How I See the 2008 US Presidential Election

by Alicia Bay Laurel
March 6, 2008

In 2004 I organized with the Kucinich campaign on the Big Island of Hawaii, which gave Dennis over 50% of the Democratic Party caucus vote; he won 33% of the caucus vote statewide, and over 60% of the caucus vote in my home district of Puna.

I would tell the people who had never heard of him, “He’s the only necktie in Washington who represents us.” What I meant was, Dennis was, and is, uncompromising on issues that matter: bringing home the troops from Iraq, caring for them upon their return, protecting the jobs of US workers and encouraging trade unions, making the military accountable for its budget, taking waste out of the military budget and using it to rebuild our school system, hospitals, and other vital-human-needs-related infrastructure (like bridges and levees), nationalizing health care, lowering the cost of higher education, ending tax cuts for the super-rich, protecting the environment, reversing global warming, negotiating with rather than invading other countries, forbidding torture, issues that are simply good housekeeping. To my mind, deviating from this program is essentially suicide for our society. Look at the state our nation is in now, after seven years of deviate behavior from our government.

The uber-rich and their corporations (particularly defense, oil, pharmaceutical, tobacco, arms, HMO, banks and biotech, those lobbyist-intense presences in Washington) have bought and control most of the news media (thanks to deregulation by their servant, Ronald Reagan), and they used this to ridicule and silence Dennis Kucinich. If people voted him in, the corporations stood only to lose profit.

In 2008, the current golden boy representing the wishes of the “haves and the have-mores” is on his way out, and they seek a new president of like mind to continue their plunder of the people, the environment and the US Treasury. John McCain is their obvious choice, but Hillary Clinton, though talking a populist line in an attempt to win back some of surprise contender Barack Obama’s considerable following, has long been their choice as well. Hawkish, pro-business, and pro-free-trade, Hillary has a long record of voting in favor of Republican-backed bills in the Senate.

What it looks like to me, now that Hillary Clinton has chosen to portray Barack Obama as a less desirable Commander-in-Chief than John McCain, is that Barack Obama’s large following is nothing less than a people’s revolution against the industrial-military complex. Obama’s rhetoric echoes Kucinich’s, and the American people are finally hearing what they never thought they would ever hear on TV: a necktie in Washington who represents their needs above those of the powerful. This is not an election about gender or about race. It is an election about wresting what’s left of our democracy from the maw of fascism.

Therefore, it is also not an election about a specific personality. It is an election about values and ethics that support the needs of the people, the environment, and the lawful and compassionate conduct of our society. Voting for Barack Obama is only the beginning. Like-minded candidates to all levels of government require our support. The people can only prevail against the super-wealthy with tremendous majorities in Congress and the Senate. We need also to support the passing of clean elections laws and bribery laws that limit the actions of lobbyists. The Electoral College has got to go. Popular vote wins. Paper ballots stored for recount have to be mandatory. Even the concept of the Senate, which awards power unequally to large and small populations, requires some re-shaping to be a lawmaking body that truly reflects the will of the people.

Some people say that participating in blogs, petitions, street demonstrations and public education on issues doesn’t change anything. From my point of view, every single effort by every single person makes a difference in tipping the balance in favor of democracy and the protection of the Commons.