There is great nostalgia on the American left today for the antiwar movements of the 1960s. Leftists now in their 60s remember the marches, the cheering, and of course the sex. What they forget is that it was the reaction against the riots and the protests of the 1960s that delivered the White House to the Republicans for 20 of the 24 years from 1968 until 1992.
Today an even more extremist antiwar movement is again beckoning to the Democratic party. Some Democrats are listening: It looks as if Ohio Democrats will run the violently antiwar Paul Hackett as their candidate in that state’s 2006 Senate race. Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold is planning to run an antiwar campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
But the leaders of the national party--Bill and Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Harry Reid, and others--are resisting. They have seen this movie before--and they know how it ends: with the Democrats marginalized and the Republicans back in power.
In June, I ventured a prediction: "A Eugene McCarthy will appear soon to pressure and challenge Hillary Clinton in 2008, if Hillary does not convert herself into an antiwar candidate ..."
Observing the Cindy Sheehan protest, I updated the prediction just last week: "September could see the coalescing of an antiwar movement that ... divides (the) Democratic Party ..." And so it has come to pass.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Gene McCarthy emerged in the person of Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Monday, the top headline in The Washington Post read, "Democrats Split Over Position on Iraq War." The opening paragraph:
"Democrats say a longstanding rift in the party over the Iraq war has grown increasingly raw in recent days, as stay-the-course elected leaders who voted for the war three years ago confront rising impatience from activists and strategists who want to challenge President Bush aggressively to withdraw troops."
The DLC strategy of running to the center in 2008 is on a collision course with the Moveon.org wing of the Democratic party. I see a train wreck up ahead.