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Enough of the Truman Democrats, Where are the Cleveland Democrats?

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When it comes to the issues of the day, War and Empire, the leading Democrats are indistinguishable from their Republican "opponents." Sen. Mike Gravel rightly said of his rivals that their vote for the authorization for the Iraq War "disqualifies them for president" because "they don't have moral judgment."

The leading Democrats are outdoing themselves to be Truman Democrats, pro-war and pro-military. At a time when American support for Mr. Cheney's War is at 28%, why are Democrats emulating their party's most notorious war criminal, the monster behind human history's only two instances of atomic mass murder?

It was Truman who gave us the National Security State on February 27, 1947. During his regime, what Eisenhower initially termed the "Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex" was spawned, and the collusion between State Corporatism and the Military that had been so good for business in WWII was extended into perpetuity. "War is the health of the State," observed Randolph Bourne. Why not wage permanent war, creating enemies when they are needed?

Truman also set a precedent in overstepping congress' constitutional responsibility to declare war by lying us into a civil war on the Korean peninsula. Democrats followed in his footsteps; JFK and LBJ with Vietnam and Clinton with Serbia, cruise missile diplomacy, and a sanctions regime which killed 500,000 Iraqi children ("Worth it," according to his secretary of state). Perhaps it is unfair to single out Truman. He himself was only following in the tradition of Wilson and FDR, Democrats who entangled America in two world wars, neither of which was vital to America.

We have to go back to 1897, a year before the formal establishment of the American Empire, to find a Democrat worthy of emulation. The man who left office in that year was Grover S. Cleveland, the last Jeffersonian to sit in the oval office. He was an anti-imperialist who opposed the annexation of Hawai'i, and is to this day revered by natives on those isles. The idea of Manifest Destiny, he said, was "every bit as odious as imperialism and misguided nationalism." His foreign policy was guided by the principle that "we never get caught up in conflict with any foreign state unless attacked or otherwise provoked."

Where are the Cleveland Democrats? Why is the only candidate carry the mantle of Jeffersonianism a Republican, Ron Paul? Why is no one else talking about dismantling the Empire?


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An American Catholic son-in-law of Korea, Joshua Snyder lives with his wife and two children in self-imposed exile in Pohang, where he serves as an assistant visiting professor of English at a science and technology university. Religiously orthodox and politically heterodox, he might be (more...)
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Enough of the Truman Democrats, Where are the Cleveland Democrats?

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