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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Medea Benjamin: battered wife

After the House voted $100 billion more for war against Iraq, Medea Benjamin from Code Pink addressed the Progressive Democrats of America. Her speech is on YouTube (Part 1 and Part 2), but I took the time to transcribe the first part of it because it was an extraordinary statement (and a wonderful analogy) about the relationship of some progressive activists (like Benjamin) with the Democratic Party:
"I feel like a battered wife tonight. And I feel like a battered wife because I'm right like on the outskirts of the Democratic Party. And I keep coming back to the party. I keep coming back. I keep coming back. I keep thinking, 'There's something good there. There's something good there. I'm gonna' go back, I'm gonna' find something good.'

"Like all of you, I worked hard in November 2006 to get the Democrats back in power, and like all of you, I got my hopes up. And I feel tonight like I got beat up again. And I do that because I did get my hopes up. And I had a vision that the Democrats finally understood that the American people were so way ahead of them on this war in Iraq that they were going to catch up.
"I had a vision that something like that was going to happen. And now I feel like an absolute idiot battered wife. How could we have let ourselves be so deceived? But you know what? We worked hard. And the thing is that we're going to keep working hard."
And so, in the end, fully realizing that she and others like her who place their faith in the Democratic Party are like battered wives, she acts like so many battered wives and announces she's going back for more, hoping once more that this time it won't happen again. Unfortunately, it will.

Battered wives, just like progressives who must eventually come to the realization that it is necessary to break with the Democratic Party, face a dilemma. In the short term, things may get worse. A battered wife may go from a nice home and a husband who supports her to a battered women's shelter and having to go out and get a low-paying job just to keep going. But ultimately, it's the only way she's going to escape from being battered, time and time again. Because it's in the nature of her husband to be a batterer.

And it's in the nature of the Democratic Party to be one of the twin parties of imperialism. Yes, they like to play the "good cop" to the Republican Party's "bad cop," but, as the attitude of virtually every leading Democrat towards Iran demonstrates, they view the world through precisely the same prism as the Republicans and have precisely the same goals in mind; only their methods differ. The Democratic Party will not be changed by Medea Benjamin and other sincerely progressive people like her repeatedly banging at the door, and the more people that Benjamin and others like her persuade to keep banging at that door instead of trying another door, the longer it's going to take for real change to occur.

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