American Politics, 2004
Weighing the politics, the landscape and choices of 2004
By John Kusumi
Last month, I wrote an article called "Chinese Politics, 2004" and correctly anticipated that Jiang Zemin would step down as the chief of the Chinese military. He did so, and now I myself have stepped down from the top job of the China Support Network (CSN). CSN wants to free China, and I've thanked my fellow Americans for rising to the occasion, when Tiananmen Square occurred, and for building the CSN with me. After fifteen years with myself at the helm, I am leaving (while keeping the title of director emeritus).
Okay, then, shall I write "American Politics, 2004"? America, we are in trouble. (Please return your tray table and seat back to the upright position, place your head between your knees, and grip your ankles.) We are a little bit like passengers in Flight 93 of 9/11. When did things get this bad? In 1984, I was Ronald Reagan's 18-year-old opponent, also opposed to Walter Mondale and to the entire two-party system. Things got bad after you didn't elect me; that's my simple answer.
Things got bad (1.) when Tiananmen Square presented an emergency, and in the face of evil, George Bush (Senior) didn't do anything about it -- encouraging the growth of a new nuclear-armed, communist superpower. (2.) Things got bad when we missed an opportunity, as we were already fighting Iraq in the first Gulf War (in 1991) -- we could have gone on to Baghdad and taken out Saddam Hussein at that time. (3.) Things got bad when the end of the Cold War occasioned no improvements, and rather only political correctness and globalization around here. (4.) In my experience of the 1990s, baby boomers don't manage technology development any better than they manage government, which is not well. A bubble burst in the stock market as a result. (5.) Things got bad as terrorism stayed off the radar, leading up to the 9/11 catastrophe. (6.) (7.) (8.) George Bush has budget deficits, trade deficits, and the price of gasoline all moving in the wrong direction. For that matter, job growth in his administration has moved in the wrong direction -- let's make that point (9.). And, he refuses to raise minimum wage -- an increase that is clearly rightful and indicated to keep pace with inflation; that can be point (10.). I hear that overtime pay and civil liberties are being proscribed, and those can be bad thing (11.) and bad thing (12.).
Anything else? Well, we can name four large problems in China, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. The crime of genocide is taking place in China, the Congo, and the Darfur region of Sudan. The world has trouble in such places as Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Tibet. The Taiwan strait could be a flashpoint for war. We can name as problems Enron and Worldcom, and indeed a national run of white collar crime.
Anything else? The space shuttle disintegrated. We've blown off the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto treaty, the UN, NATO, the Geneva Conventions, and old allies. There's been anthrax. Nobody has removed land mines, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium weapons from our arsenal, and we're even working on a new variety of nuclear weapon.
Anything else? America has a 21st century society, living on a 20th century infrastructure. In the 1990s, we built perhaps 200 new sports stadiums, and zero new power plants. If you've experienced chronic traffic slow downs, or chronic airline delays, that's our 20th century infrastructure showing its age. We remain dependent upon Mid East oil. There are coming challenges with inflation, interest rates, infrastructure, energy, and social security. Health care is already a challenge. Forty five million of you are without health insurance.
There is one thing you cannot explain to me. In 1991, we fought Iraq in the first Gulf War. In those days, prisoners of war did not need secret military tribunals. Yet in 2003, for the second war with Iraq, to have secret military tribunals was indispensable. Did prisoners of war really change between 1991 and 2003? So drastically that the world's Geneva Conventions had to go by the boards? Or, did we change in that same interval?
Many would ask, "Who's 'we'? They can speak for themselves, right?" True enough, where I stand in Generation X, "we" are not running the country. I've mentioned a mouthful about things getting bad. Perhaps you'd prefer my simple answer -- things got bad after you didn't elect me. (And I thought things were bad in 1984! --What about Reagan's budget deficit, and arms race? Government spending was out of whack then, not to speak of now. And, their heads were in the sand about energy independence. After the 1970s, it didn't take Washington long to blow off every lesson that the 1970s might have taught.)
America, the corruption that you now have is far worse than Watergate. And as for injury, America, you are about to do it to yourself (again) -- a vote for Bush or Kerry (either way) is a vote to rape the American economy, workers, and middle class. In their right minds, no one should be voting for either one of those two "oppo-sames." (For an aside, I'll mention that my book, Activate This!, rates federal legislators. Everyone received one star, two stars, or three stars. My book rated Kerry and Edwards, both, as "two star" politicians. The rating was written before they ran for President, meaning that it is clean, following the same rules that I applied, evenhandedly, to all federal legislators. Bush was not rated, for not being a legislator.) (But, psst -- aside, aside, if I had to place him he would be a two star politician as well.) This year's election would be more interesting if it was McCain versus Gephardt.
Perhaps that's what troubles me about this year's election. Between Bush and Kerry, I do have opinions, but I'll keep them to myself. As I watch the debates, the notable thing is the absence of Ralph Nader. Also recently, I caught the debate between four "alternative candidates," one each from the Constitution, Green, Socialist, and Libertarian parties. This was another stage, but the absence of Ralph Nader was again notable -- he wasn't there. This second-tier debate reminded me of a 1984 convention for alternative candidates, a debate and (remembered by an affiliate anchorman as)-- a win for your author. This year's winner seemed to be David Cobb, from the Green party -- I found him to be the most impressive of the group. However, in the end, neither Nader nor Cobb quite match my own politics of practical idealism.
The big difference is that practical idealism and I are hawks. Hawkish on national security, we were supportive of removing Saddam Hussein from power. It should have been done 12 years earlier, in the first Gulf War -- but even now, we remain supportive of U.S. objectives in Iraq. It is ever regrettable to have the deadly costs associated with war, but I think this war to be a necessary evil.
The politics of practical idealism have a general formula: fiscally conservative, hawkish on national security, and socially liberal. In my case, I'm like former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, except more hawkish, and opposed to the globalization of free trade. (Washington's dirty secret is that that is what's reallyhurting the economy. To de-industrialize our entire country and deflate our economy, in each case without cause, is the profound corruption of our time, and the glossed-over risks to national security are tantamount to treason.) (Psst -- aside, aside, in the contrived contortions of debate by which some excuse globalization, the name of the game is no longer "nationhood." Their brand of economics can more rightly be termed "looting." They are looting this nation.)
At this time, all that is predictable is that America has four more years of being screwed to expect. Shall we have a ray of good news? The ray of good news is that this is the last of the Jennings/Brokaw/Rather-managed elections. They are three anchormen who have beat the drums for this globalization, while silencing Ralph Nader, et al.
From my recent tenure there, I know they certainly have silenced the China Support Network and the Chinese pro-democracy movement, during a humanitarian emergency of genocide. Three groups experiencing a holocaust in China are Falun Gong, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists. --Their crisis has occurred, to not even a ripple in the Jennings/Brokaw/Rather "news." The emergency in China never stopped; China never got better on human rights; all that changed is that their "news" stopped telling you about flagrant atrocities; abominations; and, human rights abuses that continue happening right now, today, at this minute. (See www.chinasupport.net.)
In conjunction with those three men, let's keep that word, "news" protectively enclosed in scare quotes. Their kind of "news" is scary, as is their self-selected legacy. America's "corruption bubble," unsustainable but not yet burst, grew under their tenure. In the United States, any news network that thinks of itself as "fair and balanced" ought to change its slogan to "sorry and saddening." Have they ever balanced Chinese government statements with Chinese opposition statements? Not recently. Have they ever balanced free trade pablum by breaking the news that trade deficits are injurious (and encouraged by globalization)? I have yet to see such a fair and balanced discussion. And, if the China Support Network appeared in their "news," the anchormen would have to report, "This just in. Communism is a bad thing." The situation should be embarrassing to them, and sorry and saddening to the entire country.
The good news is that an era is ending -- in future elections, those three television network anchormen will be retired. In politics, Generation X must then follow on, becoming the "fix it" generation in U.S. politics.
John Kusumi is a former presidential candidate (independent). In 1984, as his campaign platform, he introduced the politics of Practical Idealism to America. He later launched the China Support Network in response to Tiananmen Square in 1989. His material lives at www.kusumi.com.