Date: Wed, 21 Feb 96 15:14:49 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Which Berlin?
From: Dan Tenenbaum <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Berlin, Germany, 1933 - Berlin, New Hampshire, 1996
I know that this is not primarily a mailing list for gratuitous discussion,
but I have a thing or two to get off my chest.
This from someone who is deeply cynical about the electoral process in this
country, someone who voted for one of the major party candidates for the
last time in 1992, someone who rejects the false dynamics of the "lesser of
two evils" rationalization. This from someone who believes that the real
power rests with the corporations, to whom the nominal President is
eventually answerable. This from someone who harbors more hostility toward
Clinton than toward Bush or Reagan. This from someone who should dismiss
the New Hampshire primary as yet another empty ritual in a sickening line
of empty rituals:
I'm starting to get really, really creeped out by Pat Buchanan.
I remember 1980 well, although I was pretty young. The adults I respected
laughed at the prospect of a Reagan presidency. Being from California, I
knew better--despite my youth--because Reagan's governorship was a reality.
I remember well Reagan promising a bloodbath, and delivering, eventually,
several times over.
I don't believe we can afford to be as smug and cynical as we were in 1980.
Buchanan's message is seductive. Out of context--or even IN context, for
certain quotes--Buchanan comes off as a friggin socialist! I watched him on
television tonight purporting to speak for the voiceless. The people that
I think of as truly voiceless--the poor, imprisoned, and oppressed--don't
even figure in his discourse, yet he strikes a chord with millions. Yes,
New Hampshire is one of the most conservative states, but I know a thing or
two about statistics, and I know that his victory (if it is still a victory
when all votes are counted) means that Buchanan has the votes of millions
of people in this country.
We all know where Buchanan stands. What I can't stress enough is that he
really means it, and while he may moderate his message during the campaign,
he will impose his agenda if elected.
His agenda is a logical continuation, or co-optation if you will, of the
political climate in this country. It's not a long jump from Proposition
187 to a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexican border (recall that the same
emperor who constructed the Great Wall of China also ordered all books
published prior to his reign to be burned).
What concerns me is that there are millions of people who are willing to
forego euphemism and code words and embrace openly a racist, xenophobic
agenda. I do not defend euphemism. I do not defend code words. I do not
defend the lesser of two evils (Alexander Cockburn pointed out recently that
Hitler came to power despite a nominal defeat).
We do not need to throw our support to Dole or Clinton. We need to hammer
on Buchanan, on a personal level. We need to harm him politically. We will
end up with another shill, another liar, but one who will not openly embrace
a genocidal agenda.
There are some who would welcome a resurgence of fascism if only to clarify
the lines between good and evil. This may satisfy the need for drama that
many feel, goaded by the media. But I reject this proposition, while also
rejecting lesser-of-two-evil-ism, for practical reasons: We are more
effective as we are, constantly agitating, than we would be under a Buchanan
regime, where we would be further marginalized, and imprisoned.
I'm not being paranoid (although it helps). It has happened before.
Conditions are ominous. The industrial and technological revolutions have
not delivered on their promise. Millions more will be disfranchised from
the economic consensus. We know from recent history that surplus populations
thus generated have been eliminated by genocidal means.
Pat Buchanan is just a presidential candidate. And in a few days or weeks,
he may just be a footnote. But we must treat him and his millions of
supporters as immediate threats to our very lives.
We need to form a coalition that is against Buchanan without by default
being "for" anyone else the two-party system sees fit to offer. We need to
confront his racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and his other manifestations of
what the mainstream media calls his "extremism." We need to be shrill and
annoying, no matter if we fulfill a media stereotype of bleeding-heart
liberalism. If we trumpet the palpable reality of the carnage that lies
ahead, we will get our message across.
I welcome your comments. Thank you for your indulgence. These have been the
rants (albeit heartfelt) of a severely sleep-deprived individual.
© 1996 Peter Langston