Last week, we saw top-tier Senate candidate Bob Casey in Pennsylvania start raising questions about the Iraq War in his campaign, despite some in Washington, D.C. Democratic circles trying to pretend the issue doesn't exist. It is clear, though, that more candidates are doing the same thing.
Look at Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) - one of the top Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in the race against Republican Lincoln Chafee (R). He has gone further than Casey, and launched a petition on his campaign website, demanding that President Bush bring the troops home. In some ways, it is sad that a move like Brown's is so rare among top Democrats. As former Sen. Gary Hart (D) notes in his Washington Post op-ed today, there is a deafening silence from the Washington Democratic establishment on the Iraq War. Nonetheless, Brown should be applauded for trying to lead the way for other Senate candidates on this issue.
The hope is, of course, that more Democrats follow the lead of candidates like Brown, and already-elected Senators like Wisconsin's Russ Feingold (D). Really, it shouldn't be hard - polls show Americans oppose the war, want an exit strategy, and believe the conflict is damaging U.S. national security. And despite the White House attacking the majority of Americans who oppose the war as "not want[ing] America to win the overall 'war on terror'" polls show the public isn't buying that - the public believes the Iraq War is actually hurting the effort to win the War on Terror.
The political point for Democrats on all of this is simple: like Brown, Feingold, and other courageous voices in Congress, they need to take the stand now - and not wait until it looks like they are taking a stand just for political convenience. Ultimately, that is the Democrats major weakness that transcends any given issue: the perception that they stand for nothing. The sooner top Democrats realize that and act accordingly, the sooner the Democratic Party will be a majority party.