The other morning, while having coffee and reading the paper, Sherry and I talked about my next column. I told her my idea. She said, "Why don't you wait and write it after the election?" I said, "No, I won't feel right doing that. I think I have to write it now." She shrugged and raised her eyebrows. Well, I hope you'll think I did the right thing. Here it is.
How could we not be glad to see them go? After the disastrous, murderous Iraq War — 2,770 U.S. servicemen and women dead and 650,000 Iraqis. After the tragic Katrina FEMA fiasco — 1,836 dead.
After the Foley scandal. And now after the loss of habeas corpus. How could we not be glad to see them go? Most of the voters have decided it's time for a change. They're right. Time for a change and long past due.
Here in Ohio we have more reason to wish them gone: Tom Noe, Republican fund-raiser, guilty of money laundering and on trial for robbing the state's workers' compensation fund and Gov. Bob Taft convicted last year of ethics violations.
What a corrupt and self-serving lot they have been. All wrapped up in the flag, holding up the cross, speaking out for school prayer and charter schools — all while defending the interests of the corporations and their rich friends, raking in the change and text-messaging the pages. Pardon the Spanish, Republicans, but it's ¡Adios! to you.
We will go to our polling places Nov. 7 and vote them out. All the polls suggest that the Democrats will win almost all of the key races in the state. We will all feel some sense of relief to wake up in a state and a country where there are two parties again. The defeat of the Republicans will be without a doubt a good thing. The victory of the Democrats will be less clearly so.
What can we really expect of the Democrats? A Democratic Party victory in the mid-term election will not mean an end to the Iraq War. We should remember that the Democrats — including John Kerry — voted for the war. We can still not find any major Democratic Party politician who will say, "We should get out of Iraq now." Some Democrats say the U.S. government needs a plan to withdraw, that a date should be set, that in the near future ... All of that means that, like the Republicans, the Democrats will find a way to continue the war in Iraq for some time to come.
For the young — and for older folks with short memories — we should remember that the Democrats have long been the war party. John F. Kennedy supported the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and escalated the Vietnam War. Lyndon B. Johnson commanded the invasion of the Dominican Republic and committed the United States to half a million men in Vietnam. Clinton attacked Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and the Sudan. When the Democrats are in power, we will have to fight against the Democrats for peace.
A Democratic Party victory will not mean a victory for workers. We should not forget that it was President Jimmy Carter and Sen. Edward Kennedy who pushed for the deregulation of the trucking and airlines industries in the late 1970s, the beginning of the end of the old American economy. Nor have we forgotten that it was Bill Clinton who negotiated NAFTA, with no real protections for American unions and workers.
While the Democrats have generally done better for African Americans, Latinos, women and GLBT Americans than the Republicans, it is only because activists in those groups have engaged in constant pressure to keep the Democrats from sacrificing them to the party's greater good.
The Democrats by and large share with the Republicans a common ideology that stands for making U.S. corporations dominant in the global marketplace. Winning that contest for world economic supremacy inevitably means using the power of the U.S. military to "protect American interests" in someone else's country.
Don't get me wrong. We will be glad to see the Republicans turned out of office. But we should not have illusions in the Democrats that we might vote for. They're hardly even really Democrats any more. The goals of the old New Deal Democrats such as full employment for all, decent housing and national health insurance — endorsed by Harry Truman in 1948 — have all been dropped. Few Democrats now would have the courage today to talk as they once did frankly about raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
The things we want for our country — fairness, social justice, peace — are not on the Democratic Party agenda, nor have they ever been. The Democratic Party has been for almost 50 years now — since the demise of the big city machines and the solid South — dominated by the largest corporations that hire Madison Avenue to make the ads and pay for the television spots.
The Democrats' goal is simply Democratic victory. The party's program is that common Republocrat agenda of U.S. corporate economic dominance, a program that, as we have learned, can be carried out without creating jobs in the United States, without paying a living wage, without good schools and without national health care. But it can't be carried out without war.
So we will turn out the Republicans. We will now have more Democrats in office, perhaps even in control of Ohio and the House. But while you cast your vote for the Democrats, don't put much faith in them.
What we really need, of course, is an American working peoples' party, one that would defend workers, stand for women's right to choose, take up gay and lesbian rights and fight to protect and advance African Americans and immigrants. For now, though, we'll turn out the Republicans. And get ready to fight the Democrats
Sherry, What do you think? Is it OK? Dan
Dan La Botz is a writer, teacher and activist. His column appears the fourth issue of each month.