America's Progressive Nightmare

By Joe Mowrey
Counter Punch

We are already beginning to see the results of the "blue wave" which occurred in our recent elections. Lobbyists are retooling to accommodate their favorite Democratic politicians. Harry Reid has promised to increase the military budget by $75 billion. Impeachment is "off the table," not to mention trials for war crimes. And Democrats have pledged to raise the minimum wage to a whopping $7.25 an hour. That's a total income of $15,080 a year, before taxes. Members of Congress will give themselves that much in automatic cost of living increases alone over the next five years. Let's face it, the power elite have successfully executed a changing of the guard.

The "progressive" community wasted the last two years and countless resources sponsoring corporate lackeys for election to a fascist system of government. (Fascism was originally defined by Benito Mussolini as a partnership between government and corporations.) Congratulations. There still is no serious anti-war or anti-militarism movement in this country. The corporatists won-peace and social justice lost, again. With progress like this, who needs habeas corpus?
As I did before this recent lemming vote-fest, I suggest we spit out the electronic pacifier of the masses and begin a program of vaccination for "chronic voter's syndrome." We should recognize the corrupt system of electoral madness for the farce that it is and implement a boycott of elections, local as well as national. As long as we agree to participate in an Alice-in-Wonderland system of governance we will continue to be ruled by corporations. We will continue to see unlimited manufacture and exportation of arms around the globe. We will continue to witness the wanton destruction of our planet by sociopaths in Armani suits with sound-bite smiles. (Yes, that was an Armani Nancy Pelosi was wearing at her first press conference following the election. No kidding.)

Whether for federal, state or local ballot items, which ad campaigns did you like the best? Did you vote for Captain Crunch or Count Chocula? How about that myriad of candidates' forums and policy discussions? Who could keep up with the avalanche of meaningful information we were given about these politicos and their agendas. It was tough deciding whether to vote for "a new direction" or "a positive change." There were so many clever and inspiring slogans, one was hard pressed to choose among them.

Some Democrats expressed their opposition to the war but don't hold your breath waiting for them to end it any time soon. While we're busy celebrating the ascension to power of the kinder, gentler fascists, innocent men, women and children continue to die at a rate of thousands per month in Iraq and Afghanistan. You remember Afghanistan, don't you? That's the country we bombed the hell out of, then turned back over to drug lords. Most progressives seem to have forgotten that war. And do you seriously believe those fourteen permanent military bases we're building in Iraq are going to be abandoned any time soon? If so, then I've got a bridge in Baghdad I'd like to sell you. No matter which political party is in power, the United State's military industrial complex will remain the wellspring of death and destruction in the Middle East and around the world.

There is no one left to end this reign of terror but you and me. If we have any social conscience at all, we should quit participating in the shell game the criminal elite uses to manipulate our society, our country and the world. Change from within has become an absurd and impossible notion. The structure of government itself is the problem, not which collection of puppets pretends to maintain it. We must seize control, peacefully and nonviolently, of our governing institutions as well as the major corporate broadcast centers that hold our public airwaves hostage. We must organize caucuses nationwide and send delegates to a People's Congress in order to establish a new constitutional government. We must create truth commissions to allow the American people to come to grips with the fact that our culture and our nation, our "land of the free and home of the brave," born of one of the most brutal genocides in history, has been and continues to be a cancer on the world social and political order and the global environment.

There is no American dream, only a nightmare which the rest of the world is forced to endure while Americans remain steadfastly asleep in front of their televisions every evening soaking up the infotainment we call news. Or if you are a really wild and crazy liberal you listen to Air America Radio, the so-called new voice of "progressive" media, where people like Al Franken and Randi Rhodes prattle on about what a great president Bill Clinton was. They seem to have forgotten how he bombed Iraq continuously for his entire eight years in office, rammed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) down our throats, accelerated the consolidation of corporate media and used extraordinary rendition to send our "enemies" to countries around the world to be tortured. You didn't think Cheney and the boys came up with that one on their own, did you?

Though estimates vary, even conservative figures attribute the deaths of as many as 350,000 children to the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq during Mr. Clinton's "liberal" administration. These draconian measures were implemented under cover of the United Nations by such "progressive" war criminals as U.N Ambassador Madeleine Albright. Ms. Albright has a new book out in which she laments her blunder in answering yes to Leslie Stahl's question on 60 Minutes about whether the death of so many Iraqi children was worth it in order to punish Saddam Hussein. No mention of how wrong it was to actually enforce the programs that caused those deaths. Hey, she has a book to sell. No time for true confessions now.

Then there is Democrat Bill Richardson, one of Albright's successors as U.N. Ambassador, whose reward for continuing to withhold chlorine from water treatment facilities in Iraq was an appointment as Secretary of Energy. Oh, by the way, recently, he also answered yes to the infamous Madeleine Albright question. Now he is the much-touted "progressive" Governor of New Mexico, one of the countries largest repositories of nuclear weapons, home of the latest research into new and improved nuclear weapons technologies in direct violation of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). New Mexico is drowning in defense-industry blood money while its residents ranked fifth highest in the nation for food insecurity in 2005. What a guy Bill Richardson is. He's my kind of liberal war criminal. He's also been shortlisted as a possible presidential candidate in the next electoral charade.

Meanwhile, back at the progressive-pundit ranch, even outspoken critics of the neoconservative status quo refuse to acknowledge the most pressing foreign policy issue of our time-Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank. Al Franken and the rest of the voices on Air America were outraged when Bush and company suspended habeas corpus through the Military Commissions Act. None of them seem to have noticed Israel's long-time policy of detaining Palestinians without trial or charge under its cleverly titled program of "Administrative Detention." They decry George Bush's policy of preemptive war while in the same breath parroting the Israel lobby's talking points about Israel's right to defend itself against those who would dare to resist the brutal invasions and occupations that are part and parcel of the Zionist tragedy unfolding for the last sixty years in "The Promised Land."

The idea of a Christian state is out of the question. An Islamic state-what, have you lost your mind? But progressives believe a Jewish state is to be promoted and defended at all costs. Apartheid was morally unacceptable in South Africa. But Israel's Apartheid Wall which imprisons Palestinians in bantustans throughout the West Bank is considered absolutely essential in order to provide 'security' for Israel's colonization of Palestine. The cluster bombs Israel dropped on civilian neighborhoods in the last days of their recent barbaric destruction of the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon aren't a topic of conversation on Air America Radio. Neither is the collective punishment and systematic starvation of one and half million civilians in the Gaza Strip. But what the heck, Al Franken is planning to run for the Senate in '08, and we're looking to put a Democrat in the White House next time around. Those AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobbyists and their deep pockets are going to be indispensable.

It's time to snap out of our collective state of "liberal" denial and take to the streets, loudly and insistently, in numbers too large to be shot, arrested or ignored. No more platitudes about peace. No more lesser of two evils. No more staking out the middle ground. No more handshakes with war criminals. No more walls or weapons or wars of imperialist aggression. We need to declare our independence from the stultification of corporate hegemony. Though our forebears may not have been the most egalitarian crowd they at least had the courage and tenacity to take a stand against colonial tyranny and exploitation by the British East India Company. There's that familiar corporate element again. Funny how history repeats itself.

The Declaration of Independence, a celebrated manifesto for change, was a statement of unyielding principle, not a statement of compromise. We need to draft a new Declaration of Independence. We need to insist on basic principles of human rights and social justice as the foundation for whatever form of government we devise. We need to stand firmly and resolutely on these principles. This is perhaps our only hope of creating an atmosphere where peace, however you choose to define that word, has any chance of becoming even a vague reality in our time-before the end of our time.

Okay, so it won't be easy and it certainly won't be pretty. But I would rather plunge into the abyss of social and economic revolution than over the precipice to which corporate plutocracy has brought us. Are you looking forward to a Hillary Clinton/ Barack Obama ticket in 2008? How about the upcoming "surgical air strikes" against Iran, a plan which Mr. Obama has supported? Thank goodness Ms. Clinton has taken a firm stand against flag burning. How courageous of her. In addition, though she made a flamboyant speech on the floor of the Senate opposing torture, publicly she expressed her support for it-only as a last resort, of course. Ain't liberalism grand?

Preemptive war, colonization, collective punishment, torture, exploitation of labor, degradation of the environment-the list of progressive values goes on and on. I can hardly wait to vote for the Demicans again, or is it the Republicrats we should be supporting?

Those polar ice caps aren't going to stop melting anytime soon. We had all better start asking ourselves how long we think we can tread water. Time is in short supply. Hope and determination never are. To quote a marginally popular bumper sticker from the 60's, "Why vote? It only encourages them."

(Joe Mowrey is a peace and social justice activist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Among his other relentlessly futile endeavors, he is one of a small contingent of diehards who have maintained a presence at a major intersection in town every Friday for the last four years in opposition to the illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also manages the database and produces the graphics for the Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial Installation, a 450-foot-long [and growing] series of 3 by 6 foot vinyl banners displaying the names, faces and obituaries of the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Installation is a project of the Santa Fe Chapter of Veterans for Peace.)