Go for it, Cindy!
Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers.
July 17, 2007
Cindy Sheehan has announced that if Speaker Nancy
Pelosi does not put impeachment “on the table,” Sheehan will run
against Pelosi in 2008 as an independent.
Establishment Democrats are appalled. At a time when the Party must
unite for the coming campaign, they complain, along comes this
“outsider” to divide the Party’s base support. Furthermore,
challenges such is this, and even worse, primary challenges, divert
campaign funds. And finally, Nancy Pelosi, a stalwart liberal, does
not deserve such treatment.
In short, we are told, if you want to defeat Bush/Cheney and the
regressive Republicans, this is not the way to go about it.
Under ordinary circumstances, these would be compelling arguments.
But these are not ordinary circumstances. Worse still, establishment
Democrats such as Pelosi fail to appreciate that these are not
ordinary circumstances. They need a few shocks of recognition.
Cindy Sheehan’s candidacy just might deliver such a therapeutic
The conventional Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) view was
clearly expressed on ABC’s “This Week” by Cokie Roberts, just before
the Lieberman-Lamont primary: “Pushing the party to the left... is
pushing the party to the position from which it traditionally
loses.” And the corollary: don’t worry about the progressive left,
they will stay with us in any case since they have nowhere else to
In support of this view, the Beltway Democrats like to cite polls
that indicate that most American describe themselves as
“conservative,” followed by “moderate,” with the least amount of
citizens describing themselves as “liberal.” Elections are won, they
tell us, by enlisting the support of the moderates in the “center.”
What the Beltway Democrats fail to understand is that after three
decades of media and pundit pounding on the word “liberal,” most
people choose not to be identified with that label. And yet, most
Americans endorse the liberal agenda: Social Security, universal
health care, a minimum wage, public education, government regulation
of commerce, environmental protection, campaign finance reform,
honest and verifiable elections, a non-aggressive foreign policy. As
Judis and Teixeira have vividly documented, the American Public
today is liberal in fact, notwithstanding the largely successful
campaign to discredit the word “liberal.”
Stated simply, the conventional, DLC, Beltway Democratic conception
of the political landscape is woefully outdated and potentially
fatal to the national ambitions of the Democratic Party. For the
presumed “center,” at which the allegedly winning votes are to be
found, has virtually disappeared. The Republicans now are now far
right (as the few remaining “moderates” have been effectively
silenced and immobilized). The Democrats are center and
center-right, with authentic liberals such as Dennis Kucinich and
the Black Caucus marginalized and impotent.
The fact of the matter is that the major parties have moved so far
to the right that the mass of American voters are to the left of
both of them. Two thirds of the public wants us out of Iraq, yet the
Democrats send more money to Bush to continue the war. Almost half
want Bush impeached, and more than half want Cheney impeached. Far
more would demand impeachment if the public knew the extent of the
Bush/Cheney lies and crimes, and had not been fed a diet of
right-wing, Bushevik propaganda by the mainstream media. Yet Speaker
Peolosi tells us that impeachment is “off the table.”
Why do the Democrats behave as they do? Sending Roberts and Alito to
the Supreme Court, approving the Military Commissions Act, failing
to reinstate habeas corpus, and in general, behaving like battered
Because, we are told, they don’t want to jeopardize their chances in
the 2008 election. Makes sense if the winning votes are at “the
center.” But they aren’t. They are to the left of both parties. Thus
the Democrats, by imitating or yielding to the Republicans, are
alienating their base and the independent voters that they need to
win. In 2006 a Democratic majority was sent to Washington to end the
war, restore government services, and to restore our liberties and
our national reputation. They haven’t, and the “centrist moderation”
designed to win in 2008 has instead, resulted in a plunge in
Congressional approval, from 46 to 23 percent – less even than that
of George Bush.
Enter Cindy Sheehan.
In a bold and ingenious stroke, Sheehan has announced to the
Democrats that the progressive anti-war majority exists, is
pissed-off, and that this majority just might cost a few of them
their seats in Congress.
Opposing a Beltway Democrat as an independent is a good move.
Opposing that Democrat in the primary is even better.
And while we’re at it, how about telling Rahm Emmanuel and the DLC
to bug-off as we demand that the Democratic Party select authentic
progressives to run against incumbent Republicans?
If the progressives hope to budge the congressional democrats from
their lethargy and toward articles of impeachment, Cindy Sheehan’s
candidacy must not be a lone protest. Her protest must lead the way
to a nationwide movement. Is there still time to post primary
candidates against Steney Hoyer, Rahm Emmanuel, and other
“collaborators” with the corporatocracy? If not, are there
progressives willing to run as independents against them?
But while a progressive counter-revolution should be national in
scope, it must also be strategically astute. With limited resources,
the challenges should carefully select districts and states where
progressive primary and independent candidates have a reasonable
chance to make an impressive showing. Otherwise, a weak challenges
will send the wrong message: namely that “the democratic wing of the
Democratic Party” is a mild irritant, and not to be taken seriously.
And what about this sorry bunch of establishment Democrats running
for President, many of whom voted for the Bush/Cheney war before
they decided to oppose it? They promise health care reform as they
accept millions in campaign contributions from Big Pharma. They talk
peace while the cash pours in from the Military Industrial Complex.
What will it take to make Dennis Kucinich a viable candidate or to
persuade Al Gore to enter the race?
The progressive majority has the numbers to put a proper scare into
the ranks of the Republican-Lites posing as Democrats.
What they need now is organization and leadership, together with the
financial and volunteer support, and from all this, credibility.
Cindy Sheehan is leading the way.
Who will follow?
Copyright 2007, by Ernest Partridge
Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications
Conscience of a Progressive:
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org .