Step Up to the Plate, Democrats
It’s obvious that Democrats used the antiwar movement during the George W. Bush years.
Clearly, they saw the war in Iraq as a way to make Republicans look bad. Maybe it was because they wanted the Democratic Party in power due to its position on guns, abortion, immigration and LGBTQ issues.
Democrats who protested the invasion of Iraq still say they’re opposed to war. Yet they voted for a man who before he was elected, said, "I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war."
Then they voted for him again in 2012 after he dropped bombs on six Muslim countries.
And for the most part, those same Democrats have not been active in the antiwar movement since Barack Obama took office.
Yep, the antiwar movement was used. And as part of that movement, I can say that many of us are angrier today with the Democrats than we were with the Republicans when Bush was in office.
At least pro-war Republicans have the honesty and decency to say they believe in war, and only vote for those with the same view.
But you have a chance to redeem yourselves, Democrats
One reason expressed by many Democrats for voting for "the lesser of two evils" was that Obama would be more likely to hear their voice than would a Republican president. They said that they would hold Obama accountable.
Well, here’s your chance, Democrats. All you have to do is tell Obama and the Democratic Party that you will never vote for them again if they take any form of military action in Iraq today.
Even if only twenty percent of Democrats took such a position, that would be enough to prevent an attack.
For those Democrats who say they "can’t risk having a Republican in office" for fear of what that might mean for domestic issues – get over it. It’s time to think about what your President and party are doing to other people around the world. And don’t even try the "a Republican president would have bombed even more countries than Obama has" argument. That’s a hypothetical, and just for the record, Obama has dropped bombs on two more countries than did Bush.
But you can stop this war on Iraq, Democrats. In fact, you might be the only people who can.
One thing that can always be counted on from politicians is their desire to get re-elected. With midterm elections approaching, it is a certainty that even the imperialist hawks within the Democratic Party would not be able to push for another war in Iraq if they knew that a significant number of people in their party were jumping ship. The Democratic Party leadership wouldn’t allow it to happen.
It wouldn’t matter how many tantrums the neo-cons threw if the Democrat’s voter base told their leaders that fresh drone strikes in Iraq would blow up their chance of getting Democrats elected.
A defining moment for Democrats
This is a defining moment for anyone who says they are opposed to war but still vote Democrat. The president that Democrats voted for is already supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, has armed ISIS in Syria, and has started a war on Libya without congressional approval.
And now that same president is telling Congress that he doesn’t need their permission to wage another war on Iraq. If George W. Bush had made such a statement, Democrats would have gone ballistic and (rightfully) called him a dictator.
Large segments of the antiwar community have supported LGBTQ, immigrant, homeless, environmental and workers rights activists. Now’s the time for Democrats within those communities to return the favor to the antiwar movement. This is your guy who is about to attack Iraq, Democrats. This is on you.
And don’t try to get out of it by saying that Obama would only be doing "targeted air strikes." A bomb dropped by the US in another country is an act of war. Especially when the country on the other end of the missiles includes 32 million human beings who have been subjected to the wrath of the United States for nearly 25 years.
Yes, as an antiwar activist I am intensely angry at the proposition of once again attacking Iraq. It’s inconceivable that there is even discussion of more US military action there.
Mostly, I can’t begin to understand what it’s like to be in Iraq right now. But I do know that I would be insulted if someone in the US said that more bombs were the solution to the mess in Iraq today. Especially in the context of the US creating the mess there to begin with.
As a taxpayer in the US I have a deep sense of responsibility for what my country does to other people around the world. It’s not as though the people of Iraq have a say in whether or not the US bombs them again.
Barney Frank once said that he doesn’t listen to people who don’t vote, just as owners of butcher shops don’t listen to vegetarians.
For this reason, Obama and his party are not going to listen to genuine antiwar activists on the issue of Iraq – they know we don’t vote for Democrats. They’ll only take calls from party loyalists and will only listen if they are told they won’t get one more penny or one more vote if Iraq is attacked again.
So hop to it, Democrats, or you’re going to make many of us cheer for an all Republican Congress and hope that the next President of the United States is a Republican. At least that way, maybe Democrats will become "antiwar" again.
Chris Ernesto is co-founder of St. Pete for Peace, an antiwar organization in St. Petersburg, FL that has been active since 2003. Mr. Ernesto also created and manages OccupyArrests.com and USinAfrica.com.