2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

McCain is not an option


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Bill Fletcher Jr.
The Louisana Weekly
March 17, 2008

In large part because of the inflammatory tactics of the Hillary Clinton campaign, along with the polarizing of the alleged debate within the Democratic Party between Senators Clinton and Obama, suggestions have begun to circulate within Black America to the effect that should Sen. Obama not get the nomination, there should be a vote for McCain.

Such a vote, it is proposed, can either be explicit, i.e., pushing the button for him, or implicit, i.e., not voting. Either step would be a disaster.

It is critical that we are clear as to who Senator McCain is and who he is not. He is a former prisoner of war who, during the Vietnam War, withstood very harsh conditions and returned home safely. There is no taking that away from him and his courage is to be applauded. But courage is only one part of what makes a person a good and capable leader. The other part revolves around what ideas and programs they propose to advance. On that score, Senator McCain comes up short.

There are five areas where it is clear that Senator McCain would not only be unhelpful as President of the United States, but would be a disaster. Not in order of importance, these include:

People of Color: Senator McCain, simply put, does not have people of color on the radar screen. He has no track record of being an advocate for racial justice.

Iraq: Senator McCain has continued to support Bush's illegal war and occupation of Iraq. He has focused on the 'troop surge' which he believes to have been successful, and has gone as far as to suggest that the USA should be prepared to remain in Iraq for another 100 years. In a related point, this is also the same person who smiles and sings a 'cute' song about bombing Iran.

Torture: Reversing himself, Senator McCain has become a bit ambivalent (to be diplomatic about it) about torture, moving away from his one-time adamant position against the use of torture. His original position was based on his claims of having been tortured in Vietnamese prisons during the Vietnam War. It is unclear what changed such that he would alter his original views.

Social Security: Reversing himself, Senator McCain has now adopted Bush's widely repudiated position that social security be privatized. The privatization of social security, introduced in Chile after the 1973 US-backed coup against President Allende, proved to be a disaster for the people of Chile but a boom for the Chilean rich. Senator McCain originally stood against privatization, but something happened to alter his views.

Working people: In addition to displaying no interest in supporting the right of workers to join or form labor unions free of employer interference, Senator McCain has voted against the increase in the Federal minimum wage. He further supported an effort that would make it possible for states to opt out of future Federal minimum wage increases. McCain is additionally a strong proponent of free trade and regularly cautions against anything that would get in the way of corporate-led globalization.

Senator McCain, in this sense, is no option for us. His attitude toward international affairs represents a continuation of Bush's disastrous policies and his views on domestic affairs are not much better. In fact, his relative silence and oblique references to the economy are fair indications that he has not a clue as to how address the looming economic crisis.

For these reasons, suggestions that we 'punish' the Democrats if Senator Obama does not receive the nomination by voting for Senator McCain make little sense. The deeper challenge derives from the fact that the internal organization within Black America has weakened and, therefore, we are less in a position to advance candidates and platforms that represent the core of the concerns of Black America, i.e., the concerns that speak to the overwhelming majority of Black Americans who are working people.

In November 2008, McCain cannot be an option unless one is looking forward to a period of endless war and misery at home. I don't know about you but the boot is already pressing too hard on my neck for more of the same.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. He can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com.


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