Sunday, March 30, 2008

Players, Not Cheerleaders

"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.

Many argue otherwise. They say that if we want to end the war, we should simply pick a candidate who is not John McCain and help them win: We'll sort out the details after the Republicans are evicted from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Some of the most prominent anti-war voices--from to the magazine we write for, The Nation--have gone this route, throwing their weight behind the Obama campaign.

This is a serious strategic mistake. It is during a hotly contested campaign that anti-war forces have the power to actually sway U. S. policy. As soon as we pick sides, we relegate ourselves to mere cheerleaders."

Thank goodness someone gets it. In this case those persons are Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill. They seem to have figured out what ought to be obvious to everyone. Neither Clinton nor Obama are serious about ending the Iraq occupation. If the anti-war movement had acted strategically earlier, there might have been a possibility to move the agenda and have a true anti-war nominee.

The most basic rules of political strategy have been ignored in this campaign. Politicians respond to pressure. They don't respond to adulation. Actually I have to take that back. They do respond to adulation. They respond by treating the idol worshippers like chumps.

Moveon and The Nation have done great damage to the progressive cause by backing Obama without demanding anything from him. Now he has no reason to do as they want on any issue. Of course, I could be giving progressives too much credit. Many of them don't really want change either. Some are tired, some are cynical, some just want invitations to the White House.

Hillary Clinton could have been useful, in spite of her ham handedness and blatant lies. She might have been used strategically earlier on when it counted, despite her weaknesses. Obama might have been forced to stop the double talk and truly promote an agenda for change.

Now we are left with a nomination that is all but decided, and a probably nominee who won't end the occupation. The 2008 election will go down in history as an enormous wasted opportunity.