A historic battle is shaping up this week between Congress and the Bush administration. Congress, reflecting last November's watershed election, has finally taken a position against the war, albeit a meek and timid one. They have passed a supplemental funding bill that gives the President the money he has requested to run his wars. But attached to that bill is a mandate that he begin withdrawing U.S. troops by October and a non-binding recommendation that he complete the withdrawal by spring of 2008.
Recent polls show that Americans have not changed their minds since the election. According to a New York Times - CBS poll, some 64% of Americans want a timetable for withdrawal. And an NBC - Wall Street Journal poll shows 56% agreeing with this question that was posited:
"When it comes to the debate on Iraq who do you agree with more: the Democrats in Congress, who say we should set a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq; OR, President Bush, who says we should NOT set a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq?"So one might well ask -- just why are the Democrats so timid when it's clear that the American people are way out front of them on opposing the disaster that the bunch in the White House has foisted on our country and on Iraq? Just what is Congress so afraid of when it's obvious that they have the support of the American people and that George Bush is increasingly isolated?
One reason is the role of the so-called fourth estate - the press. As Bill Moyers so eloquently pointed out in his PBS special last week, they became, in the run-up to the war, cheer leaders for administration policy and for attacking Iraq. To this day, they play a role more obfuscating than clarifying, turning a matter of the greatest national significance - Congress, defending our Constitution, finding its spine and standing up to an Imperial Presidency - into nothing more than a push-and-pull game of politics as usual.
It's important, though, to realize that it is the peace movement that brought us to this historic juncture. Though marginalized and blacked out by the media, the hundreds and hundreds of thousands who marched, time and again, in protest of this war are largely responsible for shifting public opinion against Bush and his policies. Just imagine for a moment that there had not been a peace movement. Would Congress be challenging the President on the war today? Would the Democrats have been able to retake the Congress had there been no constant and vocal opposition?
And therein lies a very important lesson. Protest and dissent protect democracy and are the engine of progressive change. Or as Frederick Douglas so ably put it -
"Without struggle there can be no progress."This week is the week to keep the pressure on our Congress. From the progressive members of Congress to the so-called Blue Dog Democrats (on the right of the party) and on to the wavering Republicans - the message must be brought loud and clear -
Senators and Representatives must be flooded with calls and emails this week with that message. If you are waiting for someone else to call - don't. It's your turn. Each and every call counts. It takes but a minute and you'll be adding one more voice to the thousands that can succeed in pushing Congress fulfill its constitutional responsibility. And once successful there, perhaps we can move on to finish the job with the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for the terrible crimes they have committed.
End this war now!
Bring our troops home now!
No compromise with the war president!
Stand up to his veto!
Don't cave in!
Here's the number: (800) 828-0498. Make the call. Call both Senators and your one Rep. If you don't know who your Rep is, go to www.congress.org .
Brooklyn Parents For Peace's table this weekend at Grand Army Plaza outside of Prospect Park -- collecting postcards to Congress and letting people use our cell phones to make a call on the spot. The tables will be set up all this week and next in various Brooklyn neighborhoods to keep pressure on our Senators and Representatives. If you want to participate call (718) 624-5921 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can also download this flyer and print it out for your own use. Sorry, out-of-towners, this flyer applies to Brooklyn only.