turday 09 January 2010
by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
I've been writing about unbelievably bad news for more than a decade now, so when the New Year came around this time, I made up my mind to try and come up with something to write about that was optimistic, positive, more upbeat, or something. It's all been so grim for so long now, with recent events providing no exception - a less-than-half-a-loaf health care "reform" process, underwear bombers and a new nascent war in Yemen, the Afghan escalation, more suicide attacks in Iraq, bad housing stats, bankers running banking "reform" and a bunch of Congressional Democrats whose imminent retirement could put Congress back in the hands of the people who lined up behind George W. Bush like ducks on a pond, which matters less thanks to the stark level of spinelessness evinced by those aforementioned Democrats and their ilk - and the first chore I gave myself after the holidays was to turn that frown upside down.
Press play to listen to author William Rivers Pitt read his column, "Go":
The term "blood from a stone" leaps nimbly to mind. I tried, for the better part of a week, to come up with something, some angle, to argue that all is not as bleak as it so readily seems. No soap. A lot of the air has gone out of the hope and change balloon, and as for the Left in general, well, let's just say disarray and despair are the most optimistic of outlooks lately. A lot of people seem to be stuck in the mud these days; progressive voters are furious with President Obama, Democratic voters are furious with progressive voters for being furious with President Obama, and everyone else is kind of standing around waiting for someone to get off the mark and start leading.
But then I remembered something.
I remembered how a halfwit Texan and his Supreme Court allies jobbed the electorate and snatched the presidency away from the rightful winner of the 2000 election, and two years later, parlayed their own failure to defend the homeland from terrorism into a push toward war in Iraq.
By comparison, the war in Vietnam had been churning along for many, many years before its opponents were able to organize public protests of any size or import. George W. Bush's Iraq debacle was still five months away from becoming a reality in October of 2002, but that didn't stop the Left from organizing one of the largest and most important antiwar protests in American history. Washington, DC, San Francisco, and cities all across the nation saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets on October 26 to stop a war that hadn't even started yet. I saw it. I was there.
In February of 2003, one month before the start of the Iraq war, the single largest protest in the history of humanity took place. Tens of millions of people in dozens of countries across the world spoke with one voice to say "No!" to Mr. Bush and his plans. The war happened anyway, because nothing short of God Herself denouncing Bush from the Capitol Dome was going to stop the damned thing, but what the Left accomplished before the war even started beggars likeness. I saw it. I was there.
The Left has a reputation, partially deserved, for being a motley collection of scatterbrained, cause-of-the-week, ego junkies who never really get anything done. But I saw what the Left was able to do when confronted with the criminal ambitions of the Bush administration, and it didn't stop after the war got going. Groups sprung up in every corner of the country and kept the heat on until they made a difference. Whatever one may think about the Democratic Party today, there is no doubt the fortunes of that party were turned in 2006 and 2008 because of the tireless efforts of millions of people to push popular opinion and understanding away from the yawning precipice of national neoconservatism.
So, here's what I think: do it again.
If you're disappointed in Mr. Obama, go back to your anti-Bush roots and put together some concerted activism. Organize a protest, or a letter-writing campaign or find a Congressional candidate you like and volunteer to help them. Raise money, raise issues and start pushing back against what you believe to be wrong. If you support Mr. Obama and the Democrats, get back on your '08 horse and ride to the rescue, because for sure they need all the help you can provide. Get back into the game, and stop being paralyzed and demoralized because politicians aren't doing the right thing.
The Left has done some truly amazing things in the last ten years, things that took great effort, concentration, passion and will. The need for those qualities did not evaporate with the election of the "good guys." Indeed, those qualities are needed more than ever before.
I wanted to write about some good news for the New Year. That good news? You faced harder challenges than this before, and can do it again. As Congressman Dennis Kucinich said many times, you are the one you've been waiting for. He was right. I saw it. I was there. So were you.