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Commentary :: Environment : Labor
John Kerry's Statement on the Iraq War; Political Ecology 101
14 Aug 2004
Modified: 10:09:54 PM
Progressive Democrats frustrated by Kerry statement that he would have voted to authorize the president to declare war against Iraq even if he had known that Saddam had harbored no weapons of mass destruction.

This week Senator John Kerry publicly stated that he would have voted to authorize the president to declare war against Iraq even if he had known that Saddam had harbored no weapons of mass destruction! This curious statement infuriates progressives and others who opposed the war, dismays about 80% of Democrats who now oppose the war, and surely encourages some to consider supporting Ralph Nader or the Greens. Worse, who believes such a strange statement is going to win Kerry votes from Bush? Why couldn't he have simply said that Bush and his henchmen distorted the facts and that's why he and so many others voted for the authorization?

As progressive Democrats we are genuinely and deeply outraged. It's tempting to issue the usual rallying cry to the effect that, "Progressives need to demand..." and to urge all who will listen to threaten to withhold their votes if Kerry doesn't change his tune.

But the truth is, merely demanding that John Kerry change his position will get us almost nowhere. Progressives have been making similar demands for years. And threatening to support Ralph Nader or the Greens will only alienate those who, at our founding conference, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) called "future progressives." (See the story at That's worse than going nowhere, that's going backward - at least if we harbor any hope of ever reaching a truly progressive voting majority in this country.

The problem - and its potential solution - are both much bigger than John Kerry's position on the war. Historically, the Democratic Party has supported militarism (dare we say 'imperialism?') on a scale similar to the Republican Party. Demanding that such a leopard change its spots, on the spot, is a futile strategy.

Hope lies in the fact that politicians and political parties are not leopards, but political animals which feed on money, media, and votes. All animals adapt to their environment or die. The Democratic political animal, while greatly preferable to the Republican species (affirmative action, reproductive choice, commitment to a modicum of social justice and to a meaningfully slower rate of environmental destruction to name a few key distinctions,) has adapted to the corrupt political environment in which it lives.

The Progressive Democrats of America approach is to acknowledge the true scope of the problem - that the Democratic Party needs to be transformed and that the only way to do this is to out-organize the corporate interests that now create the Party's internal and external political environments. Think of PDA as a stem cell injection! When, by working together over a period of years, we transform the Democratic Party from within while changing the political environment in which it lives, the Party will take the path of least resistance and adapt. If the people lead, the politicians and parties will follow. We need a movement to transform the Democratic Party. Nothing short of this will do.

Joe Libertelli,
PDA Board Member
Jlibertelli (at)

(This said, we're hedging our bets and planning to both protest and distribute PDA leaflets at the RNC Convention in NYC later this month! To join the Progressive Democrats Contingent, contact Charles Lenchner, PDA Coordinator at c.lenchner (at)
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Re: John Kerry's Statement on the Iraq War; Political Ecology 101
15 Aug 2004
You know how to change the Democratic Party? By taking most, if not all the voters from it. And starting a new party. Let the corporations have the damn name.
The internet will change 2008 presidental election.
And Hillary will NEVER be president. Because she is corporate bought. The voters are beginning to realize the whole picture. (I realized it back in the 70's!)
Thank the people who invented the Internet!
Re: John Kerry's Statement on the Iraq War; Political Ecology 101
15 Aug 2004
I do not share your optimism in beleiving that the Democratic Party can be moved to the Left. It is too late for that. The Dems have morphed into Republicans. Please read the Democratic Platform. I believe that the answer is to create a 3 or 4 per cent vote to act as a tipping point. I will be voting for Nader.