(Address to ILPS, Solidarity and Fightback Conference, Toronto)
by CINDY SHEEHAN
On August 6th, 2005, I and about six-dozen other activists marched down Prairie Chapel Road in Crawford, TX to confront then president George Bush about why my son, and so many others, had to die in Iraq. A few days earlier, I had heard him say that my son and the other US troops who had died in Iraq and Afghanistan died for a “Noble Cause.” I was determined to confront Bush and force him to define what was that “noble cause?”
“What Noble Cause?” became the rallying call of the antiwar movement that summer. And the month-long peace vigil we held in Crawford at Camp Casey (named for my son) sparked a renewed interest in antiwar activism not just in the US, but around the world.
I was an activist neophyte in those days and unbeknownst to me, forces loyal to the Democrat party (in fact, a few Democrat elected officials) came out to Camp Casey that summer to redirect the righteous anger against Bush and his wars into just another “Get Out The Vote for Democrats.” In 2006, Nancy Pelosi and her branch of the War Party soared to victory on the backs of the antiwar movement, then promptly stabbed us in those same backs. Pelosi even promised me in ‘05 and ‘06 that if I, and the power of the movement, helped get Democrats back in the majority in the 2006 midterm elections, they would help us “end the wars.”
The 2006 midterm elections in the US seriously damaged the antiwar movement. For the same forces that had come to Camp Casey in the summer of 2005, now blocked non-partisan forces in the antiwar movement from holding large marches in Washington DC because we would “embarrass the Democrats.”
This is essentially the problem with any movement in the US, but especially an antiwar/anti-Empire movement: most people who are “woke” here in the US, are only “woke” as far as they think that their wing of the War Bird, either Democrat or Republican, is better and that if only we could get Candidate A elected, or get one of the wings of the War Bird back in power in Congress, then things would be better. Of course, I understand that sentiment because that’s where I was a decade ago.
So, with that brief history of why we are essentially screwed in the movement and why billions of people on this planet are in danger of losing their homes, limbs, and even lives by the viciousness of the US Empire, the answer to rebuilding an antiwar/anti-Empire movement in the US is to dump the Democrats: #DemExit. In my opinion, it’s not about being part of the neoliberal Bernie Sanders’ wing of the Democrat Party. The ”Our Revolution” movement is not my revolution, your revolution, or the revolution of oppressed peoples around the world, but a “revolution” only as far as another failed and wrongheaded tactic to GOTV for Democrats. As a matter of fact, I hear from very reliable sources who went to the recent badly and dishonestly named, “People’s Summit” in Chicago that there was not one mention of the wars and how if any positive social changes are to be made, the Empire must not just be overcome, but crushed to dust.
Why just the Dump the Democrats? Well, the one thing I was hopeful about when Trump was selected by the capitalists and imperialists who are really in charge of the US, was that maybe now, people would protest the continuing US wars. Of course, Republicans mostly don’t even pretend to be against Empire or capitalism, but most Democrats do fake oppose wars.
However, even though there have been some large protests since Trump was selected, there have been no large antiwar protests.
That’s why I was so pleased to be invited to this event—for me, to be legitimate revolutionaries, we must, obviously be opposed to the US Empire, police state violence, other repressions, and capitalism. Democrats do so-called wedge issues very well. Both wings of the War Bird know how to whip up hysteria and inflame fear over social divides, but they are similarly also very good about using the bourgeois media to distract us from the core issue: the United States of America murders, in cold blood, people every day and the imperial wars are not only illegal, immoral, and unnecessary, but they are racist and very profitable for the imperialists.
So, comrades, I am very interested in continuing this conversation.