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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

 
Make Them Do It

by digby

Authors Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) and Jeremy Scahill (Blackwater) have written an important article about ending the war. The central thrust of the piece is that we should be using this prolonged primary to leverage the two candidates against each other on the issue instead of joining in the fun and games of primary politics.

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 MoveOn.org 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.

And when it comes to Iraq, there is little to cheer. 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.


I agree with this, although sadly, I think it's probably too late for the netroots. I had hoped all along that we would work together as a movement, leveraging our issues in the primary when we had the attention of the candidates. As Klein and Scahill put it: be players not cheerleaders.

You know how these things work. They move left in the primary to get the nomination --- and then rush to the center in the general. If you're a liberal, you need to get your candidate to position himself as close to you as possible before they do that so they don't wind up being Joe Lieberman when the whole thing is said and done. And during the primaries, when candidates still care about what you think, you can play them off against each other to get there. It sets the terms of the debate and creates a mandate that otherwise will likely end up being "finessed" once they have to compete with a conservative.

The netroots chose not to do that and it seems to me we are way too invested in our chosen candidates to try to leverage our support now. But Klein and Scahill, both very fine writers and thinkers, believe it's still possible for the anti-war movement to affect how these candidates deal with Iraq and if that's the case then it may be worth a try. We've got an eternity before the next primary and just about every insult has been hurled and every paean has been written. Perhaps we could set aside our differences long enough to try to encourage our congresspeople to sign on to The Responsible Plan and make sure the Democratic presidential candidates don't waffle on Iraq when the heat is on?

I've written this before and I'm sure I'll do it again:

President Franklin Roosevelt recognized that his ability to push New Deal legislation through Congress depended on the pressure generated by protesters. He once told a group of activists who sought his support for legislation, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

We don't help our cause or our candidates by failing to "make them do it." It's our end of the deal.



H/T Lambert
.

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