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« Oh Canada | Main | Contemptible - The Democrat Iraq Strategy »

December 05, 2005



Interesting article. I do agree that the democrats have been divided and listless for the 2004 contest, divided between supporting much of the Bush platform, and attempting to create their own policy visions.

Similarly, there has been some enormous difficulty capitalizing on many of the Bush administrations failures, whether perceived or real (Katrina, Iraq, S.C. Nominees etc).



As I think about it, my conclusion is almost worse than that...purely from a Republican's power politics perspective; If you want to dominate the Democrats politically, go to war with someone!

It is an unbelievable yet hard to refute position that a war, any war, even a cold war, destroys the unity of the Democratic Party and renders the Party incapable of electing a liberal. Kosovo is the only exception I can identify and that was not a 'war' but an arial bombing by a third way (non-liberal) Democrat and it still divided the Democratic Party.

I would like to call this the 'Vietnam Syndrome'...and I believe it will continue to impact American politics for the next 30 years.

If a Republican is elected in 2008...I would look for another war within the next two years. It is the best guarantee for Republican dominance that any administration can have.

What a horrible

Matt Hurley

Excellent analysis, as always...

Here's the thing about your next 30 years projection, though...I don't see the current crop of childish lefty protests as being all that effective. Vietnam was the last time these tactics actually worked, hence all the nostalgia. Those folks aren't getting any younger...and as soon as they no longer wield any kind of political influence, I expect these sorts of strategeries will only be employed on college campuses where the last remaining relics from the Vietnam era will still have tenure, influence and power.



You have 40 somethings who are part of the tail end of the woodstock generation...30 years is the outside edge, but it is a realistic outside edge.


I would also take exception to the statement that these tactics worked. As near as I can tell the tactics (anti-war protesting) have never been successful and have always backfired, at least politically speaking.

Yes the U.S. abandoned Vietnam...but the protests had nothing to do with the administrative interference with the war effort...which is what made the war drag on for ever and eventually provided war critics a reason to oppose the war and gradually develop supporters.

Absent the Johnson administration's inept bungling and interference with the military in the conduct of the war, the lack of a plan to establish a Democratic autonomous state, and the the inability to diplomatically deal with China; Vietnam would have been successful and much pain and anger could have been eliminated.

Hindsight is 20/20 but what would have been so wrong with negotiating with Ho Chi Minh to hold a parliamentary style election? If that was held in front of the combatants EARLY in the war...we would have definately seen a less bloody and far smaller insurgency. Basically what we are currently seeing in Iraq! Remember Ho Chi Minh turned to China and communism after the French were fighting him. He was opposing a fascist dictatorship established by the French.

With those assumptions, not even Vietnam would have been Vietnam. No political benefit in opposing it.

Matt Hurley

Revise and extend: I agree that the protest tactics didn't "actually" work during the Vietnam era...however, they are "perceived" to have worked by those who are still pushing similar tactics today.

My point about the 30 years projection was that I don't think the hippies are going to be viable political constituency that wields any kind of influence for too much longer. Not so much because of their age (although I think that will be a factor - Bill Clinton was the first hippie POTUS and look at him, he's one Big Mac away from the Golden Arches in the Sky) but rather because the hippies have really become such a minority in this country because they've been wrong about everything...

Kevin B.

Heh... "one Big Mac away from the Golden Arches in the Sky"


I disagree. I think the hippies are less visible, because mainstream culture has embraced many tenets of hippie philosophy.

For example, environmentalism is no longer associated exclusively with hippies. the same with pacifism, embrasure of eastern religious ideas (yoga craze anyone?) and on and on.

Its not so much that hippies have faded away, but rather that most people have become hippies, if just in a small way.

secondly, the notion that protests are ineffective, is likewise mistaken. Protests do have effects. they create public pressure, they signal the degree to which discontent exists (the size of the crowd involved), and they put agendas in the media.

Do you think the WTO meeting following Seattle in 1999 would have been located in remote Qatar if not for the enormous and unprecedented protest that took place during the Seattle session?

Dont kid yourself. Protests may not have enormous direct effects, but they help shape popular opinion and media-relayed pressure, which politicians pay close attention to.

Having said all that, part of the reason why protests havent appeared to have worked as well in recent years is of course due to a decrease in youth participation at the grassroots level (especially on campuses). Compare Columbia university in 1968 with Columbia university today, and the difference is striking. Theres no massive protests on the steps, no police involvements...very little in fact.

Even at my own university, people such as myself are more interested in joining the faculty of business administration than a protest...

Perhaps its more a question of participation in protests, than whether protests dont work.

Its by no means fair to say that current protests are equivalent to those in the 60s and 70s - theres just no comparison. Only Seattle comes close I think, and perhaps the world protest in March 2003 which set a historic record for global protest against the US-coalitions planned war in iraq. 2c.


I would echo what Peter said about the hippies, but he is missing it on protests. Protests also galvanize the opposition which in most cases is the majority. a Democracy...protests are worse than ineffective, they are self defeating.

Do you think 11 states would have passed a ban on Gay marriage if the Mayor of San Francisco had not tried to force them, or the Judge in Massachusetts had no 'legislated' from the bench? In both of those very public protests...the issue was used to motivate the opposition (the majority) which made the goal of the protests (the legalization of gay marriage) much more difficult to enact at some time in the future. The anti-gayu marriage provisions would have never made it on a ballot if it had not been for the protests.

You can see a very similar pattern with the Iraq War protests. They have been coopted by some fringe radical groups which have forced the public to turn against the anti-war position.

I would also point out that the WTO protests have hardly been effective. One could say quite clearly that the majority has clearly NOT risen up in support of the protester's position. And here we get to the primary point...the purpose of a protest used to be to change it is a bunch of useless society outcasts trying to get attention, not for their positions, but for themselves. The professional protester in many cases has no discernable position at all. What position would you characterize the anti-war protesters as having? I'm sure I can find organizations who attended the protest who would completely disagree with you.


Perhaps - regarding the WTO.

If by failure you mean the WTO protest failed to result in the dissolution of that world body, and the collapse of world trade, than obviously, you're correct.

However, if you link the WTO protest to a broad and mainstream effort to continue to humanize global capitalism, then its been a very succesful milestone.

Today, terms like CSR, and SII (corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investing) owe part of their existence to a fundamental grassroots antipathy towards corporate globalization in the 1990s.

But when you write things like "useless society outcasts" I begin to see that you have a very black and white view of this issue, and that may not change.

Its a bit infantile to call all protesters useless society outcasts...isn't it? Would you call all the Americans who think the Iraq war was a bad idea in the first place useless society outcasts? In that case, you think about 168,000,000 Americans are useless society outcasts (number arrived at by multiplying 0.60 x 280,000,000 americans). According to Global Pew Research, about 60% of americans now think the initial decision to invade was a mistake.

The protestors you see, are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their basic views (towards Iraq as just one example).


I think I would distinguish your view of WTO protestors in Seattle from the views of responsible citizens. Keep in mind where this claimed that protests were effective. I am asserting that they are effective more in galvanizing the opposition. I have LOTS of evidence and historical facts to back me up.

You are presenting nothing but the adoption of a couple of terms by sympathetic academics?

I can argue better for your position than that! You should have countered with the Civil Rights Movement, the Brown Power movement and the Labor movement...then we could have had a reasonable debate! You are either busy or slipping.

If all you are going to rely upon is the WTO and the current anti-war protests, I think I've won this argument hands down.

What do you think that the Cindy Sheehan protestors have accomplished? (Aside from making an ass out of themselves) And please don't try and claim something silly like raising awareness...what Cindy Sheehan accomplished and every other half wit anti-war protestor accomplished was the re-election of George W. Bush...and by the way, political elections are a 'black and white' issue since you either WIN or LOSE.

And I'd like to see you prove that it has ever been any different from that. (Dig deep and research the Civil Rights will teach you why these protests are so ineffective)

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