Peace Democrats and the Threat They Pose
- 18 February 2007 by Author 0 Comments
Peace Democrats and the Threat They Pose
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 2/18/07
It should come as no surprise that the new Congress is expending so much energy on superfluous debate of resolution after resolution, non-binding mind you, regarding the ongoing conflict in Iraq. Not surprising that they think they need to show the voters from the mid-term elections that they have to express their disapprobation over that front on the war on terror and usurp the President’s role as Commander In Chief.
After all, from their perspective they were granted a virtual mandate to “bring our troops home now.” So why don’t they? They control the purse strings for the Federal Government. They proved that when Congress ignominiously failed to appropriate funds for the support of South Vietnam even after President Nixon ended the conflict there.
It would appear they’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place. They could simply follow the perceived intent of voters and deploy the troops out of Iraq to some other hotbed of terrorist activity like Okinawa (good suggestion, Congressman Murtha!) by turning off the funding spigot to operations in Iraq. Or they could pass binding resolutions to truly hamper the efforts by the President. Instead, they posture for the media and the public, hoping to score political points with an attitude of one-upmanship. A week ago a column appeared on these pages praising Abraham Lincoln for his leadership. Truly he was a model of leadership, especially ex post facto with the benefit of hindsight. Even Lincoln had to deal with a Congress comprised of critics as Bush does now.
The “Peace Democrats,” as they were known, believed that Lincoln and the Republicans of his time had somehow caused the war, forcing the South to secede. They thought Lincoln was a tyrant who was “destroying America” with his tyrannical governance and accused Lincoln of running up a massive national debt for the war. They supported the war effort when things were going well, but they became increasingly vocal and non-supportive when they weren’t.
Clement Valladigham of Ohio was their leader, similar to John Murtha of today’s Congress. When the influence of the Peace Democrats reached its high point by convention time of 1864, Valladigham convinced the party to adopt an official platform that claimed the war was a failure. Just a year later it ended in victory.
In spite of those who ascribed blame to the President, endeavored to ensure his failure as Commander in Chief, and undermined the war effort, President Lincoln stood firm in his conviction and resolution to win the war and reunite the states. We can only imagine the social, ethnic, cultural, and political ramifications had the Peace Democrats succeeded in undermining the President, and prevented victory.
All of this should sound very familiar, as our President likewise manifests a conviction and resolution to see this effort in Iraq brought to successful termination. He likewise has his share of “Peace Democrats” and spineless Republicans who seek to undermine his efforts and prevent the execution of the President’s plan for victory.
All of this by our contemporary “Peace Democrats” is nothing more than political posturing. Like those of Lincoln’s time, they’re supportive when the war is going well, and then morph into peaceniks and call for immediate withdrawal when the going gets tough.
They bemoan the challenge of their patriotism. Yet how can their patriotism not be challenged when they succumb so easily to media and the warped public opinion shaped by that media? When they are so willing to sacrifice our security and liberties that most assuredly would be threatened following a collapse of a nascent Iraqi democracy and the incubator of terrorism that would follow?
Loud and boisterous are the cries for leadership in our age. Yet in light of examples from the past, what we are witnessing in our current President is ultimate leadership. In spite of dwindling public confidence numbers and the efforts of the “Peace Democrats” to micromanage his role as Commander in Chief, that he could maintain his determination is a testimonial to his leadership.
Leaders do not crumble under the microscope of a quasi-enlightened public. Nor do they succumb under criticism. Lincoln at times during his presidency was hated and maligned nearly as much by his own party as he was by the opposition, very much like we’re seeing today.
What we need is more genuine leaders in Congress who are steadfast and resolute; who realize that peace always follows victory; who can see themselves as standard bearers of a legitimate cause of national and international security, instead of willows in the wind of public opinion.
If we value sufficiently the stability and peace that success in Iraq can breed in the Middle East, we must be as resolute as Lincoln, as well as pray for the Lincoln of our day to remain steadfast.
After Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the Peace Democrats were totally discredited. They slithered away into historical oblivion, only to be resurrected again and again, each time America has found itself embroiled in a battle for freedom and security. Whether our own or for others around the world.
Hopefully we will similarly witness the “Peace Democrats” and their spineless colleagues across the aisle slinking away into historical obscurity, remembered only for their lack of leadership, values, and courage.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.