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Joan Blades


John McCain: About My Alex

Posted: 06/17/08 07:09 PM ET

In 2000 my son was 10 years old. As a founder of, I was working to change leadership in the House and Senate and looking forward to seeing Al Gore elected president. It didn't occur to me at that time that the next president might lead our country into a pre-emptive war which he would have no concept of how to end.

Today my son is 18, and I realize that should our stressed military need to turn to the draft, my son could be among those called. So as I now watch the mother in the new MoveOn "Alex Ad" tell John McCain he can't have her one year-old son, I'm reminded of just how naive I was eight years ago. I really had no idea that I was working to keep my son out of war at the time.

John McCain has taken pride in saying we are in Iraq for however long it takes. He has had over a year to help Americans understand what his plan is in Iraq, and still, all we know is that we should stay for as long as it takes. This approach simply does not work in Iraq, a country where we are not welcome and all too often our soldiers can't even tell who the enemy is.

This occupation of Iraq is something that history really should give us some insights on. Sectarian conflicts go on for centuries. Those of us that think we can fix Iraq by hanging tough are naive or in denial. The Mom in the Alex Ad has more foresight than I did eight years ago by saying by saying "No." to John McCain.

The Iraq occupation is a conflict John McCain has no realistic idea of how to end. He is offering us more of the same. We can't afford more of the same. I'm also a founder of, We are working to pass policies that support families and ultimately our future. We are motivated by our children. They cause us to take a long view.

Unfortunately so long as we are bogged down in Iraq, the chance of us investing the way we need to in our future is small. We will continue to be a country that neglects its children and families. Few people realized that out of over 170 countries in the world, only 4 have no form of paid leave for new mothers -- Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia and The United States of America; our child mortality is 37th worldwide; we have 40,000 kindergarteners home alone after school and 14 million children unsupervised; our health care system is a study in dysfunction; our schools are underfunded and employers are deeply biased against mothers in hiring and wages.

It is time for us to responsibly exit Iraq. We are not making ourselves or Iraq safe. Then we will be able to focus on the very vitally important issues that must be addressed in our own back yard.

The image of one-year old Alex, with his mom saying "No," is about having the right priorities. In addition to being an ongoing tragedy, Iraq is distracting us from global warming, family issues, our economy, healthcare, and other important issues at home. We need to get back on track.