Dems aren#039;t all equal

by Beacon Staff • March 29, 2006

The 2006 and 2008 elections are now on the radar screen and we will soon have to decide whom to support in their effort to fix President Bush's mess. Americans will finally have a chance to change the makeup of our flawed Congress and two years later, elect a new president.,Note to campus liberals: It's election season again.

The 2006 and 2008 elections are now on the radar screen and we will soon have to decide whom to support in their effort to fix President Bush's mess. Americans will finally have a chance to change the makeup of our flawed Congress and two years later, elect a new president.

But a careful reminder: Not all Democrats are created equal.

That party is divided on some of the most fundamental issues -most notably Iraq--and if one does not take a close look, they could find themselves voting for a Democrat who supports continued troop presence in that country.

Many such leaders are members of the powerful group of "New Democrats," part of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the group behind the party's 20-year-long hard shift to the right.

Consider this possible choice in the Democratic primaries in 2008: Candidate A has opposed withdrawing troops from Iraq and promotes an interventionist foreign policy. The candidate also supports free trade and has aggressively pursued legislation against flag burning.

Candidate B is the only senator to have voted against the Patriot Act in 2001, has suggested withdrawing troops from Iraq within a year and proposed censuring the president for his role in illegal wiretapping.

The former is Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), a figurehead of the DLC.

The latter is Sen. Russ Feingold from Wisconsin, who has shown through his courageous actions and speeches that one can be a liberal Democrat and have a spine.

Who knew?

These senators share little aside from presidential aspirations and a big D next to their name. This hypothetical scenario is just one of many that will have anti-war Democrats facing off against more conservative counterparts.

The conventional wisdom has always been that the DLC is right. After two terms with President Bush, however, there are a lot of voters---many of whom are angry about the war-who will not settle for the conservatism of the DLC and its candidates.

Last December, The Nation wrote this long overdue and right on the money statement about Iraq:

"There can no longer be any doubt: The war-an unprovoked, unnecessary and unlawful invasion that has turned into a colonial-style occupation-is a moral and political catastrophe. It has also become the single greatest threat to our national security. The Nation will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to this war, a major campaign issue."

All of us who wish to end this war should make the same stand. Many already have.

In part as a response to The Nation editorial, a new organization called Voters for Peace decided to start a campaign to urge progressives to make a similar pledge. The Progressive Democrats of America is a group that has advocated that position for years.

It is a noble cause, but one that will be met with opposition.

The Democratic Leadership Council is a very strong, well-funded interest group that has been known to derail the campaigns of liberal anti-war candidates. When Howard Dean was the frontrunner for the 2004 presidential nomination, the DLC leadership said in an online column that the former Governor from Vermont was part of the "McGovern/Mondale wing" of the Democratic party "defined principally by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home."

The good news is that some Democrats have begun to stray from their pro-war sentiments. John Kerry (D-MA) has been far more pointed in his criticism of the occupation and even appeared on the wildly popular but notoriously liberal blog DailyKos, well known for its opposition to the DLC.

John Edwards acknowledged that his 2002 vote that gave Bush the authority to invade Iraq was a "mistake," in an editorial in The Washington Post from November.

You did read correctly: a politician admitted a mistake.

Voters have become increasingly vocal against the nation's presence in Iraq, and a recent Zogby International poll shows that 72 percent of troops want to leave within the year.

Accordingly, Americans will want to elect leaders to represent those views.

Liberals should refuse to support candidates who enable this war. If the DLC wants to pander to win votes, they will only succeed in losing them, and rightfully so.

We should vote based on our principles, not merely our political party. Hillary Clinton can worry about right and left. The people of the country will worry about right and wrong.