Are the Congressional Democrats Spineless?
The Associated Press released a report on March 8^th detailing Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi’s plan to force the Bush administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq by Fall 2008 (pretty close to the time John Kerry, in his failed 2004 presidential bid, promised to withdraw them after a surge of 40,000 troops).
According to UN estimates, that means US forces will kill another 60,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children by the proposed September 1, 2008 deadline. This of course assumes that the level of violence in the next two years does not increase over the level of violence in the last two years. An assumption that is more and more tenuous.
The bill being presented by the House Democrats goes even further than killing another 60,000 people in Iraq; it adds another $1.2 billion to President Bush’s request for the continuation of the war in Afghanistan.
Rephrasing the Democrats startling challenge to President Bush would look something like this: "we demand that you only kill 60,000 more innocent people in Iraq. We further demand that you limit the deaths of American soldiers to another 1,800 and that the number of morbidly wounded soldiers must not exceed 30,000; then you must stop the war. Since we know this is going to be a difficult decision for you Mr. President, we will help you out by allowing you to kill another 10,000 more people in Afghanistan".
Since the Democrats were clearly elected with a mandate to end the war and, given that President Bush will surely veto this legislation anyway, why would the Democratic leadership propose legislation that would kill another 60,000 innocent Iraqis and 1,800 Americans before finally bringing the war to an end? The Associated Press report suggests that this was a compromise bill that would satisfy "liberal Democrats" reluctant to vote for continued funding without driving away "more moderate Democrats". The Democratic leadership fears that without a united party they would suffer an embarrassing defeat when the legislation reaches a vote later this month. Does this make any sense at all?
If the Marketing vice president wants his company to introduce a new product in six months but Finance and Operations are opposed to such an introduction they may be able to reach a compromise date for the introduction of the new product. With this kind of compromise a win-win situation can be created and nobody is going to die or become morbidly wounded as a result.
Organizations, regardless of their raison d’être, must have stated goals and a strategy for achieving those goals. The strategy is formulated after evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of various alternatives. What no organization wants to do in strategy formulation is sacrifice the long run on the altar of the short. No organization wants success in the short run if it means disaster in the long run. The congressional Democrats have decided that they would rather sacrifice the lives of innocent Iraqis and Americans than risk losing the war as an election issue in 2008. This is what happens when organizations operate without values, vision, a clear sense of direction and effective leadership. They lose the ability to identify, evaluate and set clearly achievable goals.
The Democratic House has drafted legislation which has no chance of surviving a presidential veto and at the same time does not meet the hopes and aspirations and demands of the overwhelming majority of the American voting public. They have however drafted legislation that makes them feel good. Somehow or other the so-called "liberal Democrats" are going to be happy about supporting a bill which would kill 60,000 Iraqis and 1,800 Americans because the bill will not alienate the "more moderate Democrats".
It is difficult to determine which group of Democratic legislators is more odious; the "liberal Democrats" who purport to want an immediate end to the Iraqi war but will compromise by letting another 60,000 people die in the name of party unity or the "more moderate Democrats" who have no problem murdering another 60,000 Iraqis so that they do not give the impression that they are tying the hands of the military commanders.
This bears repeating. The congressional Democrats know that President Bush will veto this proposed legislation but he could not veto legislation that did not provide the additional funds necessary for the continued prosecution of the war. Furthermore, even if the congressional Democrats in the House failed to pass legislation that would cut funding for the war, the Senate Democrats could filibuster legislation requiring its continued funding. It would only take 41 of the 51 Senate Democrats to accomplish this effective ending of the war!
Democratic Party loyalist themselves have often suggested that the congressional Democrats are spineless; that they fear a real confrontation with the Republicans and that this explains why the Democratic Party has drifted so far to the right as to be no longer recognizably different from the Republican Party.
In order to be "spineless", however, the congressional Democrats would first have to have some concept of courage or morality. There is no evidence in the decision-making process of the congressional Democrats that questions of courage or morality are ever even considered. Terms like "good" and "evil", "courageous" and "spineless" are applicable only to those who permit conscience to enter into the decision-making process. Conscience is clearly not a metric evaluated by the congressional Democrats in their strategy formulation process. The only variables considered worthy of evaluation by the congressional Democrats are party unity and the vote-getting utility of a continued war on their 2008 congressional and presidential election aspirations. There are many words which might aptly describe the Congressional Democrats but certainly not "spineless". One must question, however, whether those who continue to vote for the Democrats year after year are indeed themselves invertebrate.
When the Democrat Party workers start trolling for votes a year and a half from now they will tell the nibblers to "hold your nose and vote for the Democrats. After all, what are you going to do, vote for a Republican?" The appropriate response should be "no, I won’t vote for Republican but I can no longer associate myself with the bottom feeders called Democrats. I’ll vote for an independent candidate or perhaps a Green Party candidate. I will stand with Martin Luther King and remember that "there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic nor popular but we must take it because our conscience tells us that it is right".
You’ve been hoodwinked. You’ve been had.
You’ve been took. You’ve been led astray, run amuck.
You’ve been bamboozled.
John Murphy is the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. He has been endorsed by Michael Berg, Peter Camejo, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader and Howard Zinn. He has been endorsed by two county level Green Parties, two county level Libertarian Parties, the Pennsylvania Reform Party, the New American Independent Party of Pennsylvania and the GDI among others. He is also one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.