By MC17 and MC206
John Kerry appears well on his way to taking the Democratic party nomination for Presidential candidate in the 2004 election race. MIM has never taken much of an interest in the Presidential or even congressional elections. There is little difference between Republicans and Democrats from the perspective of the majority of the world's people who suffer so that Amerikan imperialism can profit. We tell people to do what is truly effective in fighting imperialism: Don't Vote, Organize.
But we recognize that many potentially progressive-minded people are taken in by the apparent differences between Democrats and Republicans and believe they must vote for the "lesser of two evils." For MIM, that supposed lesser evil is just a wolf in sheep's clothing. Often the progressive-sounding rhetoric from the Democrats is just window dressing on fascist politics. The Democrats are staunch promoters of imperialism, and for MIM this is the fundamental problem. We also point people to the historical record of imperialist invasions and other terrorist actions that demonstrate no practical difference between Democrats and Republicans, as well as the record at home with regards to police and prison growth under both administrations.
In other MIM Notes articles MIM reviewed Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, the two Democratic presidential candidates that many perceive as progressive. We do not find either of those candidates worthy of anti-imperialist praise. Here we review John Kerry, the mainstream of the Democratic party. Kerry's home page starts off with a quote that sounds a lot like his campaign trail sound bites: "I'm running for President to make the country we love safer, stronger, and more secure. I'm asking every American to be a Citizen Soldier again committed to leaving no American behind."(1)
Such inane cheerleading is one reason MIM dismisses Amerikan electoral politics as little more than a popularity contest--voters might as well be choosing between Clay and Ruben ("American Idol" contestants) to run the country. Kerry is particularly adept at trying to please everybody at the cost of any political principle. For example, Kerry is on the record as both supporting and opposing the 1991 Gulf War and the recent invasion of Iraq. As a Boston Globe columnist put it, "Kerry's position is that he voted against a war he really was for and voted for a war he really was against. But the war he really was for he never said at the time. Except when he was writing to voters to say that he was. And that he wasn't."(2)
It's almost a crime to take candidates' political proclamations at face value; the most self-aware candidates know themselves that what they need to say to get elected and what they really want to do once elected--or will be allowed to do--are very different. But we review some of Kerry's "principles" to illustrate the fundamental differences in perspective between imperialist politicians and internationalists. People who agree with MIM that no one nation is intrinsically more worthy than another should think carefully about what the candidates' rhetoric and--more importantly--actions really mean.
For example, Kerry pledges to leave no "American" behind. What does this mean (and why does Kerry feel the need to co-opt the slogan of the feeble-minded, chauvinist POW/MIA movement)? Within U.$. borders there are many non-citizens who suffer in sweatshop jobs and lack even basic legal protections while providing needed labor for the benefit of Amerikan companies. In fact, there are millions of people around the world working directly or indirectly for Amerikan corporations, who bring those profits home and share them with Amerikan citizens in the form of high wages and benefits and cheap consumer goods. These non-Amerikans will be left behind by Amerikan imperialism. In fact, they will be stepped on as Amerikan imperialism labels them "Terrorists" for wanting the Amerikan military-backed dictatorship out of their country or even just living wages.
Kerry's goal of making Amerika "safer, stronger, and more secure" is also a trademark of imperialism. As long as Amerikan imperialism is strong, it will incur the wrath of the majority of the world's people who are kept in poverty, exploited and oppressed by a system that profits from their misery. Since Kerry is very clear he doesn't want to tear down Amerikan imperialism and build a country that serves the interests of the majority of the world's people, these are really code words for expanding Amerikan militarism.
On foreign policy, some claim that the Democrats distinguish themselves from the Republicans. Kerry, after all, talks significant rhetoric about waging peace in Iraq and opposing Bush's unilateralism. But in the end Kerry just wants an imperialist policy that works more closely with other imperialist powers. In October of 2002 Kerry voted in favor of Bush's Iraq War Resolution. Although he criticized the Vietnam War, Kerry has clearly moved comfortably into the realm of imperialist war politics since his youth.
In fact, Kerry criticized the Vietnam War from within the camp of imperialism. He called Vietnam a "mistake" in much the same way Robert McNamara did--Amerikan leaders made poor choices that caused 50,000 Amerikan "boys" to die needlessly (to say nothing of three million Vietnamese). If the leaders had been smarter, they could have accomplished Amerikan foreign-policy aims with less bloodshed. Kerry, McNamara and their ilk fail to see that the economic system of imperialism (which dictates foreign-policy aims) makes war inevitable--if not in Vietnam or Iraq, then somewhere else--regardless of individual leaders' wishes. The analogy between Kerry and the German generals who tried to assassinate Hitler is apt. Kerry had no problem leading raids that left entire Vietnamese villages dead--until the United $tates was clearly losing the war. Then he came out against the war--not to overturn the system that led to the war, but to salvage as much of the status quo in Amerika as possible.
Kerry demonstrates his failure to understand the meaning of internationalism when he says: "As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel is our most important ally, and a critical partner in the quest for peace and security in this troubled region."(1) Kerry doesn't bother to explain how "true democracy" involves second class citizenship for Palestinians, theft of Palestinian land, and open terrorist war on the Palestinian people.
To his credit, for an imperialist candidate Kerry has less chauvinist rhetoric on immigration and jobs than some of his competitors for the Democratic nomination. He avoids complaining about job losses to other countries, and has cautious statements in his campaign about immigrants and immigration law. But in the end he still believes that Amerika is only to be enjoyed by Amerikans and calls for "adequately funding border enforcement to ensure that only legal immigrants can enter the country."(1) MIM doesn't expect Democratic candidates for president to recognize the hypocrisy of an artificial militarized border that resulted from the theft of that land by Amerikans from its original inhabitants, the descendants of whom are now considered "illegal immigrants." But we can't let this issue slide. It is yet another reason why no candidate for imperialist president will ever gain MIM's support.
One of Kerry's opponents, John Edwards, has made a trademark of his fascist rhetoric. Sometimes couched in progressive-sounding support for education or opposition to tax breaks for companies, he frequently speaks about the need to keep jobs in the United $tates for Amerikan workers. One favorite of his is the education twist: "We will have an education policy that gives every American the chance to go to college and get the skills they need to stay ahead of workers in India and China and around the world." MIM points out that Amerika reaps great financial benefit from sweatshops in Asia which bring home big profits that help pay the salaries of Amerikan workers. Edwards doesn't want to keep those jobs at home, just the high paying ones so that workers in India and China have to stay in the sweatshop jobs. Edwards is very clear, Amerikans deserve to be wealthy (at the expense of the rest of the world): "We should keep our good paying jobs here."(3)
On the issue of crime Kerry also reveals his strong imperialist qualifications. As a former prosecutor he supports "tough laws [that] lead to arrests and convictions." Amerika is already the leading prison state in the world, but clearly Kerry (and all the other imperialist politicians) still think we need to lock up more people. This is not because Amerikans are genetically predisposed to crime, nor is it because all this imprisonment is making Amerikan streets safer. Prisons are used in Amerika as a tool of social control, and they target oppressed nations. With hugely disproportionate imprisonment rates of Blacks and Latinos, Amerikan prisons are one of the most fascist elements of Amerika. Kerry, like all good democrats, supports strengthening this Amerikan institution.
In the end John Kerry is like other typical Democratic candidates for president: a strong supporter of Amerikan imperialism. MIM encourages people outraged by this system to stay out of the imperialist electoral circus and instead work with us to organize against imperialism.Notes: