Brian Tanguay

Aug 23, 2021

3 min read


“People do not go to war for abstract theories of government. They fight for property and privilege.” W.E.B. Du Bois

After largely ignoring it for years, the American corporate media has rediscovered Afghanistan. Suddenly, American “credibility” is on the line. The situation would be amusing if it wasn’t so dire for thousands of Afghans. It’s as if some of the talking heads have just awakened from a 20-year slumber and cannot for the life of them understand how the magnificent and all-powerful American military failed so dismally. Predictably, some in the GOP are cravenly attempting to hang the failure around Joe Biden’s neck, but our Afghanistan debacle was a bipartisan gig from the jump — except for Barbara Lee — the only member of Congress who voted against the misbegotten invasion. It turns out that wars are relatively easy to start, but damned hard to end, a fact the talking heads aghast at the scenes of chaos from the airport in Kabul don’t seem to understand. America’s adventure of retribution in Afghanistan was always going to end in chaos and mayhem.

Americans have short and selective memories. Joe Biden may have voted to authorize the Afghanistan adventure when he was a senator, but what has transpired in the last week cannot be laid at his feet. The bulk of blame must be apportioned to George W. Bush and every war hawk he took advice and counsel from, but some also belongs to Barack Obama who kept the show going, stepped up the use of drones and made plenty of enemies in the provinces and rural areas. Trump, too, deserves a share of condemnation; the Orange Menace authorized the dropping of the biggest non-atomic bomb in the US arsenal, a pointless show of force. And let’s not forget the generals who year after year delivered rosy predictions of ultimate victory. Stack up all the lies spewed by the generals over the past two decades and they would rise higher than the Statue of Liberty.

Spare me the lamentations and hand-wringing. Let’s just speak the truth: the War on Terror was misguided, about as successful as the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty.

There’s another war underway in America, the GOP’s War on Democracy. Why the Democrats haven’t made passage of the For The People Act their top legislative priority is baffling. Can’t they hear the clock ticking and read the writing on the wall? The GOP is in the process of rigging the apportionment of congressional districts, which, if they succeed, will lock into place in key states the same paradox we see in Wisconsin, where Democrats garner more votes in statewide elections but Republicans wind up controlling more seats in the legislature. The GOP playbook is obvious to everyone except key Democrats. John Nichols of the Nation has done some admirable reporting on how the GOP is determined to ratfuck the 2020 census. The first step is to gerrymander districts so that GOP candidates choose their voters rather than the voters choosing their representatives. Add a rash of voter suppression methods to dissuade or disqualify as many likely Democratic voters as possible, and then situate authority over the tabulation and certification of votes in the hands of Republicans. That’s how the two-headed coin is fabricated. That’s how the minority asserts control over the majority. That’s how democracy is strangled into submission. Only a federal statute like the For The People Act can level this playing field.

The Dems spent considerable energy and effort on the infrastructure bill. They need to spend as much or more energy on protecting the right to vote. Given the choice between infrastructure and federal protection and enhancement of the fundamental right to vote, I will take the latter every time. Without some version of the For The People Act, we run the risk of becoming a one-party nation, at the mercy of a seriously cruel, corrupt and deluded minority. One difference between the war in Afghanistan and the GOP war against Democracy is that the latter is winnable — if the Democrats act as ruthlessly as Republicans do when the GOP holds the majority.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash