Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan calls it quits--and has some strong parting words.

Today, in a diary post at Daily Kos, Cindy Sheehan, tendered her "resignation letter as the 'face' of the American anti-war movement." In so doing, she left with words that should give all of us pause for thought. However, the people who most need to pay attention are the those at the far left of the Democratic party.

While I agreed with Sheehan on many substantive issues during her time of activity, I had problems with her methods. At times she was rather ham-fisted. At other times she was too melodramatic. At other times she combined those approaches with an overly simplistic and extreme expression of ideas. My problem with all of that was that any substantive message was then obscured or lost. It was too easy for the wingers to attack her and dismiss her. And the problem with that was that she was the "face" of the anti-war movement. By maginalizing her, the wingers were able to use effective tactics from a PR perspective against everyone who was against the war. Instead of attention going to real substance and ways to counter the BS arguments of the wingers, time and energy were spent on ineffective tactics and responding to winger attacks.

And who was backing Sheehan the most during her most visible and over-the-top efforts? That would be the far left. With that in mind, take a good look at the first paragraph of Sheehan's "resignation."
I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such "liberal blogs" as the Democratic Underground. Being called an "attention whore" and being told "good riddance" are some of the more milder rebukes.
Why in the world would these people turn so viciously on the woman that they used as the face, heart, and soul of the anti-war movement? Sheehan provides an explanation.
I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left," but "right and wrong."

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on.
Sheehan is definitely speaking some strong truth here as far as I am concerned. Democrats were complicit in this mess that always has been the Iraq war. My first post on that subject was back on October 28, 2005, and it pretty well sums up my feelings. The derision heaped on Sheehan by the far left also supports some points I made in my second follow up to my initial rant about the Democrats' cave in:
My problem with the hard core anti-war crowd is one of approach, not objective. Their approach is extreme. Their approach is such that there is no room for any kind of compromise.
*******
Taking extreme positions filled with righteous indignation and scorn is not going to win the election in '08.
The far left has just tried to destroy someone who not only shared their views on the war, not only took more action in protest than any one individual, but was at one time trumpeted by the far left as the face of the anti-war movement and was used by them. The far left has basically told the world--in true George W. Bush style--"you are either completely and unquestioningly with us or you are the enemy." That is not going to win Republican votes. That is not going to win many votes from moderate or centrist Democrats. And it could very well cause the loss of some voters who otherwise might vote Democratic.

Some ways to win over Republicans, moderates, and centrists are 1) run with the idea that, as Sheehan put it, Iraq is "not a matter of 'right or left,' but 'right and wrong;'" and 2) showing that it is the Republicans who are making it all about politics rather than doing what is in America's best interests. However, the far left's approach--exemplified by their treatment of Sheehan--does neither of these things. Instead, the far left is now guilty of using the very same tactics as the far right.

Sheehan is correct in stating that blind party loyalty is dangerous. What the far left is now doing is not so much blind party loyalty as it is a demand that everyone in the Democratic party be loyal to the far left's vision and tactics. While that is dangerous indeed, it is also stupid and shortsighted.

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