[Marxism] Spineless Democrats?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 31 11:28:46 MDT 2005

(A point of view somewhat similar to Carrol Cox's, who has argued that the 
Democrats are not really gutless and that they really believe in their 
message, even if it loses them elections.)

Counterpunch, August 31, 2005
Evil? Yes; Spineless? No
The Democrats and the War


Standard fare in the mainstream media as well as in both Left and 
Libertarian blogs, web sites and magazines, is that the Democrats are 
spineless. But this view simply does not fit the facts, and it is dangerous 
to boot, because it leads us to underestimate one of our most sinister and 
cynical pro-war adversaries, the Democratic Party establishment. For, if 
left to their own devices, the Dems will do what Kucinich warned of and 
substitute a Democratic for a Republican version of the war on Iraq.

The conventional wisdom is that the Dems are afraid to stand up to Bush's 
war, because they fear the accusation of being "soft on terrorism" or 
downright treasonous. And, we are told by the liberal punditocracy, this 
sort of charge will prevent our poor Dems from winning elections and ending 
the war which, deep down, they really oppose. So what's a poor Dem to do? 
Obviously call for "staying the course." This analysis is ever so 
convenient for the Dems. It gets the likes of Kerry, H. Clinton, Dean, 
Biden, Cleland and the rest, marvelously off the hook, bringing them the 
support of the anti-war forces. These are good men and women, we are told, 
just trying to win elections in the face of the ignorance of the benighted 
masses so as to bring us peace! Thus are hawks transmogrifed into doves, 
even as they cry out for more bloodshed, more troops and more death and 

This whole whacko analysis cannot stand up to reality. First, the country, 
by a significant majority according to the polls, is against the war and 
long has been ­ even before the last presidential election. Now 60% want 
some or all troops withdrawn at once. The least popular option, the one 
favored by leading Democrats, is to send more troops, an option that draws 
the support of less than 10%, with 57%, saying they would be "upset" at 
such a move. Why would anyone wanting to win an election champion a view 
which hardly anyone favors and is even less popular than Bush's? Second, 
take as an example a senator like California's Diane Feinstein who is not 
planning to run for president and comes from a solidly anti-war state, so 
an anti-war position is no danger for her. And yet she calls for "staying 
the course."

No, the idea of the spineless but virtuous Democrat does not hold up. The 
real reason has to be that the Dems do not give a damn about the 
electorate. The Dem establishment must in fact favor the war. And the 
reason is not hard to find. They play to the same real but hidden 
constituencies as the Republicans ­ the oil tycoons, AIPAC, the barons of 
the military industrial complex and those who make their fortunes from 
empire, ranging from the banks to Bechtel. This is their class and if one 
of the pols dares play traitor to his class, he or she will soon be an 
outcast. Ask Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy called for immediate withdrawal from 
Iraq last January, he was virtually denounced by the rest of the Dem 
leadership. And although the media is afflicted with many and mortal 
problems, do not tell me that the media makes it impossible for the Dems to 
take a strong anti-war position. When Kennedy did so, it was all over the 
media from the front pages of the dailies to the Sunday morning TV talk shows.

The Dems know full well there is an enormous anti-war constituency out 
there. If they used their considerable resources to organize it and give 
voice to it, then it would quickly prevail. A sorry example is Cindy 
Sheehan's effort. Not a single major Democrat has shown up at Camp Casey. 
They are blowing off Sheehan just like Bush.

In fact far from being cowardly, the Dems are showing considerable spine in 
standing up to the anti-war constituency that routinely does the leg work 
and contributes the dollars to elect them. Here their courage and resolve 
befit heroes of Homeric proportions. In the face of powerful anti-war 
sentiment from their loyalists, the Dems resolutely call for "staying the 
course" in the war for which they voted. Now there is spine. There is 
fortitude, both testicular and ovarian.

But the Dems have now been exposed and about the last excuse they have for 
"staying the course" is to "help" the Iraqis. Of course they uttered no 
such sentiment when Clinton was imposing sanctions that resulted in the 
deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi kids, a price Madeline Albright 
famously said was worth it to pressure Saddam Hussein. So the Dems either 
cry crocodile tears over the fate of the Iraqis, or avoid all mention of 
the war or else, like Russ Feingold, call for endless discussions of "exit 
strategies." I prefer the sentiment splashed across the cover of the 
paleocon American Conservative which proclaimed: "We do not need an exit 
strategy. We need an exit."

So next time you hear that the problem with the Dems is their 
spinelessness, do not believe a word of it. They are quite courageous in 
facing down their voting base to peddle death and destruction. To view them 
otherwise is to underestimate a potent, treacherous and insidious adversary 
of the anti-war movement.

John Walsh can be reached at jvwalshmd at gmail.com.



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