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Cindy Sheehan and Lesser-Evil Politics

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Cindy Sheehan may be elevating her activism to the next level. The mother of the antiwar movement, while attending the World Social Forum in Venezuela, told reporters that she is considering running against Senator Dianne Feinstein in California's Democratic primary next June.

Shinning a spotlight on Feinstein's malignant war blemishes would be the focal point of her campaign. Undoubtedly, Sheehan would receive generous support for her quest from California's ever-increasing war resistance. Sean Penn would likely race to her side for photo-ops. The New York Times would write their slimy op-eds. Fox News would deploy their smear brigades -- this could potentially be the biggest thing the antiwar movement has seen since Sheehan propped up her tent outside Dubya's Crawford ranch. In the least it would get the American public talking.

There's a catch, however. Sheehan would be running as a Democrat. Her antiwar campaign for the Senate, consequentially, would be terminated after the summer's primary election if she didn't pull off a victory. Of course, that's if Sheehan decided to endorse Feinstein -- who she's dubbed a "despicable warmonger".

Fortunately, I cannot imagine the savvy Sheehan would ever do such thing.

Last October, Cindy informed me that she wouldn't back any war supporter. "I will not support a pro-war Democrat. I regret supporting John Kerry in 2004," she said. "The movement gained nothing from his candidacy."

Indeed she was right. And the movement would gain nothing from Cindy Sheehan if she didn't carry her protest all the way up to Election Day, and beyond. Even if she did fall short in knocking off Feinstein in the primaries, Sheehan could still continue her antiwar crusade. But she'd have to turn her back on the Democratic Party and in particular, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Cindy Sheehan isn't the only antiwar campaign up against the despicable Feinstein. Todd Chretien, who is also a leader in the antiwar movement in the Golden State, is running as Green Party candidate. Following speculation that Sheehan too was thinking of challenging Feinstein, Chretien said, "I welcome Cindy, but Sen. Feinstein brought this on herself. If Cindy were to challenge Sen. Feinstein in the Democratic primary, the senator would discover how unpopular she has become with rank and file Democrats."

That's why Cindy Sheehan should run for Senate. The more people out railing Feinstein's awful position on Iraq, the better. The Democratic Party must learn that antiwar activists will not support pro-war candidacies of any party. And if she doesn't change her tune, Sheehan should gallantly support Todd Chretien's campaign -- for the Green Party and Chretien certainly reflect Sheehan's vision for Iraq more closely than Feinstein and the Democrats.

If Sheehan does file campaign papers she will likely come to a perilous crossroads after the primaries, where organizations like Progressive Democrats for America (who I am told would be sponsoring her campaign) and would rather see her fall in line with the Democrats than continue her quest to end the war in Iraq. Sheehan and the antiwar movement would be better off supporting a candidate like Chretien than succumbing to lesser-evilism.

So let's hope on Election Day '06 that Cindy Sheehan is either on the ballot, or standing arm-in-arm with Todd Chretien on stage at a massive antiwar rally.
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Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the brand new book Red State (more...)
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