Most of us are under no illusion about politicians-from either party. We eye them cynically even as we hope that they will do the right things. We know they manipulate the facts, yet we still chance to believe in the things they promise. We want to believe even when experience tells us we shouldn’t. After all, politicians just aren’t like the rest of us regular folks.

Democracy was supposed to change all that. Government by the people and so on. Maybe once-not anymore. The average citizen-politician died out when the major parties came to be, way back in the 19th century. National politics became a new elite class, with the rich funding their lapdogs and the lapdogs delivering to the rich, all so the lapdogs could feel powerful and the rich could keep getting richer. This is the rule, even though the exception of an average Joe breaking in isn’t unusual. Once inside though, Joe gets a new collar, and a new lapdog is born.

That’s not to say that populist revolts haven’t turned the reins of power over from one party to another. They have. Often. That’s the part of democracy that hasn’t really changed. Just because the politicians decided to warp the concept didn’t mean the people gave up their stake in the game. When one party goes too far, the public gives them a nudge out of first chair for a while. And when that happens, the people expect to be heard and for changes to be made.

In November 2006, American voters had another of their revolts, although this one was somewhat timid in scope. In turning the Congress over to the Democrats after a 12 year Republican leadership cycle, a majority of Americans said that the War in Iraq was their main concern. In clear voices, they told the Democrats that they could steer the ship, so long as they steered it out of Iraq. Democrats campaigned strongly on doing just that and were rewarded with an opportunity to prove themselves.

P.T. Barnum (or whomever really said it) is proved right again. In spades.

Six months into their new terms, Congressional Democrats have apparently thrown in the towel on Iraq. After talking tough about “no more blank checks for the president on Iraq” and saying that any more troop funding would have to include specific targets for ending the war, the Democrats in the Senate have caved in to a spoiled man-child who thinks negotiations consist of him stomping his feet and plugging his ears until everyone gets so fed up they say “Fine! Have it your way!” and leave the room.

First they sent a war funding bill that mandated troop withdrawal dates. The Crybaby in Chief vetoed it and the veto held. The Democrats should have simply stopped there and told the American people the truth-that the president would rather leave troops without funding than agree to take steps to end the war. Instead they once again got caught up in politics, playing themselves as defenders of the troops while backing away from anything that would demand for the war to end. What happened to the Democrats who said they’d end the war on the electin trail? Oh yeah…they got elected.

So now the Democrats have tossed out any restrictions on the president and offered him the funding he wants anyway. After only six months, they’ve waved the white flag. What a bunch of cowards.

And what is it they are afraid of? A president with an approval rating lower than liver and onions? An administration so wracked with scandal that people are tripping over themselves to plead the 5th? A public so tired of politicians and their bullshit that they’re actually giving up on the system? Or are they afraid of being unpopular, losing a few financiers, or maybe even getting called names on a blog somewhere? Or are they just afraid of losing their precious closeness to the ring of power?

In giving in to Bush on Iraq, Democrats have proven where their interests lie. With themselves. They are more afraid of having to defend against right-wing namecalling than do what is right, what they promised.

And all this in only six months. Shameful. So now they’re complicit too. By falling away so early in the game, the ruling Democrats are now accomplices in Bush’s futile war, willing partners you might say.

And if that isn’t enough to make you abandon the parties completely, I guess democracy really isn’t such a vibrant form of government after all.

(cross posted at Bring It On! )