Before we charge the Democratic leadership with a lack of courage as Justin Waller has done, we should first consider the post-Sept. 11 political landscape and what we as citizens have done to produce these conditions.
For the past 13 months, the American public has been swept up in a wave of patriotism, and for good reason. However, this patriotism has been used by the George W. Bush administration to curtail civil rights and further a controversial, unilateral, hawkish agenda.
Demanding Congress "act quickly" and avoid "tying the president's hands" in the war on terrorism is a slick method of preventing real debate. This juggernaut of absent-minded patriotism has lead many who would oppose the Bush administration or promote constructive debate to think twice, lest they be labeled "un-American" or accused of undermining the war effort. The four representatives who traveled to Baghdad, promoting alternatives to U.S. pre-emption, have received such treatment from Bush supporters. They have been called "useful idiots" for Saddam Hussein by George Will and likened to "spokesmen for the Iraqi Government" by Oklahoma's Senator Don Nickles. It's no wonder elected officials are afraid to advance an alternative to Bush.
So what can we do to change this? Register to vote. Write, call or e-mail your senator, representative and the president. Let your elected officials know that there are those who support thoughtfulness in action and will not be coerced into becoming blind followers. Congressional opposition to Bush's foreign policy will come when the voice of those desiring peace emerges.
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