Stephen Zunes : Electoral Politics
Against the backdrop of ongoing death and destruction in Iraq as a result of the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation, the Democratic Party formally adopted their 2004 platform on July 28 at their convention in Boston. The platform focused more on foreign policy than it had in recent years. It represented an opportunity to challenge the Republican administration’s unprecedented and dangerous departure from the post-World War II international legal consensus forbidding aggressive wars, as well as a means with which to offer a clear alternative to the Bush Doctrine.
Against the backdrop of ongoing death and destruction in Iraq as a result of the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation, the Democratic Party formally adopted its 2004 platform on July 28 at its convention in Boston. The platform focused more on foreign policy than it had in recent years. It represented an opportunity to challenge the Republican administration’s unprecedented and dangerous departure from the post-World War II international legal consensus forbidding aggressive wars as well as a means with which to offer a clear alternative to the Bush Doctrine.
John Kerry’s decision to select a vice presidential running mate who shares his militaristic foreign policy agenda has once again demonstrated the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s willingness to take the party’s activist core, which overwhelmingly supports human rights and international law, for granted.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was one of a minority of Democratic members of Congress who voted to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. With the war becoming increasingly unpopular with the electorate, however, Senator Kerry has recently been sounding more critical. Still, his recent efforts to explain his evolving position raise some troubling questions
Those who had hoped that a possible defeat of President George W. Bush in November would mean real changes in U.S. foreign policy have little to be hopeful about now that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has effectively captured the Democratic presidential nomination.
As casualties mount and disorder continues in Iraq, and as the lies that were put forward to garner support of the invasion are exposed, Massachusetts senator John Kerry and his supporters have desperately sought to defend his decision to back the U.S. invasion and occupation. Their failure to make a convincing case may spell trouble for Senator Kerry’s dreams of capturing the White House in November.
It is not the increasingly likely prospect of Howard Dean’s nomination that could lead to a Democratic defeat in November, it’s his opponents’ attacks against him. As Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman see themselves lagging in the polls running up to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary later this month, their campaigns are engaging in increasingly desperate attacks against the front-runner for their party’s nomination.
Many liberals are celebrating the apparent victory of San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to the leadership of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. With foreign policy concerns now front and center in the political debate, some liberals concerned with peace and human rights issues hope that her election to the post of House Minority Leader is evidence that the Democrats may finally be ready to play the role of an opposition party. As evidence of this shift, so goes the argument, is Pelosi’s outspoken role as a defender of human rights in Tibet, East Timor and elsewhere.
This should have been the Democrats’ year.
The country is still mired in recession. Polls consistently have shown that the Republicans’ positions on such basic policy issues as the environment and the economy are decidedly unpopular. The connection of top administration officials with scandal-plagued corporations provided ample opportunities for a populist message against corruption and in support of economic justice.
With the defeat of five-term Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in the August 22 Democratic primary in Georgia, the U.S. House of Representatives will soon be losing one of its most outspoken progressive voices. This is very bad news for those of us who support peace, human rights, and social justice. It would be even worse news, however, if the blame for her defeat is placed primarily upon the Jewish community.