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The US left could learn from Mexico’s example

by : Daniel Patrick Welch
Monday November 20, 2006 - 02:14

Andrés Manuel López Obrador for President (of the US!!)

by Daniel Patrick Welch

Synopsis: Every election cycle, the US antiwar left reconvinces itself that its best chance of advancing its agenda is to dive once again into an alliance with the Democratic Party. Poor Charlie Brown! Is Lucy going to yank the ball away again? No suspense here....

"The only game in town" is just one of the myriad cover stories used by the vestiges of the US left to justify continued support for the reactionary (and otherwise moribund) Democratic Party. Nader threw the election to Bush, not fraud, not the Democrats’ refusal to embrace a progressive agenda, not decades of cozying up to the corporate enemies of the people, not the complete alienation of so many potential voters that a "good" turnout breaks 50%; not the fascist and racist "cleansing" of released felons in the Old Confederacy that makes up to 25 % of black males ineligible for the franchise in 9 states of the unreconstructed south.

But what exactly is "the only game in town?" What irony that the system that spouts near-religious fervor for entrepreneurial capitalism is astonishingly stalinist when it comes to political choice. "You want white bread or buttertop white bread? Is only choice for customers. We are apologizing for inconvenience, yes?"

The defeatist attitude of those locked in the death-struggle of US politics would have us believe that no change is possible. Excuse me, let me rephrase, your honor: the only vehicle for change is the incremental, subtle pressure from within that one might use to steer a toboggan. Since this is the only road open to us, we are left looking at the backs of several 300-pound morons, all leaning hard to the right. Oh, okay, let’s tilt left and see where the toboggan goes. What a load of crap.

There are few things more permanent than the PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled Mexico with an iron fist until a few years ago. Vicente Fox’s PAN completely destroyed the PRI, much to everyone’s surprise, and from its ashes rose the popular movement now headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, an authentic partisan of the Mexican left. When his election was stolen by the ruling plutocrats, he did not give a neat-and-tidy flag-drenched speech and run off to teach at Columbia; on the contrary, the fraudulent manipulation led to a true popular uprising the results of which still remain to be seen.

And this only a few short years after the PRI was the undisputed, eternal guardian of the Mexican "revolution." To be sure, AMALO has been helped by struggles great and small in Mexico, from the Zapatista uprising to the teachers’ strike in Oaxaca—not to mention the general trend of Latin American elections to begin to throw off the yoke of US corporate diktat.

Still, the lesson is an important one for those who refuse to end their love affair with the Democratic Party as a viable conduit for the US left. It’s not hard to see: it takes a true ostrich personality, combined with a sort of mass hysteria, to hide the obvious truth that the ideals of the left are completely incompatible with the goals of this party. Party Chairmain Dean telegraphs his own stay-the-course promise by saying that things won’t change dramatically in Iraq if the Democrats manage to avoid self- destruction and regain legislative power.

Forget for the moment the obvious foreboding that the media will not conduct exit polling for House races in this midterm. The anachronism of exit polling, used successfully to detect fraud in election monitoring worldwide, no longer has a place in the self-described and self-delusional cradle of democracy. And such quaint notions must go the way of the Geneva Convention.

Next, John Kerry is forced to apologize (and does so!) for suggesting that it is poor kids that get stuck in Iraq. The party hierarchy is openly hostile to anyone with an antiwar platform, scared to death that an increasingly antiwar public might have some actual distinction on which to vote their conscience. God forbid! Three quarters of a million dead Iraqis are somehow anathema to candidates, even while the public is finally waking up to the ginormous ongoing DU-soaked war crime that is the invasion of Iraq. And while the corpse of this erstwhile force in US politics lies twitching on the gurney, it is the progressive wing that inexplicably breathes life into this hopeless frankenstein. Never before have so many been ignored by so few doing all they can to subvert the will of the many.

It’s a difficult transition for many on the left, constantly trained and goaded into thinking that if they can just gain power and then nudge the party to the left from within, all will be well. What a shame, and a waste of talent and passion to boot. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and you can’t steer a toboggan one way if everyone else on board is leaning the other way.

© 2006 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to http://danielpwelch.com. Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School http://www.greenhouseschool.org. Translations of articles are available in up to 20 languages. Links to the website are appreciated at danielpwelch.com.

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