A Spring/Summer/Fall Counter-Offensive

I couldn’t believe it. Late last week, in big headlines across the editorial page in the Bloomfield Life, were these
words: “Saturday’s rally must call on Bush to resign.”

The Bloomfield Life is one of two mainstream weekly newspapers in my hometown. Neither the town nor the paper are known for their progressivism. And so it was a big deal for the editors of the paper to say: “It is hoped that this rally [on Saturday in Bloomfield] and many others to follow will not only call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S.forces, but also the immediate resignation of George W. Bush and his entire administration.”

Then on Sunday I was pleased to see Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury cartoon compare Clinton’s “lies about hooking up with an intern” to Bush’s “initiat(ing) a bloody, costly, unending war on false premises and approve(ing) covert policies of illegal detentions, kangaroo courts, extraordinary renditions, torture, and warrantless wiretappings of thousands of Americans.” The punch line, of course: “Which one should be impeached?”

These developments followed many others:

-a massive, sprawling, grassroots Impeach Bush and Cheney campaign that has been developing for years; there are literally 3,350,000 entries under “Impeach Bush” on Google;

-Senator Russ Feingold’s introduction last week of a motion to censure Bush for his admitted, illegal warrantless wiretapping, since co-sponsored by Tom Harkin and Barbara Boxer;

-Major articles calling for impeachment by Garrison Keillor at salon.com and Lewis Lapham in the March Harper’s Magazine;

-The co-sponsorship by, so far, 32 Congresspeople of John Conyer’s H.R. 635 to create a special panel to investigate possible impeachable crimes.

All of this, and more, is happening even though there is no chance that, under the current Republican-dominated Congress, impeachment proceedings will be initiated.

But it sure looks like this “Bush Must Go!” sentiment is a major motivator of huge numbers of people as we move toward elections for a new Congress in seven and a half months. The anger toward the Bushites is deep, wide and growing, and it may be that this sentiment will result in a very different next Congress as of November 8th.

Many of the powers-that-be in Congress and the media are doing their best to de-fang this authentic grassroots movement, among them: Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the N.Y. Times, the Wall Street Journal and influential conservatives Paul Weyrich and Rush Limbaugh. The Democratic leadership and corporate liberals are afraid that they’ll be successfully attacked by the Republicans as “soft on national security” or “not supportive of the President.” The hard rightists are attempting to use these calls for Bush’s ouster as motivation for their hard-right base, as if some of that base was not itself increasingly disillusioned and open to the message we progressives need to be bringing to them.

Both, of course, are playing politics with fundamental issues of right and wrong,  underlining for the umpteenth time the need for a strong and broadly-based, ’80s Rainbow-like, *independent* political movement/coalition/party that operates on the basis of principles and adherence to a popular, progressive program.

Hopefully, this Bush Must Go! movement will help to advance toward that critically-needed strategic objective.

The massive April 29th March for Peace, Justice and Democracy (www.april29.org) can be a “next stop” for this movement. Although “Bush Must Go!” is not one of the demands, there is no question but that the vast majority of the individual members of the groups who are organizing it are 100% behind that objective. The march down Broadway on this day should have thousands of appropriate handmade or mass-produced signs and banners.

Then through the spring, summer and fall, as candidates campaign, they should be asked everywhere they go what their position is on this issue, as well as other key issues. They should feel the anger and determination of our growing people’s movement. The best of those candidates will welcome and embrace us. Those who don’t should be actively opposed.

We should also take a cue from the Bloomfield Life. They referred not just to Saturday’s rally, one of many, many hundreds around the country and world, when it came to the message of ending the war and Bush resigning. They said: “this rally and many others to follow” should advance that agenda.

“Many others to follow.” Many demonstrative actions. Many expressions of our outrage, our love for this country and the best of its traditions, our willingness to put ourselves out for peace, justice, equality, democracy and the earth.

We are entering, we are in an historic moment. There are major openings to advance the pro-justice movement. The actions of the past weekend must be only the opening salvo of our spring/summer/fall counter-offensive.

The late Anne Braden had these very relevant words to guide us in an article, “Finding the Other America,” published in the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s “Fellowship” magazine just a couple of months before she died on March 8:

“Our nation and the planet are teetering on the brink of destruction. Some people think there is nothing that can be done because those who want to turn time backward are so firmly in control of the government.

“But we must stop acting as if history started two years ago. Things have not always been as they are now. In the South, for instance, our greatest change happened when we lived under a literal police state. . .

“Today there are huge new possibilities of real communication because Hurricane Katrina opened the eyes of masses of people to the reality of racism and poverty in this country. Our job is to talk with them. And we must do it NOW.”