Holding the War Parties Accountable

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There are plenty of reasons the Democrats continue to support the ongoing occupation of Iraq. Not only did they authorize the invasion, they continue to sit on their hands while our armed forces commit murder in the name of democracy in Haditha.

Perhaps the worst of the Democrats still embracing the illegal war is Senator Hillary Clinton. And despite her unwillingness to engage the antiwar community, she still receives substantial support from those who say they don’t support the occupation.

On June 3 Clinton won the coveted ballot line of the Working Families Party in New York, even though the WFP was one of the first to oppose the war on Iraq four years ago. It was a sign of what’s to come as Hillary sets herself up for a presidential run down the road, where alleged antiwar groups like MoveOn.org will likely rush to defend Hillary against a Republican challenger, despite her deadly foreign policy positions. But let’s hope Hillary never makes it that far.

Capitulation, like the WFP’s last week, only serves to make Hillary worse than she already is. Not that the Democrats will ever come out in opposition to the Iraq war, but they surely aren’t going to do so as long as the antiwar movement supports them simply because they aren’t Republicans. And the WFP even had a legitimate alternative in Jonathan Tasini, Clinton’s antiwar primary challenger.

Tasini has come head-to-head with the Democratic elite in his efforts to hold Clinton accountable for her depraved war stance. Late last month at the New York Democrat’s state convention, Tasini failed to introduce an antiwar resolution that would have called for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

His party wouldn’t hear it. Democratic officials said Tasini hadn’t followed the rules by introducing the resolution fifteen days in advance. Tasini contends he was misinformed and insists that Clinton’s camp was behind the sabotage.

“There is absolutely no question Hillary Clinton doesn’t want a debate on the war,” says Tasini.

At the same convention Clinton snobbishly accepted her party’s nomination, and ignored Tasini’s potential challenge — "potential," because Tasini is not guaranteed a spot on the Democrat’s primary ballot in September. His campaign still needs to turn in 15,000 signatures from registered New York Democrats before his name will appear on the ballot. If he fails to do so, his campaign will be over.

That’s the futility of running antiwar campaigns in Democratic primaries against party elites like Hillary Clinton. Besides, only Democrats in New York can vote in the primaries, which in this case would ignore the fact that the antiwar movement is more diverse than just grassroots Democrats.

But that’s how the Democrats stifle debate. Instead of addressing the issue they’ll silence those who aren’t in line with their positions. And that raises the question: why even run antiwar campaigns inside the Democratic Party like Tasini is trying to do?

If the antiwar movement were politically savvy they’d be thinking ahead to Hillary Clinton’s expected run for president in 2008. They’d be putting pressure on the Senator now from outside the party instead of waiting until more bodies in Iraq pile up and more tax dollars spent on slaughtering innocent civilians. The antiwar movement shouldn’t be supporting Democrats, period. The primaries, as Tasini’s campaign has experienced (as well as Dennis Kucinich in 2004), are rigged in favor of the pro-war establishment.

The truth is, Democrats and Republicans aren’t going to end this war. We will, by refusing to play by their rules.

Joshua Frank [send him mail] is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discount through Josh’s blog.

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