Want to see what happens to you if you honestly oppose imperial war? Want to see what happens to you if you honestly oppose a horrendous corporate boondoggle that will effectively kill genuine health care reform for years, if not generations? This is what happens to you: The Liberal Case Against Dennis Kucinich.
Yes, if you stand up against endless, pointless, profiteering slaughter in foreign lands, if you stand up against an astonishingly brazen, deeply dirty deal cut in the White House itself to enrich some of the most brutal, rapacious corporate sharks ever to feast, quite literally, on the bodies of nation's working people and the poor, then those Fightin' Progressives at Salon.com will come around and slap you with the cold, wet fish of their withering scorn.
They will join with the very model of a modern major general of the "Progressive Forces," Commander Kos his own self, to belittle you and denounce you -- no, not just denounce you, but accuse you, on national television, of being directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.
That's right; according to the Commander, if Dennis Kucinich dares to vote against whatever corporate blank check the bought-and-sold bagmen in Congress and the White House come up with to deliver millions of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans into the clutches of the health care and insurance conglomerates (which, as our Progressives themselves rightly remind us, are the ones with the real "death panels"), then Kucinich will be a mass murderer of Americans on a scale far outstripping the petty efforts of Al Qaeda and the Taliban during the long twilight struggle of our noble global Terror War.
And isn't it odd that these discrediting blasts from "the left" undermining Kucinich come just as his resolution for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan is about to come up for debate on the House floor? Well, no, it's actually not odd at all; it is entirely predictable. The empire simply could not exist in its current form without the diligent self-policing of the "serious," "respectable" "left." They take great pains -- and inflict great pains -- in their efforts to mock and marginalize anyone who steps outside the narrow, suffocating boundaries of "savvy" Beltway gamesmanship. You cannot seriously oppose our empire of military dominion; you can only debate on the best, most "efficient" way to perpetuate it. You cannot seriously oppose the overwhelming sway of Big Money; you can only propose the mildest of mitigations of its depredations -- but only if Big Money agrees, of course.
The main thing you must be is savvy. You cannot be a real live Fightin' Progressive unless you know how to play the game. Look how the Commander's amen chorister at Salon, Alex Koppleman, drips sniffling scorn on Kucinich's legislative record: "of the 97 bills Kucinich has sponsored since taking office in 1997, only three have become law. Ninety-three didn't even make it out of committee." And even those three, Koppleman notes, were just silly little proclamations, of interest only to the hicks back in Kucinich's district somewhere out there in flyover land.
But just think what a howling pig circus the United States Congress has been during Kucinich's 13-year tenure in the House. Look around at the vast wreckage these poltroons have helped perpetrate, from the deregulation of the Bankster gangs to the imposition of draconian bankruptcy laws (championed by our super-progressive vice president) to the panicky, pants-wetting trashing of the constitution in the Patriot Acts and Military Commission Acts and Retroactive Immunity for Telecom Lawbreakers Act (supported by our super-progressive president) to support for the Hitlerian war crime of military aggression in Iraq (supported by our super-progressive secretary of state) to the redistribution of the nation's wealth (for generations) from working people and the poor to those same Banksters whose Congressionally-deregulated scams have plunged millions around the world into ruin.
This is only a fraction of an overall record of towering cupidity, stupidity and evil that almost beggars description. Why would anyone with even the slightest speck of honor or decency want to be considered a major, "savvy" contributor to such a legacy? And considering the conglomeration of political whores, bribe-takers, liars, warmongers, lackeys and outright lunatics that constitutes the bipartisan bulk of Congress, isn't it actually a badge of honor -- rather than a mark of shame -- for your legislation to be rejected by them?
Not for our "progressives." Koppelman's scorn for Kucinich's lack of "savvy" is palatable. His agreement with Kos's libel -- "holding people like Dennis Kucinich responsible for the 40,000 Americans that die each year from a lack of health care" -- is evident. The president who literally sold out genuine health care reform is not responsible. The Congress that concocted a series of hideous, confusing, corporate-crafted boondoggles that utterly reject the highly popular notion of a public option is not responsible. And evidently the dark, satanic mills of the health care, pharmaceutical and insurance industries are not responsible either.
No; Dennis Kucinich -- and "people like him" -- are responsible. Why? Because they cannot find it in their conscience to support what they fervently believe to be a harmful bill. This is their crime; to act according to their conscience on a piece of bad legislation that has somehow been elevated into a sacred totem, a holy grail by our respectable Fightin' Progressives. It doesn't matter what the Grail actually contains (or doesn't contain); all that matters is its symbolic significance as a great "victory" for our "progressive" president, and indeed, for all the progressive forces of our higher progressivism.
But what this "symbolic" victory will really do, of course, is lock into place -- for decades probably -- a rancid, corrupt and ill-serving system that will leave millions of the most vulnerable Americans at the untender mercy of corporate predators. However, if the bill were defeated, one could simply start all over -- with genuine reform this time.
But who wants that? It's too much like hard work. Symbolism is a lot easier than substance -- especially if you're a rootin', tootin', savvy, serious Fightin' Progressive. Anyway, symbolism is all you're gonna get from our imperial overlords. So you better just be happy with that little crumb. After all, as Commander Kos says, it's "a foot in the door." Who knows? If we all stay real serious and respectable, they just might throw us another little crumb somewhere down the line!
This, then, is what now passes for "the left" in America: snippy derision -- and thundering condemnation -- for anyone who dares suggest, even mildly, that a goddamn crumb is not good enough.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on March 11, 2010.