Anti-Bush, Then What?

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.

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12 Responses to Anti-Bush, Then What?

  1. Frenchdoc says:

    You nailed it, man. Because of this absence of substance, beyond the anti-Bush sentiment, there was nothing.

    This is why Obama has been able to crystallize the non-substantial movement by bring himself without substance. Instead, he used amorphous concepts of hope and change and “different kind of politics”, etc.

    Because it is inherently an anti- movement, it focused its aim at HRC. Apparently, there seems to be a need for hatred and scapegoating in this movement.

    And, of course, hostility has also been the reaction to the traditional Dems voters who insist on substance, finding solutions, fighting for the underprivileged, etc.. This has been redefined as old politics as opposed to the “new” politics which is all meta and no meat (am I smart or what? 8)

    The challenge for us, social justice liberals, or FDR liberals, will be: what do we do now both in terms of substance (if Obama succeeds in his hostile takeover of the party) and in terms of media (PB 2.0).

  2. coldH2Owi says:

    Then what will you do with those of us who are FDR liberals who with clear eyes & clear minds support & respect Sen. Obama & resist with the same organs an attempt to hijack the party for a dynasty? What are you going to do with us? I’d be interested to hear you views?

  3. Gilbert: I spent 1983 composing a manuscript, with my motivation being to try to derail the political future of George Bush. That would, of course, be the Elder not the younger.

    And I did this not because I was trying to stop one man, but exactly because I was trying to stop exactly what has since transpired. Because what I was trying to stop, and what has to be stopped for anything else to matter, is BUSHCO.

    Except for the fact that BUSHCO was able to install Junior in the Presidency, he could, in many ways, properly be considered to be an irrevelancy. BUSHCO rests now because the snake it is has swallowed far more than it ever hoped for in only 8 years, and needs to digest before going back to the hunt.

    Likely daddy will have handed over the reins before things get back up to full speed, but not to his figurehead son. There has been succession planning, but that part of BUSHCO has been screened too well for me to put those pieces together yet. However, there will be BUSHCO until BUSHCO is openly targeted and beaten and, until then, it is prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep the future you envision from being pursued.

  4. Frenchdoc says:

    ColdH2OWi, it’s your camp that is trying to take over an organization by purging another group. You’re on the side doing the purging. It’s your camp abusing another group of people. Not the other way around. The rest of us will have to decide what to do depending on the success or failure of said purge.

    Speaking for me only: if the purge succeeds and Obama is the nominee, then, I am no longer in any way connected to the Democratic party since the party decided that people like me had no place in it. If the purge fails and HRC is the nominee, I’m moving on to the GE campaign.

    You do what you want. Frankly I don’t care.

    Oh, and by the way, the very use of the word “dynasty” to characterize husband and wife, is bullshit. Doesn’t give much credence to your argument.

  5. gqmartinez says:


    My hypothesis is that to defeat Bushco, you need a less reactionary movement that puts forth a simple, explicit positive agenda. The conservative movement was largely successful because they had a very well defined philosophy. It failed miserably. Bill Clinton demonstrated the fallacy of many conservative principles (e.g., taxation and government that works) which is why I find attacks on his presidency counterproductive. He may not have developed a liberal utopia, but he devestatingly showed the fallacy of the conservative movement.

    Part of the reason that I have no excitement toward Obama is that underneath it all he is using a subtle “personal responsibility” frame that probably gives Grover Norquist thrills up his legs. The “pox on both your houses” approach deligitamizes government as a whole and that plays into the conservative movement’s mantra. I may be wrong, but that’s how I see it. I’m not given confidence in his SS dogwhistling nor his abandonment of the principle of universal healthcare. (I know you advocate single-payer only, but Obama abandoned the fundamental concept of UHC. Hillary’s approach may not satisfy you, but as a core principle it legitimizes government while Obama delegitimizes it. To obtain the ideal you need to believe in the fundamental concept in the first place.)

    I think this is an important discussion and worth hashing out. I look forward to more of your comments on this topic.

  6. gqmartinez says:

    Btw, cold epitomizes the reactionary mindset that I was talking about. No serious person considers Hillary to be a dynastic presidency, yet cold clings to that idea to oppose rather than affirm an agenda. To her/him it is about people rather than ideas. That course is bound to fail.

  7. We called it “The Revolution” in the sixties. We got environmental laws and civil rights, but then we won the big one with the withdrawal from Nam and we quit before the job was done. Because of that we have limped along needing the same top to bottom overhaul of the structure of our government, but people seem to be satsified with small victories at the level of individual programs. This leaves a massive opening for the sophisticated and powerful cabal that keeps attacking our country (and the whole planet, really) from over on the far right wing.

    In eight years or so we’ll be offered a serving of the same old shit, disguised as something wonderful, and pushed by the best marketing machine in history. That’s what we need someone to help us get ready for.

  8. Gilbert Martinez says:

    Careful, FrenchDoc. Coldwater went from merely repeating worn out talking points to outright vileness. Fear of Obama’s impending implosion has caused many, this anonymous cold character included, to go off their rockers or something. When you are scared, you hate. And when you hate, you are irrational. Wait. Isn’t that a yoda line?

  9. Frenchdoc says:

    Yeah, there is some Yoda-esque warning here: fear being a path to the dark side. My my, you can work a Star Wars reference into everything! Now THAT is truly a remarkable quality! 😛

  10. soona says:

    This dyansty seems to me like a new form of discrimination. Race,age,orgin , religous and now by marriage? not very liberal isn’t
    As for hijaking the party the obama campain defined his base as the well to do, well educated elite what party is that exacly. Beside in most of the socio-econo issues he is more conservative than Hillary. So again what democratic prty are we talking about here.

  11. atdleft says:

    Everyone (save coldH2O)-

    Wow, isn’t it amazing how we’re all concerned about the same thing… Despite the media dismissing us and our concerns as it already moves to an Obama v. McCain race (before we know if he’s even the Dem nominee!)? It was so exciting early on for me to lose myself in the “hope” and the “change”… But over time, I’ve come to see that the Obama “movement” doesn’t know what it’s really hoping for or what change it will really bring about. As you all have already said, Obama rejects much of the traditional Democratic fundamentals like universal health care, Keynesian economics, and the belief that government does have a crucial role in making society work.

    That’s what’s scaring me about Obama… That the “movement” he’s created out of the anti-Bush “movement” still doesn’t have a real purpose.

  12. Obama doesn’t scare me in the slighest. Or at least no more so than any other politician. Those who see him as something akin to the second coming will be disappointed. Those who believe that he will be far better than McCain will have much to feel grateful for after we derail the Straight Talk Express. And those who hope that he might be even a better President than the Honorable Lady from New York may yet be vindicated.

    How exciting the prospects of all of this.