FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Obama and the Antiwar Democrats

Days ago, a warning shot from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue landed with a thud on Capitol Hill, near some recent arrivals in the House. The political salvo was carefully aimed and expertly fired. But in the long run it could boomerang.

As a close vote neared on a supplemental funding bill for more war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that “the White House has threatened to pull support from Democratic freshmen who vote no.” In effect, it was so important to President Obama to get the war funds that he was willing to paint a political target on the backs of some of the gutsiest new progressives in Congress.

But why would a president choose to single out fellow Democrats in their first congressional term? Because, according to conventional wisdom, they’re the most politically vulnerable and the easiest to intimidate.

Well, a number of House Democrats in their first full terms were not intimidated. Despite the presidential threat, they stuck to principle. Donna Edwards of Maryland voted no on the war funding when it really counted. So did Alan Grayson of Florida, Eric Massa of New York, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Jared Polis of Colorado and Jackie Speier of California.

Now what?

Well, for one thing, progressives across the country should plan on giving special support to Edwards, Grayson, Massa, Pingree, Polis and Speier in 2010. If we take the White House at its word, they may find themselves running for re-election while President Obama withholds his support — in retaliation for their anti-war votes.

But it’s not enough to just play defense. We also need to be supporting — or initiating — grassroots campaigns to unseat pro-war members of Congress.

In the Los Angeles area, the military-crazed and ultra-corporate Congresswoman Jane Harman will face the progressive dynamo Marcy Winograd in the Democratic primary next year.

Harman’s vote for the latest war funding was predictable. But dozens of Democrats with longtime anti-war reputations also voted yes. Among the most notable examples are Oregon’s Peter DeFazio and Washington’s Jim McDermott, who apparently found their antiwar constituencies in Eugene and Seattle to be less persuasive than the White House chief of staff.

“White House aides worked the halls during the hours before the vote, and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called some lawmakers personally,” McClatchy news service reports. “DeFazio, who was undecided and wound up voting yes, said he talked to Emanuel by phone for about five minutes as Obama’s top aide explained the administration’s strategy in the war on terror.”

This is a crucial time for anti-war activists and other progressive advocates to get more serious about congressional politics. It’s not enough to lobby for or against specific bills — and it’s not enough to just get involved at election time. Officeholders must learn that there will be campaign consequences.

When progressives challenge a Democratic incumbent in a primary race, some party loyalists claim that such an intra-party contest is too divisive. But desperately needed change won’t come to this country until a lot of progressive candidates replace mainline Democrats in office.

On behalf of his war agenda, the president has signaled that he’s willing to undermine the political futures of some anti-war Democrats in Congress. We should do all we can to support those Democrats — and defeat pro-war incumbents on behalf of an anti-war agenda.

NORMAN SOLOMON is the author of Made Love, Got War.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 09, 2020
John Davis
Freedom Virus
Vincent Emanuele
The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie’s Last Tape
John O'Kane
Remove the Boomer Virus and What Virus Remains?
Kevin Bixby – Daryl T. Smith
The Border Wall Risks Us All
Nick Pemberton
Could COVID-19 Count Fox News Among Its Victims?
Howard Lisnoff
American Exceptionalism in the Face of Covid-19
Charles Pierson
We Are Living (And Dying) in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”
Sam Husseini
Sanders Suspends: What Happened? What Now?
Binoy Kampmark
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War
Ted Rall
Why We Need a New Progressive Party and How We Can Create It
Walden Bello
Martin Khor: the Making of a Global Activist
Ariel Dorfman
COVID-19 and the Lessons of Life in Exile
Merriam Ansara
John Lennon in Quarantine: a Letter From Havana
George Wuerthner
Politics and Corruption at Grand Canyon
Eugene Schulman
Lost in the Pandemic: the Forever Wars
Dean Baker
Basic Economics for Economic Columnists: a Depression is a Process, Not an Event
George Ochenski
The Dishonest Mr. Daines
Mike Ferner
Love in a Dangerous Time
Brian Horejsi
Beware Government Secrecy in Times of Pandemic
Sam Pizzigati
No Fennel in the Sausage, No $600 for the Jobless
Jason Christensen – John Carter
Conservation Groups Oppose the Nature Conservancy’s Cattle Grazing Development Project on the Border of Canyonlands National Park
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail