A CALL TO ACTION
By Jack Random
The election is over. The ballots have been cast and the people have rendered a decision. Coming on the heels of the millennial election, it remains to be seen if that decision will be honored or if it will once again be thrown into the court of political operatives and the absurdly anti-democratic Electoral College.
In any event, win, lose or draw, the election is over and the first chapter of the latest incarnation of the antiwar movement has reached its final punctuation. Let there be no ambiguity: the cause is neither won nor lost. The occupation of Iraq has not ended. Afghanistan remains a dysfunctional nation. We have not reached the summer of peace, love and understanding; we have only survived the winter of our discontent.
Those who would stand down now never belonged in the army of resisters that marched in the streets throughout much of the world. We began this journey knowing that it would be long and trying. We appealed to the courage that is born of conviction. We renew that appeal today. We are fighting a war, not the manner of its conduct. Those who believe that a Democrat in the White House guarantees a real change in foreign policy have not studied their history. It was a Democrat that invented the Gulf of Tonkin incident to transform a disturbing conflict in Southeast Asia into a devastating war, costing the lives of millions, including 58,000 American soldiers. It was a Democrat that established the policy of regime change in Iraq and enforced the most punitive illegal sanctions the world has ever known.
It was never about John Kerry; it was always about Bush.
The time has now arrived for all individuals of conscience to come home. The time has come to claim the alliances that were born in the antiwar movement. Independents, Greens, Libertarians and the ideologues of the left have found common cause. The time has come for disenchanted party loyalists to stand with those who have stood against the tide of war from day one. The time has come to lift the veil of compromise, to break the vow of silence, to clear the filth from our faces and the stench from our souls.
Never again will we be compelled to choose between a butcher and a bagman. Never again will we throw our support to a party on the take, collecting contributions from the same corporate entities that demand global dominance, that strip the world of its resources, that bankrupt all nations that fall for their flimflam game, and that demand blood for oil, truth, justice and democracy be damned!
Never again will we be lulled into passivity by the empty promise of a Democratic administration. The time to acknowledge the sorry truth has arrived. The prosperity of the nineties was in some measure built on the bubble of fraudulent accounting. The legacy of Bill Clinton, welfare reform and free trade, more resembles the wish list of Newt Gingrich than that of Franklin Roosevelt. The time for reckoning has come. The Clinton administration reigned over the deadliest and most abused sanctions in history and, when challenged to rationalize the death of a half million Iraqi children, replied: We think it is worth the price. The liberation of Kosovo (wag the dog) was a disaster founded on lies and deception. The Clinton foreign policy was no more and no less than a warm up for the Bush Doctrine and its ensuing invasions. Moreover, in a perfect symbol of promise betrayed, Clinton kowtowed to the FBI, leaving Leonard Peltier to rot in a federal penitentiary.
My vote for president of the United States in the year 2004 did not go to Democrat John Kerry. My vote was a vote of conscience for a political prisoner, the victim of a federal government terrorist operation in Pine Ridge, North Dakota, for a martyr of the sacred ground of Wounded Knee. Until Leonard Peltier is free, we are all prisoners of conscience. Until Peltier is allowed to walk through the iron gates of oppression, American justice is a hollow promise and American democracy a shattered dream.
If I seem bitter, it is because I am. Among the many crimes of George W. Bush, with his mandate from God, his unabashed patronage of the elite, his salivation over the prospect of unending war, his exploitation of the blood of the innocent dead, his development of tactical nuclear weapons, his resurrection of Star Wars, was the compromise of the soul he compelled.
When an individual buries the truth too long, when he betrays that part of himself that touches the core of his being, it is not easily explained away. It is not easily forgotten nor should it be. It must give rise to a healthy rage. It must be unleashed in a storm of retribution.
We have dealt with the devil but we have not sacrificed our souls and we will never deal again.
The time for the truth has come.
Against our better judgment, against all that we believe and hold dear, we have given our all to make John Kerry president. If he should win the election, he will hold no marker greater than that of the antiwar movement. We showed him the way, stiffened his spine, and all but guided him to the White House door, but it was never about Kerry. It was always about Bush. John Kerry was not the candidate of the antiwar movement. Having voted for the abdication of war powers and the Patriot Act, he was in fact the antithesis of an antiwar candidate. Howard Dean might have championed the cause but he dropped the banner at shock and awe, long before the infamous scream. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton never approached the viability of Ralph Nader and Nader never approached the threshold of faith. The stakes were far too high for yet another symbolic march of protest so we swallowed our pride, compromised our convictions, and took a temporary vow of pragmatism for peace. There were many, many occasions when the candidate pushed us to the edge of open rebellion (or worse yet, passive resolve) but we held strong.
If I sound ungracious, let me be clear: I would like nothing more than to eat my own words in this regard. If John Kerry becomes president and demonstrates the courage to withdraw from Iraq and redirect our foreign policy within a reasonable timeframe, he will have earned the support we have given him. If he does not, he will have earned our righteous scorn.
The one thing we can be sure of is that the next president will not answer to the people without the voice of a million protesters in the streets of America. We owe him that much and, more importantly, we owe it to ourselves.
The time to prepare for the 2008 election is now. We desperately need new candidates at all levels of government. We need organizations in all states. We need to unify disparate camps under the banner of Independence. We cannot afford to wait.
The time has come to renew the pledge of the independence movement for only when we have broken free of two parties controlled by the same corporate interests will we be given a true choice of leadership. It is a scandal surpassing the election fraud of 2000 that the party of opposition could not give the people a clear referendum on the war in Iraq in the year 2004.
The most important demonstration against the war and, more importantly, against the war machine, is not in our past but in our immediate future. The call has gone out to every man, woman and child of conscience to stand up and be counted on Inauguration Day. No matter who is in the Oval Office at the end of the Inaugural Parade, January 20, 2005 must go down as the day we shook the earth to her core.