The Right Coast

July 02, 2005
July 2
By Mike Rappaport

Today is July 2, an important date in American history. On this date in 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved American Independence; on July 4, the Declaration of Independence was signed. Supporters of John Adams, who had done so much to generate support for independence, argued that July 2 should be Independence Day, but supporters of Thomas Jefferson, who had written the Declaration, maintained that the 4th was the correct day and they prevailed.

July 2 was also the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. My family recently visited Gettysberg on our vacation. The second day involved the significant battles on Little Round Top and Culps Hill.

Gettysburg is often described as the turning point in the war, and it was in a sense. Lee's string of victories was stopped and over the next two years his army was largely ground down by U.S. Grant. Yet, the Confederates could have won the war if they had avoided defeats in 1864 and the Democrats had won the presidential election. Although the North had made great sacrifices and were in a position to win the war, the Democrats strangely did not appear willing to continue the war to its conclusion. Luckily, Sherman took Atlanta and the 1864 election was not close.

Interestingly, many of the Democrats of today have a similar position to those of 1864: They are unwilling to see the War in Iraq to its ultimate conclusion. The United States has made some significant sacrifices in Iraq and has produced some valuable results, but ultimately the benefits require, as with the North in 1864, that the task be pursued until completion.

Why are (some of) the Democrats unwilling to complete the task? Why do they want to withdraw from the fight? During the Civil War, a significant part of the reason was that they did not value emancipation and appeared to place less value on Union than did the Republicans. Today, it is not clear what the reason is. But one does get the impression that the Democrats either don't value the emancipation of Iraqis or they can't value anything produced by George Bush. Neither motivation does them credit, just as the motivations of the Northern Democrats did them no credit either.