Progressive Shutout: Kucinich Banned, No Real Debate
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
"The Democratic establishment is determined to purge itself of any vestiges of opposition to the ruling corporate order."
Corporate media has succeeded, once again, in wringing the last drops of progressivism out of the Democratic Party primary process. Three times in succession - in New Hampshire, Nevada, and now South Carolina - the gatekeepers of the American political conversation have slammed the door shut to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the only genuine progressive in the race. The field is now left to the squabbling political twins, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - so alike in all things except details of temperament, race and gender they could have been raised since infancy in the same dysfunctional foster home - and former Senator John Edwards, who talks like a born-again progressive but whose actual proposals are variations on Obama/Clinton themes.
Kucinich will, of course, continue his crusade to "reform" his party from within, despite the Democratic establishment's determination to purge itself of any vestiges of opposition to the ruling corporate order. In this, the party and corporate media are united; neither the other candidates nor the Democratic machinery have said a peep about the repeated, arbitrary exclusion of Kucinich from debates, and the Ohio congressman stands alone in his battle with the Texas party's requirement that candidates sign a "loyalty oath" in exchange for a place on the ballot. The oath demands candidates promise to support the party's nominee, no matter what - an impossibility for any moral person, since both likely Democratic winners hold out only the vaguest hopes of a partial withdrawal from Iraq, and both call for a substantially larger U.S. war capability and budget. How can a true anti-war candidate pledge his honor to support policies that will inevitably result in more wars?
"Kucinich's banishment from the South Carolina debate triggered no resistance from the Congressional Black Caucus."
Such questions do not bother the Democratic establishment, which cannot imagine a world in which the United States respects international law and self-determination for all peoples. Saddest of all, Kucinich's banishment from the South Carolina debate triggered no resistance from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), co-sponsors of the Myrtle Beach blah-fest. The CBC could have insisted on Kucinich's inclusion, and by all political rights should have, given that Kucinich's voting record is equal to or better than most Caucus members on issues dear to their constituents. Kucinich has scored 100 percent on the watchdog CBC Monitor's twice-yearly Report Card - meaning, if he were Black, he'd be a member of the Caucus Honor Role. BAR has learned that, in the Report Card to be released in a few weeks, Kucinich scores higher than any member of the CBC, with a 90 percent grade. But the CBC turns its back on a political ally so as not to interfere with corporate media's privileges.
The CBC, split between Obama and Clinton supporters, has also abandoned all hope that the next administration will move in the slightest direction toward the goals near-universally supported by Black America: single-payer health care, affordable housing, revitalization of the cities, and massive federal aid to public education. None of this is remotely possible while the military sucks up ever-larger proportions of the national treasury - and every CBC member knows it. Yet they form lines behind Hillary and Barack, both of whom have repeatedly announced their intentions to keep feeding the voracious war-profit machine. Had Kucinich, the white man, been allowed in the debates, he would have been the only candidate speaking up for Black interests. But the CBC acquiesced in his silencing.
"Had Kucinich, the white man, been allowed in the debates, he would have been the only candidate speaking up for Black interests."
Instead of a vigorous Kucinich defense of policies that are near-identical to the Historical Black Political Consensus, the South Carolina debate provided us with - LIES, from the mouth of Barack Obama. Days before, Obama shamelessly pursued his quest for white conservative and Republican votes, praising Ronald Reagan and Republican "ideas" at an editorial board meeting of a Reno, Nevada, newspaper. It's all on video, and undeniable. But when called on his treachery by (the equally treacherous) Hillary Clinton, Obama denied all. The video and transcribed evidence damn Obama as a rank prevaricator, who seems to believe charm and charisma trump the truth, every time. This is what he said:
"I do think that for example the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.
"I think it is fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for pretty big chunk of time, over the last 10 or 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom."
"Obama's Black supporters don't want to know that he's on the other side."
Confronted with his own words, Obama feigned outrage, in Myrtle Beach:
"What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart."
There is no such alternative "quote" to be had, other than the one he made up after the fact. But Obama will be forgiven for attempting to sleep with the enemy, because his Black supporters don't want to know that he's on the other side.
A few days after being yanked from the Las Vegas Democratic debate - after first having been promised a seat at the table - Dennis Kucinich rode the service elevator at Caesar's Palace hotel on his way to address a banquet in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. An employee in a cook's hat recognized the face, saying, "Congressman Kucinich, right? It's too bad they took you off the ballot."
"No, no, I'm on the ballot," Kucinich corrected. "They just took me off the debate."
"Oh," said the cook. "Good luck."
In this media-saturated society, however, exclusion from televised debates has the same effect as exclusion from the ballot. If one is not on television, one does not exist. In Texas, Democrats try to keep Kucinich off the ballot, for daring to refuse a loyalty oath. In corporate suites, the same executives that have made sure Kucinich's campaign gets no coverage in evening newscasts, then claim he rates too low in the polls to deserve a seat at "their" debates.
"If one is not on television, one does not exist."
The same will happen to the Green Party - which, if they have any sense at all, will nominate former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney as their standard bearer. But only those who keep up with such things will be aware that the Greens have a candidate.
A former assistant secretary of the Treasury Reagan's Treasury Department, long estranged from the machinations of America's rulers, put it this way: "If it were not for the Internet that provides Americans with access to foreign news sources, Americans would live in a world of perfect disinformation."
At the Las Vegas banquet, a tuxedoed, middle-aged Black gentlemen sidled up to a Kucinich aide while the congressman was giving an impassioned speech. "Excuse me," he said. "Where can I get more information on that fellow? I never heard of him. Is he serious about what he's saying?"
The gentleman and millions of others will never know, because Kucinich has been banished to the netherworld of invisibility - the fate of all real progressives in a corporate media-managed society. Only a loud and committed Movement can break the silence.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].