The only major candidate to speak out about torture is Jack Carter, Democratic Senate candidate for Nevada. Here's his Op-Ed on the subject.
But being "serious about fighting this war" means more than launching a counter-attack at these immoral villains and destroying them. We must recognize that their real target is not just our people, but the ideas and values upon which we stand.
Military theorists know that winning requires both a solid attack and a sober defense. Without the attack, Osama can regroup, lie in wait, and pick his time. Without the defense, we expose our core to a corrosive rot which may forfeit the war while we win the battle.
There is no doubt that torturing people is un-American. There is no doubt that unfettered eavesdropping on Americans by the executive branch is un-American. There is no doubt that holding prisoners without due process is un-American.
These are the spear marks our attackers left, every bit as much a wound as the gaping hole in New York's skyline. These were inflicted, not by suicide bombers, but by Fear - the opponent of Values and the "other" weapon in the terrorists' arsenal.
We must defend our families and our values as fiercely as we attack our enemies. Our government must fight Terrorists, but our Values must battle Terror. These principles define us. They make us American more than geography ever did.
This administration does not appear to understand that being "serious about fighting this war" requires us to defend our values. Defense of our values is not a sign of weakness, it's the foundation from which we launch our attack.
Many of you don't know that I supported the invasion of Iraq. It was stupid, and it was wrong, but I did. At the time I was 24, and I thought that Clinton was a great President, that 9/11 justified pretty much anything, and that tax increases led to dead-weight losses in the economy. I also believed that voting for the Iraq war was good politics, because the American people wanted war.
Though I was mostly pro-war I didn't have the sneering anti-anti-war attitude of so many liberal hawks. I respected the anti-war position, but I just couldn't bring myself to buck the system because I felt that if the New York Times said that Saddam had WMD's, it must be true. My anger at the current model of politics has to do with the fact that I went through a journey over the next few years to figure out where I went wrong, and so many institutions that lied to me and my generation did not. They didn't care that they made an error in judgment. In fact they rejoiced in their steadfast attitude in the face of utter wrongness, and still do.
I was so very wrong, and I think about how wrong I was all the time. I don't just think about how I made an error in judgment on the face of the issue, I think about how there was basically no real debate, except in the blogs. In retrospect, the silence was the kicker. And now, the silence over torture reminds me of that time, prior to the Iraq War, when it seemed like whatever your position it seemed like good politics to shut up and go along with the right-wing approach.
I don't think so. Torture is wrong, it doesn't work, and it's immoral. And we are not naive for opposing it. There are a lot of sneering Congressional aides out there whispering about how silly we progressives are for not recognizing that this is a loser issue and that we should take it off the table as quickly as possible. Well you know, my attitude is that if that's your attitude then you are less than human, a moral ghost, a wretch of a creature, a person who has ruined your soul in the pursuit of mediocrity. It is not smart politics to support torture, because politics must have an ethical basis and in torture there is none. Torture is the tool of the weak, and as we embrace it, we become weak. The military is opposed to torture - if you can't turn that into political capital then you aren't practiced in politics.
Now, in terms of 2006, it's important to take back Congress from the Republicans, who are at this point a grotesque group of theocratically oriented middle managers, a kind of sadistic Office Space crew. If Democrats can set the agenda, we will have the ability to head off further degradation of our country, and maybe we can punish some of these really bad people. It is also important to put progressives in the House and Senate, so that if we take a chamber back, we can put some spine into that agenda. That's why it's important to work for candidates who are inspiring, like Carter, and candidates who aren't.
As for the practical aspects of this race, I'll say upfront that I don't know much about Nevada politics. John Ensign seems like a stupid nobody, a pretend-libertarian who is actually just a rich baby that likes to play golf and get fabulous haircuts. He's considered to be in a very strong position, but you know, I've come to doubt the conventional wisdom. After blogging about Ned Lamont and Donna Edwards and seeing them emerge into powerful and legitimate political figures, I feel like there's something in that conventional wisdom that is deeply in error. Some huge percentage of the population of Nevada is new to the state since Ensign was elected in 2000, and Bush isn't well liked there. I suspect Ensign can be beaten, though again, I'm not well-versed in Nevada politics. And if Ensign is beaten, then at least we'll have one more principled Senator in Congress to prevent this country from sinking even more into moral muck.