Journalist Michael Tracey was disheartened on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where an arena full of liberals joined Vice President Joe Biden in cheering the extralegal killing of Osama bin Laden. Tracey sought the counsel of New York Times columnist David Brooks, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank.
What did these politicians and pundits think about the overt display of warmongering from the Democratic Party, Tracey asked them.
American belligerence must end, Jackson told Tracey, “but at the same time, we are at war.” David Brooks shared “a little” of the reporter’s “revulsion.” Frank couldn’t explain why delegates of Ron Paul, the anti-war libertarian Republican legislator who is known for his opposition to America’s “very violent culture” and “police violence,” and who is due to leave office at the end of this year, were so reviled by Paul’s rejection of U.S. wars at the Republican National Convention. Frank acknowledged that he was “no abnormal psychiatrist!”
In contrast to the clipped remarks those figures gave Tracey, Kucinich, also facing a mere three months before he leaves the House, took a little more time to assess the significance of what will soon be a virtual pro-war consensus among congressional Democrats and Republicans.
“When you look at some of the issues where my supporters and Ron Paul’s supporters tend to agree,” Kucinich told Tracey, “civil liberties, getting rid of the Patriot Act—when you look at that, you’ll see there’s starting to happen in America an alliance, informal however it is, between liberals and conservatives on issues that are fundamental issues in this country. Such as freedom, civil liberties, war and peace, America’s overreach abroad, monetary policy and the Federal Reserve. ... These are fundamental issues!”
And unanimity across the aisle remains on the subject of war. “We have an increasing militarization of our society,” Kucinich intoned, “and that really is against the basic freedoms of America.”
With Paul and Kucinich, two of the anti-war movement’s greatest champions in Congress, set to leave office soon, what politician—aside from Sen. Bernie Sanders, perhaps—will stand against the “increasing militarization of our society”? This is the question Tracey asked himself as he wandered downtown Charlotte after the convention’s end. He knew of few delegates or people in Congress who eschewed the practice of realpolitik at election time and stuck to their principles. Catherine Bernard, a Ron Paul delegate and public defender who attended a pre-GOP convention meeting in Tampa for Republicans from her state of Georgia, was one of them. She was laughed out of the meeting when she announced that she refused to support a pro-war candidate for president and would continue to support Paul instead. “He’s nuts!” yelled one attendee.
When asked later about the incident by Tracey, Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue P. Everhart, the delegate who led the meeting that mocked Bernard, had this to say: “If you want to ride with the big boys, and that’s what this is—if you can’t do it, don’t saddle up!”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Michael Tracey at The American Conservative:
There was no comparable discord at the Democratic National Convention. Everything felt more scripted and predictable. I could not shake the feeling that night in Charlotte, as legions of teary-eyed Democrats chanted about the killing of bin Laden, that we were all in for some kind of reckoning. That we had ignored at our peril the wisdom of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich (and Ralph Nader), who warned about militarism infecting every facet of society. And now it was too late.
A week later, crisis hit. The American embassy in Egypt was sacked, our ambassador to Libya murdered. Angry protesters took to the streets everywhere from Tunisia to Yemen. The entire region seems teetering on the brink of calamity. Mitt Romney cravenly accused President Obama of “sympathizing” with the Egyptian attackers and of not being aggressive enough in defending American interests; Obama then ominously intoned that “justice will be done” as warships headed for the Libyan coast.
I felt the same sinking feeling as I did the final night of the Democratic convention, like we had finally reached the point of no return. I don’t know that there’s anything left to do — other than, I suppose, pray. But I do know one thing: come November, I will write-in Ron Paul.
Barack Obama (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in early September.