Let’s Stifle the Happy Talk
Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers.
February 12, 2008
The man that once did sell the
lion’s skin while
the beast lived, was killed with hunting him.
Shakespeare: King Henry V.
Happy days are here again!
The GOP is in disarray. The factions of this improbable alliance of
religious fundamentalists, neo-con war hawks, and market absolutists have
discovered, with the emergence of their presumptive nominee, John McCain,
that they have little in common. James Dobson, leader of the fundamentalist
“Focus on the Family,” has announced that rather than vote for McCain, he
will not vote at all. Ann Coulter says that she might even support Hillary
Clinton. Meanwhile, the Democratic base remains solid as party loyalists
tell pollsters that they would be quite happy with either Clinton or Obama.
And in the primaries so far, seventy percent more Democrats have voted than
Republicans. Moreover, the Democratic party is enjoying a substantial
funding advantage over the Republicans. Among liberal pundits and talk show
hosts, there is a sense of inevitable Democratic triumph in the coming
All this optimism is built upon a foundation of demonstrably false
assumptions, revealed in the rhetoric of the campaign – assumptions of which
Democratic party officials and Democratic voters might be readily disabused
if they bothered to soberly reflect upon the most recent presidential
elections and upon evidence that is plainly before them.
However, because these Democrats and progressives apparently prefer their
blissful ignorance, they will likely be smiling all the way to a crushing
disappointment in November.
These are the fatal assumptions:
wish to vote for the Democratic candidate will be able to do so.
cast for the Democratic candidate will all be counted, and counted
coverage of the campaigns will be transparent and unbiased.
informed of the issues, the people will vote according to their
convictions and interests.
Republicans will play by the rules and will gracefully accept the
assumptions were false in 2000 and 2004, and demonstrably so. And they are
false today. Yet the Democrats and their supporters by and large conduct
their campaigns in the unsupported belief that this time the contest will be
open and fair.
Even though the falsehood of these assumptions has been obvious and
unequivocal, the failure to face and deal with them cost the Democrats the
past two presidential elections. Unless the party wakes up and acts
decisively, it might well cost the Democrats the next election For, as Dr.
Phil correctly instructs us, “you can not change what you do not
Disenfranchisement. It’s no secret: the GOP is engaged in a massive
effort to keep traditionally Democratic voters from the polls. Under the
guise of preventing unqualified felons from voting in Florida in 2000, tens
of thousands of qualified voters were barred from voting – enough to deprive
Al Gore of a margin of victory sufficiently large that even the felonious
five Supremes could not overturn it. More recently, eight US attorneys were
fired by Alberto Gonzales for insufficient diligence in keeping Democrats
from the voting booths, leaving one to wonder just what the remaining
eighty-eight have been up to. There have been widespread reports during the
current primaries of voters discovering that they have been “de-registered.”
Greg Palast has charged that several million Democratic votes might be
lost in the next election to GOP “caging” efforts: organized, if illegal,
mailings to likely Democratic households, designed to remove qualified
voters from registration rolls.
Election Fraud. There is abundant evidence that the 2000 and 2004
elections were stolen. I haven’t the space here to review that evidence, but
for those still unconvinced, see Mark Crispin Miller’s
Fooled Again, which lists numerous additional publications that make
the case. (My essays about election fraud
found here). Suffice to say that most of the votes cast in the two
previous presidential elections, and to be cast in the next, are entered
into DRE (direct recording electronic) machines, which are manufactured and
programmed by private companies with strong GOP associations, which utilize
secret software, and which have with no independent means of verification.
Statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence of fraud has failed to
interest the mainstream corporate media, which has placed an almost total
embargo on reporting, much less investigating, this evidence. More
astonishing, however, is the lack of concern for this problem shown by the
Democratic party. If the party’s indifference persists, the GOP will be
given a virtual invitation to steal the next election. Once again, the
Republican will, not need to a majority of ballots to win. Tallies of 45%
should suffice, as Diebold’s and ES&S’s black-box voting and compiling
machines take care of the rest.
The Media Problem. The myth of “liberal media bias” is perpetuated
through repetition without the benefit of evidence. In other words, “the Big
Lie.” In fact, the media has served as a faithful stenographer of Bush and
Cheney lies and GOP propaganda. Recall the unanimous media praise for Colin
Powell’s disgraceful presentation before the UN Security Council in
February, 2003, and the fact that for a long time thereafter, a majority of
the public believed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass
destruction, that he was an ally of al Qaeda, and that he was involved in
the 9/11 attacks. They could only have acquired these false beliefs through
the mainstream media. The corporate media caricatured Al Gore as a serial
liar. It transformed John Kerry from an authentic war hero to an
unscrupulous self-promoter, while it elevated George Bush from a deserter to
a Churchillian “Commander in Chief.” Equally significant is what was missing
from the media: Bush’s terrified immobility in that Florida schoolroom on
9/11, Bush’s military record, GOP efforts at disenfranchisement and election
fraud, the Downing Street memos, Sibel Edmonds’ accusations,
the trial and
conviction of Don Siegelman, and much, much, more. At the same time, dissent
within the media was dealt with brutally.
Witness the fate of
Phil Donahue, Bill Maher, Ashleigh Banfield and Dan Rather. While
we can only imagine the post-convention treatment in store for Hillary
Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama, we may be confident that it will be brutal.
Are the Democrats prepared for this? How do they propose to deal with it?
The salience of “issues.” Once again, the polls show that
regarding such issues as fiscal responsibility, economic justice, health
care, education, civil liberties, and even national defense, the public is
solidly on the side of the Democrats. But the same was true in 1984, when
Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale, and again in 2000, when George Bush
scored points against Al Gore on something called “likeability.” Once again,
the issues are solidly on the side of the Democrats. But they will be
seriously mistaken if they believe that this will suffice to deliver the
election to them. Republican campaign managers have proven themselves to be
masters at “selling the product.” They know how to locate and push the
subliminal buttons and to project the winning imagery.
Fair Play. Americans have prided themselves upon the orderly transfer
of power that follows the defeat of one party by another in a national
election. This time, things could be very different, for the stakes are
enormously greater. During the Bush/Cheney regime, the public treasury has
been looted, corruption has been rampant, public records have been
destroyed, acts of Congress have been ignored and violated – in effect, the
Bush/Cheney regime has been less a government than an ongoing crime wave. If
a Democrat gains control of the White House, he or she will also control the
Justice Department. Those ninety-six Republican US attorneys, who have
investigated and indicted seven Democrats to each Republican, will all be
replaced by appointees of the new administration. It is possible, though not
certain, that suppressed information will be excavated, for example
regarding the Plame case and Sibel Edmunds’ accusations. Criminal
investigations will proceed, followed by indictments, trials and
convictions. Corporate foxes will be expelled from the regulatory
hen-houses, as the federal agencies resume their statutory work of
protecting the public from private, corporate greed. In short, the
ill-gotten wealth, and the very freedom, of many highly situated individuals
may be in jeopardy. The Democratic party and its candidate should expect
extraordinary efforts to protect this wealth and legal immunity, which means
to prevent a Democratic victory in November. If, in the face of all this,
the Democrats anticipate an ordinary contest, fairly fought “by the rules,”
they are heading for a spectacular fall.
A Winning Strategy.
If the Democrats acknowledge and then reject these “fatal assumptions,” and
thus face and deal creatively with the hard realities of the campaign before
them, then they may stand a chance of winning. (For much more about a
winning Democratic strategy, see my
Pressure the media. Because the US corporate media, unlike Pravda and
Izvestia in the Soviet Union, consists of for-profit enterprises that must
answer to their stockholders, they are sensitive to public pressures. And
much of that public is at last beginning to realize that the mainstream
media is no longer a dependable source of information, or worse, is a
dispenser of “official” propaganda. Thus right-wing talk radio is losing its
clout and even the New York Times has taken a hit for its ill-advised
addition of William Kristol to its OpEd page. If a sizeable portion of
citizens vote against media bias by withholding their purchases and
subscriptions, the media might be bent toward reform. “Equal time for
progressives” is not required. Just a responsible reporting of the facts
will nicely suffice. In the meantime, alternative media, the internet in
particular, must be supported and utilized.
Monitor the election. Democrats must insist, while there is still
time, that DRE machines be replaced with paper ballots. Where DRE’s are
locked into place, the Democratic party must support exit polling and poll
watching. Finally, to counteract “caging,” the party must encourage voters
to check out their registrations before election day, and then after
election day the party must demand that all provisional ballots be counted.
Define and Frame the Contest. The Democrats must at last wise up and realize that they
have been playing by the GOP rules and speaking the GOP language. It is a
prescription for failure, for those who make the rules win the game. The
Democrats must take control of the language of the campaign. Thus, as once
again, the Republicans attempt to define the contest as “conservative vs.
liberal,” the Democrats must insist that they are the fiscal conservatives,
and that, as conservatives, they stand for the restoration of the
Constitution and the rule of law. Conversely, Bush, Cheney, and their
lackeys in Congress are not “conservatives,” they are regressives, who have
abolished constitutional guarantees and have endeavored to take the US
economy back to the nineteenth century and the robber barons. So the
Democrats should call the GOP what it is: “regressive.” Furthermore, there
is no “war on terror” – “terror” is a method, not a national adversary.
There is no “Iraq war” – it is an occupation. “Values” encompass more than
beds and bottles, or God, guns and gays. They also include authentic
compassion, toleration, economic justice, civil liberties, peacemaking, and honorable
dealings with foreign powers. The primary theme of the Democratic campaign,
and of the Democratic administration that follows, must the restoration of
the Constitution and the rule of law, and a fair distribution of the
Take off the gloves. This time, the Democrats must, like the
Republicans in 2000 and 2004, be tough and relentless in their campaign. But
unlike the Republicans, the Democrats must be scrupulously honest. The facts
of the past eight years are stark and ugly, so there is no need to embellish
them. The themes must be simple and they must be repeated. Two-thirds of the
American public want the US out of Iraq, ASAP. Repeat, over and over,
McCain’s intention to remain in Iraq for one-hundred years. The public wants
no war with Iran. Repeat video clips of McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb,
Iran.” The GOP wants the public to forget about Bush. Show McCain hugging
Bush. Repeat and repeat and repeat, just as, a decade ago, the corporate
media repeated, thousands of times over, the video clip of Bill Clinton
hugging Monica at the rope line.
Pick a winner. A recent Washington Post poll reported that if the
election were held today, McCain would defeat Hillary Clinton by three
percentage points, but that Obama would defeat McCain by the same three
points. Let’s face it:
is the GOP’s favorite Democrat because she is the most vulnerable. The
MSM effectively disposed of the Democrats’ strongest candidate, John
Edwards. That leaves the young, energetic and eloquent Barack Obama. Not my
first choice, but nonetheless a good choice. Hillary Clinton seeks a
restoration; Barack Obama promises (albeit vaguely) a new direction. The
public, I believe, prefers to look forward rather than backward, and Obama,
in his campaigning, is establishing a charismatic “connection” with a broad
public that is totally out of reach of the bland and tired John McCain.
And finally, raise Hell! The public outrage over the Bush/Cheney
criminal regime, the demand to throw the scoundrels out of office and into
federal prison, the clamor for substantive political and economic reform,
the enthusiastic and unified support behind the Democratic candidate must
reach a decibel level that even the corporate media can not ignore – a
glorious and uproarious outpouring of public sentiment that the
Republican/corporate establishment dare not and will not frustrate.
Whoever wins the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, a
brutal campaign must follow. If Obama is the nominee, he will be the
underdog for each and all of the reasons enumerated above: a rigged
elections machinery, a hostile media, and a ruthless opposing party. If he
is nominated, expect to hear his middle name, “Hussein,” endlessly. Expect
to hear “Osama, I mean Obama,” Expect to be told that he is a secret Muslim,
that he attended a madrassa, and numerous additional lies still to be
This is no time for complacency and optimism. From now on, through the
Denver convention and all the way to November 4, the Democrats must run hard
and run scared, as if they were the underdogs.
Because they are.
Copyright 2008 by Ernest
Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications
Conscience of a Progressive:
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org .