The Bush Administration has it right. The Democratic Party is the party of cut and run. It used to be the party where progressives could find a home. No longer. Cut and run has turned it into the party that stands for total disarray, desertion of core values, or nothing at all.
What happened to universal health care? Cut and run. The welfare state? Cut and run. Calling as a party for an end to atrocities such as torture and rendition? You guessed it. Holding government leaders responsible for their actions? Donald Rumsfeld is still secretary of defense. Support for international law and the United Nations?
In 2002 twenty-eight Senate Democrats voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution. One of the minority who didn’t, Russell Feingold, got it right from the start: “Both in terms of the justifications for an invasion and in terms of the mission and the plan for the invasion, Mr. President, the Administration’s arguments just don’t add up.”
Cut and run is the reason George W. Bush was re-elected. Instead of taking a strong position against the invasion of Iraq that would have energized his supporters John Kerry cut and ran in 2004 and his Presidential campaign fizzled to defeat as a result.
Cut and run is the reason 31 Democratic Senators voted last week against a resolution calling for the pull out of US troops in Iraq by July 1, 2007. Hillary Clinton who is entertaining a run for President in 2008 was one of them.
Where are the Democrats calling for closing Guantanamo? Cut and run. For the resignations and prosecution of everyone responsible for Abu Gharib? Cut and run.
Cut and run is the reason George Bush has gotten away with torturing prisoners, wiretapping our homes, keeping records of what we read and how we spend our money and violating human rights at home and abroad in a myriad of other ways.
Cut and run, in short, is why progressives in this country are fed up with the Democratic Party and looking for real leadership elsewhere. That is why when the party claims the way to stop Bush is to elect more Democratic representatives and senators the response on the left is likely to be less than enthusiastic.
Jeff Bingaman, Robert Byrd, Hillary Clinton, Kent Conrad, Mark Dayton, Dianne Feinstein, Herb Kohl, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, and Debbie Stabenow are ten of the seventeen Democratic Senators up for reelection. Every one of them voted against the amendment for setting a date to bring the troops home. How then, we might ask, will voting for them help hasten an end to the occupation? Where are the members of the party with real progressive values and the courage to stand up for them?”
What this country and the world desperately needs now is voices that will stand up for the ideals embodied in our constitution, human rights around the world, and international law. Progressives expect those voices to come from representatives in the Democratic Party. Instead what it has received from those representatives is cut and run.
Therefore, it is our job to turn things around. It is our job to finally do what too many of our would be allies in the Democratic Party have failed to do: stand and fight. That means more than just taking part in protest marches. There are people out there ready to lead the kind of actions that will get our elected “representatives” to take notice.
Those people include grandmothers who were arrested for blocking a military recruitment office in New York, protesters in Seattle who tried to stop the shipment of military supplies to Iraq, and demonstrators at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations who denounced the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo. All we need do is join them.
Roger Burbach is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He is co- author with Jim Tarbell of “Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire,” He released late last year “The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice.”
Paul Cantor is a professor of economics in Norwalk, Connecticut and a human rights activist.