Flickr Photo from ProtestPhotos1
What does it say about liberals or progressives when a major action is called in Chicago to oppose Obama's military surge in Afghanistan and maybe 100 people show up? What does it say when more than 200 come the day after the surge to express outrage but on the weekend, Saturday, there are less people than during the middle of the week?
What has happened to liberals and progressives?
All over the U.S. in the beginning of the week, between Black Friday and Dec 2nd, there were actions organized to bolster opposition to the Afghan war escalation that Obama was going to defend in his West Point speech on Tuesday. In total, there were thousands of people who came out to call for an end to the occupation of Afghanistan.
But, come Saturday, where were liberals and progressives? Where were the thousands who know this is wrong, who know this means tens of thousands of Afghanis are going to die along with a thousand more American soldiers?
Chicago has gotten 3,000-5,000 people downtown to oppose U.S. wars before. What is the reason for such an abysmal showing of liberal or progressive activists last weekend? And is this low turnout a symptom of a larger problem in America right now?
Sure, it was cold in Chicago. It's hard to build up an anti-war movement in the winter and this is the perfect time for an escalation. And, one must admit that those thousands of people have only come out to Chicago for perennial protests---marches that symbolically note that wars of occupation have been going on for six or seven or eight years.
But, how many Obama supporters conditioned their selves to accept this surge in Afghanistan? How many looked for a so-called silver lining so they could go along with what Obama was doing and not risk alienation among American liberals who think they have to support Obama to maintain strength against Republicans who will stop at nothing to make Obama fail?
Many liberals note Obama's campaign promise to escalate the war in Afghanistan after removing U.S. troops from Iraq. The expectation of escalation is political cover for Obama's upsetting decision to continue a war of occupation that is constitutionally illegal and ultimately unwinnable unless American military forces ethnically cleanse the country through increased Predator drone strikes.
Thoughts of what it would be like if America withdraws have liberals frightened, but would they be this worried if Bush or McCain was in power? Such fears gloss over the reality that Afghanis want America to save Afghanis from U.S. forces and are fully capable of saving themselves from brutal repression on their own just like American revolutionaries once saved themselves from British colonialists in the late 1700s.
If there were any thoughts of recognizing the Afghani people's right to self-determination, it cannot be found in the progressive establishment. Reactions of disapproval after Obama's speech have not translated into calls for action.
Groups like CODE Pink oppose the surge as they tactfully monitor their opposition to ensure communications are not broken off between the anti-war group and the pro-war Obama Administration. MoveOn.org forgets its history of opposing the war in Iraq and does not mobilize its base of supporters to oppose plans by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to do away with firm withdrawal dates in Afghanistan (dates which polarize progressives and weaken opposition to a surge in Afghanistan)..
A majority of progressive groups remain focused on a sliver of a public option. They commit to all-out wars against senators like Joe Lieberman who Obama and Democrats have given too much power too in the struggle for health reform. And, instead of becoming strong proponents of a Medicare for All plan as the public option slips into oblivion, the war in Afghanistan expands.
Green Party supporters, people who voted for Nader in 2008 (and third party in prior elections), and those who dislike the system and don't vote at all are out doing the grunt work to organize the first major action since Obama called for the surge. They are scrambling to organize a meaningful response to the president's calls for more war just over a week before he accepts a Nobel Peace Prize.
Liberals and progressives overwhelmingly dismiss Green Party supporters, past voters of Ralph Nader, and members of small socialist and communist parties in America but the reality is that these people make up the unwavering conscience of American society.
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