Anti-War Forces Haven’t Won Battle for American’s Heart and Minds
By: Warner Todd Huston
In the run up to the 2006 midterms, all the media talking heads and political pundits were talking about how the GOP was losing because the country was “sick of the war” and there was a wide spread assumption that large scale protests were proof that the anti-war lot had won the debate for American’s hearts and minds. After all, millions seemed to be marching in protest against the war the country over and the TV news frequently showed these giant bands of misfits parading the streets. The media have constantly presented these protests as mainstream Americans who had the passion to leave their homes and congregate by the millions in fellowship, linking arms against the Republicans and Bush to stop this war. The MSM also imagined that the loss by Republicans of majority control of Congress after the 2006 midterms was the end result of this great “feeling” that Americans were against the War on Terror. They proclaimed that the Democrat Party had won the debate and were sent to Congress with some sort of mandate from American voters.
In reality, neither assumption is true. The anti-war crowd has no more won the debate against the war than the Democrat Party has become the voice of the American people. In truth, using the midterm election results and the supposed mass protests in the streets appears to be a bad indication of the power the supporters of American defeat really have. For their part, the news media and leftist pundits’ wild imagination that the left won the national debate is overstated and foolhardy. The left just does not have an overwhelming majority of public opinion on their side.
In fact, the American left has seen a steady erosion of support since their highs before and during World War Two. Reviewing the split between the Democrat Party and the GOP in Congress, both long before and after the 2006 midterms, quickly reveals the proof against claims of the supremacy of the left.
Before the midterms, the GOP was in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House the GOP had a majority of 28 seats and in the Senate a closer 11 seats. After the elections the Dems took both Houses with a tiny Senate majority of 2 seats and a House majority of 32.
Looking at this in an historical context shows that the Democrats do not now have much of a governing mandate. During Reagan’s and H.W. Bush’s years, for instance, the Democrat Party enjoyed a far larger majority in the House for the entire 12 years of the two GOP president’s terms. The Democrats never had less than a 50-seat advantage in the House, and at times had an overwhelming 119-seat majority! In the Senate, though, they were down by as many as 7 seats for a few years — though they did have a slim majority for 6 of those 12 years.
So half the time during the Reagan and H.W. Bush years, the Democrat Party controlled both Houses on Congress, but they controlled the House of Representatives often with great majorities the entire time.
During the Clinton Years, the Dems began to lose their great advantage, of course. Clinton’s Party only controlled the Senate for that first 2 years in office with a 14-seat advantage, but for the next 6 years the GOP held sway with a slimmer 7-seat count. And in the House the Democrats lost a commanding 82-seat majority after Clinton’s first two years to the GOP’s majority that was never greater than 26 seats.
These numbers show that since 1980 the Democrat Party frittered away controlling numbers in Congress with the GOP coming back after decades of being in the minority and leading with small, non-mandate worthy numbers. But, even the GOP had a greater majority in the Clinton years than the Democrats now do in G.W.Bush’s Congress.
All this is to say that the Democrat Party does NOT have the overwhelming support of the American people like they did in FDR’s Days (heights of a 219 seat Majority in the House, 58 in the Senate), or Truman’s days (92 House, 12 Senate), Kennedy and Johnson’s terms (155 House, 36 Senate), or even Nixon’s time in the White House (147 House, 24 Senate).
Looking at these numbers proves that the Democrat Party is not the Party of the American people in 2007 — or since before 1994 for that matter.
So, what does this mean to you and me? It means that since Reagan came to office and the conservative argument began to resonate with the voters, the Democrat Party lost their great governing mandate and neither Party has enjoyed overwhelming support. It means that these constant claims by the MSM that the Democrats are “in control” are not as pat as they would like to make it seem.
Now we turn to the vacuous anti-war movement which is more a grab bag of every malcontent, failed protest movement of the past 40 years than a true anti-war movement, more a scattered coalition of small and disparate groups with many and varied agendas masquerading as a single, unified group than one marching under a single banner for a singular purpose. (That’s a long winded way of saying that their claims of being an “anti-war group” is a lie)
The media constantly describes these protests as “anti-war” as if they were but a single group. But, anyone who has ever been to one of these things immediately sees that the signs paraded by these large groups protest about every doomed cause since the vaunted “Summer of Love” faded into history. So, claims that these protests represent a mere “anti-war” movement do not have the ring of truth to it. All of these groups are nominally anti-war, of course, but the war is not the main purpose for most of the protester’s protestations. So, for the media to present the entire rabble as one group is misleading at best.
The truest example of an American anti-war movement (even as it, too, had many different facets) remains the protests against the Vietnam war in the 60s and 70s. These protests started small on the grounds of various universities and grew to monumental proportions over time. But the current anti-Iraq war protest movement — if it can be really called a movement — started large and has since dwindled in numbers.
As Ryan Grim of Politico.com recently said:
But unlike during the Vietnam era, when the size and strength of street protests gradually grew over time, the Iraq war initially produced massive demonstrations that have since petered out. On Saturday, only about 20,000 gathered for what was billed a major peace march.
Despite millions spent and a season of action dubbed â€œIraq Summer,â€ September arrived without the dam breaking Bushâ€™s Republican support for a continued indefinite presence in Iraq.
The frustration level for these folks is getting so high that they are now starting to consider if they should begin to eat their own and turn against a Democrat controlled Congress that cannot or will not succumb to their extreme threats to end the war immediately. Some far left activist organizations are contemplating going on the attack against Democrats in Congress and targeting them for defeat in 2008 instead of going after the GOP.
An amusing turn of events, to say the least.
But it proves that they do not have the power they assume they do. And Congresses’ inability to immediately accede to their most activist constituent’s wishes proves that they do not have the governing mandate to do so.
Now, the 2008 elections may reveal a different situation, but that is two years into the future yet. At this time, the Democrat Party simply does not have the power to satisfy the far left. And the far left does not represent the average American who has voted nearly as many Republicans into office as they have Democrats.
One last point. Many on the left whine that the Republicans are just acting as constant spoilers, blocking the Democrat’s progress in Congress because they don’t have the power to pass their own agenda. This lack of a GOP mandate is true, of course. it must be pointed out, however that not only are the Republicans using the same tactics that a losing Democrat Party employed during the Clinton years, but the very fact that the GOP can successfully employ such tactics proves the case that neither Party has the mandate to control the agenda. With their feckless complaining, the Democrats indict their own lack of power.
So, while I hate to admit that the GOP does not have the mandate of the people, it is far more salient that the Democrat Party doesn’t either. It is also very important that we all realize that the anti-war movement does not speak for a commanding majority of the country.
More importantly, we should realize that the constant pumping up of the weakened Democrat Party by the liberal media is an outright lie.