A memo to the Progressive Caucus on Today's Iraq vote

A Memo to the Progressive Caucus On the Eve of the Iraq Vote

TO: The Congressional Progressive Caucus
FROM: David Sirota
RE: Iraq Supplemental Vote

"As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be," wrote Saul Alinsky, one of the 20th Century's most successful progressive leaders. "That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be - it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system."

These words are as important this week as they were 35 years ago when they were first published in the book Rules for Radicals. With the House expected to vote this week on binding legislation to end the war in 2008, a group of Congress's most distinguished progressive heroes is undecided about whether to vote yes or no. The indecision is entirely understandable. Democratic leaders have attached their binding legislation to a bill providing ongoing military funding, and many progressives understandably do not want to vote for a single dollar more for anything that could be construed as fueling the war.

The question, then, is simple: Should these progressives vote yes and accept the congressional world as it is right now -- a world filled with a unified Republican caucus that will do anything to continue the war indefinitely and a group of egotistical, pro-war Blue Dog Democrats who will do anything to lavish attention on themselves as supposedly "tough"? Or, should they view the congressional world as they wish it would be and vote no, sending the bill down to defeat?
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