Anybody but George
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Why did John Kerry lose the election? Possibly there was manipulation of the voting and the vote tallying in those electronic black boxes now used for unaccountable counting. But let's assume that any voting fraud would not have changed the outcome. Roughly half the country indeed voted to keep the incumbent. Why? The Democratic Party and its candidate for president had no punch. They were not an attractive alternative.
Democrats could have responded to the obvious blunders in the war in Iraq, yet Kerry provided no specific plan. The Democrats could not blame the initiation of the war entirely on the Republican administration, since their representatives in Congress voted to authorize and finance the war. The Democratic Party is as guilty as the Republicans of disrespecting the Constitution of the United States, which endows Congress, not the president, with the power to declare war.
Unfortunately, the strategy of the Democrats was to keep repeating a list of policy failures and then chant "anybody but Bush." This was tiresome and futile. Kerry said he would get allies involved in the war, but this was unrealistic, and worse than that, incoherent. Kerry said the war was wrong, but that he would continue it. If the war is wrong, then the logical policy is to end it, to bring the troops home. Bush struck points in saying that allies would not join a war that a Kerry president says is wrong. Why should they?
The coherent and politically savvy response to the war in Iraq is either to say it is wrong and that the US should immediately withdraw, or else to say that the war can have a rightful purpose if carried out properly, and to present a specific plan to do it right. A President Kerry would have asked troops to continue dying for what he said is a wrong war -- how can one vote for that?
On the economy, Kerry advocated repealing the Bush tax cut for the rich. But that would not have raised enough funds to pay for the programs he advocated. His promise to reduce the budget deficit and spend more for domestic programs was not realistic. What the Democrats were really counting on was that there would be so much disgust for the Republicans that any Democrat would be elected no matter how vague his policy proposals. "Anybody but Bush" made the Democrats lazy and hazy. They forgot that the Republicans were very good at propaganda. They manipulated Kerry's statements and Senate votes to make him seem contradictory. The "flip flop!" chorus was a clever and awesome propaganda technique:
"He said he voted for the Iraq funding before he voted against it!" "FLIP FLOP!!" "He was first for the war and now he's against it!!" "FLIP FLOP!!"
Of course president Bush also often changed his position, but the Republicans were the first to exploit flip-flopping, and did it so well that the Democrats could not possible counter it.
The Democratic Party convention was a not a forum for clear and effective policy programs but a propaganda show that bashed Bush and featured Kerry as a Vietnam hero. This backfired, as his opponents would question Kerry's Vietnam record. Kerry's platform amounted to: I was a Vietnam hero, I have better abilities, and I am not Bush." The public didn't buy it.
Then there was the traditional values issue, such as homosexual marriage and abortion. The Democrats needed to fight fire with fire. They had to present vigorous moral and religious arguments in support of legal equality for homosexuals, but labeled "pairage" instead of "marriage," thus keeping the word and symbol of hetero-marriage sacred. In other words, offer substance to the liberals and sizzle to the conservatives. But the Democrats failed to confront this issue, vainly hoping instead that "anybody but Bush" would carry the day.
The basic problem in American politics is that both establishment parties favor status quo policies: the taxation of productive human action, arbitrary cultural restrictions, and a supremacist foreign policy. They seek to tax everything but land value. The Democrats and Republicans really seek a policy of "anybody except Henry George." The precise policy that would provide justice and prosperity, pure free trade and public revenue from land rent, is ignored, despised, and rejected by Republicans and Democrats. So why vote for either?
The dogma of American politics is "anybody but George" -- not against George Bush, but against Henry George. Only the non-establishment parties respect the U.S. Constitution and seek radical reforms that would eliminate unconstitutional wars, destructive taxes and unjust restrictions. So don't cry for America and the world because Bush won. A Kerry victory would not have changed anything fundamental. Cry out and do something about the greedy special interests exploit the public ignorance about land and liberty.
If the Democrats latch on to land and liberty, that will be a winning strategy. So long as both Republicans and Democrats disparage and ignore land and liberty, it does not much matter which side wins an election.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2004 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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