By Joshua Frank
The precipitous decline of antiwar sentiment within the Democratic Party has been on grand display over the past few months. The majority of leading Democrats say they oppose the war in Iraq, but still refuse to cut funding. And when Bush vetoes the pork-swollen appropriations bill, which he’s promised to do, the Democrats have pledged to compromise, rewrite the bill, and grant President Bush exactly what he wants: more cash and no timetable for troop withdraw from Iraq.
“We’re not going to cut off funding for the troops,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin over the weekend on ABC’s This Week. “But what we should do, and we’re going to do, is continue to press this president to put some pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political settlement.”
Levin also stated that Democrats would take out language calling for troop withdrawal, but reiterated that they would not “vote to cut funding, period.” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York defended Levin as well as the Party’s forthcoming concession, “We will try to come up with a way by talking with the White House, trying to compromise with the White House that both supports the troops and yet changes the strategy in Iraq,” Schumer said on the Fox News Sunday.
The Democrats may not have enough votes to overturn a Bush veto, but they certainly have enough to filibuster the war-funding bill, which at this point is the only way to stop this god-awful disaster. One brave Democrat could take a stand, filibuster, and 40 more senators could then abstain from breaking the filibuster. That is all it would take. Bush would then have to be the one to compromise and produce a plan that was acceptable to the 41 Senate Democrats who want to end the war.
But, of course, we are more likely to see Dick Cheney drinking margaritas with Cindy Sheehan on the White House lawn before we’d witness this scenario play out. Indeed the Democrats have assured us that they will continue to fund Bush’s illegal war. There will be absolutely no fight in Congress to stop it. The bloodshed will rage on. More money wasted, more innocent Iraqis dead.
Betrayal after betrayal and we are still told that the Democratic Party is the only vehicle for change in this country. We are told they are the only ones who will halt the madness of the Bush Regime. Well, we elected the Democrats to office last November and they have done absolutely nothing to pay us back.
Sure there may be a few true antiwar Democrats in Washington, but in the end they are Democrats. Not antiwar activists. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who is running another campaign for president, wants to bring the war to an end. But as we should have learned back in 2004 when Kucinich embraced John Kerry’s pro-war campaign after running in the primaries — we shouldn’t be trusting Kucinich’s rhetoric today. Or the rhetoric of any other so-called antiwar Democrats.
When will the antiwar movement begin to put pressure on the Democratic Party? More importantly, when will we break with the Democrats? They have given us more than enough reason to do so. And until we do, we will continue to remain politically irrelevant.
-Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits www.BrickBurner.org