Wednesday, February 06, 2008


"Mrs. Obama quickly got back on her talking points, stressing party unity. But her unguarded answer was similar to what we heard from Obama supporters in e-mail messages that we received after endorsing Mrs. Clinton. Many of those readers said they would not bother to vote if Mr. Obama lost the nomination. That is not the way democracy is supposed to work.

"Among the Republicans, as Mr. McCain has pulled ahead, he has been shrilly attacked by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who have said they’d rather lose the White House than have a nominee who does not pass all of their litmus tests. That is not the way democracy is supposed to work. Their claim that Mr. McCain is not a conservative (based largely on his willingness to actually talk to Democrats) is ludicrous, but it’s damaging to a party bloodied by eight years of the politics of George Bush and Karl Rove.

"There has been much wrong with this campaign: too much money spent on advertising, too many soft-money donations. There is still a chance, at least, to save the race from leaving the country even more divided than in the Bush years. Any candidate, and any party, presuming to unite this country must first unite their own. That is how democracy is supposed to work."

--Pravda (italics mine).

We need major healing in this country. We need to work for the politics of the new. My candidate worked hard to effect transformative change. Let's unite, not divide.

Outside of economics, strictly, I think the biggest achievement of the Bush Administration, 2000-2008, has been to work on a bipartisan effort with the media to pummel our country into a deeper acceptance of idiocy and insubstantiality, and to silence or marginalize those who would speak up in protest. Do so few really notice that all the candidates are using GWB's playbook from 2000? Heal, unite, bring good & honor back to the Oval Office. We're being branded and herded like cattle, and the vehicle for doing so is simply a narrative with a promised endpoint. Have your preferences--express your individuality in the form of your consumer choice for the presidential candidate--but please, folks, do it on our terms.

It's a vicious pattern: politics and marketing moving ever closer together, becoming indistinguishable, stimulated and even produced by the media and academia. Debord may have been a cranky and tyrannical avant-gardist prone to ridicule, but he was nevertheless right, and his condemnatory diagnosis was spot on. The first response: don't stay quiet.


Unknown said...

Out of curiosity, Zach, who is "your" candidate?

ZC said...

OK, probably a longer answer than you wanted Joel, but:

I'm registered as an independent, so in the context of the NY primaries--i.e., when it would have "counted"--it didn't matter anyway. But I was, of course, a Kucinich man. (Though there was one single online "which candidate are you close to" quiz that aligned me with Gravel.) But even Kucinich is farther to the right than I am.

Among the big three Democratic contenders (of yore), I preferred Edwards slightly to Obama and Clinton.

But frankly I feel I got burned with Kerry in '04--I hoped big hopes for him, didn't love him of course but really did feel that "our" collective effort to get him elected--and I'm still not convinced Bush won everything fair & square--and when he lost/"lost" the election I was too crushed. I won't swing right for pragmatic reasons again. I won't vote for a Democrat unless he or she is about as left-liberal as Kucinich. (That means I've still got a chance with smaller offices, just not prez.) If I were in a swing state, I might not be singing the same tune. But for the foreseeable future I will almost definitely be living in blue states, and will therefore occasionally, meagerly protest the Democratic Party for its right-wing extremism by withholding my vote.

So--at this point--I don't really have a candidate anymore

Unknown said...

Zach, thanks for the detailed response.

Personally, I'm from Florida originally, reside in Chicago currently. I voted Nader in the 2000 election in Florida, so I guess I am "one of them," the 500 or so voters who "lost the election for Gore."

In this election, I originally aligned myself with Gravel, and I hate to simplify things, but I feel his anger - a kind of Old Testament wrath - would not be good for this country.

Kucinich might be aligned with my politics - but damn if he isn't a dwarf. I suppose this is where the media and politics begin to intersect. In an ideal state, Kucinich might be viable as President. But I don't think charisma and oratory skills are newly desired traits, and I don't think they are negligible in a President.

I can't love Cary Grant and make that claim.

I've also lately felt that this election is too important to withhold a vote from the Democratic party. Based on the candidates, I can't really defend this stance, except in entirely practical terms. Is there so little difference between Obama/Hillary and McCain that you would subject yourself to 4 years of rule by either to make a point? That's more a question I'm asking myself than you; and one which I'm sure goes much deeper than my phrasing.

ZC said...

The difference between Obama/Clinton and McCain is negligible enough, yes--at least negligible enough for me to not vote for them in New York this fall. (Or Chicago, where I myself may be living in the near future.) Like I said, if I were living in a swing state, perhaps I'd act differently. But my withholding of a vote isn't to make a point (who's listening?) so much as it is to stick to my own guns. Like I said, I jumped on the Kerry bandwagon in '04--when it was also "really important"--and got burned, because Kerry's too right-wing, the country's political system is shit, and Bush probably stole the whole thing anyway. So, no, I'm not happy with the Democratic Party. Not that they care, but they can't assume my vote. They're part of what's wrong.