Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.
General Douglas MacArthur
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November 1, 2006

Snake Oil and the
Midterm Elections

by Joshua Frank

So we are in the trenches of another election season, and if you peer closely you can see the explosions on the horizon. I've yet to be convinced the Democrats have the capacity to take back Congress, and to tell you the truth I don't really care if they do. Not only do they not have the ability to lead, they also do not possess the moral impetus to change the direction of this war if they are lucky enough to regain control. Indeed, they are just as responsible for the ruin in Iraq and back home as the Bushites.

The Democrats have assisted the Republicans at virtually every turn over the past six years. From the bloody invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to the support of the PATRIOT Act, to the dismantling of habeas corpus, to backing Israel's brutal assault on Lebanon the Democratic Party has long played the role of enabler. And now they want your vote.

Author Jeff Cohen at Common Dreams recently pled with antiwar voters to elect Democrats to office this year: "A Democratic win in 2006 would be similar to 1998: a rejection of right-wing extremism and hypocrisy."

I fail to see the rationale. If we usher the Democrats into office on Nov. 7, we'll just be electing military extremism under a substitute banner it won't be called Republican, but it'll still be wicked as all hell. Even Cohen admits that the Democratic leadership doesn't have a coherent agenda for Iraq, but still feels that an antiwar push inside the party could change that. What Cohen and others have embraced is a blatant call for lesser-evilism: ignore alternatives and vote for what you don't believe in, because it's strategic.

The whole plan: "take back Congress and then pull the Democrats in our direction." When has that ever worked? And why would the warmongering Democrats give their antiwar wing any credence? If the Democratic Party continues to receive our votes regardless of its positions, there is absolutely no reason for it to change.

Sadly, Cohen's position, like the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) on whose board he serves, is analogous to The Nation magazine's foul electoral philosophy. Neither will "endorse" pro-war Democratic candidates, nor will they "oppose" them.

Silence is complicity.

I hold out no hope that the Democratic Party can ever be reformed, but let's say by some divine intervention it can. If so, the only way that will ever happen will be when its antiwar constituents leave the party and challenge it from the outside. In fact, that is what The Nation seems to fear most.

In the upcoming Nov. 13 issue, on shelves this week, The Nation's editors warn, "If Democrats fail to recapture at least a working share of congressional power, they and their party will rightly be cast into disrepute, too, and distressed citizens may reasonably begin looking for other options."

What would be so wrong with that? Antiwar voters should have been looking for other options long ago. However, The Nation, like Cohen and the PDA, does not support independent politics or the emergence of a legitimate alternative party. And that's why they have not lived up to their promise of truly opposing pro-war Democrats by endorsing any of their antiwar challengers.

Of 22 Democratic candidates in tight races or running in open districts across the U.S., all but one was handpicked by the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of his picks are ardently pro-war. But The Nation and the PDA don't want you to know any of that. Instead they'd rather see antiwarriors cramped inside the cage of the liberal establishment. Nothing could be more damaging to social movements or our hope for real change in U.S. foreign policy.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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