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(DV) Zeese: Bush Puts Congress in Crossfire Between Voters and Iraq Occupation







Bush Puts Congress in Crossfire Between Voters and Iraq Occupation: Will Congress Stand Up to Bush or Alienate Voters?
by Kevin Zeese
March 27, 2006

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President George W. Bush said in a press conference on March 21, 2006 that U.S. troops will still be in Iraq after his presidency ends in 2009. Asked when all U.S. forces would finally pull out of Iraq, Bush told a White House news conference: “That will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.”

The silence from Congress in reaction to this pledge was deafening.  
While the president was pledging occupation until 2009, polls are showing that opposition to the war is growing. The latest CBS poll on Iraq showed that 70% think the occupation is not worth the costs. Even 42%, of Republican voters feel that way as do 90% of Democrats and 72% of Independent voters. This is consistent with a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll which found that only 37% of Americans believe the invasion of Iraq was worth it, 54% believe we should withdraw within a year, and only 22% believe the U.S. is sure to win (down from 79% in 2003). 
Another poll conducted by ICR Research for VotersForPeace may make incumbents who have supported the war even more nervous. This poll found that a near majority of voters are ready to pledge to vote against candidates who continue to support the war. If the Iraq occupation continues to go poorly there could be a strong reaction at the polls in November. 
The view of voters will be strengthened as they realize that even U.S. troops are saying no to the commander in chief. These polls come on the heels of poll by Le Moyne College and Zogby of veterans showing 72 percent favor withdrawal from Iraq within a year. Thus, voters who want to support the troops may realize the best way to do so is to bring them home. 

The disconnect between the views of American voters about the occupation and with the president and the leaders of both parties is becoming more evident. Bush minimized the concerns of Congress describing them as election year jitters, saying: “There is a certain unease when you go into an election year.” But, unease may be greatly understating the risk to candidates. 
Democrats need to realize that not only does three-quarters of their base strongly oppose the war -- but their base is ready to pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates! The Iraq War could be the issue that robs Democrats of their chance to regain majority status in either House. The Democratic base may stay home or vote independent because of the leadership’s failure to call for an end to the war. Party leaders like Senators Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and Representatives Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer who have held the party back from opposing the war are potentially sending the Democrats over a political cliff by alienating their base which includes the large, emerging peace vote. 
But, it is not all bad news for Democrats. If the Democrats clearly oppose the war by supporting Rep. Murtha's call for redeployment, the VotersForPeace poll shows this will lead them to majority party status. By taking a stand against the war Democrats will attract Independent and Republican voters who are fed up with the failed quagmire. 
A near majority of Republican registered voters are also getting tired of the war and a significant percentage, 25.7% would consider signing the VotersForePeace pledge -- and 5.5% strongly agree with the pledge. If the Republicans lose these voters to the Democrats they will find themselves in an electoral loss of historic proportions. Support for the war is made more risky for the Republicans because the fastest growing group of voters, Independents, strongly oppose the war and support the pledge. Thus, anti-Iraq war voters could cost Republicans their majority party status. 
Republican incumbents need to side with the people and put some distance between themselves and the president's ongoing occupation of Iraq. They need some clear votes showing that they do not agree with the president's “stay the course” strategy.  
The Iraq occupation may be the best news to the growing independent political movement. Independent voters are already the fastest growing group of voters. And, the failure of either Party to strongly oppose the war provides an opportunity for alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans as anti-war voters look for an anti-war alternative. This new anti-war voting bloc is emerging at a time of unprecedented unpopularity for the two parties -- polls showing both parties with higher negative ratings then positive ratings for the first time in polling history.  
The ongoing Iraq occupation -- with President Bush's promise to stay the course and mostly silence from the Congress -- is increasing the likelihood of an angry electorate that says it is time for change and votes out the incumbents.

Kevin Zeese is director of Democracy Rising and a candidate for the US Senate in Maryland.

Other Recent Articles by Kevin Zeese

* Time to Replace Wage-Slaves with Employee Owners
* Nearly Three-Quarters of US Troops in Iraq Say End the Occupation within a Year
* Should Maryland Carry Out the Premeditated Killing of Vernon Evans?
Interview with former Neocon Scott McConnell
* General William Odom Supports the US Empire but Opposes the Iraq War
* Active-Duty Military Support for Bush and the Iraq War Dropping
* Edwards Recants War Vote, 1st Step to Iraq Exit: Remove US Corporate Interests
* American Military, Foreign Service and Intelligence Leadership Say No to the Iraq War
* Successfully Throwing Sand in the Eyes of the Umpire
* Challenge the Corrupt Two-Party System Don't Participate in It