According to a new study, the antiwar movement in the United States is now driven almost entirely by Independents and supporters of third parties. The findings have media outlets asking “Whatever happened to the antiwar movement?” even as thousands of Americans took to the streets in cities across the country earlier this month to protest the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
The new paper, published in the journal Mobilization by Michael Heaney and Fabio Rojas, analyzes what the authors call “the demobilization of the antiwar movement in the United States” between 2007 and 2009. Based on interviews with over 5,000 demonstrators at nearly 30 major antiwar protests across the country over that two year period, the researchers conclude that the electoral success of the Democratic party in the elections of 2006 and 2008 led to the large-scale abandonment of the antiwar movement by Democrats, even despite the party’s failure to deliver on its antiwar promises.
“Activists identified with the Democratic Party were disproportionately likely to leave the movement as time went on, as they considered Democratic electoral success to be concomitant with the achievement of their policy aims,” they write.
I helped organize anti-Iraq war protests. They did indeed die after Obama got elected. Apparently many of the protesters were anti-Bush not anti-war and now seem totally ok with bombing countries without the permission of Congress so long as a Democratic president ordered it.
Another problem with the anti-Iraq war protests was they were mostly organized by groups whose primary goal was to recruit for their little far left party that controlled the ostensible antiwar coalition. Thus, they deliberately drove away moderates. But a coalition can never be a genuine mass organization unless it allows everyone in.
Happily, those deceptive and curiously ineffective front groups are no longer prominent and real coalitions composed of independents and third parties are now opposing the wars.
Damon Eris, who blogs at Poli-Tea and here sometimes, will be our guest tomorrow night on the Polizeros Radio podcast, where he will discuss independent and third party politics, the increasing disconnect between elected officials and their constituents, ballot status issues, and more. Don’t miss it.
One of my big fears is that the same thing is true with what’s going on in Wisconsin and – to a lesser extent – in some other places. That even if unions are being a bit revitalized now, it’s only because this is a Democrat vs. Republican thing, and the energy will be mostly filtered into electing Democrats, and then once the Democrats are in office the energy will dissipate, just like with the antiwar movement. I’m afraid that, because of this pattern, resistance in the US is pretty much screwed.
Resistance is never always futile. Just look at the collapse of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Soviet Union, or what’s happening now in the Middle East!