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Iraq Transforms American Democracy Into American Eliteocracy

David Sirota

December 6, 2005

If you read the papers today, you will see that the disconnection between the insulated political Establishment in Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country has grown to a point where the American political system now resembles a fictional television show - not democracy. If we were to start being honest, we would simply stop calling America "the greatest democracy in the world," because what it has become in recent years is anything but democracy.

It has instead become the greatest eliteocracy in the world. That's right - it is a government of, by and for the elite insiders, pundits, and powerbrokers in the nation's capital - not the people.

Poll after poll after poll shows Americans are demanding a very different Iraq War policy - one that includes a detailed exit strategy to bring our troops home. And polls show Americans believe the war was a mistake and that it is damaging U.S. national security. And yet, incredibly, if you look at the rhetoric coming out of Washington's elite, it is as if the public simply does not exist.

Just look at today's Washington Post story headlined "Democrats Find Iraq Alternative Is Elusive":

"Among the Democratic foreign-policy elite, dominated by people who previously served in the top ranks of government, there are stark differences -- and significant vagueness -- about a viable alternative...Several accept Bush's premise that a rapid withdrawal anytime soon would leave Iraq unstable and risk a strategic disaster in the broader Middle East."
Yes, that's right - Iraq is turning into a slow-motion disaster, American casualties continue to pile up, and yet the insulated Democratic elite in Washington are backing up President Bush's "stay the course" nonsense. This elite class, of course, is filled with many people who helped justify the Iraq War in the first place, and who from their well-guarded enclaves in Northwest Washington, Northern Virginia or Bethesda never have to feel the real-world consequences of their actions.

Then there is Roll Call's story, headlined "House Democrats Seek to Avoid Iraq Stance Vote":
"House Democratic leaders this week will try to block any effort by members to adopt an official Democratic Caucus position on the Iraq war...Caucus members remain at odds over whether to continue U.S. involvement in Iraq and for how long."
Again, don't rub your eyes - you read it right. The minority party - which purports to be serious about taking back the majority - is actually working overtime to prevent its rank-and-file members from backing up Vietnam War hero Jack Murtha and putting the party on record with a clear, concise position.

Then again, many of the party's elected officials have for years been more interested in appeasing the Washington pundit class, than in actually representing or mobilizing voters. They are, in short, too interested in making people like Mort Kondracke happy. And that brings us to today's final example of wholesale disconnection from reality: Mort Kondracke.

Here is an excerpt of his column today:
"In 1966, Republican Sen. George Aiken (Vt.) famously advised President Lyndon Johnson to 'declare victory and get out' of Vietnam. Thereĺs a danger that this will become U.S. policy in Iraq and lead to a too-early withdrawal of American troops and disaster in the Middle East."
This is really too much. Kondracke - who you may recall appears on Fox News supposedly representing the left - is now attacking George Aiken for having suggested getting out of Vietnam in 1966, as if in retrospect it would have been a bad idea to avoid tens of thousands of U.S. casualties in that bloody quagmire (which, of course, Kondracke did not serve in). But even worse, Kondracke is actually using his own attacks on Aiken to justify doing something different in Iraq - namely, having American troops stay there in perpetuity, no matter how many more casualties accrue, no matter how deleterious the conflict is to our military, and no matter how much damage we are doing to America's overall national security.

This is what it's come to - a situation where pencilnecks, slimy political operatives, cowering politicians, and chickenhawk pundits sit in their comfortable Washington offices, strut around puffing out their chests, and make themselves feel like red-meat eating patriots by advocating the continuation of a policy based on lies, a policy that is destroying our military, getting our soldiers killed or maimed in a quagmire, and hurting our country's overall position in the world. And they are advocating for this policy - and even labeling it "moderate" or "mainstream" - even though the vast majority of Americans want an exit strategy.

This is not democracy - and to call it democracy is an insult to the courageous icons throughout history who actually fought for a real democracy. This is something dangerous, and something that threatens to truly re-shape our country in destructive ways. This is eliteocracy - and it is taking over our political system every single day we don't expose it and label it a fraud being perpetrated on America.

Sources:
Washington Post story "Democrats Find Iraq Alternative Is Elusive"
Polls consistently show Americans support an exit strategy for withdrawal from Iraq:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-06-12-poll_x.htm
http://www.cnn.com/2005/politics/09/22/iraq.poll/
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/usiraqpoll
Polls have long showed Americans believe the Iraq War was a mistake:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/a14266-2004dec20.html
Poll shows Americans believe the Iraq War is damaging U.S. national security:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/politics/07/11/bush.terror/
Roll Call story "House Democrats Seek to Avoid Iraq Stance Vote":
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_57/news/11409-1.html
Kondracke column "Politics Could Force Too-Hasty Withdrawal of U.S. From Iraq":
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_57/kondracke/11405-1.html

David Sirota is the co-chairperson of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) - a position he took after finishing a stint as a fellow at the Center for American Progress. He is also a writer for Working Assets, and a twice-a-week guest on the Al Franken Show. He also writes a bi-weekly section for the Nation Magazine called Permanent Minority vs. Towards the Majority about Democrats failures and successes. For more on what he does, see this
Washington Post
story about his blog, or this Newsweek profile about him. Email him at david@davidsirota.com with any thoughts/ criticism. Note: this online publication represents his personal views, and not the official views of the organizations he works with. OpEdNews only publishes a portion of David's writings. It's worth signing up for his regular email list at http://davidsirota.com


:: Article nr. 18478 sent on 06-dec-2005 04:18 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=18478

Link: www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_david_si_051205_iraq_transforms_amer.htm



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