You know you are either getting somewhere or losing
ground fast when the Democrats begin to exploit your slogans during an election
year. Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chair, last weekend plugged
the necessity of pulling troops out of Iraq by year's end. But his plea couldn't
carry less weight – for his party doesn't agree with the doc.
"The Republicans don't have a plan," Dean said in his party's weekly
radio address. "'Stay the course' is not a plan. Saying the problems in
Iraq will be left to the next president, is not a plan. … We believe that we
ought to focus on training, logistics, and counterterrorism, and we can do that
with a redeployment of our troops."
It took a while for Howard Dean and a few other Democrats to come around to
Rep. John Murtha's call to redeploy troops throughout the region. Yet, even
though Dean complains that the Republicans don't have a plan to pull out troops,
he fails to address the reality that the Democrats still don't have one either.
In fact, most of Dean's colleagues have yet to embrace Murtha's call, as the
failed bills in the Senate proved last week. In a round of embarrassing votes,
the Democrats heartily embraced Bush's prolonged occupation.
In the first set of tallies, the Democrats overwhelming opposed a timetable
for withdrawal, shooting down John Kerry's lethargic proposal to get troops
out by July 2007. In the second, even less significant request, Democrats folded
again and failed to adopt a plan for redeployment of U.S. armed forces from
A broken party, like that of the Democrats, will never be able to challenge
the stubbornness of the Republican establishment, which is nearly unwavering
in its call for more war and occupation.
Here in New York, Jonathan Tasini is gaining support among a large majority
of antiwar Democrats, garnering praise from The New York Times to Amy
Goodman's popular Democracy Now! But as eyes turn toward Tasini's anti-Hillary
campaign, the majority of antiwar New Yorkers are ignoring the largest third-party
challenge to Sen. Clinton's war agenda, and it's hurting the movement that was
finally taking shape. Howie Hawkins, who is running on the Green Party line,
has been virtually ignored by the mainstream and even independent press. Hawkins
is planning on challenging Clinton all the way up to Election Day, while Tasini's
campaign will come to a screeching halt after the primary election.
Tasini's bid is indicative of what's so utterly wrong with the Democratic Party
and those who believe they can make change by working within its ranks. Any
glimmer of hope siphons dissent: Hope of getting Democrats to "redeploy"
siphons dissent. Hope they can mount an internal battle against war hawks like
Clinton siphons dissent. The Democrats in general, siphon dissent.
And that is exactly what party brass in Washington desire. They hope the antiwar
movement will see the recent attempts to espouse a consistent stance against
the war as a sign that the tides are changing. But the tides aren't changing.
Nor is the direction of the Democratic Party or this war, no matter what Howard
Dean, John Kerry, or Jonathan Tasini may have us believe.