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I know everyone hates plot-spoilers, but the story line is overplayed and the ending is worse than lousy, so I’ll say it now: the will of the people will not be expressed in the 2006 election.
This election won’t give expression to the loathing seventy-plus percent feel for the President. This election won’t set the stage for impeachment of a liar who has sanctioned torture, spied on potentially millions, and left Black people to die on rooftops. This election won’t usher in an end to a gruesome war that the whole world is against nor will it prevent the next one. It won’t stem the corporate polluters fueling global warming or curb the locking up, deporting, and literal hunting of immigrants. And it certainly won’t slow the momentum to force women and gays to submit to the standards and punishments of the Old Testament Bible.
But don’t take my word for it–listen to the top Democrats themselves.
While sucking up to Pat Robertson’s vicious religious lunacy on the 700 Club, Howard Dean insisted, “I don’t think that the first thing on our agenda is gonna be to get in a big partisan fight about whether the President should be impeached or not.” Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi’s spokesperson put it more bluntly, “Impeachment is off the table; she is not interested in pursuing it.” Even John Conyers has conceded in advance, “Rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose a comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses.”
As for the war, the police-state spying, and the widespread networks of torture, Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd put it well when he described the Democrats’ strategy not to run “to the left of President Bush on national security but to the right.” Of course, Hillary Clinton leads the pack with her refusal to rule out nuking Iran: “We cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran.”
And then there is Bob Casey, the new Democratic star, running for senator from Pennsylvania. Will the fundamental rights of women really be any better protected if Dark Ages Santorum is replaced with the anti-abortion, pro-Alito Casey?
With choices like this it should be obvious to anyone possessing the courage to be honest that the will of the people will not be expressed in the 2006 elections. And if people allow their opposition, finances, time and energies to be funneled into this, one way or another on November 3 we’ll all be gritting our teeth listening to one candidate or another declare a popular “mandate” on all of this.
No matter what you may tell yourself you are doing, you will be pouring your time into politicians who are OPENLY pro-war, pro-repression and intent on kowtowing to theocrats.
* * *
George W. Bush is still extremely dangerous. Bush still believes he is on a “mission from God.'” Ask yourself: in the face of growing opposition has he backed off this program?
Look down in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans where thousands of homes have still not been searched for bodies, the levees have still not been repaired, and miles stretch out in an uninhabitable war-zone. Recall the “shoot to kill” orders against “looters,” how troops forced Black people back into the flooded zones, and confront the fact that many thousands will never again have a home.
Take a look at the front page of the papers just last Thursday: the crumpled, faceless bodies of civilian men, women, and children methodically massacred in their homes in Haditha, Iraq. Note how this was covered up, repeatedly, at many levels of the military. Recall Abu-Ghraib. Recall Bagram. And ask yourself the cost to humanity every single day this war continues.
Look at the NSA spying. Remember how Bush lied more than a dozen times, claiming he wouldn’t spy on civilians without warrants. Remember the talk of impeachment that dwindled to censure, that stalled anyhow–even as greater depths of this spying continues to be revealed. And in the end Bush has ended up illegally institutionalizing even more sweeping surveillance powers, promoting to head the CIA a man who orchestrated this lawless police-state measure.
Look at the young girls around you and ask yourself if the world they grow up in will teach them that dreaming is too painful, that their bodies are shameful, and that pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are appropriate punishment for sex. Think of the darkness encroaching not just for women, but for all of humanity, as abortion is already banned in South Dakota, and even birth control is assailed, and as analysts project that Roe v. Wade could be overturned as early as March of next year.
Finally, take a sober look at the strength and momentum of the American Christian Ayatollahs who preach biblical literalism and an unthinking, self-righteous obedience to even the most violent and archaic passages of the New and Old Testaments. Think what it means that they have infiltrated the highest levels of the military, are preaching Holy War to stadiums filled with young people, and are now howling that even Bush hasn’t moved forcefully and quickly enough against gay people, women, and science. And take a look as a top Democrat makes a pilgrimage to the 700 Club to kiss the ring of Pat Robertson.
No, Bush has not backed off and the key parts of his agenda have continued to steam forward. All this must be stopped. It has to be ended. It cannot be tolerated, compromised with, or ignored. And unless it is stopped–unless this whole direction is REPUDIATED–everything that Bush has done and will do will become part of the new norms. And again, it would be extremely foolish to think that this man is still not extremely dangerous and willing to take desperate action to push his agenda forward.
Nearly a year ago the World Can’t Wait Call said that “The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.” These words were prescient and still too true.
But we must be clear: it is only us — not the Democrats or the fall elections — that can do it or that even wants to. The reason the Democrats won’t challenge Bush is not mainly because they think that will hurt their chances of getting elected. The problem is much deeper than that. The Democrats support most of Bush’s program. While they have differences with Bush, even sharp ones at times on some things, they agree with Bush on the fundamental question of upholding and expanding the U.S. empire, and they agree with Bush on the current unjust war for empire that is being waged under the guise of a “war on terrorism.”
As the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime says, “There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into leaders’ who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.” And this too has proven prescient and comes into sharper relief every day.
* * *
In the last few months I have traveled extensively across this country, speaking to people about the need to rely on ourselves and millions more like us to ourselves drive out this regime. Everywhere, I have met people who are thinking deeply about the future, agonizing over how we could actually drive Bush out, and wrestling over what it would look like to leave the well-worn, familiar, and dead-end political ruts.
After speaking to a gathering in a coffee house in Texas I received a letter from a student whose insight and honesty stands out. He said, “I felt more and more that I was living in a time of great potential change. Seeing the immigration protests, and hearing about youth victories in France, inspired me in particular. I do believe that, despite the general defeated atmosphere this country is mired in, and despite all the impoverished and despairing developments in the world, that there is also such raw potential at this time for something absolutely unprecedented to occur. And I want to be a part of it.”
If the millions who are truly sickened by the direction of this regime could organize and start setting the dynamic, if people who feel this way begin acting in their masses, then a different future becomes possible.
* * *
World Can’t Wait has issued a call for massive action on October 5. The vision is this: “taking off work, taking off school, shutting down campuses and coming together in mass gatherings [letting] the country and world know that millions of us reject this illegitimate regime that is as criminal as it is dangerous to humanity.” This is a powerful vision. If realized, it could change the whole terms of how people in this country and the world see what is acceptable and what is possible, and make a huge step toward actually driving out this increasingly hated regime and the whole direction they stand for.
My Texan friend also pointed out that “the taking on of not just a president and his administration, but of their entire program, is a huge shift. You’re asking people to do something that is truly terrifying, and something the majority of them have probably never imagined themselves capable of doing.”
Indeed. But wouldn’t you rather be part of stepping into the unknown and fomenting this, than swallow your deepest aspirations and values and find yourselves betrayed again, hurtling on a horrific trajectory, as time runs out?
The beginnings of this movement have been built in the World Can’t Wait movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime. Go to worldcantwait.org and check out the incredible range of people who have signed the WCW Call. Take in the faces of the youth who helped launch this movement when they walked out of hundreds of high schools last November 2. Check out the NY Times and Air America ads that reached millions. Then start setting the stage for an outpouring of such size and defiance on October 5 that it sets new terms for the whole country and brings forward wild and seemingly unimaginable new things by aiming really high.
The mood is pregnant. Yes, there really could be a massive outpouring on October 5 and it really could change things. But that’s going to take many hundreds, soon thousands, decisively rupturing with passivity, trepidation, and “wait-and-see” attitudes. Making October 5 something more than ritualized, symbolic protest will take a lot of work, a lot of learning, a lot of risks and a lot of fun.
Right now, there are young people, looking for a life that matters; immigrants, who have so bravely taken to the streets; women, and men, shocked to life by Alito and then South Dakota; Black people and others for whom the word “Katrina” is still a raw wound; GI’s who are sickened by the butchery they are being ordered to conduct. They are hanging out in gay bars and libraries, in movie theaters and on street corners, in huge cities and tiny towns, day labor corners, and yes, even mega-churches and military bases–waiting for you to find them.
Grab some friends and a bunch of Calls. Make a “Drive Out the Bush Regime” banner, hop in a van, and hit the road. Drive up to South Dakota with a bunch of bloody hospital gowns and coat hangers and hold your ground–and come back with substance–when you draw a crowd arguing against the biggest critic you encounter. Read up on evolution, call the media, and stage a “Descendents of Apes Against the Bush Regime” picket outside your nearest creationist museum. Pull a “Ray McGovern” and steal the headlines from the criminals of the Bush regime everywhere they try to show their faces. Organize a block party, host an art show, place an ad, read the Call at open-mics and on buses. Go door-to-door and really talk with people. Trust me, you’ll get invited in and then have the very good challenge of enabling others to take this up.
If you have a public voice, be like Gore Vidal or Harold Pinter or so many others and use it to expose the Bush regime and point people towards the World Can’t Wait movement as a vehicle they need to make their will heard and felt.
Everywhere, collect email addresses and phone numbers, raise money, spread the Call and the word about October 5 as the day for tens of thousands to muster everything they’ve got to set a new momentum in society towards driving out the criminals in power.
We do have a choice. Sit back in our seats and watch as a real-life horror flushes this mood and potential down another election betrayal that stamps the intolerable “winning” program with the mantle of popular mandate. Or, jump in the fray and fight to coalesce a movement that bursts forth with the potential strength and audacity to drive out this regime.
What could be more worthwhile, more joyful, or more urgent? It’s not too late to determine the end of this movie, but it is too late to deny that it will take acting in unprecedented and unscripted ways.
Step out of character. Spread the resistance. Make October 5 a day that goes down in history and changes the future.
SUNSARA TAYLOR writes for Revolution Newspaper and sits on the Advisory Board of The World Can’t Wait Drive Out the Bush Regime. Click here to watch Taylor debate Ron Luce on the O’Reilly Factor. She can be reached at: email@example.com