I have been thinking for a while now that the
Democrats really should sit down and consider changing their mascot from a donkey
to a marmot. A rodent really
is more emblematic of their provincial habits than a donkey could ever be. Think
about it. Just this past weekend, antiwar rallies were held across the country,
and the Democratic leadership was nowhere in sight. They had high-tailed it
out of there. They hid in their holes and were afraid to be seen.
In all fairness, a few elected Democrats did show face, mainly two: Reps. John
Conyers and Cynthia McKinney. But I wouldn't constitute either as party leaders.
The better-known Democrats like Senators John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, two
likely presidential candidates for 2008, were nowhere to be seen. Even more
striking were the absences of DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Senators Russell
Feingold and Ted Kennedy – all outspoken critics of the Iraq war.
Of course, the Democrat's collective criticism only goes so far. They certainly
don't want to be photographed with any crazy protesters. By God, that would
taint their reputations! They've got campaign contributions to worry about here.
No, the Democrats aren't about to take to the streets. They'd rather sit back
and create the illusion that they care.
On her way out to Washington, the antiwar movement's leading lady Cindy Sheehan
offered a tepid excuse for Senator Hillary Clinton's refusal to attend the protest:
"She knows that the war is a lie, but she is waiting for the right time to say
it. You say it or you are losing your job."
Well, sorry, but I think the time to speak out against the war is right now
and if it means Clinton could lose her job (even though that's highly unlikely,
given that almost half of all Americans, according to a recent Pew
research poll, think we should end the occupation and come home), so be
This isn't to say that the Democrats' grassroots don't oppose the war. The
majority does. So this begs the question: why are antiwar activists so loyal
to a Democratic Party that supported Bush's war and still refuses to oppose
Much of the Democrat's cognitive dissonance has to do with the success of Howard
Dean at the DNC. He's been able to corral antiwar Democrats into the fold, making
sure they don't flee en masse over the war issue even though they should. Many
still see Dean as a sign of hope for a party leadership that stays in touch
with the grassroots. Plus, Dean's early criticisms of the Iraq war earned him
significant street cred with party advocates.
It was undeserved. Dean, like the rest of the Democratic leadership, is pro-war
and pro-occupation, and it couldn't be more damaging for the peace movement
to continue putting faith in this futile party. If Democratic activists really
want to make some change, the best thing they could do would be to get up and
leave their party. Only then will Democratic leaders start to think twice about
the monstrous policies they endorse.
Editor's note: This article originally misquoted Ms. Sheehan, an error on the editor's part, not Mr. Frank's.