Part I -- Reality TV At The Democratic
On Wednesday the 5th of September, 2012, in
the middle of the Democratic Party convention, U.S. democracy took a big hit.
Essentially the convention managers rigged a vote in the manner of those
dictatorships that stuff ballot boxes and then announce that 99% of the voters
support the dictator in question. Worse yet, the Democrats did this on national
TV so millions of other Americans could watch them do it. Here is how it
-- The Democratic platform committee had
decided to keep all issues pertaining to a final treaty between Israelis and
Palestinians out of the platform. After all, Israel and Palestine are foreign
nations. Among these issues is the final status of the city of
-- However, the Republican platform
"envisions" Israel with Jerusalem as its capital. Having set this gold standard,
the Republicans were trying their best to make the status of Jerusalem a major
-- So, President Obama apparently decided
that the politically savvy thing to do was to match the Republicans and put into
the .Democratic platform language declaring that "Jerusalem is and will remain
the capital of Israel." (See amendments in picture above).
-- To amend the platform at this point in
time required a two-thirds majority vote from the convention floor. So on
Wednesday the 5th, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was chairing the
Democratic convention, confidently called for the amending vote.
-- Villaraigosa called for the vote three
times. And each time he obviously failed to get the desired result. You will
note that between the second and third time a mystery woman pops into the screen
(see photo above) and, in essence, tells the chairman that the delegates can do
whatever they want, but he has to rule in favor of the change in wording. So,
after the third vote, which again fell short of the two-thirds required,
Villaraigosa straight out lied and said the delegates had approved the change in
wording, and that was that.
-- He then quickly announced that some
bishop would bless the proceedings -- perhaps also absolving Villaraigosa (who I
assume is a good Catholic) of the sin he had just committed.
Part II -- For What?
At this point one has to ask what Mr. Obama
and his advisers think they gained from publicly making a mockery of their own
rules in order to kow-tow to American Zionists more concerned with Israel than
with the United States? Here are some possible answers:
Answer One: Corralling the Jewish Vote
One often sees headlines or editorial
comments that begin with something like, "Going after the Jewish vote." Was that
what the Democratic leadership was doing? This explanation actually makes very
little sense. The only place in the United States where "the Jewish vote" is
demographically significant is the New York
City metropolitan area.
In that region there are now about 1.5 million Jews.
Their numbers particularly count in Brooklyn where Jews make up almost 25% of
Overall there are about six
million Jews living in the U.S
. with about 5 million of them old enough to
vote. That doesn't mean they actually do vote. However, they have a reputation
of being more politically involved than other groups, so let's be generous and
assume that 60% of eligible Jewish voters turn up at the polls for a
presidential election. That means about 3 million votes scattered across the
And just how many of these voters are going
to be swayed one way or another on the basis of whether the Democratic Party
platform mentions Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Other than some of the
Orthodox Jews, and the more fanatical Zionists, the answer is, not many.
According to a number of Jewish observers, among them Peter Beinart in his
recent book, The Crisis of Zionism, today's generation of American Jews
is secular and liberal in their political orientation (which means most of them
are inclined to vote Democrat) and have little commitment to Israel. What this
means is that, unless Obama's electoral advisers are completely out to lunch,
Wednesday's stupid move on national television was not done to chase the "Jewish
Answer Two: Follow the
There is no doubt that a handful of wealthy
Jewish donors account for a disproportionately high percentage of Democratic
Party funds. Some have estimated that
one-third of Democratic Party money
comes from individual Jewish donors. So
it would seem to make sense that it is this donor base that Obama and his
advisers are trying to hold onto with their anti-democratic
However, despite the propaganda of the
Republicans and the musing of the increasingly demented Ed Koch (former
Democratic mayor of NYC and staunch Zionist), both insinuating that Jewish
donors would turn their backs on Obama because he periodically disagrees with
the radicals running the Israeli government, this has never been a serious
threat. For instance, David Pollack, the former chairman of the New York State
Democratic Party declared the
report of such defections
nonsense. "I think anyone who would not give money
to Barack Obama because of his remarks [about Israel] wasn't giving money to him
in 2008." Even Haim
, billionaire entertainment executive, who was reportedly disenchanted
with Obama because of his less than 110% support for Israel, was back on board
in August with a check for a million dollars. "I have, and always will be, a
champion of the Democratic Party..." he said.
It is a very good bet that, if the
September 5th incident never took place and the Democratic platform said not one
word about Jerusalem, Jewish donors would still be contributing to Democratic
Party coffers because they are strong partisans of the party. Of course there
are Jewish donors such as casino czar Sheldon Adelson, but he is a far-right
devotee and would never give a nickel to Obama.
The point here is that those big Jewish
donors likely to give to the Democratic Party are in fact already doing so, and
the Jerusalem platform plank has nothing to do with their motivation. So
something else has to be going on.
Answer Three: Fear
Could it be that the Jerusalem platform
stunt was committed out of fear of Zionist attack ads? There is a strong
contingent of American Zionist radicals, allied with the Israeli government, who
are determined not only to deny Obama a second term, but also to continuously
scare all other Democratic politicians into full compliance with Israeli
demands. It may be that Obama's kow-towing to AIPAC and similar groups during
his first term is an expression of the concern of both the president and the
Congressional Democrats over the potential viciousness of such organizations.
Perhaps this is part of a larger strategy of moving the Democratic party to the
right, not only to capture independent votes, but also to forestall "swift boat"
style attacks from the radical right-wing generally. Thus, fearing a barrage of
media propaganda from such sources, Obama has consistently tried to deny them
ammunition by anticipating their complaints and moving to satisfy them before
they become big political issues.
It would seem that this fear has become an
obsession with President Obama and his electoral advisers. And, because they are
obsessed with it, they have failed to balance their tactic of satisfying their
foes with the damage it does among their friends.
Part III -- Conclusion
The assumption the Democratic electoral
gurus act on is that American progressives really have nowhere else to go other
than the Democratic Party. Staying home on election night or voting for the
Green Party would be "throwing your vote away" and, in essence, helping the
Republicans. Such behavior would not reflect rational decision making. Alas,
this turns out to be a naive assumption even if its corollaries are true.
The sad truth is that repeated
disappointment saps a person's will to play the political game at all. Barack
Obama might be a more rational choice for president than Mitt Romney. However,
it may come as a shock to the Democratic Party leadership that the accumulated
disgust of being abandoned repeatedly on issues of high principle is sufficient
to overcome "rational decision making" in the name of something akin to personal
How many progressives will feel this way
and not follow the Democrats' path of "rational choice?" It is very hard to say.
Of course, Obama may win anyway and then the progressives will have been proven
unnecessary to the Democratic Party. At that point, a Democratic Party
progressive may become as rare as a truly moderate Republican. If, on the other
hand, Obama loses, it will be too late to say I am sorry to progressives who,
from the beginning, should have been recognized and treated as a vital part of
the Democratic Party constituency. Four years down the line, the Democrats can
try to patch things up and create a new political approach that brings the
progressives back into the fold in a meaningful way. But that is then and not
For now, one can only conclude that, come 6
November 2012, it will be a lose-lose situation for progressives and their