A few people on Twitter are angry with me at this moment. The news of the drone base has me upset and I have criticized it openly. Even though I did not confront these individuals and have said nothing to anyone unless they have directly addressed me — and I dare say that those who have will tell you that I have been more than civil towards them as I expressed my point of view and they, too, have been civil in return — a few have blocked me or unfollowed me without a word.
I think I owe people an explanation of my position and some perspective on where it stands in the greater thread of progress that the Democrats have waged against the #GOP in the nearly fifty five years of my life. First, I do not believe that criticizing any part of the country’s agenda makes me bound to reject the whole. This stretches to my support of President Obama, which is unwavering. Second, I am as I have long been a pacifist. To be one in these United States is to be a creature who has to live with a lot of disappointment in his fellow Americans and his leaders. I nevertheless remain true to this belief. But as my first point says, it does not follow that my objection to the drones is a call for abandoning the Democrats. They have been more sympathetic to my views than the alternative. And there are many key issues on which they are dead on, necessitating an appreciation of what I shall call “the long agendas” of ending the power of racists, sexists, and others who do violence by law and by physical force to other human beings.
I put the progress of the peace movement in converting this country to be at about the same place as the civil rights movement was in the 1920s. Only 17% of my fellow Americans feel like me that the drones pose serious moral and credibility problems for our nation. Some people say that there may be just no other way to deal with American citizens and others who work against the United States than to employ these drones. Since the disastrous Vietnam War and — with greater fierceness since 9-11 — our country has become obsessed with being the world’s peacekeeper. We have become bellicose, using our war machines to hammer anything so hard as a mushroom that stands in opposition to us. The situation is not so dire under Democrats, but I worry about what that other party — the party that has recruited racists and sexists to its ranks — might do with the recently revealed white paper. Let us not forget that this was the party that told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that water-boarding was not torture. They could get away with it because only a decided minority of Americans stood in opposition to the base principle that there could be such a thing as a Just War. In the hands of the GOP, that phrase is a rubber-band that can be stretched to condone many unjust acts. In my experience, once they get you to admit that there are any circumstances in which violence is justified, the Republicans will reach to atrocity.
Instead of declaring that we cannot trust the Democrats ever again, we must set ourselves to the task of making more than 17% — yea, over 50% — feel that the concept of Just War is flawed and needs replacing. But that will not happen tomorrow and it may not happen in my lifetime. I am willing to wait and continue to hope.
There are other long agendas that deserve our continuing attention. Racism is not dead. Sexism sniffs around the skirts of women. Homophobia is rife and unapologized for. A pernicious lie that global climate change caused by human activity is a myth keeps us from facing a very real and present threat. The GOP still thinks that it can bring down health care for all Americans and it has no problem holding the country hostage so that it can build a Randian dystopia in the place of a society that is not merely collectivist as its enemies claim, but one that also champions the rights and pursuit of happiness of all Americans as individuals.
Though I ache to see Obama capitulate to the homicidal instincts that have seized American society because we cannot accept the shame that Vietnam laid at our doorsteps, I will not step away from the Democrats because these fights are also important and because important strides remain to be made and might be lost if we drop our guard as we did in 2010.
As for peace, it has to be a long agenda.