Mary Pitt: The ''People's Choice'' Is Not Running
The "People's Choice" Is Not Running
by Mary Pitt
In historic terms, the office of the President of the United States is deemed to be the ''people's choice''. That is not only not the case now but it will not be even after the November election, regardless of who wins. The choice of the Republicans in 2000 was, without a doubt, Senator John McCain. However, the Republican machine and the National Convention system, which precluded the democratic theory of "one man, one vote", led to the coronation of George W. Bush as the standard bearer of the Republican Party. Following the demonization of one of the greatest war heroes of our time, Bush not only won the nomination but Senator McCain obediently fell back into lock-step in the Senate, helping Bush to enact his New American Century agenda.
By the time the election season began in 2004, the "people" were already speaking, loud and clear. Howard Dean was all over the internet speaking the truth to Americans and they were getting his message. They responded with small donations that gave him a large enough "war chest" to compete in a normal primary campaign. At the same time, Dennis Kucinich was speaking to Americans and thoroughly demonstrated his kinship to them and his deep understanding of their concerns.
In a real democracy, the decision would have been between these two men, perhaps with the addition of Carole Braun, in order to determine the final Democratic candidate. However, this advance preparation did not set well with the Democratic Leadership Council. None of these people were "one of us" and could not be allowed to succeed without the blessing of the DNC. And, besides, all their policies and promises were too far to the "left" to suit the officials of the "New Democrats", who were attuned to the nuances of compromise and coalition. It was more important to them to attract the "moderate" Republicans who had become disillusioned with Bush than to inspire the down-trodden working class to believe that, for once, democracy would really work as it was designed.
Suddenly the media, which had heretofore talked only about the greatly successful war that was being waged by the Bush administration, began discussing the political campaigns. Press releases by the "leadership" of the Democratic Party were duly read as written and we were told that the men to watch were Gephardt and Kerry. The other legitimate candidates were mentioned only with a snicker as if they were naught but comedy relief. Dennis Kucinich disappeared into the woodwork, though he continued to campaign right up to the convention, gaining strength and support all the way. Howard Dean's enthusiasm and compassion were maligned as the rantings of a person who "really didn't understand how the system works". Finally, in Iowa, his cheers of encouragement were misinterpreted as a "temper tantrum" and the hopes of millions of people were dashed on the altar of "the way we've always done it".
There were then decisions to be made by the same people who had already decided on their preference. They could vote either for John Kerry or for "more of the same". There was no alternative. They would support Kerry, largely because "he isn't Bush". Enter once more the lying campaign ads and the media mis-statements. We read over and over again about the fact that "John Kerry served only four months in Viet nam" and nobody reminds us that those for months were "in-country" and voluntary after having served a full one-year "hitch" aboard ship off the coast of that embattled nation. He had done his duty and could have been safely behind a desk in the United States or sailing peacefully in Atlantic waters, but he volunteered to go back as a swift-boat skipper. His wounds and his heroism are denied by men who despised him for his post-return statements and his eventual opposition to the war which, in their minds, detracted from the value of their own service.
The American public are now bombarded with the "un-patriotic" statements he made when he came home and told the truth about what we were really doing in Viet Nam. His poignant words before Congress have stuck in the minds of all who heard them, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" We are now in a similar situation. We have heard of the inhuman existence of the "illegal combatants" held at Guantanimo, we have read about the slaughter of Afghani prisoners penned in shipping crates in Afghanistan, and we have seen the pictures of the abuse of prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib, but are told to ignore that. The terrorists are coming! Please God, there will be more John Kerrys who will come home and tell us the truth!
Many Americans are supporting John Kerry, not because he is our choice but because he is our only alternative to a series of universal wars that will last for generations. We will go to the polls and we will vote, praying that those votes will be counted fairly and they will not be invalidated by legalistic hanky-panky. And, as we vote, it will be with the hope in our hearts that Senator Kerry will be strong enough to resist the trend to turning our nation and the world over the multi-national corporations while we gain the strength to, at last, elect somebody who is truly "the people's choice".
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the poeple, by the people, and for the people".