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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Does the Left Have to Be as Nasty as the Right?

George W. Bush and his cronies will clearly do anything to get their way: Lie, cheat, steal, bribe, threaten, deceive, and so forth. They are always willing to highlight crimes, real or imagined, committed by their opponents, yet they conceal their own. They will abandon stated principles to get what they want. While their intentions are generally awful, I would suggest that this ruthlessness in pursuing them may be just as bad.

So it really pisses me off to see liberals doing the same crap. PR Watch, a group I normally have a high opinion of, sent this message today as part of their "weekly spin" newsletter:
"Citizens for a Sound Economy, a national organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R., Texas), is widening its efforts to help presidential candidate Ralph Nader get on the ballot in pivotal states. A recent news release from the corporate-backed group says it plans to pursue those efforts 'in key battleground states like Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.' John Stauber, founder and executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, said today: 'The Republican machine is mobilizing for Nader. Major Republican funders are sending checks to Nader, and a far-right industry-funded front group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, is organizing to get Ralph on the November ballot in a number of swing states. Nader, the sworn enemy of corporate power and influence, has become its not-so-secret weapon for the November election.'"
Of course Armey's effort is a cynical abuse of the campaign financing system, but so is EVERY political contribution. Our elections should not be for sale, and few people have ever made that case longer or stronger than Ralph Nader. But even more infuriating, to me anyway, than the Republican support for Nader is the liberal opposition to him. Stauber, rather than pointing the finger at the totally corrupt political system, blames Nader. Why not blame Kerry, who most definitely is NOT the sworn enemy of corporate power and influence, and in fact has benefited greatly from it? The name-calling and other anti-Ralph activities being perpetrated by the Kerry supporters are every bit as cynical and undemocratic as the Republican support for Ralph. Neither has the slightest interest in advancing democracy. They just want their guy (their corporate elitist skull-and-bones pro-war pro-patriot-act pro-NAFTA guy) to win, principles be damned. The Democrats want to woo progressives by aggressively denying them a choice. Very democratic.

I see the same thing in the outraged reactions to the discussion on postponing elections. People who were and are up in arms, and rightly so, about voters being wrongly purged from voter lists in 2000 are now insisting that the election start and end on one day, no matter how many voters might be prevented from voting because of a terrorist attack or other disaster. This apparently because the issue was brought up by a Bush appointee. (The inner cynic inside my outer cynic suggests that this knee-jerk reaction is just what the Bushies were hoping for. The attack happens election morning in heavily-Democratic areas in Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit, keeping thousands in each city from voting and turning each state red. Can't postpone the election, though.)

I saw it in MoveOn and Council for a livable World and other so-called peace organizations, who basically stopped talking about stopping the war as soon as Kerry had the nomination sewn up. It's pitiful, disgusting, and gives Kerry a free pass to keep moving farther and farther to the right.