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Why you should want the primary to continue if you hate the war


[UPDATE See The Responsible Plan]
Turkana channels Naomi Klein:

Naomi Klein recently published what I consider to be the best book on politics in at least a generation. I've mentioned it in previous posts, and I will undoubtedly do so again. Many times. It should be required reading for anyone who claims to be politically informed. So, I also want everyone to click over to Huffington Post, and read her new article, with Jeremy Scahill:

Sixty-four per cent of Americans tell pollsters they oppose the war, but you'd never know it from the thin turnout at recent anniversary rallies and vigils.

When asked why they aren't expressing their anti-war opinions through the anti-war movement, many say they have simply lost faith in the power of protest. They marched against the war before it began, marched on the first, second and third anniversaries. And yet five years on, U.S. leaders are still shrugging: "So?"

There is no question that the Bush administration has proven impervious to public pressure. That's why it's time for the anti-war movement to change tactics. We should direct our energy where it can still have an impact: the leading Democratic contenders.

Because Klein and Scahill also understand that although both Democratic candidates are much more honest and realistic than John McCain, when discussing Iraq, neither is coming close to being honest and realistic enough.

Look past the rhetoric and it becomes clear that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton has a real plan to end the occupation. They could, however, be forced to change their positions--thanks to the unique dynamics of the prolonged primary battle.

Despite the calls for Clinton to withdraw in the name of "unity," it is the very fact that Clinton and Obama are still fighting it out, fiercely vying for votes, that presents the anti-war movement with its best pressure point. And our pressure is badly needed.

Well said.

While Clinton and Obama denounce the war with great passion, they both have detailed plans to continue it. Both say they intend to maintain the massive Green Zone, including the monstrous U.S. embassy, and to retain U.S. control of the Baghdad Airport.

Crucially, the candidates have already shown that they are vulnerable to pressure from the peace camp: When The Nation revealed that neither candidate was supporting legislation that would ban the use of Blackwater and other private security companies in Iraq, Clinton abruptly changed course. She became the most important U. S. political leader to endorse the ban, scoring a point on Obama, who opposed the invasion from the start.

This is exactly where we want the candidates: outdoing each other to prove how serious they are about ending the war. That kind of issue-based battle has the power to energize voters and break the cynicism that is threatening both campaigns.

Let's remember: unlike the outgoing Bush administration, these candidates need the support of the two-thirds of Americans who oppose the war in Iraq. If opinion transforms into action, they won't be able to afford to say, "So?"

Yep. Klein, and not for the first time, gives me hope. My support goes to Hillary for Social Security, Universal Health Care, and because I won't reward people who leverage Hillary Hatred. I've always considered the two candidates a wash on Iraq, going forward. But Klein gives me hope that we could still make a difference. Ideas? Ideas for making a difference?

NOTE I'm happy to see Lord Kos and Jane trying for the McCain takedown. But isn't ending the war more important?

No votes yet


FrenchDoc's picture
Submitted by FrenchDoc on

is where we should push for a more, ahem, shall we say, enlightened approach?

And the former Edwards supporter should leverage their support as well in exchange for adoption of progressive domestic policy (I think they get a better deal with HRC than with BO who cannot run faster from the liberal crowds/label/policies).

And because HRC is more policy and actual governance oriented, I think she would be the more receptive to this kind of leverage (see your post mentioning contractors).

But then, I'm partial.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Heaven forbid that, after years of Republican malfeasance and Democratic capitulation, that the latter party battle-harden its case that it stands for real change, and not just the idea of change.

hypnot's picture
Submitted by hypnot on

It's nice when an argument makes sense and also promises to move matters in the direction I want them to go. Sign me up, too.

Maybe it's time for the candidates' gotcha crews to ask themselves if they have been squandering their energy, skills, and deviousness on anecdotes and trivialities while missing their chance to point up the other candidates' missteps and inconsistencies on the big issues, like the war, the economy, health care, education, … You don't need an elephant's memory to identify the obvious issues.

Pressuring the candidates to improve their proposals to stop destroying Iraq (and our armed forces and Constitution) will help the Democrats nominate a candidate who is unequivocally opposed to the war/occupation and unequivocally committed to ending it--a solid selling point, but also a necessary intellectual and political declaration to clarify the terms under which the Democrats intend to defeat the Republicans in the general election. It also pushes the process of getting the Democrats' research and analysis up to speed to confront a comprehensive international campaign by the Bush/Cheney administration and the McCain campaign to manipulate the war and information about it to their advantage. Listen to either Clinton or Obama and it's clear that they are not yet equipped to counter such a campaign.

Continuing the primaries has another advantage. For either candidate to quit while the contest is this close and while partisans--many of whom are ill informed, angry, and vocal--are convinced that only dirty tricks could defeat their candidate would harm the Democratic Party and its chances to engineer a comprehensive reversal of Republican policies. Klein suggests a way that Democrats can improve their integrity and strength as well as win primaries and elections.

Submitted by lambert on

I agree with all that's said here, but the way to pressure is to, er, pressure.

Winter soldier? Code pink? Action in September? I don't think marches work, at least they didn't. What does?

UPDATE This might.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

hypnot's picture
Submitted by hypnot on

Responding to Lambert's

Winter soldier? Code pink? Action in September? I don’t think marches work, at least they didn’t. What does?

As long as the candidates allow themselves to be subjected to questions, look for opportunities to be the one asking. Contact the campaigns and ask for something more than what's on the website. Change the question from "How should we manage the war in Iraq" to "How should we end the war in Iraq?" "How should we end the occupation?" Or narrow it down: "How is your candidate going to get our sons, daughters, brother, sisters, fathers, and mothers out of Iraq alive?" Call and write news media and individual reporters and ask them why they aren't asking the right questions?

Make the issue inescapable.

Ask McCain, too.

How do we get to the point where the candidates hear the questions and have to answer? That's the part I can't answer.