The Curious Withdrawal of Cindy Sheehan
Last week, that noble antiwarrior, Cindy Sheehan, declined to challenge Senator Diane Feinstein in the upcoming Democratic primary. Ms Sheehan reiterated that Party officials had not pressured her against running. It reminded me of how the Party had so thoroughly squashed the stridently anti-war candidacy of Howard Dean in 2004, that every time the good doctor surfaces now to speak, he’s looking over his shoulder.
Feinstein should be challenged. Feinstein is one of the “Royal Democrats," those Democrats like Clinton, Lieberman, Biden and a host of others who live in privilege and serve the privileged.
Historically, the Democratic Party has been composed of two camps, the “People Democrats" and the “Royal Democrats." The present day Royal Democrats are not that much far removed from the old Jim Crow Democrats who became Republicans when the Democratic Party embraced civil rights legislation. They like Business; they like War; they like military/industrial dollars in their states. They’re lukewarm on social legislation.
The war on Iraq–like Vietnam–is unconstitutional, illegal and immoral. Thousands upon thousands of civilians have been maimed and killed on the basis of lies told by the Bush administration. Torture of prisoners is widespread; extra judicial kidnapping and secret prisons are the order of the day, and the Bill of Rights has been suspended. Geneva Convention? Fahgeddaboutit! Constitution? Fahgeddaboutit! Phosphorous, napalm, cluster bombs and depleted uranium projectiles? Fahgeddaboutit!
From the beginning, the Royal Democrats have been foursquare supporters of the preemptive war on Iraq, a country that was not threatening us. Even now, facing growing popular opposition to the war and an increasingly sociopathic White House, they continue to brownnose the president, dragging their feet about withdrawing our troops from their ghastly mission.
In the 1990’s, the Royal Democrats “ended welfare as we know it" in the U.S. Then, along with the Republicans, they gave the world NAFTA and the WTO to further increase corporate profits that weren’t already running amok through the efforts of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The cries from the resulting worldwide destruction of sustainable communities and the cancerous growth of sweatshops, child labor, prison labor, and slave labor never reach the delicate and protected ears of the Royal Democrats.
They wear their power of office like the ermine of ancient kings and queens. They have the best free medical care in the world; they live grandly in estates, villas and gated communities. They travel and vacation on the taxpayers’ tab. Senators (AKA the Millionaires’ Club) and House members enjoy automatic salary raises while Americans who work for a living see their wages and benefits slashed annually. How about these “millions?" Millions of Americans don’t have health care. Millions of children go to bed hungry and attend substandard schools. Millions of American parents work their butts off for less than a living wage. Millions more will never have an opportunity for a meaningful job in their lifetimes.
There are approximately 6, 000 homeless people in San Francisco and 1,500 are children. Feinstein and her mega millionaire husband Richard Blum, just bought a 9,500 square foot house in Pacific Heights for $16.5 million. Why? Because, said the Senator, “we never had a view and this was an opportunity to get one."
The United States has the largest prison population in the world. Hey America, aren’t you embarrassed by that statistic? Most of the people in prison are poor non-violent and nonwhite drug offenders–not politically connected like the alcoholics stumbling around Congress who “don’t do drugs." How many prisoners on Death Row were released on account of new DNA evidence? For how many was the evidence too late? Statistics tell us that there is no crime wave, but the Royal Democrats and their Republican pals continue to build prisons in their new “Lockdown America."
Environmental protection has been shredded and there’s talk of scrapping the Endangered Species laws and selling the national parks, along with the flushing of the Kyoto Protocol.
The Royal Democrats remain mute if not collaborative, seemingly afraid to irritate their corporate sponsors. Feinstein’s plan to raise Shasta Dam a few feet to deliver more water to southern California for mass suburban development and giant agribusiness will wipe out forever the holy sites of the Winnemem Wintu native people. Her response to those who object to her plan? “The people (of Southern California) have a God-given right to water their lawns and gardens." Marie Antoinette couldn’t have put it better.
Exxon made five million dollars an hour in the fourth quarter of 2005. The silence in Congress is deafening. Meanwhile, rank and file Democrats protest, email, blog and groan “What’s wrong with the Democratic Party?” They don’t want to accept the fact that what’s wrong with the “Democratic Party,” i.e., the Royal Democrats, is that They’re On The Other Side!
It’s time for Democrats to stop whining and vote their conscience, resurface as Republicans or retire to corporate boards. A real opposition must be mounted against the White House madness.
DON SANTINA is a cultural historian who writes on film, politics, music, sports and the West. His articles have appeared in Counterpunch, the Black Commemorator, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org