October 27, 2005
With George Bush's political capital plummeting faster than the value of Enron stock, one would think that the ostensible "opposition" party would be cashing theirs in just as quickly. From the debacle in Iraq to the disaster in New Orleans to the rapid rise in gas prices, the "mandate" that Bush claimed to have following his theft of last year's elections seems hopelessly out of date. Then there's Republican heavyweights Tom DeLay and Bill Frist getting caught with their hands in the till while Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby are obviously behind the "outing" of a CIA agent, something that got Philip Agee into hot water years ago. But since the administration's official "opposition" happens to agree with them on almost every issue of substance, Bush is probably losing little sleep over any challenges coming his way from the Democrats.
Thus, his nominee for Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, despite a reactionary and racist record second to none, sailed smoothly through the Senate. Long time liberals like Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy wasted no time in giving Roberts thumbs up in the Senate Justice Committee. Considering the kid glove treatment the rest of the Democrats gave him in the Senate as a whole, it appears that Bush would have to appoint someone wearing a white sheet and brandishing a burning cross for the Democrats to even entertain the idea of actively opposing him. Or her, for that matter, as they get ready to roll over for Bush's latest nominee, anti-abortion zealot and corporate mouthpiece Harriet Miers. And lest we forget, stopping Bush from packing the Supreme Court with his conservative cronies was one of the main reasons cited by the liberal left last year for yet again backing the Democrats.
Of course if there is any one issue that has brought Bush's approval ratings tumbling down it is the war in Iraq. Poll after poll shows that a clear majority of the population not only oppose the war but that an increasing amount of Americans are starting to agree with Cindy Sheehan that the immediate withdrawal of all American troops is clearly on the agenda. The massive antiwar demonstrations that took place across the country on September 24 were clearly a reflection of that. Only the one place that this sentiment has yet to find an echo is amongst the Democrats. As if to prove, once again, the old adage that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the twin parties of the ruling rich, Howard Dean, last year's scourge of the DLC, who is now the party chairman, took Karl Rove's advice that "no serious politician should embrace immediate withdrawal" when he told Cindy Sheehan that opposition to the war had no place in the program of the Democratic party … even though the majority of the country agrees far more with Sheehan than with Rove, or Dean, for that matter.
This, of course, is nothing new. During the run-up to invasion of Iraq, Democrats in the Senate, like Hillary Clinton, were besieged by calls and letters from constituents urging them not to vote in favor of giving Bush a blank check to go to war. Needless to say, these stalwart "democrats" and self-styled "representatives of the people" chose to vote with the millionaires and not the millions. Dean, in fact, was never a real opponent of the war to begin with.
Nor were, or are, the Democrats as a party. Whatever "opposition" they may have mustered back in the days of "WMDs" and "links to Al Queda," Dean and the more risqué Democrats only opposed the Bush regime's "unilateralism," preferring to get the seal of approval from the UN for multi-lateral aggression instead. After all, Bill Clinton starved a million and a half Iraqis to death with the blessing of the UN. Since becoming chair of the DNC, a move hailed as a great victory by many a "progressive," Dean has gone so far as to wish Bush success in carrying out the occupation of Iraq, since "now that we’re there, we can’t leave". But how could it be otherwise? John Kerry, who pushed Dean aside as the party's standard-bearer last year, campaigned as being even more pro-war than Bush was. Thus he called for 40,000 additional troops in order to better wage the war. He repeatedly used the word "kill" in all the debates in order to better hammer home that point. Even Hubert Humphrey displayed more opposition to the Vietnam War in 1968 - when he was still second in command of the regime waging it!
Hillary Clinton, touted by many as presidential timber for 2008, has repeatedly reiterated her support for the war. After briefly breaking bread with Sheehan, she made sure to meet with a group of pro-war "Moms," who are just as much a creation of Karl Rove as were the Vietnam Veterans for the War that the GOP threw against Kerry last year. As for the rest of the Democrats in Congress, they have repeatedly voted Bush every cent he has asked for to keep the war going and even approved extending the USA PATRIOT Act to boot. Currently Clinton is spearheading the "US Army Relief Act" in the Senate, which actually calls for an increase of 80,000 troops over the next four years. At the same time, some Democrats in Congress are even pushing to reinstitute the draft! For while it may be a rich man's war, the Democrats, apparently more so than the Republicans, want to make sure it stays a poor man's (and woman's) fight.
Thus it was hardly surprising that no Democratic Party politicians of note showed their faces at any of the anti-war marches. Just to make sure, the Zionist mafia at AIPAC put out the word that any member of Congress who appeared at the protests, where some speakers might have the audacity to put forth pro-Palestinian views, would face their political wrath come election time. The small fries, like Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Lea and Maxine Waters, who did turn up, represent constituencies that are so overwhelmingly anti-war to begin with, that not to do so would be a kiss of death for them. Needless to say, none of them wield any clout within the party. Nor do the others who showed up, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Sr., who don't even hold any elective office either. What all of them have in common is their desire to keep the reborn anti-war movement safely within the confines of the Democratic party from the get-go this time and on board the bandwagon for the 2006 Congressional elections, and, of course, the 2008 Presidential elections.
Yet in spite of all the evidence that the Democrats remain a pro-war party, the leadership of the more mainstream antiwar outfit, UFPJ, is still willing to wager it's all on them. UFPJ was forced by the example of Cindy Sheehan, to not only agree to hold a joint march with the openly anti-imperialist ANSWER Coalition, but also to strike a more militant pose by adopting an "Out Now" perspective for September 24. However, this is little more than window dressing to cover up their main raison d'etre, a united front with the Democrats and support for a set of meaningless resolutions currently before Congress that urge Bush to set a date for US withdrawal from Iraq … sometime over the course of the next year. And how many more American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are supposed to die in the meantime? Judging by the mood of the crowds that turned out for September 24 most antiwar activists were not as keen as taking Karl Rove's advice about "immediate withdrawal" as Leslie Cagan and Co. are.
Needless to say, these resolutions, supported by a smattering of both Democrats and Republicans upset with Bush's bungling of the war, have little support, as both bosses' parties remain committed to imperialism's oil war. The only differences that they do have are over how to better wage it, so that they can be done with Iraq and move on to Iran or Syria. Thus no resolution calls for the closing down of the 14 permanent bases that the US has set up in Iraq to police the Middle East for them and take some of the heat off the Saudi royal family, who previously held that unenviable job. Nor do any resolutions call for giving back Iraq control over its economy, which was privatized, i.e., stolen, lock, stock and barrel under Bremer's "CPA," and is ensured by the presence of US advisors in every government ministry.
By championing "setting the date," the liberal left only helps to legitimize the presence of the US in Iraq; one that may be legitimate from the point of view of Halliburton and Bechtel, but which is totally illegitimate from the perspective of both Iraqi and American workers. The same gang of corporate crooks that regularly robs American workers looks to do the same to Iraqis under the guise of bringing them "democracy," which is exactly what they claimed to be doing in Vietnam. And in the antiwar movement of the '60s and '70s, the liberal left took the same position of supporting "setting the date" for the same reason that they do so today; so as not to alienate the Democrats.
Yet in spite of the Democrats' continuing support for the war there are still many in the liberal left who see the far left as a far greater enemy. The later, after all, defends the right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation, whereas the Democrats only defend the occupier's DU, cluster bombs and napalm. Perhaps the Iraqis should instead sit back and wait until the Democrats finally get their resolutions passed in Congress. Without the struggle being waged by the Iraqi resistance, whatever its political shortcomings may be, it's doubtful that any of the politicians would have ever even timidly questioned Bush to begin with. After all, the only reason that they have done so is because the US is losing.
The Democrats still support the war, not just because they are "gutless, spineless and clueless" as Ralph Nader has characterized them, but because they are a partner party of America's ruling rich and are as committed to the maintenance of American imperialism as the Republican right is. Hence, the similarity of both bosses parties programs and perspectives on almost every major issue. On the other hand, the liberal left still supports the Democrats, because they believe that the only way that any social change in this country will take place is through putting more of them into office. Hence their hostility to any individual (Ralph Nader) or organization (ANSWER) that threatens to break the stranglehold that the Democrats keep the mass movements in. In other words, they either support or go along with the continued existence of a system that is based upon war, racism and economic inequality even though they are obviously opposed to all of them, because they see no alternatives to it, in spite of all the radical rhetoric about "another world is possible" that was so popular not too long ago. Thus the right wings of the antiwar and the anti globalization movements made common cause under the banner of "Anybody But Bush" last year by supporting the pro-war and pro-globalization Democrats.
Unlike the Democrats, whose disapproval ratings rival those of Bush, Cindy Sheehan's uncompromising opposition to the war has earned her the respect and support of millions of working class Americans who feel the same way. While she may have been willing to talk shop with Hillary Clinton, Sheehan is not beholden to the Democrats the way the leaders of UFPJ are because she is not in thrall to the doctrines and dogmas of "lesser evilism" the way they are. If anything, Cindy Sheehan has far more guts (and brains) than any of the liberal left leaders who put the anti-war movement on hold for over a year in order to support a pro-war politician like John Kerry … regardless of how much it demoralized and demobilized the movement. Realizing that "[t]he movement gained nothing from his (John Kerry's) candidacy," Sheehan now "regret(s) supporting John Kerry in 2004."
The leaders of the liberal left, on the other hand, want to use the revitalized movement to advance the Democrats' 2006 congressional campaign. Because the liberal left has helped co-opt any and every mass movement into the dead-end of Democratic Party politics, a movement that put millions of people into the streets doesn't have a single representative in any elected body in the U.S. and is dependent on the whims of pro-war politicians and the "swing state" voters that supposedly support them. Political pundit Dick Morris is hardly off the mark when he writes that the "left is leaderless" in the pages of the New York Post. Unlike the leadless left, Cindy Sheehan recently told author Joshua Frank that she thought the Democrats should be abandoned, stating that she "will not support a pro-war Democrat." Isn't it high time that the movement as a whole did the same?
Roy Rollins writes for College Voice.