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Democratic discomfort with national security

By Patrick M. Garry
web posted September 13, 2004

All the salutes and displays of military uniforms by the Democrats cannot hide their real orientation. To Democrats of the last thirty years, social order and national security have been objects of protest and derision, not values to cherish and protect.

The modern Democratic party was born in the anti-war protests and sexual revolution of the 1960s -- a party reflected by Bill Clinton's statement that he "loathed the military." It is a party that opposed Ronald Reagan's policies ending the Cold War, that voted overwhelmingly against the Gulf War, and that defied military conduct codes with a mandated gay-rights policy.

In recent decades, Democrats have found the military useful, but only as a target of derision. They have accused it of everything from promotional favoritism to the purchase of over-priced coffee makers. They have tried to cut its funding. They have put generals on the witness stand whenever a military action fails to achieve a 100 percent perfection rate.

Despite the gaudy show of militarism at its convention, the Democratic party is not at home with national security concerns, as evidenced by its conflicted position on Iraq. John Kerry says he would persevere there, but ninety percent of the party's convention delegates oppose the war. Indeed, the liberal core of the party has little reason to value national security. It sees America as a racist society, pervaded by a toxic religion and an unjust capitalism, and oppressive in its notion of patriotism. The liberal core of the Democratic party instinctively blames America; it sees the Patriot Act as more repressive than the Taliban, and it accuses government failures of causing the attacks of 9/11. Those attacks, according to filmmaker Michael Moore, occurred because the U.S. had previously been "culpable in committing so many acts of terror."

As revealed throughout the past half-century, the Democratic party is incapable of governing during times of national security crises. It is a party confined to periods of peace and prosperity, as existed during the 1990s, when the country can afford to accommodate radical, libertine individualism – when it can afford to indulge people like Howard Stern and Michael Moore. But when national security is at risk, Democrats cannot rise above that of the protest party. How illustrative it is that the most vehement position of Democrats regarding the war on terror involves their campaign of hysteria against the Patriot Act. They liken it to Nazi tyranny, but they offer no alternative for defending America. The Democrats are wedded to the Hollywood protest line: that any infringement on any aspect of individual behavior is an invidious threat to American freedoms.

National security, like social order, requires that individuals be willing to make some sacrifice for it, to occasionally sublimate their own whims for the sake of the country. But if anything shows the inability of the liberal mindset to make this sacrifice, it is the contrast between the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Protestors stream into Union Square in New York on August 29 just ahead of the GOP convention
Protestors stream into Union Square in New York on August 29 just ahead of the GOP convention

Over the four-day Republican convention, tens of thousands of protestors descended upon New York City. Over eighteen hundreds arrests were made – thirteen hundred more than occurred during the violent World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999. There were so many protestors that the police department had to mobilize its entire 37,000 member force. Protestors brawled with police at the New York Public Library. In one altercation, protestors surrounded an officer and brutally beat him. Reminiscent of the 1960s, protestors jeered police, calling them "pigs." They shouted down Andrew Card's speech to the Young Republicans, striking a cameraman in the process. Marauding protestors cursed at delegates, taunting them at restaurants and on sidewalks. They tried to take over hotel lobbies. They even forced the police to shut down traffic in Times Square.

Granted, this behavior was not sanctioned by the Democratic party, but it was committed by groups aligned with the liberal core of the party. In contrast, not one conservative group caused a disturbance during the Democratic convention. Not one conservative group shut down streets or harassed delegates or struck police. Not one conservative group caused a strain on police resources that were needed to protect Americans from another terrorist attack. On the other hand, when given the choice between protest and social order, Democrats always favor the former: notice that the only time they ever mention patriotism is to argue that it's patriotic to protest.

The Kerry campaign claims to be outraged by the Swift Boat Veterans' attack on his Vietnam record, but the whole Vietnam issue was first raised by Kerry. He thought his four months in Vietnam could magically erase three and a half decades of Democratic weakness on national security. In perhaps the strangest of ironies, the Democrats now want to use a war they once protested to provide cover for their decades-long lack of conviction on national security. And despite their martyred cries, Democrats would actually prefer to turn the presidential campaign into a volley of personal attacks; that way, they would not have to discuss their record on defense.

This is Patrick M. Garry's first contribution to Enter Stage Right. © 2004.

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