Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard
Dean has promised there will not be a change of course in Iraq if the Democrats
take back Congress. Potential House leader Nancy Pelosi has assured voters that
impeachment is not in the cards for Bush, either. Yet the liberal establishment
is beckoning antiwar voters to clamor for the Democratic Party today. It seems
like 2004 all over again.
I recently disparaged the positions of progressive media critic Jeff Cohen
and The Nation magazine for not supporting independent antiwar candidates,
and instead calling for more of the same: i.e., voting for the Democrats even
though we disagree with them on the war and a host of other issues. If we want
to take on Bush, they argue, the Democrats have to take back Congress, and only
then can we start to build a genuine movement against the neocons.
In the meantime, however, the war will rage on and Bush will remain at the
helm of Empire with Congress' blessing. As the Washington
reported on Aug. 27, of the 46 Democratic candidates in tight House races
this year, 29 "oppose a date-certain to begin withdrawing troops."
That's a whopping 63 percent of Democrats in hotly contested races who have
exactly the same position on the war as our liar in chief, George W. Bush.
Even so, Howard
Dean offers up his own deceptive promise: "[W]e will put some pressure
on him [Bush] to have some benchmarks, some timetables, and a real plan other
than stay the course."
What? Who is going to do that? The 63 percent who oppose a timetable? And what
plan are the Democrats going to offer up? They openly refuse to back Rep. Jack
Murtha's call for redeployment, and they won't even acknowledge Rep. Jim McGovern's
half-baked plea to replace U.S. forces with another international occupation
Besides, even if a withdrawal plan made its way past the House, would the Senate,
even if controlled by Democrats, ever consider putting forward an alternative
agenda? It sure doesn't look that way. There is not one Democratic senator who
wants an immediate, unconditional end to this war.
Perhaps even more discouraging this election season is the way that the media
and the mainstream antiwar movement have collaborated. They have both willfully
ignored candidates running against war supporters from outside the Democratic
Peace Action, the self-proclaimed largest grass roots peace organization in
the U.S., has refused to supply antiwar activists with a guide to the midterm
elections. They claim to not have the funds to print them, but still won't put
a voting pamphlet on their Web site to inform voters that they indeed have options
on Nov. 7.
The Nation magazine, despite an editorial last year that claimed they
would not support pro-war Democrats, has provided virtually no coverage of third-party
antiwar campaigns. After an editorial staff meeting with Sen. Hillary Clinton's
antiwar challenger Howie Hawkins, The Nation still wouldn't write a word
about his campaign, even though a recent Zogby poll shows that he is receiving
over 20 percent of the independent vote in New York.
Predictably, MoveOn.org and liberal bloggers like DailyKos would never engage
in a debate about the legitimacy of building an independent antiwar movement,
let alone a third party. Instead they'd rather throw their energy into campaigns
like Ned Lamont's disaster in Connecticut. Since Ned defeated Sen. Joe Lieberman
in the primary, he has changed his tune on Iraq from reasonable opposition to
all-out war hawk. But that's where working within the Democratic Party will
So perhaps it is not "why" Peace Action and others in the liberal establishment
have silenced antiwar candidates, but "how." We know why: they are
professional liberals who see the Democratic Party as an indispensable ally
in the quest for grants, careers, and cocktail party networking.
Every election season is the same. In order to get what we want, we have to
vote for what we don't want. Well, that kind of thinking will never end a