Up for grabs.The Democratic race for the Presidency has been a triumph of progressive politics. With the exception of Joe Lieberman Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is an American politician from Connecticut. Lieberman was first elected to the United States Senate in 1988, and was elected to his fourth term on November 7, 2006. In the 2000 U.S. , every other candidate in the race has, for the most part, embraced the liberal tradition of the party. All the energy, all the passion, all the momentum is from the left.
After suffering through eight years of Bill Clinton's neoliberalism ne·o·lib·er·al·ism
A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth.
ne , progressives are now prevailing on issue after issue.
On health care, Dennis Kucinich This article or section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.
Content may change as the election approaches. , Carol Moseley Braun Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun (born August 16, 1947) is an American politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first, and to date, the only, African American woman elected to the United States Senate. , and Al Sharpton Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton Jr. (born October 3, 1954) is an American Baptist minister and political, civil rights, and social justice activist. In 2004, Sharpton was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U. S. presidential election. all have come out for a single-payer system single-payer system Health reform Social medicine, in which all medical services are paid by a single reimbursement agency. See Canadian plan, Clinton Plan, Managed care, Socialized medicine. . And by staking this moral high ground, they have forced the other candidates to come up with at least partial measures to insure more Americans, especially children. With forty-three million citizens uninsured, this is an issue that won't go away. And no Medicare flimflam flim·flam Informal
1. Nonsense; humbug.
2. A deception; a swindle.
tr.v. flim·flammed, flim·flam·ming, flim·flams
To swindle; cheat. by Bush will solve it.
On civil liberties, every Democrat has taken it to Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft John David Ashcroft (born May 9 1942) is an American politician who was the 79th United States Attorney General. He served during the first term of President George W. Bush from 2001 until 2005. Ashcroft was previously the Governor of Missouri (1985 – 1993) and a U.S. . John Edwards This article or section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.
Content may change as the election approaches. has been particularly outspoken, stressing the vast powers that Ashcroft and Bush have arrogated to themselves, including the power to hold U.S. citizens in prison indefinitely and not charge them with a crime, not let them see a lawyer, and not let them appear in court. (Edwards, however, does not have a sufficient answer when asked why he voted for the USA Patriot Act USA PATRIOT Act [Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorists], 2001, U.S. . "Well, here's the reality about the Patriot Act Patriot Act: see USA PATRIOT Act. ," he said at the Des Moines debate. "There are provisions in the Patriot Act which never get any attention which do good things. Al Gore recognized these. A lot of the commentators since have.")
John Kerry recently picked up the civil liberties issue, as well. In an Iowa speech on December 1, he criticized the Bush Administration's excesses. "They have used police powers police powers n. from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves to the states the rights and powers "not delegated to the United States" which include protection of the welfare, safety, health and even morals of the public. in secret ways and for political purposes," he said. "It is time to end the era of John Ashcroft." (Kerry, too, voted for the Patriot Act. Here's how he explained that vote in his Iowa speech: "It clearly wasn't a perfect bill--and it had a number of flaws--but this wasn't the time to haggle. It was the time to act.")
When the gay marriage issue came up, several candidates--including Moseley Braun, Sharpton, Edwards, Kerry, and Clark--stressed the importance of looking at it as a civil rights, equal rights, and human rights issue. Kerry, however, did vacillate when he said, "I think the term 'marriage' gets in the way."
On tax fairness, each Democrat has made the case--and it's an easy one--that the Bush Administration's economic policies reward the wealthiest individuals and the corporations, while the bulk of the American people are left to fend for themselves.
On the environment, one Democrat after another has gone after Bush's abysmal record, from Kyoto to "Clean Skies" and "Healthy Forests."
But on some other issues, the Democrats do resemble the old Bill Clinton. Howard Dean, for one, supports welfare reform and capital punishment capital punishment, imposition of a penalty of death by the state. History
Capital punishment was widely applied in ancient times; it can be found (c.1750 B.C.) in the Code of Hammurabi. , two issues that Clinton used to sail into the White House.
And on overall economic policy, most of the candidates heaped so much praise on Clinton's policies that it looked as though the former President won several of the Democratic debates. In particular, the willingness of Kerry and Dean to embrace balancing the budget as a key element of their economic policies should give us pause. Reducing the deficit almost always means cutting social programs.
On trade issues, only Dick Gephardt, Kucinich, and Sharpton made the strong case against NAFTA NAFTA
in full North American Free Trade Agreement
Trade pact signed by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 1992, which took effect in 1994. Inspired by the success of the European Community in reducing trade barriers among its members, NAFTA created the world's , the World Trade Organization, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) (Spanish: Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA), French: Zone de libre-échange des Amériques (ZLÉA), Portuguese: Área de Livre Comércio das Américas . The other candidates paid lip service to strengthening labor and environmental side agreements, but those won't get at the essence of these pacts, which is to elevate the untrammeled pursuit of profit over everything else.
Still, the political direction this year is unmistakable. The talk is not about "New Democrats" anymore, and no one is demagoguing on the race issue (e.g., Sister Souljah) the way Clinton did. Even Al Gore, when he endorsed Dean, spoke of the need to reclaim the Democratic Party.
It is on the war issue that the grassroots progressive movement has made its presence felt the most. Any candidate who voted in favor of the Iraq War--Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, and Lieberman--has had a lot of explaining to do, and they've done it poorly. They may thunder now against Bush's unilateralism u·ni·lat·er·al·ism
A tendency of nations to conduct their foreign affairs individualistically, characterized by minimal consultation and involvement with other nations, even their allies. , but we could not count on them when it mattered most. Wesley Clark also looked foolish early on with his opportunistic flip-flopping on this issue.
Only Kucinich and Sharpton have opposed the war from beginning to end, and they are the only two who are demanding that the U.S. troops come home now. Kucinich has been the most vehement: Bring the U.N. in, and the U.S. out, he says at every opportunity.
But many anti-war folks have lined up behind Howard Dean, even though he is for leaving the troops there, saying he is concerned about what might happen to Iraq if the troops leave right away. (Others, like Clark and Lieberman, want even more troops.)
Dean launched his campaign with his foresighted and outspoken criticism of the war, and he still scores heavily when he excoriates Gephardt and Kerry for taking the Democratic Party along for the war ride. His supporters view him as more electable e·lect·a·ble
Fit or able to be elected, especially to public office: an electable candidate.
e·lect than Kucinich, even though the latter has carried the progressive banner down the line, including issuing a refreshing call to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The whole electability question is a loaded one. Kucinich barely got any media attention during the campaign, even when he performed well in a few of the debates. It's hard to appear electable when you get precious little ink or air time. (On the other hand, Kucinich hasn't run a perfect campaign, either. And he often has come across as almost robotic in his delivery.)
We should recognize, however, at the Dean phenomenon is a progressive one. Whatever the flaws of the candidate himself, and they are significant, we are witnessing a peace-oriented, participatory campaign the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of Eugene McCarthy.
Making ingenious use of the Internet, the Dean campaign has enlisted hundreds of thousands of supporters. And it has persuaded many of those supporters to get actively involved in the campaign: writing letters, hosting house parties, and rounding up friends, colleagues, and family members.
Dean's fundraising prowess, which also comes from the campaign's Internet genius, has enabled his candidacy to become much less reliant on fat cats. Only Dean and Kucinich are raising more than 50 percent of their funds in contributions under $200. All the other candidates are relying for the bulk of their contributions on individual checks of $2,000 each. How many Americans can whip out their checkbooks and write that many zeroes? Dean's huge base of small donations enables him to keep going back for more, since his supporters can continue to give more small donations, while the wealthy contributors max out at $2,000.
This style of fundraising may be the only way Democrats will be able to compete with the oodles of cash that Bush has stashed away for the donnybrook Donnybrook, parish and suburb of Dublin, Co. Dublin, E central Republic of Ireland. It was famous for its annual fair, licensed by King John of England in 1204 and suppressed in 1855 because of its disorderliness. to come.
But can the Democrats win? According to several recent polls, the electorate is split 45-to-45 right now. So, despite all of Bush's advantages, the Democratic nominee will be within striking distance of the President.
It's quite conceivable that a Democrat could make up the remaining ground.
Number one, Bush has ensnared himself in Iraq. While he hastily posted an artificial hand-off date of June 2004, this won't be practical. And he still plans on having more than 100,000 troops in the country afterwards. The insurgency shows no signs of dwindling dwin·dle
v. dwin·dled, dwin·dling, dwin·dles
To become gradually less until little remains.
To cause to dwindle. See Synonyms at decrease. . If U.S. troops keep getting killed over there, Bush may not be able to get out of the Iraq trap he set for himself. And his "bring 'em on" taunt may come back to haunt him.
Number two, the economy is simply not producing jobs. "Since the recession ended twenty-four months ago in November 2001, 726,000 jobs have disappeared--an 0.6 percent contraction," says the Economic Policy Institute. "This is the first time since monthly job statistics began in 1939 that there has not been positive growth in jobs for two years after a recession ended."
In this job-loss recovery, the manufacturing sector--traditionally with the highest-paid workers--has taken the biggest hit, bleeding 2.4 million jobs. "In the last two years, manufacturing employment declined by ... 9.1 percent," the Economic Policy Institute notes. "That record is far worse than the first two years following any previous recession." The manufacturing sector has lost jobs for an astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. forty months in a row.
For Bush, this spells trouble, especially in Ohio, with twenty electoral votes, and a lot of idle and irate manufacturing workers. Bush took Ohio last time. He may not be so lucky this time around.
Also going for Democrats is the lack of enthusiasm for a leftwing third party challenge. Four years ago, after seeing the Democrats move rightward for eight years and after watching their views vanish from the political debate, many progressives threw themselves into the Green Party's Ralph Nader campaign. But this season, recognizing how dangerous Bush has turned out to be, few progressives are likely to side with Nader or the Greens. (And those stubborn but principled people who do so would probably not vote Democratic in any circumstance.)
"For the sake of peace, democracy, social justice, and racial equality, George W. Bush must be defeated in 2004," reads an open letter to the left, entitled "Bush Can Be Stopped." The letter, signed by such leftwing luminaries as Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Ossie Davis, Manning Marable, Elizabeth Martinez, and Pete Seeger, says it's imperative for leftists to work to defeat Bush. "The forthcoming election is unlike any other in recent memory," it states. "The Bush Administration, arguably the most rightwing in the nation's history, has sought to effect a qualitative change of frightening proportions in the conduct of the nation's foreign and domestic policies."
With almost everyone ranging from Joe Lieberman to Noam Chomsky eager to defeat Bush, the Democratic nominee ought to have a chance. And if that nominee manages to boost the turnout of African Americans, Latinos, working women, and activist students, things would look up for the Democrats.
The Presidential election is sure to be one of the most polarized A one-way direction of a signal or the molecules within a material pointing in one direction. in decades. The rightwing is organized and united behind Incurious in·cu·ri·ous
Lacking intellectual inquisitiveness or natural curiosity; uninterested.
in·cu George. The left and the Democrats are energized as never before to put his reign to an end.
Intervening events may prove decisive. Another terrorist attack against the United States, horrible as it is to contemplate, would likely boost Bush's ratings (and could, in the view of now-retired General Tommy Franks, bring about martial law martial law, temporary government and control by military authorities of a territory or state, when war or overwhelming public disturbance makes the civil authorities of the region unable to enforce its law. !). A flare-up elsewhere (say, in North Korea, though Bush may have that up his sleeve for his next term) might also play to his advantage, as would the sudden capture or killing of Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden: see bin Laden, Osama. or Saddam Hussein.
But barring these developments, the Democratic nominee ought to have a fighting chance one dependent upon the issue of a struggle.
See also: Fighting . If he puts up a fight.