The Disenfranchised Antiwar Voter

Why is it that the War Party invariably wins? Although the majority of Americans are rebelling against the idea that the US must endlessly police the world, and are souring on the crusade to “liberate” Afghanistan, how is it that the only voices heard on the national political scene are those in favor of intervention?

This hasn’t always been true: during the run-up to World War II, for example, there were plenty of politicians and major public figures – most of them conservative Republicans – who questioned the need for America to venture into the crusading business. The biggest antiwar movement in American history, the America First Committee, which was financed by conservative businessmen from the Midwest, and organized by a broad coalition of anti-New Deal conservatives and libertarians, was 800,000 strong, and growing before That Man in the White House succeeded in luring the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. (Yes, FDR knew …). During the Vietnam era, a broad antiwar movement was organized that found political expression in the Democratic party: Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign gave voice to the growing American majority opposed to that futile crusade.

Yet these are the exceptions, and they stand out precisely because they violate the general rule of American politics, which is that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” Since America’s entry onto the world stage as the “liberator”-of-choice, both parties have historically stood behind the “consensus” that America’s role in the world is to police the four corners of the earth. The War Party has a de facto monopoly on the political process in this country, and that is the sad fact of the matter. The anti-interventionist position, although it is the default position of most ordinary Americans, is simply not represented in any of the “major” parties.

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