"You’re going to think you’re looking at a Republican convention"
I don't know if I'm really a socialist--I find Soviet-style communism and American imperial capitalism approximately equally repellant. But I do find the World Socialist Web Site to have some of the best commentary and most informative articles available on the web. Here are some excerpts from their latest on the extravajohnza which begins in Boston today:
The Democratic National Convention, which opened Monday in Boston, is the culmination of a drive by the most powerful forces in the Democratic Party, the media and the US ruling elite as whole to banish from the November presidential election any debate on the most critical issue facing the American people—the war in Iraq.
The impending coronation of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as the Democratic presidential candidate is the result of a concerted effort during the Democratic primaries to undermine the campaign of then-front-runner Howard Dean, whose bid to win the nomination became a rallying point for mass antiwar sentiment among Democratic voters and in the population at large. The aim was to silence and suppress that sentiment.
This process of political disenfranchisement is to be completed with the official endorsement of Kerry and his running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Both are multimillionaire representatives of the US ruling elite. Both voted in October of 2002 for the congressional resolution authorizing Bush to attack Iraq, and both voted in favor of the Patriot Act. That measure, under the guise of fighting the so-called “war on terror,” gives the CIA, FBI and other police agencies unprecedented powers to spy on the American people and override constitutionally protected civil liberties.
The contempt of the party hierarchy for the sentiments of Democratic voters and the squelching of any democratic discussion were underscored by a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Sunday showing that nine out of ten of the convention delegates thought the United States should not have gone to war in Iraq.
In the run-up to the convention, Kerry has gone out of his way to stress his support for the occupation of Iraq and the crushing of the anti-US insurgency, mainly criticizing Bush for not deploying more troops and, in general, botching the colonial enterprise. He has repeatedly proclaimed his support for the “war on terror” and the doctrine of preemptive war, which is the centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policy of using military force to topple unwanted governments and seize the land and resources of foreign peoples.
The further turn to the right represented by the convention is underscored by cautions from Kerry and other Democratic officials against any outright political attacks on the Bush administration. “This is not going to be about attacking George Bush,” Terry McAuliffe, the national Democratic chairman, declared over the weekend.
What is planned is an orgy of flag-waving patriotism, in which Kerry’s Vietnam War record will take center stage. An unnamed “senior Democrat” told the New York Times, “You’re going to see more veterans, more patriotism, more talk about protecting our country. You’re going to think you’re looking at a Republican convention.”
The New York Times, in its convention-eve editorial, felt obliged to pose the question: what is the point of the whole affair? Acknowledging that the convention was a political coronation, that the Democratic platform refused to even take a position on the invasion of Iraq, and that no real debate would be permitted, the newspaper said it could not argue with the decision of the broadcast networks to limit prime-time coverage to one hour a night.
There is no longer any room within a capitalist system awash in insoluble contradictions for a party of social reform. Instead, the people are confronted with two right-wing parties which, no matter how sharp and even explosive the partisan conflicts, are united in their commitment to a strategy of US global hegemony abroad and social reaction at home.
State of siege
Perhaps the starkest manifestation of the underlying social and political crisis is the extraordinary and unprecedented security surrounding the Democratic convention. This event, supposedly a showcase of American democracy in action, is being held under conditions of a virtual state of siege. Entire sections of Boston have been closed down. Steel barriers have been erected. Ordinary people are being excluded from the convention’s environs. Thousands of police, security personnel and plainclothes federal agents have descended on the city. Police are randomly searching the belongings of people riding the subways.
Demonstrators are prohibited from assembling anywhere near the convention site. They are being herded into fenced-off, isolated “free speech zones”—an Orwellian term if ever there was one—where no one can hear what they have to say.
Meanwhile, behind the barricades and phalanxes of armed police, the politicians and corporate fat cats are indulging themselves in corporate-sponsored bashes.