Now the Real Battle Begins

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The election defeats of Republicans on Tuesday, with Democrats taking
control of the House and Senate for the first time since 1994, have been
widely described as a referendum on the unpopular war in Iraq. Certainly,
most Americans told pollsters before the election that they
expected a Democratic victory to result in withdrawal from Iraq (see, for
example, “With Iraq Driving Election, Voters Want New Approach,” Adam Nagourney &
Megan Thee, New York Times, November 2, 2006) and most Americans told pollsters
before the election that the U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, 61% in
a Newsweek poll (see “Most Americans Want Timetable for Iraq War,” Angus Reid Global
Monitor : Polls & Research, November 2, 2006.)
However, now that the election is over and the Democrats have won, while everyone
concedes that the unpopularity of the war was a main driver of the Democrats’ victory, the
battle lines are being drawn over whether the election victory means that the U.S. should
withdraw from Iraq. George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential
candidate, is presenting a plan for removing U.S. troops from Iraq by June. Meanwhile,
Iraq’s president says that he has been reassured by Democratic leaders that they have “no
plans for a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces,” AP reports.
So the battle is over whether the elections mean “withdrawal” or a yet to be determined
“change of course.”
This was predicted, and that’s what makes the actual referenda that passed on Tuesday
calling for withdrawal so important. There were referenda in Wisconsin, Massachusetts,
and Illinois, including Champaign-Urbana and Springfield. All of the 58 local ballot initiatives
on withdrawal were successful.
In order to halt the continuing loss of human life and resources necessary to meet human
needs at home, shall the U.S.commence a humane, orderly, rapid and comprehensive withdrawal
from Iraq?
Yes 9888 (58%) No 7104 (42%)
Shall the voters of Cunningham Township call upon the U.S. government to commence an
orderly and rapid withdrawal of all U.S. Military from Iraq while providing financial support
for Iraq security?
Yes 5729 (65%) No 3029 (35%)
Champaign and Urbana:
Yes 15618 (61%) No 10134 (39%)
Shall our representative to the U.S. House of Representatives be asked to support the impeachment
of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney for misleading our nation to war with Iraq?
Yes 7877 (46%) No 9140 (54%)
Shall the voters of Cunningham Township ask our representative to the U.S. House of Representatives
to support articles of impeachment to remove George W. Bush and Richard
Cheney from office?
Yes 5171 (59%) No 3614 (41%)
Champaign and Urbana:
Yes 13049(50.6%) No 12755 (49.4%)
Shall the Governor of Illinois, to the extent of his authority, resist any further federal mobilization
of Illinois National Guard Units for service in Iraq?
Yes 4812 (60%) No 3154 (40%)
In many Republican precincts in Champaign—as judged by the vote in the Secretary of
State’s race—the majority voted in favor of withdrawal from Iraq. In 32 of Champaign’s
38 precincts and in 22 of Urbana’s 23 precincts a majority voted in favor of withdrawal.
As we were tallying the votes at the County building, Republican Rep. Tim Johnson
gave a press conference on his victory in the Congressional election. He acknowledged
that the US position in Iraq was a “quagmire” and that Americans would not tolerate the
status quo for another two years.
In the spring the Urbana City Council passed a resolution in favor of withdrawal. At
the time, peace activists claimed that the council was reflecting majority sentiment in
Urbana. This completes the argument.

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