Escalation As The New Social Security
by Chris Bowers, Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 12:28:01 PM EST
Like in early 2005 when he tried to privatize Social Security, Bush will make his first legislative initiative an extremely unpopular one: escalating the war in Iraq. It will be coupled with a "sales pitch" where he tries to drum up popular support for the escalation, but don't expect that to get anywhere. Support for escalation hovers between 10% and 36%, depending on which poll you look at and how the question is asked. Anyway you look at it, support for escalation is extremely low, except among Republican Senators:Nearly 40 Republican senators, meanwhile, have already voiced their support for a surge. Republicans are going down a path that will invariably make them even less popular than they are right now. While that is good for Democrats, that should not distract from the job at hand. We can lose in this fight too--and come off as weak and ineffective--even if we oppose escalation in every public statement we make.
In the Social Security fight, Democrats ended up looking like heroes not just because they weren't those evil Republicans who tried to destroy Social Security, but rather because Democrats were those stalwart fighters who prevented Republicans from destroying Social Security. This is the same test Democrats face now. Our pre-election polling showed that few people actually believed Democrats could end the war in Iraq. Instead, they were expected to stop the direction Bush had been taking the war, and prevent him from making it any worse. Now, it is time for Democrats to deliver. We were swept into office not just because we voiced support for withdrawal or opposition to Bush's policies, but with the expectation that we could stop Bush's policy. That does not mean we are expected to implement our own policy--we just have to stop Bush.
Simply put, stopping escalation is why Democrats were elected to Congress. If we fail to stop it, the same voters who brought us into office will begin to lose faith in us. This fight is just as important as the Social Security fight was two years ago, and our success in that fight was the start of the Republican downfall over the past two years. The same thing can happen this time, but we have to draw a hard line in the sand on escalation in order to make that happen. This eans we have to identify and push all wavering members of Congress into the anti-escalation camp. This means that we must publicly and privately threaten any Democrat who votes in favor of privatizing Social Security with all of the following: stripping of important committee assignments, a complete funding cut-off, and a well-funded primary challenge. It means that if Bush ignores legislation Congress passes preventing escalation and follows through with it anyway, as Tony Snow today threatened, then we have to be willing to take any and all punitive measures against Bush, including keeping impeachment on the table.
Stopping escalation was precisely the job the American people entrusted us with on November 7th, and as such we must do everything in our power to make sure we complete that job. It is unfortunate that our first major test will also probably be the largest one we face over the next two years, but you have to play the hand that is dealt to you.