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The Democrats and the Precipice


Can you really oppose the occupation of Iraq and still call yourself a Democrat? I’m not so sure. The majority of Washington Dems continue to applaud Bush’s invasion of Iraq as well as his debauched crusade against terror. A few antiwar voices have echoed though Democratic corridors, but none have produced any genuine shifts in ideology, let alone direction. Nor will they.

It wasn’t long ago when a handful of activists hailed Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bid for the White House as worth fighting for. He seemed to oppose the war in Iraq and even offered a plan to get troops out quicker than any of the Democratic frontrunners. People were hopeful their support for Dennis would make an impact on the presidential race — and maybe even pull the Democratic Party in their direction. It never happened. Two years have now past and those who handed out fliers and buttons for Kucinich have nothing to show for their efforts.

So, why are Dennis Kucinich and his most loyal supporters still Democrats?

That’s a question I wish someone would answer. As far as I can tell, the reason the Dems can’t stand up to Bush is that they actually believe in this foolish war. They aren’t afraid or spineless, as so many claim — they just support the president and his imperialist ventures. If Kucinich opposes the occupation, as he and his supporters have said over and again, then why is he still a member of a party that overwhelming backs it? Where the hell has he been, anyway?

Sorry Big D, whatever you are doing out there it’s not working all that well. Your party doesn’t need you. A new one does.

The same can be said for Rep. John Murtha, who was all but laughed out of office by his Democratic buddies when he put forward his strategic redeployment plan a few months ago. Even Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who courageously cast her vote for immediate and unconditional withdraw from Iraq, is still a Democrat. Why? McKinney would be better off jumping ship and throwing her weight into building a real alternative to business as usual. How can someone with such a keen understanding of what’s really going in this world remain a Democrat?

Cynthia, if you really want to end this war, why don’t you help give birth to a new party instead of attempting to resurrect a dead one?

Then, of course, we have the new progressive superman, Senator Russel Feingold, a hopeful 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. Like Kucinich of 2004, Feingold is being lauded as our last best hope for defeating the Republican demagogues. But ol’ Russ isn’t finding much sympathy from his fellow Democrats these days.

Last week Feingold introduced S. Res. 398, which calls for the “censure” of the president over his illegal wiretapping incursions. Such a plea was long overdue. All leading Democrats immediately took cover, dodging any sharp-shooting questions about the resolution. As of March 21, not a single leading Senate Democrat had come out in support of the bill. Feingold stood alone.

So, what are you doing Russ? Why are you still a Democrat, anyway?

And there’s your biggest problem. Feingold’s fight to restore integrity in Washington (if there ever was such a thing) is hindered by his party allegiance and reluctance to break rank. The same can be said for every other DC Democrat who is willing to criticize Bush, including Rep. John Conyers. At the end of the day Conyers, like Feingold, McKinney and Kucinich — is still a member of a party that supports the occupation of Iraq and Bush’s war on civil liberties.

Whatever they say won’t change that. Worst of all, when push comes to shove, and the Democrats nominate another pro-war candidate, all their causes will be sidelined. Party loyalty will matter more than the mounting death toll in Iraq.

I hate to say it, but that kind of bullshit will never end a war.

JOSHUA FRANK edits the radical news blog and is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, published by Common Courage Press (2005). Josh can be reached at




JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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