As I drive away from the city of Ann Arbor, I glance up at an overpass and notice the faded graffiti written upon it. For almost two years, it served as a welcome sign to Ann Arbor: “Attacking Iraq is Terrorism.” Having witnessed this scrawl dozens of times, I repeatedly question whether this statement reflects the core values of the Democratic Party. In order to answer this question, I contemplate the “changing” message of the Democrats over the course of the war. For the past two years, led by “anti-war hawks” such as Howard Dean, the Democrats’ response has been nothing short of a broken record: “Get the troops out of Iraq now!” Sure, this war has had its share of failures, but overall, with the capture of Saddam Hussein, the liberation of the Iraqis and the institution of free elections, it has not only benefited Iraq, but the Middle East and the entire world as well.
So why has the message of the Democratic Party become so extreme? In spite of its continual insistence that its party supports our military, President Bush received 73 percent of the military vote in 2004. Is its extremism a result of support for the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein? Certainly not. Even though the Left is misguided, it could never support the myriad human rights violations that took place under Saddam’s rule. But for a party that prides itself on the protection of human rights, it appears to me that the Democrats are more vociferous in their protestations regarding the American atrocities at Abu Ghraib than the mass murders that occurred during Saddam’s reign. The reason for this hypocrisy is simple: They try so hard to oppose Bush on every issue that they have drifted too far left for the mainstream of the American people. Even with negative campaign slogans like “A village in Texas has lost its idiot,” Bush won the election decisively. How many people can honestly admit they voted for Democratic challenger John Kerry instead of against Bush?
Preliminary reports indicate that on Jan. 30, a staggering 72 percent of the population of Iraq voted in the first legitimate, free elections in 50 years. Whereas in Saudi Arabia, the last free election that occurred was to determine who would be in charge of garbage pickup. We saw images of inky fingers on Iraqis dancing in the street. Yet some still hold firm to the belief that the Iraqis were better off under Saddam. After the Iraqi election, I can confidently say that liberating Iraq was the right move. We gave Iraqis the opportunity to embrace democracy, and they seized it. Now, the people of other Middle Eastern nations will yearn to seize the same rights for themselves. This is the Bush vision. Yet there are some, specifically Kerry, warning Americans not to “overhype” the elections; Ted Kennedy, referred to the war as a “catastrophic failure” just three days before the elections in a feeble attempt to discredit Bush. Furthermore, when Kerry was questioned about the postelection terrorist threat in Iraq, he responded, “No, it’s more. And, in fact, I believe the world is less safe today than it was two and a half years ago.” Maybe Kerry needs to watch the postelection video of Iraqi insurgents, who in a last ditch effort, used a GI Joe action figure as a hostage in an attempt to fool Americans. Why can’t Democrats relinquish partisan politics just once and savor the freedom now present in Iraq? The answer: Democrats must maintain their “anti-Bush” message at all costs.
Fifty years from now, children in history classrooms will study this war not as the Vietnamesqe quagmire the Left is trying to portray it as, but as a success in bringing democracy to the Middle East. Yes, the price of freedom is high, but Bush will be viewed as a hero and a champion against terrorism. Today’s opponents, such as University of Colorado Prof. Ward Churchill, who called the Sept. 11 victims “little Eichmanns,” referring to the Nazi war criminal, will be viewed as radicals out of touch with the threat terrorists pose. If the Democrats continue to drift further left, as the probable appointment of Howard Dean as Democratic National Chairman and their futile anti-Bush attacks and agendaless message would indicate, they will forever remain too extreme for the American people and will remain on the wrong side of history.
Shuster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org