Whatever Happened to the “Loyal Opposition”

Before the actual conquest of Iraq began, there were some Democrat politicians in the U.S. who questioned the Bush approach. Not many, but there were a few.

But, once American soldiers were put “in harm’s way”, everything seemed to change. American citizens who went to Congress to ask why their Democrat senators and congresspersons were not representing them in their opposition to the war were told that once the soldiers were “in harm’s way”, the nation had to unify behind the Commander-In-Chief.

But, first of all, were the U.S. soldiers in harm’s way in any substantive sense? From the look of things, it seems that more U.S. soldiers and airmen were at risk of being strafed by A-10 Warthogs or hit by Patriot missiles than by direct fire from Iraqis. Sure, there was an element of danger, but with all the armor, the armored vehicles, the flak jackets, the combat air superiority, and the overwhelming firepower, it is much easier to make the case that the U.S. military was putting Iraqi’s in harm’s way than the other way around. In fact, with no legal justification for this invasion/conquest, it truly is amazing that the entire U.S. Congress boldly supported the War with resolutions commending the President, the Military, the Flag, the Goal, the Methods, and then authorizing taxpayer funds to pay for all the above.

Even Californians, home of “liberalism” when the troops are stationed stateside, has not seen any real “loyal opposition” to this war from California politicians once the bullets started flying. Of course, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are both Jewish women with husbands who are either multi-millionaire or billionaire corporate executives. Fat chance that those two would ever speak up against this war!

Nancy Pelosi is fiercely ambitious and only “liberal” when it is politically convenient and “savvy” to act that way. And so it goes with essentially the entire U.S. government. Where was Ted Kennedy? Where was Dick Gephardt? Where was Paul Wellstone? Oh yes, if Wellstone had not died, HE would have resisted this war, and Dennis Kucinich is doing a credible job of loyally opposing the indefensible.

Many progressives have begun to understand that the differences between the Democrat and Republican parties are truly not that great, after all. Gore might not have led the U.S. into this war, but he sure was silent about opposing it since it began! Clinton has probably NEVER been so close-mouthed about anything, except maybe sucking on a big cigar.

The American public has gone without effective leadership based on moral principals during this crisis. There have been many great activists and huge public demonstrations all across the land. The crowds have looked for leaders, and the leaders have been few and far between. Barbara Lee of Oakland is such a leader, but truly a minor leader on the scale of national prominence. We lost some good leaders in the past election, when the Republican Congress took hold and started attempting to repay the corporations that put them in power. Ditto most of the Democrats.

There is no individual in America today with a huge voice, a true leadership role against the current drift towards tragedy and disaster. The loyal opposition chose loyalty, not opposition. And the loyalty was to power, to money, to corporate-based governance without honor and based on deceit and outright lies.

If this situation continues, Bush will be re-elected in a landslide, and the world will spin even more dizzily towards devastating disaster.

Perhaps the relevant mode for present should be, “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.” We do see many fine people marching to a drum other than the war drum. We see prominent intellectuals, and little old ladies and foreign correspondents, and rap artists and movie stars doing their part. We see crowds risking arrest and engaging in civil disobedience to tell the government this behavior must not be done in their name. We see people crying out for real leadership — wanting to be rallied and to be respected and to be reminded that democracy should be based on the wants and needs of the people, not the oligarchs or the corporate elite.

Maybe it will be Barbara Lee after all. She is a great person, no doubt about it. Maybe her slogan as presidential candidate next election will be “Barbara is REAL-Lee Good!” We need real leadership, that’s for sure.

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.