The Peace Democrats Dilemma

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I
have been thinking for a while now that the Democrats really should
sit down and consider changing their mascot from a donkey to a marmot.
A rodent really is more emblematic of their provincial habits than
a donkey could ever be. Think about it. Just this past weekend antiwar
rallies were held across the country and the Democratic leadership
was nowhere in sight. They had high-tailed it out there. They hid
in their holes and were afraid to be seen.

In
all fairness, a few elected Democrats did show face, mainly two:
Reps. John Conyers, Cynthia McKinney, Lynn Woolsey, and Barbara
Lee. But I wouldn't call them party leaders. The better-known Democrats
like Senators John Kerry and Hilary Clinton, two likely candidates
for 2008, were nowhere to be seen. Even more striking were the absences
of DNC Chair Howard Dean as well as Russell Feingold and Ted Kennedy
– all outspoken critics of the Iraq war.

Of
course the Democrat's collective criticism only goes so far. They
certainly don't want to be photographed with any crazy protestors.
By God, that would taint their reputations! They've got campaign
contributions to worry about here. No, the Democrats aren't about
to take to the streets. They'd rather sit back and create the illusion
that they care.

On
her way out to Washington, the anti-war movement's leading lady
Cindy Sheehan said about Senator Hilary Clinton's refusal to attend
the protest, “She knows that the war is a lie, but she is waiting
for the right time to say it. You say it or you are losing your
job.”

Well,
sorry, but I think the time to speak out against the war is right
now and if it means Clinton could lose her job (even though that's
highly unlikely, given that almost half of all Americans, according
to a recent Pew research poll, think we should end the occupation
and come home), so-be-it.

This
isn't to say that the Democrat's grassroots don't oppose the war.
The majority does. So this begs the question; why are anti-war activists
so loyal to a Democratic Party that supported Bush's war and still
refuses to oppose it?

Much
of the Democrat's cognitive dissonance has to do with the success
of Howard Dean at the DNC. He's been able to corral anti-war Democrats
into the fold, making sure they don't flee en masse over the war
issue even though they should. Many still see Dean as a sign of
future hope, where party leadership stays in touch with the grassroots.
Plus, Dean's early criticisms of the Iraq war earned him significant
street-cred with party advocates.

It
was un-deserved. Dean, like the rest of the Democratic leadership,
is pro-war and pro-occupation, and it couldn't be more damaging
for the peace movement to continue putting faith into this futile
party. If Democratic activists really want to make some change –
the best thing they could do would be to get up and leave their
party. Only then will Democratic leaders start to think twice about
the monstrous policies they endorse.

September
27, 2005

Joshua
Frank [send him mail]
is the author of Left
Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush
, just published
by Common Courage Press. To learn more visit www.BrickBurner.org.

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