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Elections & Voting Last Updated: Apr 15th, 2008 - 00:30:02

Decline of the party power system and the catalysts for change
By Dan Lieberman
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 15, 2008, 00:14

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The present presidential primaries have an overlooked feature; people power is taking precedence over party power.

The Republicans have chosen a candidate whose domestic policies are moderate for Republican conservatism. Although he has wavered recently, John McCain has voted several times with Democrats; on immigration, global warming, gay rights, campaign finance reform, gun control, in opposition to corporate welfare and to Bush's tax cuts.

The Democrats are tending toward Barack Obama, a relatively new personality who is still not integrated into the established Democratic Party leadership. Support by Democratic Party leaders Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Bill Richardson countered negative aspects of Obama's aspirations - his closeness to Trinity United Church's radical Reverend Wright and campaign contributions from indicted real estate investor Tony Rezko - and successfully deterred potential harm to Obama's run for the presidency. His African and Muslim heritage would have halted a similar campaign only a few years ago. What has happened?

Eight years of falsehoods, confusion, a punishing Iraq war and loss of confidence in the government have brought demands for catalysts of change.

Catalysts for change

In selecting catalysts for change, the natural drift is towards independents, to those who depart from the political parties' accepted tenets and portend a new vision. A candidates personality and trust rather than positions on issues guide the voters.

The Republican voters choice of McCain, a more independent operator and less than perfect conservative, surprised those who posed themselves as having strong conservative credentials. McCain capitalized on appearances of being a superpatriot and a war hero, characteristics that create trust.

The Democrat voters sense Barack Obama as being similar to past favorites: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an aristocrat who bridged his class distinction, engaged the masses and inspired confidence in change; Jack Kennedy was a Catholic who never reminded of Catholicism, and stimulated interest in public service.

Barack Obama is an African-American who defies racial identity, has convinced voters that he is more than rhetoric and can deliver meaningful changes to a government that serves special interests.

Nevertheless, as euphoria for "anything but the past" diminishes and the "catalysts for change" stumble the public into reality, the voters will be forced to select a new president on issues. There is one principal issue, the Iraq war, and on this issue the Democratic leaders have thrown their support to Barack Obama; the reason being that on the Iraq war issue they sense John McCain cannot win.

The reality of the candidates

Senator John McCain is more a candidate for himself than for any political party. Which major constituencies in the Republican Party does John McCain represent? None! He caters to those who believe in symbols rather than thought. McCain will gather strength from those in both political parties who admire independent spirit (not many from the Republican dogmatists), agree with his stance on the Iraq war and consider him a patriot and war hero. The Arizona senator's popularity might decrease drastically if the latter characteristics are challenged during the election process. John McCain's war record has dubious heroics and purposeful embellishments.

It is well known that Navy Lieutenant John McCain received preferential treatment from his Vietnamese captors because he was the son of a U.S. Navy admiral. It was Henry Kissinger, and not McCain himself, who blocked a North Vietnamese offer for McCain's early release. According to the New York Times, and other sources, McCain made a confession that revealed to his captors more than regulations allow and, while in captivity, gave an authorized and heavily criticized interview to a Cuban-sponsored psychiatrist.

Barack Obama has captured the admiration of Americans who visualize him as a person who views all citizens with equal compassion and justice. Nevertheless, Senator Obama's record contradicts the premise that he is not greatly directed by his African-American roots. Although only 50 percent black and raised by white grandparents, Obama's political life has been primarily attached to the African-American community.

The Illinois senator refers to himself as a black American. He has married a black woman, sought spiritual guidance in a radicalized black church, had his children baptized by a black minister, visits his African father's birthplace in Kenya rather than his mother's birthplace in Kansas, and speaks more of his Kenya roots than his Hawaiian and Kansas roots. Before entering public office, he worked as an organizer in black neighborhoods of Chicago's South side.

As the two senators exaggerated appearances fade in the reality of a more focused light, the issues will become more important. The Republicans insist on staying in Iraq. Democrats insist on getting out of Iraq. McCain unites the Republicans on only that issue; arguing for extensive and prolonged U.S. engagement in Iraq. Barack Obama unites Democrats on the same issue; arguing for gradual and definite withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. However, Obama also collects the Democrats by demanding a new direction for U.S. politics. The American people have shown they will not support more war in Iraq, and the policy that the two candidates explications on the war will undoubtedly be a determining factor in the election. Since McCain's aggressive position of "remaining in Iraq for 100 years" sufficiently contradicts voters' preference, his stance greatly lowers his chances to win. The Democrats only need a candidate who has been consistent on leaving Iraq. Senator Hillary Clinton is still vulnerable on that issue and Barack Obama is the only candidate who can claim a consistent and well directed Iraq policy that conforms to voter wants. If nominated, the election will be Obama's to lose and the Bush administration will do everything, regardless of the number of Iraqis its military kills, in order to enable McCain to gain a decisive advantage before the election date.

The Badr organization, previously known as the Badr brigade, attempted but failed battering of the Sadr brigades initiates the administration's efforts to enhance McCain's opportunity. The effort's hypocrisy is obvious and odious. While Bush and McCain rail, without proof, against Iran sending armaments to the insurgents, it is the U.S. who is arming the Badr organization militia. And who are the Badr militia? They are the Iraqi Shiites who fled to Iran during the Iraq/Iran war and remain allied with the Iranian clerical government. What a twist!

No matter who wins the next presidential election, hopefully the American people will have established a new awakening, a catalyst for change of the political system -- albeit it might possibly be too late. George W. Bush has left the United States in desperation, almost near collapse. Similar to Salman Rushdie's character in his novel The Satanic Verses, who had to die in order to be reborn, Bush is making certain the present American system will be destroyed before being born again.

Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web-based newsletter. He can be reached at

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