I have read her letter of resignation and listened to the much of the commentary about America not being the country that she loves . . . fine, but this is no shock, is it? I am more struck by something in her remarks that I think is illustrative about the left and of the kind of people that such thinking attracts. Cindy said that she is abandoning her protest more because of the criticism she is getting from those within her world than from those outside of it. In her words, "The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. . . . However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used."
That is a fair enough point. It is a point that many on the right have been wondering she would absorb for a long time . . . the blowback from the mainstream Dems was inevitable. But this, in itself, is not what I find so interesting about Sheehan’s statement.
After a dissertation about her views on the nature and future of representative democracy and the merits of the two party system, she offers us this: I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.
That, it seems, is the nub of the matter. Cindy does not like human nature. She actually thought that she and her friends could change it because they understand the way things ought to be better than anybody else. She is angry because she is learning that even on the left she so naively admired before she began this campaign, people are the same all around. Egos have to be massaged, money has to be made and spent, decisions have to be made, and--in the words of the Rolling Stones--you can’t always get what you want. Even if you really, really want them and even if you know you’re smarter than everybody else in the room. So Cindy has decided that the best the left has to offer in the realm of practical politics is nothing more than a warmed-over Republican. They can’t achieve the true aims of the peace movement or the real left.
We on the right, have our share of those who make similar charges about our Republican leaders--they’re sacrificing conservative ideals and so forth . . . but even among the most angry of these responses there is usually something different in the critique. There is still (usually) a recognition, somewhere, of the human problem underneath the surface of the charge and there is usually still some determination on the part of the critic to continue on and accept his lumps. But Cindy has had enough and she, like Rosie, is packing it in for a more "normal" life. At least for now. God bless her . . . I hope she gets what she needs.