Saturday, January 13, 2007

Antiwar Demonstration

OK, so I go to the Antiwar demonstration at the Boston Common, as I said I would in a previous post.

You have to understand that I have very mixed feelings about the Left, and am generally allergic to it, even though my opinions are quite liberal by anyone's standards.

Fausto has a good report on it, complete with pictures of our prophetic witness.

He asks the questions of why antiwar demonstration are so small and feeble when so many people are opposed to the escalation of the war.

Why should they be big?

The antiwar demonstrations are the political tactics of the extra-parliamentary left, or the non-electoral or third party left. The reason why the antiwar demonstrations of the Vietnam were so strong was because there were active and organized Socialist and communist organizations that were instrumental in organizing the demonstrations and were being fed by those demonstrations. The roles of the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party were crucial during the Vietnam era. Now, those parties are small and in disarray and there is not the organizational muscle to sustain them.

(I think that one of the odd things about church life is that because of our understanding of tax laws, churches and ministers are forced toward the extra-parliamentary movements. They appear to be non-partisan, when they are actually the main tactic of another set of political parties.)

Almost all of the speakers who spoke yesterday eventually fell to this refrain: "We cannot rely on the Democrats to end this war." Well, in fact, we are, either through Congress, or in 2008 by electing a Democratic president. Do antiwar demonstrations further that strategy?

The critical political question of the next year is this: Can the Democratic members of the House and Senate trust the antiwar sentiment of the American people? Any move to cut off the funds for the war will be criticized as "endangering the troops." And you can be sure that there will be heart-rending television stories to match that meme. Will general public opinion be persuaded by that critique, or have people become sophisticated enough to see through that as partisan manipulation?

If it is not political suicide to use the power of the purse to force an end to an active war, then the balance of power between the President and the Congress will have been altered, and restored. The Imperial Presidency rests on the twin pillars that the President has the power to commit troops without a declaration of war (now with an authorization resolution that is sold to Congress as a necessary step to make diplomacy work) and that the Congress will too afraid to cut off funds when troops are in harm's way.

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