If McCain Had Won

Would our country be better off today If McCain Had Won?

He would probably have approved a failed troop surge in Afghanistan, engaged in worldwide extrajudicial assassination, destabilized nuclear-armed Pakistan, failed to bring Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to the negotiating table, expanded prosecution of whistle-blowers, sought to expand executive branch power, failed to close Guantanamo, failed to act on climate change, pushed both nuclear energy and opened new areas to domestic oil drilling, failed to reform the financial sector enough to prevent another financial catastrophe, supported an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, presided over a growing divide between rich and poor, and failed to lower the jobless rate.

As we watch an array of potential candidates lining up for 2012, Fred Branfman uses ‘what if’ to point out some of our setbacks under President Obama with an imaginative eye on a McCain/Palin win in 2008. He finds that the Democratic party would be stronger today based on several interesting assumptions that are worth thinking about, but falls short of addressing others like Supreme Court appointments and the prospect of a President Palin. His conclusion, however – our need to challenge elite power, is not lost to exclusions, but rather accentuated by the similarities drawn in the comparison.

But however important the 2012 election, far more energy needs to be devoted to building mass organizations that challenge elite power and develop the kinds of policies—including massive investment in a “clean energy economic revolution,” a carbon tax and other tough measures to stave off climate change, regulating and breaking up the financial sector, cost-effective entitlements like single-payer health insurance, and public financing of primary and general elections—which alone can save America and its democracy in the painful decade to come.

As is usually the case, the comments to the author cover the spectrum from agreement to disagreement with a few that stand out. This one gets there with resigning verve:

I voted for Obama. But then after eight years of Bush
I would have voted for a monkey wearing a fez and a
sequined vest if that was who was running against a
Republican. And let’s call that Republican “McCain.”

This article is basically the argument that the
Democratic Party is better at being the outsider than
the insider because being the outsider makes you
stronger. The argument is cinched with the statement
“…a kind of “Disaster Progressivism” often occurs
when self-interested elites cause so much suffering
that policies favoring democracy and the majority
become possible.” This resembles the old Trotskyist
arguments: let’s work to get the worst possible
people elected because if things get bad enough then
the conditions for revolution will become actualized.
This is rather like shooting yourself in the foot to
get over cancer.

But sooner or later the outsiders have to seize the
day. This is precisely where the Democrats fell to
pieces. A Democrat in the White House and both the
Senate and House of Representatives strongly in the
Democrat camp—and still the Democratic Party
couldn’t get anything done. Two years of Democrats
versus Democrats and a great deal of that was (is)
Obama’s fault for failing to provide leadership and
vision. At this time in American history We
desperately needed an FDR—and got Millard Fillmore.

The Democratic Party lacks a coherent political
vision. Much has been made of the fault lines inside
the Republican Party but the Democratic Party has its
fissures as well. One short list group of Democrats
represents its Liberal and Progressive wing and the
rest is essentially Republicans of the Jack
Kemp/George Bush Sr. variety. Obama is of the latter.
One useful point this article tries to make is that
regardless of who is President, the same elites still
dictate the overall shape of American policy. In
other words, essentially Obama IS McCain—without the
crazy. ~by Peetawonkus, July 19


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