Tuesday, February 24, 2004

If you've read this journal at any point during the past eight months or so, you know I love debating politics. If you know me personally, you also know I despise blind, unquestioning devotion to anyone or anything.

This weekend, I responded to a mass email from a Kucinich supporter offering their take on Johns Kerry & Edwards and cc'd DK's local Meetup group for the hell of it. It was a repost of my February 17th entry announcing/explaining my switch of support from Kucinich to Edwards, with a short preface for context. Not surprisingly, I received a reply questioning not only my decision - suggesting the differences between Kerry and Edwards were "tiny, if they even exist." - but also the legitimacy of my initial support for Kucinich.

So, of course, I responded:

from nycmeetupforkucinich@yahoogroups.com
From: "Guy LeCharles Gonzalez"
Date: Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:42 am
Subject: Re: Digest Number 105

<< Your logic of appealing to the "middle" (which keeps on moving right) would seem to dictate that you support Lieberman last summer, not Kucinich. >>

LOL! Not even close. And so laughable as to not be nearly as offensive as it was likely meant to be.

For the record, my email was in response to one forwarded by Jessica Flagg, Kucinich's NYS Volunteer Coordinator, from David Swanson, Kucinich's former Press Secretary, offering his take on the "favored candidates" (his words), Kerry and Edwards.

My decision to back Edwards next week - in spirit only thanks to the fact that I have no desire to officially declare myself a Democrat and as such, NY's rules on changing party affiliation will keep me from having a say in the primary - is based purely on the fact that I do not want to be faced with a choice between John Kerry and George Bush in November. Unlike most Democrats, I have never believed in the "Anybody But Bush" credo.

While Bush is undeniably a terrible President, he's obviously not bad enough for Democrats to wake up and nominate a true alternative. Given the choice between Kerry and Edwards, I believe Edwards represents the better alternative, both for defeating Bush and for the possibility of future reform in the party itself. That he enjoys some sort of personal friendship with Kucinich is also a plus in my mind.

What mystifies me most is Kucinich's (and his supporters') dogged support for the Democratic Party despite the fact that the party itself sees him (them) as a minor nuisance, at best. I appreciate his hard work and much of what he represents but I also recognize the fact that his moment has now passed and that if Edwards doesn't have an impressive showing on March 2nd, John Kerry will get the Democratic nod, the chances of Bush being reelected will increase, and Ralph Nader will be the only "other" voice the media will cover.

Kucinich needs Edwards to have a strong Super Tuesday in order to maintain his tenuous platform and limited media coverage. If Edwards goes down, the media will declare the primaries as being over, and Kucinich will be _completely_ blacked out.

My "logic of appealing to the 'middle'," as you put it, comes from the recognition that the vast majority of this country does NOT share my opinions on many of the issues. Just like Kucinich's last-minute deal with Edwards in Iowa, I realize that the primary season is a fluid one where you have to pick your battles carefully, and that sometimes compromises have to be made on the fly, and knowing _when_ to make them is as important as knowing which ones to make.

I have always encouraged people to vote their conscience and I fully respect your intent to vote for Kucinich next Tuesday and to support his campaign to the bitter end. I only hope that Tuesday's final results don't bring about that end sooner than necessary, leaving us all in the unenviable position of supporting another "lesser of two evils" candidate with absolutely nothing to show for it but four years of lip service and relative status quo.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
Compromise is always a tricky subject as no one ever wants to admit they're doing it. What I find most ironic about Kucinich supporters, and Kucinich himself, is the unwillingness to acknowledge that supporting the Democratic party is itself a major compromise. While there is certainly a progressive wing of the party, it's about as viable as a Mets fan in the Bronx. We may be tolerated for our views but we're never going to effect major change and, if we push too far, we will be ignored; or silenced.

At this point in the process, if Kucinich really wanted to take a forceful stance, he'd say screw the Democrats and join forces with Nader. It would be political suicide, though, and at his core, as much as I love what he stands for, the guy is a politician and he's playing the game the best he can without breaking the rules. It's a compromise he's obviously comfortable with. As am I with mine.

John Edwards: The best option for real change that we've got. Get him in office, then on November 3rd continue the push for even more change, starting on the local level and bubbling up nationally in the 2008 elections. The worst thing any of us can do is to think that simply replacing Bush is enough.

No comments: