Cindy Sheehan is exactly what we needed. Following the 2004 elections the antiwar movement was left in shambles, unable to recover from the malfunctions of the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org had capitulated its antiwar position by supporting John pro-war Kerry. United for Peace and Justice did not organize a single rally against the Iraq occupation. The Green Party forgot it was an election year and endorsed a no-name candidate from Texas. Indeed, the “Anybody but Bush” epidemic had crushed whatever movement there was to begin with.
But now the war opposition is coming back to life. The floodgates are open. Bush’s approval rating has dipped into the 30% range. George W. Bush is not a popular president. As I write, the White House PR machine is putting together a series of speeches for Bush to give over the course of the next month – where he’ll be calling for more public support for the nonsensical war. Aides to the President say he’ll be drawing parallels between Iraq and WWII. Apparently victory takes some time.
Well over 1,800 US troops have died in the conflict thus far. Surely thousands more will perish as the illegal occupation continues. The war’s defenders are having a difficult time rationalizing their support.
As this new invigorated opposition to the Iraq war comes to a head with media savvy Sheehan at the helm, one would assume the Democratic Party would find its’ voice. What do they have to lose? Certainly not elections. And certainly not their own popularity. They have none. Even with Bush down in the polls the Democrats are not able to capitalize. They have not added an ounce to the antiwar campaign other than a few laughable gestures concerning the Downing Street Memos. Other than that, they have been completely silent. Pathetic, in fact. Save Senator Russ Feingold who is now calling for a mediocre withdrawal plan. But even Russ’s half-assed call to withdrawal troops by December 2006 is being challenged within the Democratic establishment by the liberal warmongers.
Antiwar Howard Dean, the restless chair of the DNC, says it is the responsibility of the Bush administration to come up with an exit strategy, not the Democrats’. Talk about the inability to offer an alternative. What makes Dean believe Bush could ever provide any reasonable … anything? Let alone an exit policy? Dean’s tangled jargon is just another case of the Democrat’s inability to be a legitimate oppositional party.
Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, two prominent Democrats in the race for the White House in 2008, aren’t having any of Feingold either. Stay the course, they say. Whatever the hell that means. Stay the course of what? Have they forgotten that there is no goal. No plan. No course. What we do know however, is that thousands more troops and civilians are sure to die as the US continues to occupy Iraq.
Fortunately the grassroots of the Democratic Party does not agree with Kerry and Clinton. They want the troops out of Iraq. Many claim that this riff between the party grassroots and the DC Democrats is a fundamental identity crisis. They see the party as having no legitimate direction. No heart. No soul. They are right.
If Democratic politicians had a soul they’d be standing shoulder to shoulder with Sheehan’s supporters at candle light vigils across the country. But that won’t be happening anytime soon. The Democrats in DC aren’t even sure Sheehan’s actions are justified. They aren’t even sure that her son died for an unjust cause.
The futility of the Democrats in Washington grows graver by the day.
JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the brand new book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, which has just been published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted rate at www.brickburner.org. Joshua can be reached at Joshua@brickburner.org.