What did "Anybody but Bush" achieve? Bush
From Sharon Smith at Counterpunch:
Because of Kerry's campaign strategy, the Bush agenda determined the political parameters of the campaign. That is, Bush's right-wing agenda faced no coherent opposition--instead, it received a fainter echo from pro-war neo-liberal John Kerry.I was appalled the first time I heard the "anybody but Bush" argument, and remain so. It gave a green light to the DLC "democrats" like Al From and Terry McAuliffe, channelling their corporate bosses, to choose whichever candidate they felt was least threatening to the corporate-imperial agenda. They proceeded to label Kucinich and Sharpton as "no chance" and Dean as "unelectable," funneling the choice down to pro-war corporatists Kerry and Edwards. Edwards' charm and "two Americas" rhetoric sounded like it might be a little too threatening to Bush, so they let Kerry head the ticket. If by some chance the candidate who made Al Gore seem exciting by contrast managed to defeat the worst president in history, the corporate agenda was still safe. We were going to lose on Tuesday no matter what. We just lost badly. And not only did America not get a better president, it didn't even learn anything. The war is a crime, Guantanamo is a crime, the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind are crimes, NAFTA is a crime. By choosing a candidate who was on board with most of these crimes, America never heard the facts. They don't like gay marriage, and they voted for the candidate they thought actually meant it when he said he didn't either.
If the ABB left is looking for anyone to blame for Bush's victory, it should take a long hard look at itself--and its own unconditional surrender to a candidate as right wing as Kerry. Instead of pressuring Kerry from the left, the ABB left devoted most of its energy attacking Ralph Nader and those who tried to build a genuine left alternative to the Democrats.
In addition, campaigning for Kerry required the antiwar, women's, gay and labor movements to abandon any meaningful struggle. This was not only because they devoted their time, money and energy to campaigning for Kerry, but because struggle would have required criticism of Kerry's own pro-war and other backward positions. The torture at Abu Ghraib, which should have led to angry mass demonstrations of antiwar activists, barely elicited a peep from the antiwar movement--or John Kerry.
Thus, this election was conducted without an opposition to the Republican status quo, allowing the mainstream political debate to continue on Bush's terms--that is, on a right-wing basis. For example, the debate over gay marriage was not between two sides, one supporting it and one opposed, but between two candidates who both opposed it. And these parameters framed the gay marriage debate for the mass of the U.S. population.