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The Peace Movement and Electoral Politics


The Peace Movement and Electoral Politics

Lawrence Wittner

With the 2018 Congressional elections occurring in less than a year, the peace movement has the opportunity to enhance its leverage over U.S. public policy.

"But the total takeover of the U.S. government by the Republican Party, occasioned by the GOP sweep in the 2016 elections, has produced a disaster for the peace movement―and for anyone concerned about building a peaceful world." (Photo: Cleo Leng/flickr/cc)


It’s hard to know where to begin in pointing out the fallacies and magical thinking that informs this article. The author’s writing displays utter ignorance as to what a movement is, how it builds power, and how that power influences policy and elite decisions.

The author realizes that the “U.S. peace movement has been on the wane for about a decade” and “the movement declined during the Obama presidential years” but he has no clue (and apparently no interest!) in exploring why this is true.

He suggests that “the power to mobilize mass demonstrations” is a measure of the strength of such movements, but he then ascribes “victories” during to moderate policy decisions that did not come about as a result of mass demonstrations or even significant grassroots pressure. None of the peace groups the author mentioned had “normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba” as one of their major campaigns.

Then he goes on to engage in the typical sort of aspirational thinking and ahistorical analysis that substitutes for strategy when it comes to Democrats and peace issues:

“After all, despite significant differences with the GOP on domestic policy, aren’t Congressional Democrats just as hawkish as the Republicans on foreign and military policy? There are numerous indications that they are not.”

He gives a few examples of how some Democrats tend to vote for peace when those votes can’t possibly prevail; Democrats have little to lose and everything to gain in pretending to be critical of militarism conducted by Republican presidents in Republican-majority legislatures. Wittner brings up the AUMF senate vote on an Amendment (championed by a Republican!), which no peace-loving Democrat apparently thought of pushing while Obama was in office. He has nothing to say about the new wars the U.S. became involved in during the previous administration.


Wittner has apparently forgotten the dramatic expansion of murder-by-drone programs over the past nine years, as well as the recent House and Senate votes for the ballooning military budget made by the Congress this year by supposedly dovish Democrats.

By all means, support the People’s Budget! There absolutely needs to be more discussion in the public sphere of how militarism and our massive military budgets strangle any serious progressive domestic agendas.

But based on the last nine (or the last twenty-five) years of Congressional voting, there is zero evidence provided here that “flipping the House” will advance the U.S. peace movement or any of its strategic goals.


Amen to that particular heresy. Be prepared for full-frontal assault by the Dbot hordes.


Well put. If the author were serious about advancing peace, he should have argued against voting for any Republican or Democrat while showing ample evidence that both parties have promoted world wide conflict for generations.


“War is the health of the State” - Randolph Bourne

Any government, regardless of who controls it - Democrats or Republicans, Labor or Tories, SPD, FPD or AfD, Communists, or whathaveyou - is the party of war. The purpose of the State is to consolidate, control and direct violence, whether against those that live in the State, but don’t obey the State’s rules, or those outside the State who threaten it.

There is no such thing as a “state solution” to peace.