Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why I'm Not Celebrating Democratic Victory

Because I remember October 11, 2002, I am not celebrating. It was early evening and I was driving home from work. My car shuffled ahead slowly in heavy traffic; I put the radio on. It seemed like each time I put my foot on the brake, another Democrat was voting to support House Joint Resolution 114, the joint resolution to use the U.S. armed forces against Iraq. It was a confusing and aggravating drive home. Senator after Senator would list reservations about the war, but then vote “Yea.” I remember it well. It was the day I lost faith in the Democratic Party. So, excuse me, if this Democratic victory doesn’t have me shouting, “Boo ya!” A Democratic victory doesn’t bring back the 2,842 dead American soldiers or the 150,000 dead Iraqi civilians. A Democratic majority in Congress doesn’t give one of the 21,000 wounded soldiers a new limb. I just hope it gives the party some spine.

Here is the list of Democratic Senators who voted to support Resolution 114. Notice the names. Many of them are still leaders in the party: Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Edwards, Feinstein, Kerry, Schumer. And, of course, don’t forget, the former Democrat Lieberman.

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Breaux (D-LA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carper (D-DE)
Cleland (D-GA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dodd (D-CT))
Dorgan (D-ND
Edwards (D-NC)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hollings (D-SC)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Miller (D-GA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Schumer (D-NY))
Torricelli (D-NJ)

According to NPR’s morning edition on October 11, 2002, New York Democrat Hillary Clinton said she was voting for the resolution even though it did not place enough emphasis on diplomacy and weapons inspections.

In her own words,

“A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war. It is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our president and we say to him, `Use these powers wisely and as a last resort.”

Senator Biden argued that the President hadn’t made a strong enough case for war, yet he still voted for the resolution.

According to NPR’s broadcast, Biden said,

“He (Bush) has not yet made the case to the American people that the United States may have to solve this problem alone or with relatively few people or has he told us of the sacrifices that such a course of action will involve.”

Biden said the president assured him that if it came to using military force against Iraq, he would tell Americans what they‘d be in for (NPR).

Would voting against the resolution have been political suicide for the Dems, given the context of the recent September 11th tragedy and a presidential election looming in 2004? Without a majority in either house, would “Nay” votes have been futile? Apparently, 23 Senators and 133 members of the House didn’t think so and had the courage to vote, “Nay!” One of the most outspoken of these was West Virginia's Senator Robert Byrd who called the Senate vote one horrible mistake.

According to NPR, Byrd stated,

“This is my 50th year in Congress and I never would have thought that I'd find a Senate which would lack the backbone to stand up against the stampede, this rush to war, this rush to give to the president of the United States, to let him determine alone when he will send the sons and daughters of the American people into war.”

Byrd was rebuffed in two attempts to amend the resolution and set limits on its duration (NPR).

These courageous “Nay” sayers were joined by hundreds and thousands of citizens in the U.S. and around the world who spoke out by peacefully protesting the war in demonstrations.

CNN reported:

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Millions took to the streets of Europe to protest against a war with Iraq in huge demonstrations later repeated in the United States.

In London on Saturday, police said the turnout was 750,000, the largest demonstration ever in the British capital. The organizers put the figure at 2 million. Half a million protested in Germany, and 300,000 in 60 towns and cities across France.

CNN's Alessio Vinci said that the turnout in Rome, Italy -- where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has publicly backed the stance of U.S. President George W. Bush -- was also said by the organizers to be 1 million. It was certainly in the high hundreds of thousands, he said, with many marchers trapped in traffic on the city outskirts.

The scenes were repeated in the United States, with crowds of anti-war demonstrators jamming into downtown New York and other cities.

While I do have hope for the first time since 2002 that perhaps our country will truly live out the values it professes in the Constitution and head in a new direction, I’m not celebrating just yet. As far as I’m concerned, this Democratic Congress has a lot to prove.

Here is a list of the members of the House and Senate who had the courage to vote against the use of the U.S. military in Iraq. I wish them a long career in U.S. government. Notice that Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House, is on the list (Perhaps, just perhaps, that is cause for celebration)!

Alabama Rep Earl Hilliard
Arizona Rep Ed Pastor
Arkansas Rep Vic Snyder

California Sen Barbara Boxer- Rep Joe Baca- Rep Xavier Becerra- Rep Lois Capps- Rep Gary Condit- Rep Susan Davis- Rep Anna Eshoo- Rep Sam Farr- Rep Bob Filner- Rep Mike Honda- Rep Barbara Lee- Rep Zoe Lofgren- the late Rep Robert Matsui- Rep Juanita Millender-McDonald- Rep George Miller- Rep Grace Napolitano- Rep Nancy Pelosi- Rep Lucille Roybal-Allard- Rep Loretta Sanchez- Rep Hilda Solis- Rep Pete Stark- Rep Mike Thompson- Rep Maxine Waters- Rep Diane Watson- Rep Lynn Woolsey

Colorado Rep Diana DeGette- Rep Mark Udall
Connecticut Rep Rosa DeLaura- Rep John Larson- Rep James Maloney
Florida Sen Bob Graham- Rep Corinne Brown- Rep Alice Hastings- Rep Carrie Meek
Georgia Rep John Lewis- Rep Cynthia McKinney
Hawaii Sen Daniel Akaka- Sen Daniel Inouye- Rep Neil Abercrombie

Illinois Sen Dick Durbin- Rep Jerry Costello- Rep Danny Davis- Rep Lane Evans- Rep Luis Gutierrez Rep Jesse Jackson, Jr- Rep Bill Lipinski- Sen Bobby Rush- Rep Jan Schakowsky

Indiana Rep Julia Carson- Rep John Hostettler- Rep Pete Viscloskey
Iowa Rep Jim Leach

Maine Rep Tom Allen- Rep John Baldacci

Maryland Sen Barbara Mikulski- Sen Paul Sarbanes- Rep Benjamin Cardin- Rep Elijah Cummings- Rep Connie Morella

Massachusetts Sen Ted Kennedy- Rep Michael Capuano- Rep Bill Delahunt- Rep Barney Frank- Rep Jim McGovern- Rep Richard Neal- Rep John Olver- Rep John Tierney

Michigan Sen Carl Levin- Sen Debbie Stabenow- Rep David Bonior- Rep John Conyers, Jr- Rep John Dingell- Rep Dale Kildee- Rep Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick- Rep Sandy Levin- Rep Lynn Rivers- Rep Burt Stupak

Minnesota Sen Mark Dayton- the late Sen Paul Wellstone- Rep Betty McCollum- Rep Jim Oberstar- Rep Martin Olav Sabo

Mississippi Rep Bennie Thompson
Missouri Rep William Clay, Jr- Rep Karen McCarthy

New Jersey Sen Jon Corzine- Rep Rush Holt- Rep Robert Menendez- Rep Frank Pallone, Jr- Rep Donald Payne

New Mexico Sen Jeff Bingaman- Rep Tom Udall

New York Rep Maurice Hinchey- Rep Amo Houghton- Rep John LaFalce- Rep Gregory Meeks- Rep Jerrold Nadler- Rep Major Owens- Rep Charles Rangel- Rep Jose Serrano- Rep Louise Slaughter- Rep Edolphus Towns- Rep Nydia Velaquez

North Carolina Rep Eva Clayton- Rep David Price- Rep Melvin Watt
North Dakota Sen Kent Conrad

Ohio Rep Sharrod Brown- Rep Stephanie Tubbs Jones- Rep Marcy Kaptur- Rep Dennis Kucinich- Rep Thomas Sawyer- Rep Ted Strickland

Oregon Sen Ron Wyden- Rep Earl Blumenauer- Rep Peter DeFazio- Rep Darlene Hooley- Rep David Wu

Pennsylvania Rep Robert Brady- Rep William Coyne- Rep Mike Doyle- Rep Chaka Fattah
Rhode Island Sen Lincoln Chaffee- Sen Jack Reed- Rep James Langevin
South Carolina Rep Gresham Barrett- Rep James Clyburn
Tennessee Rep John Duncan, Jr

Texas Rep Lloyd Doggett- Rep Charles Gonzalez- Rep Ruben Hinojosa- Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee- Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson- Rep Ron Paul- Rep Silvestre Reyes- Rep Ciro Rodriguez

Vermont Sen Jim Jeffords- Sen Patrick Leahy- Rep Bernie Sanders
Virginia Rep Jim Moran- Rep Bobby Scott
Washington Sen Patty Murray- Rep Jay Inslee- Rep Rick Larsen- Rep Jim McDermott
Washington DC Rep Brian Baird
West Virginia Sen Robert Byrd- Rep Alan Mollohan- Rep Nick Rahall
Wisconsin Sen Russ Feingold- Rep Tammy Baldwin- Rep Jerry Kleczka- Rep David Obey


Horus Reischeki said...

What about celebrating the change in control of Congress for the couple bills the Democrats can reform? Minimum wage, education funding, healthcare reform, tax reform an exit strategy from Iraq...Oh, wait, I guesse we can wait to celebrate until bills actually get brought up and passed.

Anonymous said...

Silly rabbits, tricks are for Republicans.

You've both missed the real story. The masterminds behind the GOP can see that the American people want "change" and "action" and "new direction" vis-a-vis the Iraqi war / conflict / police action whatever. So, having lost control in Congress, the GOP will "endure" and "suffer" under the next two years of political gridlock and use that as their platform in 2008 - "you let those Democrats back in power and nothing got done in the government for two years, so vote us Republicans back into power".

Keep your eye one the ball. Let me know in two years if I was wrong.


Anonymous said...

I agree that most of the Dems have not been a courageous lot. One of the exceptions is Russ Feingold, the man I am hoping will run for Pres. Also, I was so glad to see Pelosi and Durbin on that "good" list.

I once heard someone say something so true that I've always remembered it and repeated it . . "I don't care what party you belong to, as long as you are intelligent enough to be embarrassed".