Friday, November 16, 2007

Chivalry is Alive and Well and Living in Las Vegas

Both Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and John Edwards were treated to boos and jeers, last night, when attempting to corner the first woman candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, on the issue of health care, and special interests, but it was Clinton herself who said "if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Too bad someone didn't tell that to the president before his now infamous meeting with then Prime Minister Tony Blair, on Downing Street, where the two commanders-in-chef cooked the books with respect to fraudulent evidence that took us to war in Iraq. Hillary Clinton also added that she's comfortable in the kitchen;that's what concerns me; that's what John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich worry about, too.

While I'm being facetious when I say that the audience was being chivalrous in its defense of Hillary, make no mistake----the spectators' omnipotent, and egregious disapproval for Clinton's challengers' attempts at hardball effectively muted the substance of their charges. Ironically, too, those who watched last night's debate, whether they were in Vegas or in New Orleans, and those who will choose the next Democratic Party nominee, are the ones who needed most to hear what John Edwards had to say about the politics of privilege, big business, and obdurate devotion to corporate profit.

Those who most need to hear what both Edwards and Kucinich have to say about class struggle in America, about unions, about NAFTA, about economic disenfranchisement were coming to the defense of the one candidate who has yet to take a decisive stand against outsourcing jobs, and who has conspicuously aligned herself with the other boys when it comes to defending Roe v. Wade on the basis of a "right to privacy," rather than on the basis of a woman's right to choose. Oh, yes, and man or woman, choice is the issue now as it will be for generations.

While Barack Obama has routinely paid lip service to indigence and hunger in America, only John Edwards has taken on that subject squarely, and only Edwards and Kucinich dare to expose America's dirty little secret of poverty, privilege, and those who gain most by preserving the status quo. There's talk of changes to tax laws, but the underlying issue, that it is those who are most disadvantaged among us who will be first on the front lines of war, is swept under the rug by both frontrunners of this campaign.

Edwards and Kucinich are the only candidates taking strident aim at extraordinary rendition, torture, electronic surveillance, and the USA Patriot Act; this is flat out unacceptable. What does Edwards get for his persistent attack on the lords of the manor, and his dogged insistence upon openness in government? He gets accused of being a pit bull. Why? Can it be because Edwards is the only one with the courage to come out and say what we all dread to hear, that the process is corrupt, and rigged.

The days of the iron hand in the velvet glove are over. The gloves are off, and whether they're ready or not, all candidates for elected office must be prepared to get down and dirty, as well as come clean about where their allegiances lie. We can no more afford eight more years of sacrificing our sons and daughters on the altars of oil profits than we can eight more years of attempts to cover up who gets sacrificed, and why.

Moreover, when the subject of "illegal immigration" comes up, no candidate, not even Governor Bill Richardson, mentions the existence of sweatshops where undocumented immigrants work for well below minimum wage, and live in crowded, rat infested housing in states where migrant farm workers continue to suffer.

That we are this close to Iowa, and less than a year away from one of the most important presidential elections this country has ever faced, and not one clear, unambiguous, endorseable Democratic candidate has emerged is almost as scary as the all but inevitable air strikes against Iran, and behind the scenes efforts to displace another American-backed dictator, this time in Pakistan rather than Iraq.

And, while she talks of bringing Ahmadinejad "to the table" to talk, front runner Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the Senate resolution that named the Iranian Revolutionary National Guard a "terrorist" group. Likewise, while she insists that "national security" ought to be any president's primary concern, the leading Democratic contender fails to publicly connect the dots, and show how violation of the Consitution, and the First and Fourth Amendments, poses a graver risk to our national security than bin Laden, or Al Qaeda ever could.

Like it or not, the process of voting, in America, has become a lot like ordering from a Chinese restaurant: one from Column A, one from Column B. If things keep going at this rate, instead of using ballots, in 2050, people will be voting with take-out menus.

Whether it be a Republican, or Democratic Party debate, one thing is clear: the days of chivalry and civility are over. A political party must not only come up with a candidate, but a platform, and whether the nominee is a smooth talker, or is custom made for a photo-op, those who go to the polls must wipe the sleep out of their eyes, and vote with their heads not their prayer beads.

Any platform that tips backwards in an effort to remain centrist is one that is doomed to fail. Any candidate who is unwilling to risk it all, and put everything on the line to be a vehicle for the delivery of truth, not illusions, is one who ought to be running for ringmaster not president of the United States.