portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

imperialism & war s24 mobilization

Top Democrats Flee Peace Protests

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.
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 onlop Democrats Flee Peace Protestsy 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 and your risk 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 it.

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 it?

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.
Absolutely 27.Sep.2005 07:35

Den Mark, Vancouver

I agree. I've been saying for years that "progressives" in both parties should do what Jeffords did & at least become independents, & become core of a new Independence Party. I think it would "sell", & that party, even tho small, would control Congress. Kucinich & Waters & McKinney & Conyers & Hinchey & McDermott & so on of House democrats are examples. Even a few republicans are examples, such as Sen Chaffee & Rep Paul. The reason, tho, that i put "progressives" in quotes above, is that as those politicians do NOT bolt from their respective parties, that they are not TRUE progressives. Were they, we would've had a new Progressive Party, a long time ago. The system sucks.

according to 27.Sep.2005 07:56

wayne madsen,

the prominent democrats were warned away from associating with the anti-war protests. the word went out that funding would be cut-off and severe electoral challenges would be mounted against those who chose to ignore the warning. check out madsen: http://www.waynemadsenreport.com or here: http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/whoiscongresslisteningto.html and, one might also wonder if it might be more than just a coincidence that the major "news outlets" also kept a safe distance from the protest.

Let The Democratic Party Wither & Die (for all our sakes) 27.Sep.2005 08:58

Ben Douglass bendouglass@cheerful.com

I bolted from the democratic party one month after the 2004 election. The dems have showed nothing but milk-toast apathy and spineless reserve for the last 12 years. I was an independent all through the 80's and then briefly a member of the Oregon Pacific Party, but then went back into the Democratic fold regrettably. I now am an independent again and proud to shout from the rooftops that "I am a proud Liberal American." (Omigod, the L word! Everybody run.)

I wish we had an AMERICAN LABOR PARTY that would not only be inclusive of trade unionist(like myself) but environmentalists, social workers, homeless, youth, etc.

your premise is FALSE 27.Sep.2005 09:05


Your question is like the divorce attorney who asks the guy "why do you beat your wife?" The question isn't a question at all but a way to insinuate a FALSE PRESUMPTION into the minds of readers.

Your question is: "why are antiwar activists so loyal to a Democratic Party that supported Bush's war and still refuses to oppose it?"

THAT'S A LOAD OF CRAP. Antiwar activists are NOT mindlessly loyal to the Democratic Party -- or to Ralph Nader or to the Green Party or any other political institution ! ! And that includes antiwar activists who are registered Democrats!

I have heard with my own ears Progressive Democrats of America SPEAKING AT THE RECENT DEMONSTRATION saying "We are progressives FIRST and Democrats second!"

The question you should be asking is: WHY DOES CORPORATE MEDIA (and anti-Dems like Joshua Frank) GET AWAY WITH MAKING OUT THAT HILLARY CLINTON IS THE ANOINTED LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY? Hillary has no grass-roots following outside the state of New York. As for Howard Dean, he has support among the grass-roots DESPITE his erstwhile endorsement of the "we can't cut and run" idea and IN PROPORTION to his opposition to the war.

AS FOR CINDY SHEEHAN, she's a positive thinker who doesn't want to fence Clinton or any other politician off from reforming her war-acceptance views and coming out opposed to the war. You imply that Cindy Sheehan would vote for Hillary even if Hillary endorsed a 20-year occupation -- another unwarranted assumption. I think that you are just a little jealous that an ordinary person like Cindy Sheehan has accomplished more in a year than all of you intellectuals put together over two years to motivate the anti-war movement.


Joshua Frank likes to take potshots at a strawman -- "the Democrats" -- as though anybody really has some kind of grand illusion about what the Democratic Party is. The problem isn't that the people don't understand that they are NOT being given meaningful choices -- the people are stuck in the system as it exists. It's like blaming working people for driving old gas hog cars when that could be what they drive because that's all they can afford and they have to get to work.

DEAR JOSHUA: we know all that, we heard it already from you about a hundred times, now what are you DOING about it? (Suggestion: try the Green Party for real solutions to real problems.

HEY, Ben, you already got it! 27.Sep.2005 09:11


"I wish we had an AMERICAN LABOR PARTY that would not only be inclusive of trade unionist(like myself) but environmentalists, social workers, homeless, youth, etc."

The Oregon Pacific (Green) Party has a platform calling for repeal of Taft-Hartley, it's here, it's real, it's pro-environmentalist AND pro-labor.

"what are you DOING about it?" 27.Sep.2005 13:08

alsis39 alsis35@yahoo.com

I was going to ask the Pacific Green Party the same question. Anyone want to field it ? I was disappointed with the Green's nonsensical approach to the 2004 election. I have been to dozens of anti-war demos in the last three or four years, and have yet to see any organized Green presence there.

Green Party 28.Sep.2005 11:50

Brian Setzler

As a long time Green I can assure you the Pacific Green Party here in Oregon has nothing to do with the Dems. Joshua Frank's BS that Greens are somehow in cahouts with Dems is divisive which helps him sell his subscriptions to leftists looking for scapegoats.

For those who ask "What is the Green Party doing about X, Y and Z?" turn the question around and ask yourself what are you doing about X, Y and Z? The Green Party has no money, no staff and operates inside a corrupt political system that isn't supportive of 3rd parties. To blame Green activists for these problems is to deny your own responsibility.

In reality, the PGP controls ballot access for the Green Party line here in Oregon. I wonder what people think we should be given the lack of resources and other structural and societal issues like laws, voter apathy, 2 party system, small funding base, etc.

Tired of Excuses ? 28.Sep.2005 12:45

alsis39 alsis35@yahoo.com

So am I. It's something we have in common. Why is the Green Party so efficient at getting money solicitations in the mail to me and others, but it can't muster up half a dozen Oregonians in printed T-Shirts to go stand on the Burnside Bridge for an hour ? C'mon, is it really that difficult ? We live in the mother of all ballot-measure mills, and yet there's not a single pending Measure like 40 that Greens could mobilize for because it dovetails with their beliefs ?

You can make fun of Frank all you want, but he's hardly the only activist or journalist out there who is unhappy with the fact that a minority of Greens seem to be leading the party toward subsumation into the PDA or some other Democratic front. You seem to think that Frank and these others are part of some sinister plan to kill the Party, but given its own invisibility in the face of local issues, I have a hard time imagining why they'd bother (even if you could prove they had some motivation for doing so). The Party seems to be doing a bang-up job of chloroforming itself.

What don't you get? 28.Sep.2005 14:07

Brian Setzler

We have no money, no people and no resources. I haven't seen you at any meetings giving us the money, the art and the time to get shirts printed, and then making calls so people can stand on the bridge.

Green Party activists (activists who believe we need a progressive political party) are split pretty thin. Like most people, we work on issues while we work to maintain ballot access for the PGP inside this corrupt system.

With no money and no volunteers the Green Party isn't much more than a shell. That's the reality. As a person on the inside, I doubt it will ever be more than that given the lack of money, people or hope for success in a 2-party system.

If you have a realistic solution (besides blaming other activists that are already stretched thin), step up and show us the way.

FYI, the PGP is structured in a way that almost anyone can step in and create a chapter. Why don't you start a chapter and show us what Greens can and should do?

"I haven't seen you at any meetings giving us the money" 29.Sep.2005 07:51

alsis39 alsis35@yahoo.com

Your people skills could use a little work, Brian. However, you are more than welcome to run my real name through the GP's database. You will indeed find that I am a donor-- or have been. At the moment, I'm unemployed. Whereas before I had a fair amount of $$$ and almost no free time, I now have a fair amount of free time and almost no $$$. If you want my real name, there's an email link on these posts, much as there always has been.

Instead of just grumbling about how spread thin you are, perhaps you'd like to use this forum to tell us all just what kind of skills you need to do more local work, or to provide links to spaces and forums that would tell us.

One thing that I think the Party should be working on is election reform. That would definitely increase the chances of success in elections.

One thing that I do know, just rushing in here to defend the Party every time you're ticked off at Josh Frank and then being patronizing and vague about specific local goals isn't going to do anything to "fill the shell," so to speak. I am not "looking for scapegoats." I am looking for assurance that I won't end up inadvertantly working to promote the DP, which I don't like and don't trust.

Like I said, my email's right here.