Note: This is something I wrote in 2004 and I reproduce intact without any changes. It is in line with my thinking on Progressive Blogosphere 2.0 and defining a 21st Century Liberalism. I never finished it so it’s not my best work. But you get the idea.
The past three years has seen the emergence of a new, outspoken, and energized political movement: The Anti-Bush movement. This movement transcends party affiliation. Who would have thought that Greens, Democrats and Republicans would be united in any cause?
What’s more, this political movement has long crossed the boundaries of the United States and has made its way across the world. In a poll conducted before the first bombs were dropped in Iraq, the majority of citizens in the world, including Europe, listed President George W. Bush as a bigger threat to world peace than even Saddam Hussein. The arrival of Bush at Buckingham Palace last year was greeted by tens of thousands of protesters, over one hundred thousand protesters by some counts.
What is it that has galvanized such strong resentment for a man who comes across as a nice guy to a large percentage of U.S. citizens? In part, it is the Administration’s brutish, unilateral policy of preemptive war. It is the Administration’s removal of environmental protections and protocols. More domestically, it is tax cuts skewed toward the more affluent, “unfunded mandates” for education, and the seemingly endless amounts of money being used to fund the campaign – the “Rove Machine” as some call it.
Despite all these problems with the current policies, the rallying cry seems to be the one man blamed for all these ills, the President. Perhaps the hatred for this one man is well founded, perhaps not. That the policies coming out of his Administration are perceived by more and more people as dangerous, reckless and “beholden to special interests” is unmistakable. But is rallying behind the political demise of one man and his Administration the best approach to what many on the left see as the deterioration of the United States and its credibility?
What will happen if Bush does lose the election in November and is unseated from office in January? Will the Greens, Democrats, Republicans and members of the other parties stay united or go on to their separate ways? The current political climate that has engaged new political activists on all levels – myself becoming politically involved for the first time – must look beyond Bush and to the future. A movement aimed at the destruction of one person is destined to fail in the long term.
For a movement to be successful and lead to real change it needs to be for something, not merely against one person. The American Revolution fought against British oppression. But it also fought for independence. Abolitionists fought for the freedom of slaves. Women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement struggled to give women and people of color rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution – rights they were previously denied.
There are many things in common between the left and moderate Republicans that can be pursued. For one, there is economic justice. Many people are now seeing the danger of reckless tax-cuts aimed at a tiny fraction of Americans. Improving public education is a cause that almost everyone would like to see pursued and are willing to pay with taxes. People are also willing to fight for environmental preservation.
Despite the strong resentment toward Bush, and the overwhelming national support for “progressive” ideals, there appears to be no long-term, forward reaching goals that progressive activists are uniting behind. The November elections will take place soon. What happens after that? One can only hope that those on the left will rally for their principles and take this country forward.