have any tactical openings, then nothing has a better chance of creating one than shaking things up. In 2004, the Republicans in power were shaking things up pretty badly. Now they are becoming paralyzed. Time to bring up the tempo.