Hope and change---These two words will never be said with the same meaning after this election is over. And let me tell you, as a person who is organizing for impeachment and an end to atrocious policies being carried out in the Middle East by corporations, the military, and the U.S government under the Bush Administration through online writing, phone calls to representatives and senators, letters to the editor, public forums, marches, and street demonstrations, I look forward to Pennsylvania voters ending the competition for the Democratic nomination today.
Although the reality is that electoral fraud may prevent this from happening, a load will be lifted off the peace movement's and impeachment movement's shoulders when we only have to pressure one person to shift their policies on the Iraq war, military contractors like Blackwater, and impeachment.
Presumably, that one person will be Barack Obama so long as Americans stop watching any news shows that air on network or cable television. When Obama has secured the Democratic nomination, the time to push this election to a higher level will come.
In a race whittled down to Obama and McCain, it will become the task of the peace movement and impeachment movement to pressure Obama to shift his policies to policies that call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq (including all military contractors) and reparations to Iraqis. This is what Iraq Veterans Against the War calls for, and it is what Americans and Iraqis want so that this country can begin to renovate, rehabilitate, rejuevenate, and revitalize this democracy that has suffered severely under the Bush Regime.
Should Obama fail to change his policies on Iraq, military contractors, reparations to Iraqis, and other policies concerning the Middle East (like his plan to keep all options on the table when dealing with Iran), it becomes the duty of Americans to join campaigns like the Nader/Gonzalez campaign and apply pressure through that campaign so that Barack Obama is forced to support a change in policies or else lose to McCain in November.
Americans who fail to take notice of third party or independent candidacies like the Nader/Gonzalez ticket in this election are lowering their sights and expectations for the future of this nation and its democracy. They must understand how much they stand to gain through support of a third party or independent candidate and how that support could make Barack a stronger progressive candidate.
Shifting over to supporting a third party or independent ticket like the Nader/Gonzalez ticket will result in a reduction of news stories that consist primarily of pundits/journalists subjecting Obama to faith, patriotism, and God and country tests. It will allow the presidential election to begin to focus on real issues that are being ignored and replaced by stories of bowling and beer drinking. The debates during the general election will be open and will have a focus that is far from what the recent ABC debate's focus was. And Obama can go back to stunning the McCain campaign with more vibrant speeches or addresses like his now famous "race speech," which he delivered as a political response to the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
A significant amount of support for a third party or independent ticket that takes up issues the Republican candidate and Democratic candidate is failing to change (like the policy in the Middle East that is having a vicious trickling down effect on Americans) will allow organizers to challenge people who say they are voting for Obama and that is how they plan to help end the war and hold Bush accountable to do more. Now, Americans will be able to point to a third party candidate or independent candidate and ask, "If you really want to end the war and impeach, why aren't you voting for this third party candidate or independent candidate? Or why aren't you out organizing on the streets for an end to this war and impeachment like we are?"
Most people will probably answer that the third party or independent candidate can never win. But, if the Democratic or Republican candidate is elected and continues the war, the American people will not win. We will continue to lose our economy, our respectability in the world, and our democracy.
Chris Hedges, in a recently published editorial, explains the situation superbly in three paragraphs:
The failure of the American left is a failure of nerve. It has been neutralized and rendered ineffectual as a political force because of its refusal to hold fast on core issues, from universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans, to the steadfast protection of workers’ rights, to an immediate withdrawal from the failed occupation of Iraq to a fight against a militarized economy that is hollowing the country out from the inside.
Let the politicians compromise. This is their job. It is not ours. If the left wants to regain influence in the nation’s political life, it must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party, even if Barack Obama is the nominee, and back progressive, third-party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.
Political and social change, as the radical Christian right and the array of corporate-funded neocon think tanks have demonstrated, are created by the building of movements. This is a lesson American progressives have forgotten. The object of a movement is not to achieve political power at any price. It is to create pressure and mobilize citizens around core issues of justice. It is to force politicians and parties to respond to our demands. It is about rewarding, through support and votes, those who champion progressive ideals and punishing those who refuse. And the current Democratic Party, as any worker in a former manufacturing town in Pennsylvania can tell you, has betrayed us.
If we continue to allow ourselves to vote for Democrats who do not stand up and oppose corporatist policies Republicans graciously support and who pay lip service to Americans on issues we are concerned about just for votes, will continue to see this democracy erode under corporate control.