We should have known it was coming. Even though the Democratic Party rode the antiwar wave in to Congress last November they’ve done little since to end the bloody war in Iraq. Just last week House Democrats met to discuss how best to halt Bush’s request to send more troops into the region but couldn’t come to an agreement on whether or not to put any restrictions on the administration’s plea for an additional $93 billion to continue the occupation. The only way to stop the war, as Sen. Russ Feingold understands well, is to cease all funding for the ongoing tragedy. But the majority of Democrats, already preparing for the next round of elections, aren’t about to step up and represent their constituents.
Hate to say we told you so but we predicted this outcome long ago here at CounterPunch. While some, including John Nichols at The Nation, claimed Washington was being taken over by progressive Democrats, we knew the numbers proved otherwise. Progressive Democrats did gain strength, however conservative pro-war Blue Dog and DLC patrons gained the most seats in last election cycle. Virtually all ran on pro-war platforms — guaranteeing that they would continue to support Bush’s efforts to eradicate terrorism by terrorizing Iraqis and Afghanis instead.
“The Blue Dogs are pretty unified in not wanting to micromanage how the Pentagon conducts the war,” said Blue Dog Rep. John Salazar of Colorado. “None of us will support withholding funds from troops in the field.”
Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also refused to block Bush’s call for additional funds by claiming it would be “immoral” for the Democratic Party to do so. Sen. Hillary Clinton won’t apologize for giving Bush the authority to invade Iraq, nor will Sen. Dianne Feinstein acknowledge that her support for past reconstruction funds has fattened the pockets of her husband who has large stakes in several companies currently profiting from the war.
We may as well call all of this what it is: a willful abandonment of ideals and purpose, which never really existed to begin with. The Democratic Party exerts the same hawkish fervor as the Republican Party. Indeed they have proven that despite the overwhelming opposition to the war nationwide they will not do a damn thing to end it.
U.S. foreign policy has not and will not change direction as long as the Democratic Party continues to be dominated by corporate interests and tacit compliance to the neoconservative agenda. The antiwar movement needs to understand this reality or it is doomed to collapse like it did under the pressure of the 2004 elections.
The time is now for us to come together under a unified antiwar banner despite what our political leanings may be. Liberal, radical, conservative, libertarian, it doesn’t matter. Ending the war and our government’s imperialist polices is just that important. We may be a minority, but we can be a successful one. Indeed if we unite we could have a profound effect on our political discourse and the upcoming elections. Let’s not wait around for either party to come to their senses.
Let’s force them to.
JOSHUA FRANK is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush edits www.BrickBurner.org.