another left turn

our pal dennis kucinich now has company in the dark horse category of democratic presidential candidates.  we know very little about kucinich except that he’s a socialist nut with a gorgeous wife, and he is also someone who favors immediate withdrawal of our troops from iraq. we know even less about fellow dark horse candidate former senator mike gravel. that’s why he faces even longer odds than kucinich (if that’s even possible). so why does this guy deserve a whole post?  i think that some of his ideas are interesting, and even though i disagree with some of those ideas, i think they are worth discussing. i’m also fascinated by his willingness to call out pretty much every democrat who voted for the iraq war right in front of them at the DNC winter meeting.

here’s part of what he said(any italics are mine):

History teaches us that nations fail when leaders fail their people. The decision to invade Iraq without provocation and fraudulently sold to the American people, by a President consumed with messianic purpose, sadly confirms this lesson of history.

The Democrats controlled the Senate on October 11, 2002 and provided political cover for George Bush to invade Iraq. The Senate leadership could have refused to even take up the resolution, or a few Senators who opposed it could have mounted a filibuster.

But the fear of opposing a popular warrior President on the eve of a mid-term election prevailed. Political calculations trumped morality, and the Middle East was set ablaze. The Democrats lost in the election anyway, but the American people lost even more. It was Politics as Usual.

Given the extreme importance of any decision to go to war, and I am anguished to say this, it’s my opinion that anyone who voted for the war on October 11––based on what President Bush represented––is not qualified to hold the office of President.

he’s partially right. the senate leadership could have done more to stop the iraq war from happening. they didn’t do so, because they also believed that saddam was a threat. they had every reason to think so. hillary even did her own research and came to the same conclusion her husband and president bush did — that regime change was necessary in iraq. political calculation wasn’t the motive for the democrats when they let the president invade iraq.  it is the motive for democrats calling for immediate withdrawal from iraq (like dennis kucinich and mike gravel for example). there is another contest going on with all these candidates…who will win the favor of the netroots? how else do you explain this incredible shift to the left by many of these democratic candidates?

mike gravel doesn’t seem to be a status quo type. he sounds a lot more like a third-party candidate than a democrat, and he’s got a few radical ideas in addition to a few boilerplate ones (like universal health care).

  • he’s for the FAIR TAX (a progressive national tax of 19-23% that would replace the current income tax we have now). this is something neil boortz also supports. if you want more details on it, check his website.

i must confess that i’m agnostic on this. i know that the income tax system we have now needs to be re-worked, overhauled, changed, etc…i’m just not sure that this is the best way to deal with the current bad system.

  • he also proposes what he calls the National Initiative for Democracy ( he says that it is “a proposal to amend the constitution and to set up legislative procedures to formulate initiatives and get them on the ballot nationally”).  we the people making laws. interesting concept. the idea is appealing in a populist sort of way. it sounds good as a real “people-powered” process where we could have more say in the laws governing our country.

there’s something to be said for returning more control to the average citizen than the politicians have.  who could be opposed to that? i’m just not sure that something like this would work on a national level. i’m somewhat skeptical that the american people would have enough information to make good choices about these national initiatives, and that they would even make the effort to vote for those initiatives. some of us don’t even vote in elections. i’m also concerned that the media has incredible control over public opinion, even when we recognize its biases for what they are.  sometimes public opinion is wrong, based on the limited information that they have on important issues(like universal health care, for example). the average citizen isn’t an activist. they are slightly more apathetic. these reservations aside, i would have to look at gravel’s proposal more closely to decide one way or the other about it.

the main problem i have with mike gravel is that it is impossible to take him seriously on foreign policy.  he doesn’t seem to understand the consequences of immediate withdrawal from iraq. of course no democratic candidate really wants to talk about this subject. he is also opposed to the US continuing to build up our nuclear arsenal. he says that we are manipulated by fear, and he seems to believe that it’s wrong for our country to spend more on our military than the rest of the world does. i’m not sure that europe would spend the money to defend itself and its interests even if their citizenry wasn’t overtaxed and propping up a massive welfare state.  i understand his argument about iran, and partially agree with it. we can’t take military action against iran at this point until there’s some resolution to the current conflicts in iraq and afghanistan.  however, not recognizing that we have serious threats to the security of our country is a weakness that should not exist in any potential nominee for commander-in-chief. 

tags: ,