I think the Democrats are going to lose. Not the 2008 election, but the 2012 election. It seems as if the corporate news analysts who pull the strings in our deceptively free and democratic society have painted this instant in world affairs as a unique opportunity for a Democratic victory. Maybe so, but only in 2008. It seems like everything is going the Democrats’ way: the Bush administration has been arguably the most incompetent since the Grant administration, the Iraq War is now seriously being compared to the Viet Nam War, and the population is beginning to show signs of renewed interest in social democracy.
Behind all of this euphoria, the Republicans are keenly aware of this simple fact: they have no chance to win in 2008, but they know the Democrats will not get anywhere in four years, and they can pick up the scraps in 2012. The current clusterf… I mean… primary race… seems to lend at least some evidence for this claim: the Democrats are serious about the primary, and the Republicans seem less so. The Democrats are running fewer candidates, and thus have a more focused lineup. Basically, we see Clinton, Obama, Richardson, Edwards, and Kucinich. On the other side, the Republicans have a massive lineup including Romney, McCain, Juliani, Brownback, Tancredo, Paul, Thompson, etc, etc. The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, know when to save their juice: Brownback dropped out because he has no chance. Edwards and Robertson should do the same, but they haven’t. (Of course, Kucinich and Paul are special cases since they are in the race on principle.) But the Democrats are basically wasting money on this election, which the analysts tell us, is a likely Clinton victory.
I contend that the Democrats need to recognize that this race is a waste of resources. Given that the media have decided to give Clinton a largely free bully pulpit, the Obama campaign is at a serious disadvantage. Obama has had a unique opportunity to garner widespread grassroots support from private donations. When Barack loses, will he see the same support should he try again in 2012? I seriously doubt it. Likewise, what exactly are Kucinich, Robertson and Edwards accomplishing in the race other than sending money down a black hole? The Republican candidates are trying to win a race for which they at a disadvantage, so it seems wise for the Democrats to play this race in a financially conservative manner while letting Republicans waste their money.
The Democrats are going to need all the money they can get when they win in 2008. The Bush administration left an unwanted gift for the next administration: the worst war since Viet Nam. The Democrats have two choices. Either they can pull out of Iraq and face vilification or they can stay in and see the situation continue to worsen. The Republicans can capitalize either way. If the Democrats pull out, the ensuing chaos will lead the Republicans to point out that Democrats are weak on national defense, which will lead a national security-obsessed population to rally behind the 2012 Republican candidacy. On the other hand, the Democrats could stay in Iraq and watch the political climate here at home worsen. This will also play in favor of the Republicans. If support for the Iraq War is this bad, imagine how bad it will be four years from now. Given how retrospective voters are, it is easy to predict the outcome. (Recall that it was Richard Nixon, a Republican, who led the US out of Viet Nam.)
Meanwhile, the leading Democrats are hardly less reactionary than the Republicans. None of the major candidates are in favor of marriage equality, save Kucinich, who we all know is not going to win the primary. Clinton’s social democratic policies fall quite short of what the American people really want, and Obama’s so-touted universal health care plan is not actually a universal health care plan. Even Obama suggested that his administration might intervene in Pakistan. The candidates are wedded to a strong state and seem to think that neoliberalism must be tolerated, despite the fact that it represents the Holocaust Reloaded. They seem not to care that democracy and what little is positive about national sovereignty is being usurped by crypto-governmental organizations like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.
I emplore my fellows on the Left to recognize what this election is about. Any election is a transfer of state power. It means that the machinery of death and destruction fall to new vile hands. But it does not matter who is operating the meatgrinder: it is still a meatgrinder. This election is about the rights of human beings to live and to be free. What Republicans stand for is truly at its core fascistic and evil: a strong “national security” state that elevates the “rights” of business higher than individual rights, even that of life itself. Therefore, I encourage the Democrats to reconsider how hard they want to push for this election. Do they want to win, be ineffectual and subsequently lose to the forces of reaction in 2012? Or do they want to let the Republicans stew in their own juice so that progressive forces can try to reverse the trend? I contend that the Democrats can do more good as an inertial force than a progressive force at this time.