Department of Peace vs. more pure baby sausage steps
On NPR the other day, I heard about the town of Fairmont, MN where the City Council passed a resolution advocating a department of peace.
And after hearing the vitriol, the fear, and the hate in the voices of the wingers who got the proposal unpassed toot sweet, I'm beginning to think it might be a good idea. (Yeah, Kucinich, who advocates it, is marginalized. But change begins at the margins.)
Here's the wingers were saying about it:
"I just couldn't believe it," Kortuem said. "These communists are trying to do it again." Kortuem, who served as a Navy bomber pilot in Vietnam, worried that if Congress were to create a Department of Peace, Americans would become "a bunch of wusses," he said.
"The frightening thing about this whole thing is, it's a humongous push to get the United Nations' foot in the door. And their total goal, if you study up on it all, is to take away our sovereignty," warned resident Peet Moeller.
The good news is, that even though the town is majority Republican, the vote to rescind was 3-2.
Now, an idea isn't automatically good because it causes a winger's head to explode. Policy-making isn't an intellectual splatterfest, after all (no matter how much the VRWC would like it to be so).
But the idea of a Department of Peace might have merit, and here's why.
It's the Overton Window again -- which imprisons the entire Beltway 500, without exception. (In fact, you might even say that it's their job to keep Overton Window's glass buffed, and the mullions painted, and in general make sure the weather outside never gets in. Well and good, but you can take these things to far.)
Take a random example from Salon. Under the promising headline, How Bush helped the GOP commit suicide, we get this flaccid tranche of BCW:
Which could lead to a fascinating intra-party debate about whether the Democrats should play it safe by nominating the candidate with the most centrist appeal (presumably Hillary Clinton, although that is sure to be contested) or capitalize on having a rare head start in the polls by going with a glamorous but risky newcomer like Barack Obama.
Well, there you have the bounds of acceptable discouse. The right side of the Overton window is defined by Hillary Clinton (as indeed it is). The left side is defined by Barack Obama. And those are the bounds of acceptable discourse. The benchmarks for redeployment permathread has exactly the same parameters. Dionne in WaPo today:
Last week's narrow House vote imposing an August 2008 deadline for the withdrawal of American troops was hugely significant. The vote is only the first of what will be many difficult roll calls potentially pitting Congress against the president on the conduct of war policy. It confirmed that power in Washington has indeed shifted. Bush and his Republican congressional allies had hoped Democrats would splinter and open the way for a pro-Bush resolution of the Iraq issue. Instead, antiwar Democrats, including Web-based groups such as MoveOn.org, discovered a common interest with their moderate colleagues.
Fuck. And -- to immediately put this post outside the bounds of acceptable discourse -- again Fuck.
What would have been "hugely significant" would be a headline like "[Democrat's name TBA] calls for reconsideration of America's imperial role", with a deck like "We just can't afford it. And it's wrong." And it's our job to shove the Overton window left so a headline like that can happen.
Now, I do think that post with a headline like "Beltway call for more pure baby sausage steps" would be an entirely appropriate critique of Salon and Dionne are writing, and what the Dems are doing (and not doing).
But a critique is not an alternative. And ideas like a Department of Peace are alternatives--you should have heard the venom in the winger's voices as they spat that word out.
And now the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) that's been driving our imperial role since 1946 has started to cannibalize itself: the Republicans--reminding us of the old joke whose punchline is "it's my nature"--have looted their own base along with everything else. You just can't "lose" $8.6 billion from Iraq, botch armoring the troops, build schools--and what about those schools--that rain piss and shit on the students and end up with an effective imperial war machine. Na ga happen.
And the beauty part: The last few generations of Republican dominance have concentrated the MIC infrastructure where Republicans have electoral control. (That's one reason why blue states subsidize the red states.) But the Republicans have now reduced themselves to a rump party from a single region (guess which).
So--from the more pure baby sausage steps perspective--there's no percentage for the majority in maintaining the MIC. Sure, the MIC is bad for the country, but that's hard to get people's minds around. But when the MIC is clearly taking away your grandmother's nursing care, and not providing any jobs in your district, or anywhere near your district, the MIC beast may finally be vulnerable.
So, we need to unstick the Overton Window and shove it left. New alternatives like a Department of Peace--a more palatable name might be the Department of Imperial Transition--are a way to do that. And they can work, even from the "pragmatic" perspective.
NOTE Not to flog my own hobbyhorse, but the death penalty for corporations that murder is another idea that shoves the Overton window left. I don't like the game because it produces bad outcomes for those I love. So why not change the rules? I realize that, two generations ago, a half a dozen winger billionaires thought the same thing, and changed the rules their way, but why should I accept their greed as a basis for running the country?