Speaking on the death in 1962 of one of the great people of the 20th century and one of the great figures of the democratic Left– namely Eleanor Roosevelt— Adlai Stevenson paid tribute by saying, “She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness.”
Lately I’ve been wondering why– when it comes to Iraq– there is so much darkness-cursing on the Left, and so little candle-lighting. Why do antiwar leftists seem more intent on finding reasons for despair about events than in identifying and nurturing reasons for hope?
These musings are prompted by a report in The Washington Post about Tobin Bradley, a 29-year-old American involved in the difficult, unglamorous, trial-and-error work of helping organize local elections in southern Iraq. As far as I can tell, he isn’t doing this for the greater glory of Halliburton, the oil interests or the Republican party, but because he sees it as an opportunity to help make Iraq a better, freer, fairer place for Iraqis.
“We have an opportunity to start something good here. Whatever you think of the war, I have the opportunity to build a stable democracy here in Iraq,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you were for it or against it. The fact of the matter is we’re here.”
It seems to me that a serious international Left would be flooding Iraq with people like Tobin Bradley, ready to lend whatever expertise they have to the cause of building liberal democracy in the heart of the Arab world. Unimaginable? Sadly, yes. But isn’t that an indication of how far off-track the Left has gone in recent decades?
I have no idea what Bradley’s politics are. But even if he’s a conservative Republican, he’s doing more to advance what should be the cause of the Left than any number of leftists I can think of.