Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Why We Don't Spend As Much Time Denouncing Republicans As We Do Democrats

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

We know who and what the Republican party is. Back in the mid 1960s, when Democratic president Lyndon Johnson, under relentless pressure from the Freedom Movement embraced enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the South, Republicans opened their doors wide to welcome the exodus of white supremacist voters and politicians who'd been Democrats until that time. The modern Republican party re-made itself into the permanent white man's party not just in the South, but across the country, the party whose brands are rancid racism, pretentious piety, monstrous misogyny and shameless  warmongering.

 

When you match Republican brands against those of Democrats, who claim to stand for tolerance on racial and sexual fronts, who cloak their imperial wars in the garb of “humanitarian interventions,” but who agree with Republicans that wealthy corporations do have the right to rule over us, that presidents possess the right to imprison, torture or kill us at a whim, the difference isn't black and white, but it's clear enough. The Republican brand is odious and deeply scary, easily more frightening than that of Democrats.

In today's political ecology, the job of Republicans is to provide political camouflage to right wing Democrats like the last two Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama, by moving still further rightward, even past the boundaries of lunacy. When Bill Clinton was busy passing NAFTA and ending welfare as we knew it, both measures tried and failed at by Bush 1, Newt Gingrich provided covering babble about taking poor children from their homes. While Barack Obama offered to put Medicare and social security for the deficit cutting and enacted a so-called “Affordable Care Act” first passed by Massachusetts  Governor Mitt Romney in 2004, Republicans threaten the piecemeal repeal of Rove V. Wade and cuts to unemployment compensation.

 

On the one hand, 120% evil Republicans offer the only justification for our support of 100% evil Democrats. And with the dissolution of what used to be the black consensus for equality, civil liberties, full funding for public education, and opposing war spending and corporate privilege, Obama-era Democrats continue to flee rightward toward war, privatization and austerity.

This deformed puzzle is not the political logic of free and responsible people. It's the cramped and twisted reasoning of someone trapped in a box urgently trying to convince himself that it's not really a box, that pragmatic acceptance of the box as the whole of the great and free universe is really all that can be hoped, struggled and strived for. It's not. Only a beaten, cowed and enslaved people can imagine their forbears sacrificed and struggled for them to choose among greater and lesser, but both still monstrous evils.

We at Black Agenda Report spend more time denouncing Democrats because they act like and enable Republicans. We don't spend as much time denouncing the party of white supremacy because Republicans rarely bother to pretend to be anything else. African Americans haven't voted Republican in 50 years. But we're more unemployed than we've been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we've ever been.

That's what choosing “lesser evils” has earned us. It's time to chuck the fake choice between evil Republicans and slightly less evil Democrats. It's time not just to think, but to climb outside the two-party, lesser-evil box, to breathe the free air and get ready for something new.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20120822_bd_lesser_evilism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama’s game is to move inexorably into Republican territory, putting his own brand on austerity, militarism and the growing police state.”

The Republican presidential primaries drew on the metaphor of the Etch A Sketch, that 1960s children’s plaything that allowed kids to instantaneously erase what had been drawn or written on a page. American presidential elections, stage-managed by money and refereed by the corporate media, produce a kind of Etch A Sketch effect: in an instant, history is erased, and the sheet is wiped clean for the candidates to write on.

Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats under her leadership have a lot of Etch A Sketching to do, to keep pace with the steady rightward movement of their party and their president. They are immeasurably assisted in these maneuvers by the Republican troglodytes, especially vice presidential pick Paul Ryan, whose damn-the-government-to-hell budget makes President Obama appear like a friend of working people. It provides a perfect camouflage for Democrats to adopt positions they had only yesterday rejected as unthinkably rightwing. This, of course, has always been President Obama’s game: to move inexorably into Republican territory, putting his own brand on austerity, militarism and the growing police state, until the Republicans have nowhere to go but off the cliff, like Wiley Coyote.

Nancy Pelosi, who in a long ago time was co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, and who opposed the recommendations of President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission as “simply unthinkable” two years ago, now says she supports it.

Simpson Bowles was really Obama’s vision all the time.”

The evolution of her thinking is quite simple. With the Paul Ryan budget now indelibly stamped onto the Mitt Romney campaign, the way is clear for the Democrats to move another step to the right and embrace Simpson-Bowles $4 trillion in spending cuts that will eviscerate what’s left of the social safety net. Which is what President Obama offered the Republicans, last summer. The Republicans didn’t take Obama’s offer, because it included modest tax increases and cuts to the military.

The current speculation – and I think it’s correct – is that Obama will again offer the deal to the GOP right after the election. And, why not? Simpson Bowles was really Obama’s vision all the time: the austerity plan he had in mind when he announced, two weeks before taking the oath of office, in 2009, that Social Security and all other entitlements would be on the chopping block. Back then, the Republicans were in no shape to do any pushing, having just suffered a whopping electoral defeat.

It was Obama who put austerity on the Democratic agenda. He has always been determined to forge a Grand Alliance with the GOP. The trick has been to make his war against the poor appear to be a “compromise” necessitated by Republican meanness and intransigence. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of Democratic leadership act as magician’s helpers in this performance, edging ever further to the right side of the stage. At the end of the show, the audience thinks they’ve witnessed some kind of victory for the little guy. The President will once again pull Simpson-Bowles out of his hat. The flim-flam man does it again!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20120822_gf_Pelosi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They are ‘anarchists,’ say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting ‘dual unionism’ – which is now, apparently, a capital crime.”

When thousands of miners went on strike at South Africa’s largest platinum mine, in Marikana, they were confronting not only the London-based owners, but the South African state, which since 1994 has been dominated by the African National Congress (ANC); COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions; and the South African Communist Party. This week, the full weight of the state was brought down on the Black miners, 34 of whom were massacred by police gunfire. Many of the survivors face charges of murder in the earlier deaths of two policemen and eight other miners.

The National Union of Mineworkers, whose representation the strikers rejected, and the Communist Party head in the region claim the strikers are at fault, that they have committed the sin of choosing an alternative union to argue their case for higher wages and, therefore, deserve severe punishment. They are “anarchists,” say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting “dual unionism” – which is now, apparently, a capital crime. With a straight face, the Communist Party had the gall to call on all South African workers to “remain united in the fight against exploitation under capitalism.”

That is precisely what the Marikana miners were doing – the struggle they gave their lives for. However, since the peaceful transition to state power to the ANC and its very junior partners, the COSATU unions and the Communist Party, in 1994, the South African state has had different priorities. The “revolution” was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders. It is only logical that, if the priority of the state is to nurture Black capitalists, then it must maintain and defend capitalism. This is the central contradiction of the South African arrangement, and the massacre at Marikana is its inevitable result.

The central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.”

The 1994 agreement between Nelson Mandela’s ANC and the white South African regime was a pact with the devil, which could only be tolerated by the masses of the country’s poor because it was seen as averting a bloodbath, and because it was assumed to be temporary. But, 18 years later, the arrangement has calcified into a bizarre protectorate for foreign white capital and the small class of Blacks that have attached themselves to the global rich. Apologists for the African National Congress regime will prattle on about the “complexity” of the issue, but the central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.

The fundamental contradictions of the rule of the many by the few, remain in place – only now, another layer of repression has been added: a Black aristocracy that has soaked itself in the blood of the miners of Marikana.

South Africa remains the continent's best hope for a fundamental break with colonialism in its new forms. But, as in all anti-colonial struggles, the biggest casualties will occur in the clash between those who truly desire liberation, and those who are intent on an accommodation with the old master.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20120822_gf_SAfricaMassacre.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT