A full-page ad taken out in the January 25th San Francisco Bay Guardian announces…yet another rally—two upcoming, in fact!—designed to bring down Bush. For January 31st, the organizers ask citizens to “Bring the Noise and Drown Out Bush’s Lies.” For February 4th, they will apparently take their “demand” to the White House, chanting “Bush Lied. Bush Spied. Bush Step Down.”

Do any of my readers have a clue as to what kind of energy and resources it takes to organize such events? Too much, I can tell you, unless the payoff is slated to be huge. Or the seeds sown unprecedented. Neither of which applies to the above.

As an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, I know full well the months of non-stop work needed to pull off a successful mass demonstration. That’s why the message needs to be on target and why the event should lead to increased on-the-ground organizing.

What they are guaranteed to accomplish, however, is Another Monumental Distraction from the challenge we all face. The typical person attending such rallies does not have the wherewithal to take part AND to contribute to taking apart Our Enemy. The hard work of meeting face to face with one another to hammer out some new approach for the emergencies that face us, then, is never given breathing room.

Precisely, unless you take all that energy and turn it into real organizing, then it’s just a feel-good day preaching to the choir, accomplishing little.

Bush will NOT step down as a result of their efforts. And even if I’m wrong, he’ll be replaced by someone else who serves the interests of those who are the real (ongoing) enemies of the protesters. Obviously.

That’s the real problem with the anti-Bush rallies. Bush is not the problem. He is a symptom. The message is wrong. Worse, by implication (or maybe design), it channels all that energy into the Democratic Party in the bizarre belief that, say, a President Hillary, will somehow be a vast improvement. As if Beltway Democrats aren’t completely complicit in all of this. Further, the change won’t come by people imploring their elected representatives to change, it’ll come from people in the streets forcing the change.

The upcoming March 18-20 Global Days of Action, spearheaded by ANSWER here in the States, sees through the “It’s all Bush’s fault” trap.

Our massive mobilizations will not simply target the Bush administration. Bush and the neo-conservatives share the same fundamental class interests with all sectors of the leadership in the Republican and Democratic Parties. It is naïve and an exercise in misleadership to focus all of the attention of the rising progressive movement against the Bush administration. Such an orientation implies that the removal of Bush and his replacement by a Democrat will fundamentally alter the imperialist war drive and the assault against working class communities and young people at home. The Republicans and the Democrats alike are the twin parties of the war machine. They share the same corporate and banking contributors, their real constituents are big oil, the big banks and the military-industrial complex.

We have learned the lessons of the civil rights, women’s, LGBT, labor, and anti-war movements: Real change comes not as a gift from the politicians but from the sustained mass mobilization of the people. In order to realize the demand “Money for jobs, housing, education, and healthcare, Not for war and occupation” we must create a national grassroots movement.

The problem is systemic. Again, Bush is a symptom, not the problem. Pretending otherwise simply channels real and genuine energy and protest into the Democratic Party where it will be co-opted and defused.

[tags] anti-Bush, Democrats [/tags]

  • I have to disagree. Not that Bush isn’t a symptom (actually, in technical terms, he’s a vector, not a symptom), but about this (and other) demos. No, these demonstrations aren’t going to force Bush out, any more than any one antiwar demonstration is going to stop the war. But the idea of forcing out the ruler of a country, as demonstrated in practice in Bolivia and many other places, is a potentially very powerful force in helping people to feel and understand the power they have, regardless of whether in the short term it means replacing one bad leader with another.

    And, unlike some on the left (e.g., many of the forces in UfPJ), I see no evidence that this activity exists to channel energy and protest into the Democratic Party. From the World Can’t Wait call: “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.”

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