“Democrats Are the Real Party of War.” That bold headline announced a no-less-bold article on The Baffler’s website Monday.
The liberal magazine, co-founded by Thomas Frank of “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” fame, is more independent than most progressive publications. Yet it remains a reliable voice for most things liberal.
So it was striking – and heartening! – to see The Baffler give space to Willie Osterweil for his spirited essay against Democratic warmaking. Osterweil whaled away at the naïve assumptions of anti-war activists that Democrats are their natural allies, and the cynical Democratic evasions that let them go on believing that.
Anti-war supporters of President Barack Obama “are trapped in the cognitive dissonance produced by one of America’s fundamental political falsehoods: that the Democratic Party is opposed to war,” wrote Osterweil.
He was willing to cut the younger ones some slack. “The young anti-war activists who put their hope in Obama in 2008,” he allowed, “can perhaps be forgiven this mistake.”
After all, “Coming of age under Bush, whose swaggering cowboy belligerence seemed to define modern conservatism, it was possible to believe the Democratic party—riding a wave of victories in 2006 midterms built almost entirely on opposition to the Iraq war—would recognize why they were elected and change the direction of the state.”
But at this point? There is no longer any rational reason to believe the Democrats will give peace a chance, he argued.
“Liberal pundits have remained…quiet on [Afghanistan, Iraq,] Obama’s drone wars in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria, while cheering the attack on Libya,” Osterweil chided.
What’s more, “anti-war and feminist sentiments have been deployed to organize ‘grassroots’ campaigns demanding further U.S. intervention in central Africa and Nigeria against Joseph Kony and Boko Haram.”
Because this was, after all, a progressive publication, Osterweil cautioned he was not saying that “Republicans are in any way preferable to Democrats.”
In fact, he was saying something much more damning than that: “[T]he narrative that the Republicans have historically been the party of war, and Democrats all peace-loving doves, is an absurd fiction… [I]t’s a false narrative that keeps winning the Democrats the votes and loyalty of people who should know better.”