By David Swanson
America is quite likely to elect a Republican president in 2009. The first reason is that Republican election fraud has been well established since 2000. Bush and Cheney lost Florida, and therefore America, according to the recount completed by major media outlets after it was officially blocked by the Supreme Court. And they almost certainly would have lost by a much larger margin if not for the illegal purging of the rolls engaged in by Republicans. We've seen a growing array of tactics employed in several states in 2002, 2004, and 2006 to suppress and not count Democratic votes. Bush and Cheney clearly did not win in 2004, yet they are in office. And they have turned the U.S. Department of Justice into a wing of the Republican National Committee.
But a Republican could win in 2008 honestly if the Democrats nominate the wrong sort of candidate and if the Democratic Congress makes the wrong moves in the next year and a half. Remember, as unpopular as Bush is, the Democratic Congress is even more unpopular. The most important issue in this election, as in other recent elections, will be Iraq. It will be even more important than in the past, and the public is even more in support of withdrawal. Because of this, it would be very, very difficult for Hillary Clinton or John Edwards to win the election. The Republicans can be expected to air on our televisions over and over and over again the choicest bits of the speeches these two Senators made when authorizing Bush to attack Iraq. They professed to believe the whole litany of lies about WMDs. A video interspersing these speeches with clips of Clinton or Edwards later denouncing Bush and Cheney's lies would make the Democratic nominee look unprincipled and dishonest. Sean Hannity of Fox News recently brought just such a video to a debate he took part in with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.
Now, Edwards may not be entirely unprincipled and dishonest. He has apologized for his war vote and advanced progressive majority positions on a variety of issues. Sadly, that does not change the fact that it will be virtually impossible for him, having given that speech, to win this election.
I don't think Clinton has ever been hampered by any principles or honesty. You can take footage of her speeches from any given week and edit together bits of her passionately contradicting herself. Most recently she is decisively both for and against speaking to hostile foreign leaders. Clinton cannot possibly win an election. Once you factor out the states that are unlikely to vote for a woman, even a brave and principled woman much less someone like Clinton, this is a tough climb. When you then factor out those on the left who will actively campaign against her or stay home, it begins to look impossible. If you then consider the way in which Clinton will galvanize those on the right who despise her, it's all over.
The Democrats in Congress are opposed to impeachment, in part because Clinton is opposed to it, and in part because they think she'll solve our nation's woes once elected. But they're also opposed because they think impeachment would galvanize their opponents. Nothing would do that as well as nominating Clinton. In contrast, forcing the Republicans to defend Bush and Cheney for the next year and a half would actually benefit the Democrats tremendously. Meanwhile, Clinton is not only unlikely to win, but has already committed to keeping the occupation of Iraq going until the end of her second term. Force her to admit that again in October 2008, and you can start singing the Republican Homeland National Anthem.
Now, Barack Obama did not vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq. But he has voted many times to fund the occupation. He has given speeches in support of doing so. He supports keeping open the possibility of aggressively attacking Iran, including with nuclear weapons. He has proposed launching an illegal aggressive attack on Pakistan. He, like Clinton and Edwards, does not favor a swift and complete end to the occupation of Iraq. The peace activists already planning to protest the Democratic Convention will only be energized if the nominee is Obama. Numerous researchers and scholars are already predicting a Democratic loss if the Democratic Party does not take a strong stand for getting out of Iraq. Obama will not do that. And, on top of this, he'll lose the white-racist vote.
Obama, unlike Clinton and Edwards, is not hopelessly handicapped, but he will not win if the direction he pursues resembles even remotely the path he has been taking for the past several months.
But if all of this is as obvious as I am suggesting, why, then, are these candidates ahead in the polls? Well, the other candidates who have announced thus far, and some of those still rumored to be considering jumping in, are not without their own shortcomings. And those with the best records on Iraq, like Congressman Dennis Kucinich, are effectively shut out by the media. There is a pattern well established in this country of the corporate media working very hard to nominate Democrats destined to lose. This is not all a conscious conspiracy. The media does simply favor those Democrats who most resemble Republicans. The problem is that voters don't share this taste. The Democrats' base prefers strong and principled Democrats to Republican-lite. And that tiny sliver of voters who swing between parties also prefers candidates with strong principles who stand up for what they believe in. Less important is what specifically they are standing up for.
Those Democrats who vote in primaries are very obedient to the media's dictates. But general election voters are not voting as strategists and pundits. They're voting as citizens. And the biggest determining factor is whether they stay home or are motivated to go and vote.
Democrats could win in 2008 by taking the following steps:
Requiring paper ballots in every election, and election oversight by non-partisan officials.
Impeaching and removing Alberto Gonzales, and establishing strict oversight of the Justice Department.
Taking strong and swift action on Iraq and impeachment. Over three-quarters of Democrats want Cheney impeached, and the demand for Cheney and Bush's impeachments will only grow over the coming year and a half if not answered. When the Democrats moved to impeach Nixon they then won the biggest victories in recent history. When they took the impeachment of Reagan off the table, they lost. 230 years of impeachment efforts tells the story. It always benefits a political party to push for impeachment, successfully or otherwise. The only exception is the Clinton impeachment, which was unique in terms of the public's opposition to it, which was apparent from the start. Even so, the Republicans held onto both houses of Congress and the White House. And Al Gore was so put on the defensive that he chose Lieberman as a running mate and campaigned as if he'd never met Bill Clinton.
The Democratic leadership in Congress should announce immediately that because all useful bills are vetoed, they are going to solve our nation's problems by other means:
First, they should announce that there will be no more bills to fund the occupation of Iraq. Then, unless Bush chooses to fund the occupation illegally, he will need to bring all troops and mercenaries and contractors home. He already has much more than enough funding to do that.