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A strategy for the November elections: Punt!

By       Message Jim Arnold     Permalink
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In football, when it's clear you don't have much chance to move the ball to the goal, you kick it away - you punt - and hope to get the ball back in a better scoring position.

What would a political punt be like in the present circumstances? Is it relevant, and would it be the most effective strategy?

The political scape is arguably looking like a punting situation, if something can be gained by giving something up. The prospects in the November elections appear bleak, especially for the House. Democratic Party half-measures, compromises, and derelictions have left progressive agendas at a dead-stop against the defenders of corporate power.

It seemed like we had an opportunity after the '08 elections to move the proverbial ball, to move the country in a progressive direction, to reverse the venal policies of Bush/Cheney, to hold the constitutional criminals and the war criminals accountable, to demonstrate the contrast between pro-corporate policies and pro-people policies.

But that opportunity has been squandered. High crimes are no longer illegal. Executive power over citizens is no longer limited, and executive power against corruption is no longer conceded. The Republicans have escaped accountability, gotten up off the ground and returned with a vengeful momentum.

For most likely voters, memory is so short, perspective so narrow, that a return to Republican rule appears like maybe a promising alternative to the passivity and ineffectiveness (and non-whiteness) of the Democratic Party.

For many progressives, continuing to support the Party has come to feel like riding a donkey mascot, waving a donkey flag. The question increasingly asked is what to do about the election: Defend the country against the far right by defending the Democratic Party, no matter how compromised and corporatist they have become? Support third-party candidates instead? Or just stay home?

Wherever possible, I believe there's no question: progressive candidates should be supported. The mindless call to throw all the incumbents out is classic baby-and-bathwater, and it assumes there would be a shortage of new hacks to replace the old hacks. But supporting Conserva-Dems because they're slightly better than their Republican opponents is a no-exit strategy for maintaining the status quo. If we reward the corrupt and mediocre for their corruption and mediocrity how can we expect things to ever change?

There's a sense of alarm among leading Democrats that majorities in the House and Senate are in danger, and therefore, a blanket support for The Party is essential. And it's persuasive that a Democratic majority in the Senate is vital, especially given the six-year term for Senators. But what about the House?

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A former visitant of UC Santa Cruz, former union boilermaker, ex-Marine, Vietnam vet, anti-war activist, dilettante in science with an earth-shaking theory on the nature of light (which no one will consider), philosopher in the tradition of Schelling, Hegel, Merleau-Ponty, Marx, and Fromm (sigh, no one listens to me on that either), author of a book on wine clubs (ahem), and cast-off programmer of ancient computer languages. I've recently had two physics articles published in an obscure but earnest Central European journal (European Scientific Journal http://www.eujournal.org/index.php/esj) but my main interests remain politics and philosophy.




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