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
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
€ 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.