Three Little Girls from School are We:
Left's unwarranted giddiness over election gains
Giddy as Mikado schoolgirls, Democrats and their allies on the left
are positively gushing over their election gains of November 7. In
the US' two-party duopoly, voters are restricted to shifting power
from one side to the other to voice their dissatisfaction with
government. And, to be fair, voters did their part, kicking out
congressmen, senators and governors from coast to coast.
Daniel Patrick Welch warns on the left's giddiness over election
gains in the US. Democrats have been just about as war-crazy as their
republican counterparts, and it is folly to expect significant change
on any real front to come in the wake of their midterm romp at the
But hopes that this shift will lead to real changes in policy are, as
Cosmo Kramer might say, "kooky talk." Everybody can enjoy the sight
of a bully getting whooped, and the drubbing last Tuesday did indeed
provide some emotional solace for those who thought Bush and his
cronies could get away with anything at all. Still, this moment of
schadenfreude gives way to more fundamental questions as it becomes
clear that the torch has been passed from one side of the War Party
to the other.
Liberal friends of mine remind me of the importance of such things as
committee assignments in shaping the mechanics of wielding of power
in Washington. I remind them, of course, that any populist resurgence
has always come despite, not because of, the party in power.
Still skeptical of my skepticism, they force me to offer as evidence
my own list of what will not happen in the wake of the Democrat
takeover of congress. The troops will not come home from Iraq.
Democratic Party victory architect Rahm Emmanuel spend considerable
energy to ensure a largely prowar congress, and despite a vocal
minority (and the will of the people), there will be no quick end to
the Iraq occupation, and war party leaders and enthusiasts will
dither over definitions of "timetables" and "benchmarks" for years to
come. Moreover, party leaders will put increasing pressure on so-called "progressive" democrats not to seem "irresponsible" in pushing
for a quick withdrawal. Echoing Bush, they will concoct
some "responsible" version of the pledge to "stay until the job is
done." It's not for nothing that the original war resolution in the
fall of 2002 was passed by a Democrat-controlled Senate.
Nor should the antiwar movement expect much help from the Democrats
in preventing the insanity of attacking Iran. The slow drumbeat has
begun, just as it did with Iraq, to manipulate public opinion and
convince the US public that it is in our interest to engage in more
senseless military adventurism. Barak Obama, the current darling of
many progressive democrats, said in an interview at the time of the
party's national convention in Boston that military action against
Iran has to remain on the table. A resolution aimed at preventing
just that was proposed in the House on June 20 of this year. The bill
was aimed at preemptively closing the cash register on attacking
Iran: no appropriation, the theory goes, no war. Gaining 158 votes,
the resolution was far short of approval. Given the eagerness of the
Democrats' leadership to work in a bipartisan matter, it is doubtful
that the remaining 75 or so votes to ensure passage in the new
congress would be forthcoming without massive pressure from below.
Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi has said categorically
that "impeachment is off the table," claiming that democrats "are not
about getting even." Typical of backroom, backslapping, backward
leadership, this notion implies that political gamesmanship is the
nexus of congressional oversight, not the rule of law and protecting
the constitution from abuse by the executive. The war criminals of
the administration will be allowed to take their chips off the table
and go home, without accountability, without consequence, and with
their pensions and freedoms intact after lying the country into a
senseless and destructive war. Again, there is some glee in watching
Ol' Rummy's departure; but letting Rumsfeld quit to start drawing his
pension is a bit like letting Dr. Mengele just move to a new clinic.
Corporate money will not significantly be challenged, and will
continue to control nearly all aspects of US life, especially when it
comes to elections. Those who think otherwise haven't taken a peek at
Democrats' balance sheets, which are as loaded with corporate
campaign cash as their counterparts in the GOP. Meager reforms will
leave the system almost entirely intact, and with the Democrats'
imprimatur, it will cease to be an issue for the "left." As far as
clean or open elections go, forget about it. Once the Democrats
realize they can win, they won't have any sympathy for other
political points of view trying to muscle in on their territory. In
fact, they'll have less.
No one in the party leadership will convincingly challenge the
sickeningly bloated war budget. I should probably have mentioned this
first, since it is the kingpin of any people-oriented social agenda
that may be on people's minds. As with the "mismanaging the war"
critique, attacks on the biggest pork barrel in world history will be
muted and targeted to appeal to the amorphous center scared to death
by warmongering propaganda. We will be lectured that spending "smart"
is better than spending more, and outrageously useless programs will
be level-funded, have their toenails clipped, or actually have their
funding increased. Again, self-described progressives will be
redbaited from within their own party, and be told that their
suggestions to spend less on defense than all other nations combined
is counterproductive and "soft on security." Nothing else will change
because, once the agenda has been reduced to squabbling over the
scraps left over from the Pentagon's trillions, there's not much to
talk about anyway.
It may go without saying, which is sad enough by itself, but there
will be no groundswell among the political elites in favor of
Palestinian human rights. Pelosi, who has dismissed the notion that
the occupation may drive the conflict as "nonsense," certainly won't
contribute to new thinking in this regard. Stuck in the worldview
where Palestinians, instead of having real grievances, are simply
another bunch of ragheads who just love to hate Jews, democrats'
leadership will bring the US no closer to exiting the international
doghouse. As Israeli planes buzz international positions in Lebanon
and shell civilians in Beit Hanoun, most Democrats, like their
Republican cohorts, will remain indefensibly, and criminally, silent.
I wish it were not so, and wish there were a high likelihood of
history proving me wrong on any of these points. For those who ask
how this can be, I can only quote Kramer again: "Oh, it be!" Call me
a wet blanket. Call me late for dinner. But there are many who can
read this list and agree with almost everything on it, and still hold
out hope for change from the Democrats. I call that delusional.
© 2006 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint
permission granted with credit and link to danielpwelch.com.
^ Top ^
Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia
Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The
Greenhouse School. Some of his articles have been broadcast on radio, and translations are available in up to 20 languages. Links to the website are appreciated at