Augment the Objections

In Salon today, Gary Kamiya writes that

A real, broad-based antiwar movement would immediately put an end to the war — and put the Bush presidency out of its misery.

But there is no significant antiwar movement. And there isn’t going to be one unless Bush completely loses it and decides to attack Iran. (Insane as this idea is, Bush might see it as the only way to simultaneously destroy what he regards as a Nazi-like threat and save his shattered presidency.) This isn’t Vietnam, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest. This is the new, post-draft America, where a subclass of poorly paid professional warriors does the bidding of a power elite. With some notable exceptions, Cindy Sheehan being the most famous, the warriors and their families, those who pay the price, do not protest. And the rest of the country, not facing death or the death of immediate family members, doesn’t care enough to.

I agree with the first sentence in the quote, but Kamiya loses me when he declares he wants an antiwar movement just like the good ol’ days of Vietnam, when “hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest.”

The Vietnam era antiwar movement was wonderfully effective — at re-electing Richard Nixon in 1972. But at stopping the war, not so much.

Every time I write that I get slammed by people who say I’m wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Eric Alterman

The first serious historical research I ever did was when I was researching my honors thesis as an undergraduate. I wanted to study the origins of neoconservatism, the Six Day War, and Vietnam—this was back in 1981—and my adviser, Walter LaFeber—insisted that I learn a little context first by examining the attitudes of the entire country to the war and the antiwar movement. I poured over the polling data and found to my surprise, that in many ways, the antiwar movement was counterproductive. Many Americans didn’t like the war but they really hated the counterculture. If supporting Nixon was a way to get back at the hippies and protesters and rioters, they were willing to do it, even if it meant extending a war they thought to be already lost.

I’m sure people who were completely immersed in the movement and had little substantive contact with outsiders saw things differently. But if, like me, you did spend time with people outside the movement, the impact of protests on public opinion was a painful thing to watch. To grab attention the protests became increasingly outrageous and flamboyant, and the more outrageous and flamboyant they became, the more the “straights” turned to Richard Nixon to protect them from the “dirty hippies.”

To a large extent, Nixon successfully made his ’72 campaign a referendum on the antiwar movement, not the war. As I saw it, the protesters handed Nixon a red herring issue that helped him avoid having to answer for bombing Cambodia.

Yes, Americans turned against the Vietnam war, and the war ended eventually. But who can say it was the antiwar protests that turned them? The bigger factor, I think, was watching the carnage and insanity on television every evening. There were real journalists in them days, children, and they told it like it was.

I’m wildly ambivalent about public protests. In the past four years I’ve participated in a few of the big protests and marches in New York and Washington. Some of these were positive and uplifting, and some made me cringe. None received the media coverage they deserved, and none had any measurable impact on Iraq War policy.

That said, I admit that if we could muster large numbers of Americans to march in the streets in an orderly manner this might have a real impact. Public protesting, done well, really does make a difference. Unfortunately, when it’s done badly it makes another kind of difference.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day. Whenever I write these cautionary notes about public protests, someone brings up the big civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King in the 1960s. These protests had a spectacular effect on public opinion and helped bring about much positive change. But those marches were disciplined. As I wrote here, the marchers wore suits and dresses (I learned recently that MLK directed the marchers to dress this way; it didn’t just happen). They marched in a solemn and orderly manner. They waved many American flags. Their chants and signs didn’t contain language you couldn’t repeat to your grandmother.

The anti-Iraq War marches I’ve attended often were more like street carnivals than Martin Luther King’s civil rights marches. The glitter and goofiness are fun, but exactly why should marching against war be fun? Is war some kind of joke?

Some people think protesting is about “expressing themselves,” which seems to mean showing off and/or acting out whatever adolescent angst they haven’t yet resolved. But if you look at the really successful public protest movements — those led by Gandhi and MLK come to mind — you don’t see a collection of people “expressing themselves.” You see people complying with exacting discipline for the sake of a cause. You see people who understand that the cause is more important than their egos.

When a large number of people come together for a public demonstration, they do so to create one great big body that speaks with one great big voice. When a large number of people come together to engage in individual self-expression, however, the result can be one great big mess.

And may I add that goofy costumes and giant puppets are for circus parades, not for a solemn and serious cause. (OK, I’m an old grouch. I admit it.)

One of the more famous figures of the Vietnam era antiwar movement, Tom Hayden, had some interesting observations last November in the San Francisco Chronicle. I disagree with some of Hayden’s conclusions, but he’s worth quoting nonetheless.

…according to Gallup surveys, a majority of Americans came to view Iraq as a mistake more rapidly than they came to oppose the Vietnam War more than three decades ago. So how could there be a peace majority without a peace movement?

Foreign Affairs, the journal of the foreign policy establishment, wondered about this riddle in a 2005 essay by John Mueller reporting a precipitous decline in public support for the war even though “there has not been much” of a peace movement.

In January, when congressional opinion was shifting against the war, a Washington Post analysis made eight references to “public opinion,” as if it were a magical floating balloon, without any mention of organized lobbying, petitioning, protests or marches. That was consistent with a pattern beginning before the invasion, when both the New York Times and National Public Radio reported that few people attended an October 2002 rally in Washington, only to admit a week later that 100,000 had been in the streets.

Hayden thinks the marches and protests are having an impact after all. But then he says,

It is true there have been periodic lapses in street protests since 2003, but these can be explained by the surge of activists into anti-war presidential campaigns like that of Howard Dean. Not only were thousands involved, but MoveOn.org’s voter fund raised $17 million in 2004, most of it from 160,000 contributors averaging $69 donations.

In this year’s election, MoveOn activists made 1 million calls to their elected officials, and poured thousands of dollars and volunteers into campaigns. New Hampshire elected to Congress Carol Shea-Porter, a woman previously known for pulling up her outer garment to display an anti-war slogan.

To disregard forces such as these in the definition of the anti-war movement is a sleight-of-hand, something like eliminating Eugene McCarthy’s New Hampshire campaign in March 1968 from the history of the anti-Vietnam movement.

Exactly. There is an antiwar movement. But today’s antiwar movement is a lot less reliant on public protests and street theater than the old one was. And that’s a good thing. Why would anyone think we should return to the tactics of 1971 if, as Hayden says, the current movement is more effective?

31 thoughts on “Augment the Objections

  1. That’s very interesting. I always wondered just how effective the massive demonstrations were. It earned us the “Looney Left” label, etc. I have to admit, it would be embarrassing for me to sit with “civilized folks” and watch one of these things on television and be questioned about why I agree with these “nuts.”

    Why isn’t anyone doing a large-scale PR campaign with TV ads, etc – like that one for Darfur going on now. I noticed one just before the elections that drove home the message “It’s because of Iraq.” One of those ads featured Wesley Clark. It was pretty memorable as far as ads go. If we had an organized effort just among the lefty blogs, even, to give to one particular fund (small donations – nothing too painful,) we could easily raise the money for advocacy ads to demand an end to the war. Maybe relay some of the personal pain inflicted on our people and the Iraqis. It’s not that hard if somebody organizes this responsibly. In fact, it’s probably easier – and more effective than organizing a big demonstration, really.

  2. Of course, since a draft seems unlikely, maybe we should all demand a very very hefty “War Tax” be imposed on all people who don’t have family serving in Iraq (pay as you go, you know.) Just the threat of a big new tax might get some of the people whose only sacrifice has been the $5.00 yellow ribbon magnet on the back of their SUV to get off their asses and demand an end to the war.

  3. …goofy costumes and giant puppets are for circus parades, not for a solemn and serious cause.

    Amen to that. You’re not an old grouch; you’re sensible. I was too young for the extreme silliness of the 1960s, but it was still there in the 1980s. I remember lots of giant Uncle Sam puppets and folks with rubber Reagan masks. Not very inspiring.

  4. “Why would anyone think we should return to the tactics of 1971 if, as Hayden says, the current movement is more effective?”

    Because it’s become increasingly clear that the American people have lost control of their own government. We’ve written the letters, posted on blogs, contributed to campaigns, worked on campaigns, and voted. As a result, public opinion is 70-30 against the war in Iraq and the compositon of Congress has changed dramatically. But still, rather than putting an end to this one, our government is on the road to starting yet another war with Iran.

    Many of us are searching for something else that can be done as an alternative to giving up. Marching in the street is at least something else we can do.

  5. Very well said. I don’t go to demonstrations because they’re ineffectual at best, and counter-productive at worst; they’re a particular tactic that worked once (when done right, by people who understood that the cause was more important than their egos), but has outlived its usefulness, becoming simply therapeutic, a way for people to feel better rather than a way to make a difference.

    We do have much more effective tactics today, and I think bloggers–to the extent that we have any influence on everyday discussion–are part of that.

  6. Because it’s become increasingly clear that the American people have lost control of their own government.

    That’s fine, but if you think public demonstrations will help you get the government back you’re dreamin’.

    We didn’t lose government overnight, and we’re not going to get it back overnight. But one reason liberals and progressives lost out has to do with the way the New Left, Ralph Nader, and other activists of the 1970s and 1980s walked away from populism and party politics, in favor of lobbying and filing lawsuits to change policy. The latter approach had some success, but at the cost of severing the ties between progressive activists and the Democratic Party — Dems no longer had a progressive coalition like the old New Deal coalition to help them win elections. So while we can rightly complain that they sell us out, if you know the whole sad history you can’t entirely blame them.

    Our most reasonable plan of action is to take back the Democratic party so that we have a voice in government. The midterm elections were just a start. It may take a few years to replace the wussy Dems with Dems more to our liking. But that’s the only way we’re going to make progress.

  7. You’re right, of course, to point out that the anti-Vietnam-War Movement is not what put an end to that horror show. And you could be right to say that the effect of the protests was to put Nixon back in office in 1972 after the dramatic events of 1968 propelled him into the White House to begin with.

    But Nixon actually did reduce American ground involvement in the Vietnam debacle after 1969, and he did end the draft after 1972, and nearly all American ground forces were withdrawn from Vietnam by 1973. While Nixon was elected in 1968 in part due to the assassinations of that year which, shall we say, thinned the Democratic anti-War field somewhat, and he ran as the Man With the Plan to End the War, whereas the eventual Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey was flailing about, tied to the ruined Johnsonian policy, and by 1972, so many events had transpired, including the Kent State killings, the testimony of John Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, repeated Moritorium marches, and so on, it was clear that for all intents and purposes, direct American involvement on the ground in Vietnam was over (never mind the continuing slaughter from the air throughout Indochina). Consequently, the Democrats’ putting up an anti-War candidate in 1972 was gilding the lily somewhat. Well. A lot. George McGovern represented the beliefs of a lot of Americans. But most of what he advocated vis a vis the War in Vietnam was — apparently — coming to pass regardless, given Nixon’s policies and actions and the determination of a Democratic Congress to ensure that the War end… somehow.

    And of course the DFH (dirtyfuckinghippie) protestors were never a majority and were never ‘liked’ much by the Powers that Be anyway.

    The protests from the mid sixties to the early seventies were effective in bringing attention to the problems of the Vietnam War and to the draft, and to the lies the people were constantly innundated with, and they brought shame to the authorities (especially after Kent State), much like the Civil Rights protests brought attention and shame to the racial issues and problems in the South. The protests also helped turn the major media of the time against the War.

    Today’s protest movement is different. As it should be. Nevertheless, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans have turned out in the streets to protest this war, and all over the country, physical protests continue day after day, in many different ways, from lone sign carriers on busy street corners, to freeway bloggers, to occasional mass protests of varying sizes. Contact is made through the internet that wasn’t possible decades ago, something MoveOn couldn’t exist without, so in some ways there are probably far more people involved in anti-war action now than was the case in the ’60’s and ’70’s.

    What we’ve lacked, surprisingly, is a Democrat or a Republican in high office who would vow (like Nixon vowed) to bring the war to an end — in answer to the people’s call that it be ended, and we have lacked mainstream media focus. In fact, the media does everything it can to deny the existence of an American anti-war movement, when — at least from my point of view — it’s actually huge and growing. They have also denied any prominent anti-War figure more than a token voice in the vaunted Marketplace of Ideas. At least back in the day, anti-war voices were not only raised, they were heard. Not so much any more.

    But where are those giant puppets, where are the constant marches, the shutting down of universities and the spectacle of the freaks and the hippies? Without them, there can’t be an anti-War movement, according to the punditariat, and WITH them, the Movement can’t be taken seriously. Ergo, “no anti-War movement.” Neat trick.

  8. Che — your history is pretty accurate (I wrote about the same stuff awhile back), although “the Democrats” did not want George McGovern to be the nominee in 1972, and the party gave him only lukewarm support. I think the Winter Soldier campaign did have an impact. On the other hand, I remember a whole lot of old folks who thought the guardsmen did the right thing when they fired on students at Kent State. About the only thing you can say for sure is that the antiwar movement had different effects on different people, and it was far from an unmitigated success.

  9. “A real, broad-based antiwar movement would immediately put an end to the war — and put the Bush presidency out of its misery.

    But there is no significant antiwar movement”

    Boy, do I ever disagree with both of these statements. Second statement first…….with 70% of the population polled now against the Iraq War, that in itself is a ‘significant antiwar movement’.
    The problem comes in play with the erroneous assumption in the first statement ‘that such a movement would immediately put an end to the war’. At this point in the Bush administration, we are dealing with a structural torquing of balance of power issues with the executive branch having already instituted dictatorial powers for itself. Bush and buddies could care less about how many Americans are part of an anti-war movement, and in the face of opposition, are even more determined to escalate their chosen warpath with imperial haste and a middle finger gesture to any who try to stop them.

    We must attend to the recent torquing of governmental structure and restore the checks and balances which do represent the will of we, the people. This may have to involve impeachment proceedings against administration self-proclaimed ‘deciders’.
    Meanwhile, the MSM is complicit in not stressing enough the truth of the people’s will about this war. Every single MSM dictation of the latest Bush administration quote should be put into the context of the real anti-war sentiment: for example, “Today, President Bush announced that he will send 21,000 more troops to Baghdad, ignoring the will of 70% of Americans who disagree with him about escalating the war.”

  10. Donna-

    News stories like this one are what we need to see more of. This was a “hard news” story from McClatchy News Service a couple days ago. Not an “Opinion” piece. It’s rare that we get “just the facts” presented to us without a bunch of “balancing” opinion anymore, isn’t it? Maybe Democracy has a new ally in McClatchy. Who knows.

  11. Excellent post, spot-on about Vietnam and the impact of the protests. There’s another difference between then and today: Vietnam was a terrible, tragic ideological blunder by America’s postwar ruling elite. Iraq, I suspect, will turn out to be more like a criminal conspiracy. We still don’t know why we really went there, and won’t until we find out what happened in Cheney’s energy task force meetings. But I suspect it will look something like this, which is why I get that deja vu all over again feeling:

    That was one startling headline in the Washington Post this morninG: Saudi says no need to panic over oil price drop. What peak oil? Did we really invade Iraq to keep its oil in the ground? Was Greg Palast right? And what now? With Iraq in total chaos and much of its oil off the market, there still seems to be way too much oil slopping around in world oil markets. The trouble with OPEC is, everyone cheats. To get supply and demand back in a nice proper balance that keeps oil prices high, it would be nice if you could find another country whose entire oil supply you could just remove from the market. Hey, what about finding a pretext to attack Iran?

  12. [email protected]: “That’s fine, but if you think public demonstrations will help you get the government back you’re dreamin’.”

    So, “I have a dream.” Isn’t that a good thing?

    Actually, I agree with everything you said in comment 6 and I share your “wildly ambivalent” feelings about public protest. However, I don’t think taking back the Democratic Party and engaging in public protest are mutually exclusive activities. And, I think at this point in time, unlike 1972, public protests are at least no longer harmful to the anti-war cause.

    I may be wrong, but my sense is that we’ve reached a point where Republican attempts to demonize protestors as lazy, dirty hippies (who should shut up, cut their hair and get a job) will fall flat. I think the country’s anti-war sentiment has solidified to the point where protestors are no longer seen as “extremists.” Most of the Assistant Managers and Associate Vice-Presidents living in Anytown, USA, I think, would view anti-war protestors not as lazy, dirty hippies, but as people in the mainstream just like them.

    Moreover, I think public protests are extremely valuable in helping to energize young political activists and affirm their choice to become politically active, as opposed to devoting all their time to the pursuit of becoming the next Bill Gates/Warren Buffet/Donald Trump/etc.

  13. Hmm. Having been part of both, I think the enormous difference from Vietnam is that contemporary methods of communication have greatly facilitated the development of a hydra-headed antiwar movement that mostly manifests itself in localized, almost neighbor-to-neighbor, encouragement for folks to acknowledge that they have left the pro-war bandwagon.

    The most important parts are the military families and the counter-recruitment folks. At one level up the ladder of abstraction are the 100s of local antiwar vigils that have persisted through years of first of meeting public jingoism and now acting as familiar, respected affirmations that another way is possible.

    The big national level has been tough for antiwar folks to pull together, so we’ve had a mixed bag of big protests. A lot of the carnival atmosphere comes from the protests serving the function of letting people who have previousl worked in relative isolation experience for a day the joy of being not alone — of being one of many, many like-minded people.

    Up until now, outfits with existing institutional infrastructure have not thrown down to lead the big protests — January 27 is shaping up to be the first national mobilization that brings together some larger players: Move-On, Win Without War, religious groups — all pulling together with UFPJ which has been trying to assemble such a coalition for 4 years. When the big institutions throw down, the looney left gets pushed to the perimeter and that’s good, though the media will probably still ocus only on the one person in a chicken suit.

  14. Who is the target audience for the anti-war movement?

    President Bush has already demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to ignore/deflect any and all criticism, and the American people are already on-board if you believe the polls.

  15. RandyH, thanks for the link. The McClatchy News Service article was spot-on. There is hope if reporters begin to follow this lead in helping sift through the rhetoric for the facts.

    BTW, I have long smelled a whiff of something that makes me suspiciously speculate: did our torturous-logic conniving Bush team, within secret plotting and rovian strategy, have some complicity in the bombing of that Golden Mosque? That event certainly did a job of taking the heat off the Bushies for blatant to-date failure, offered a new story line, and kept the Iraq government from coalescing and growing strong enough to ask that we reduce our forces, i.e., a pulling back that would be much too soon in terms of locking up those oil contracts. If you remember, there was one brief time and a tiny news item about the new government getting poised to ask us to leave. So, was that time period a ‘divide and conquer’ moment?

  16. Who is the target audience for the anti-war movement?

    The public. Protests are nearly always about swaying public opinion, not changing the minds of the powers that be.

  17. ‘Twould be wrong to deny the effect of the 60’s protest. The earth shifted forever. Some, however, are still in denial.

  18. In the blog and comments a HUGE event has been overloked. This event shook the White House and they have been scrambling to recover, with little success. The EVENT was the election last year. The Republicans lost the House AND Senate. (The Democrats did not win; the Republicans shot themselves in the foot so many times the shoe looked like swiss cheese.) The lead issue in all polls leading up to the election was Iraq. The election WAS a referendum on the war.

    Bush could not give a rat’s rear end if 250,000 people gathered in DC to make speeches. He lost his rubber-stamp Congress and he will undergo scrutuny. If he proclaims amendments to legislation with signing statements, he will wind up being challenged. If he ignores his obligation to inform Congress, he invites impeachment. He will not be able to cherry-pick a few Republican senators and claim he informed Congress.

    The war won’t be over next month – or late this year. But we did in one day what took years and years to end Vietnam. Relatively speaking, a handful of independent voters in a couple of states helped this country turn the corner.

    I won’t turn out for protests probably. But yesterday I wrote my Republican Senator, who is a staunch supporter of the presidents plan, and reminded him, he will be known by the company he keeps. Being a loyal supporter of Bush will haunt him in every election he tries to run. I don’t think Senator Martinez will read it, but it will be tabulated and reported as a statistic. All professional politicians are bean-counters. Have you tossed your ‘bean’ in to be tabulated?

  19. When a large number of people come together to engage in individual self-expression, however, the result can be one great big mess.

    Again, amen. No focus. Protest rallies end up being more like liberal trade shows.

    Friends I describe as all-natural, vegetarian chain smokers have attended protest rallies since college. It’s a kind of hobby. Sometimes they would invite me along to protest (your favorite liberal cause here), promising it would be fun.

    Sure. I can think of lots of things more fun than protesting foreign wars, nuclear weapons and abuses of power. Or listening to impassioned speeches with rhetoric so threadbare that you can close your eyes and imagine yourself at any street rally since 1966.

    As you said, the usual cast of characters show up: squads of pall bearers with mock coffins, grim reapers, pets in drag and clowns for peace. If they like playing dress-up, there’s the Society for Creative Anachronism. For fun, rent a Jackie Chan film. I’ve watched them get arrested earning their merit badges in civil disobedience long enough to figure out that what’s really arrested is their political development.

    For most of them protesting is more about catharsis and promoting a sense of solidarity with the tribe than about effective political action. They go home feeling better about the issues. But wouldn’t you rather go home having done something with half a chance of resolving them?

    Face it, America is not swayed by mass die-ins dramatizing the loss of life caused by war. Or by coeds dressed as “corporate whores” to satirize conglomerates prostituting after Defense Department dollars. Or by indoctrinating children through activist puppet dramas with all the subtlety of temperance plays.

    How do I know? Because they staged these sideshows for decades and the red states kept getting redder. They are time-tested wastes of energy and talent; public curiosities, local color on the news at six. I’d rather go bowling.

    Actually, I’d rather be on the front lines of a political campaign.

    It’s past time for the “sixties nostalgic” to stop playing dress-up and start playing catch-up.

  20. Excellent and much needed article. I think people sometimes live in a haze of dreams for times past. They romanitize things.
    But, there is also today people who still do not see things in reality. They want to imitate the protesters of the 60s and be radical in handling the war. They refuse to see this is not effective. They whine that this politican or that one are not strident enough. Or that the congress must do something rash and big and conterproductive.
    They think they are being true to the 60s image.
    What they don’t see is the civil rights movement succeeded in ways of reality. they marched, as you point out, in an orderly fashion. they also worked with the politicans to make change. and they understood things do not happen overnight. It takes time and adult behavior. A respect for reality.

  21. “It may take a few years to replace the wussy Dems with Dems more to our liking. But that’s the only way we’re going to make progress.”

    Unfortunately, I have become an old cynic and I believe that a few years may be too late to undo the damage.

  22. To those of you of disdane and think protests are folly and a waste of time, I grant you your POV. I always say ‘Different strokes for different folks.’ Those of us who opine “all politics are local” see it differently.

    I belong to DAWN (DuPage Against War Now) that was formed shortly after the Decider started making rumblings of WMDs. Not only have we had public protests, we write letters to the editors, we have drives for the soldiers, we talk to our neighbors, we support candidates who are anti-war. We ‘walk the talk.’

    And the more we are vocal, the more we are heard. It is so important that this dangerous farce be kept in the forefront which only a physical presence can be measured. How cannot it not be important for many like-minded people to be together and realize they are not alone and to those who are ill-informed about the war see a solidarity and possibly change their POV?

    Stand up and be counted is what I say.

  23. You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world …

    great post. still, i’m mad enough to throw bricks, but i don’t . i reckon i’ve resolved all my adolescent issues.

    i think intelligently written blogs,(some not so intelligent) and the freedom of expression available on the internet has been a great help.

    but the damage has been done . and 2 more years . bush cheney really don’t care what anyone thinks.

    oh, and “we” should have a draft . that’d wake america up real quick . and it’s immoral to keep sending the same kids over there, and over there, and over there…

  24. I believe we need to incorporate civics lessons throughout school curriculums. We need to teach children early on that voting is a duty and a responsiblity, and why it’s so important. Just as important, is critical thinking integrated into all courses.

    What does this have to do with protesting? I believe if we had critical thinking and civics embedded into our education, instead of what we have now, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today, and wouldn’t need to be protesting.

    Would a nation of critical thinkers even consider electing an incompetant like Bush? Propaganda doesn’t work on people who take the time to think about what others are actually saying.

    On the other hand, would Bush still be incompetant if we had critical thinking in schools? Either way, I believe we would be better off as a nation if it were implemented.

  25. First of all, brilliant for quoting Tom Hayden. Earlier, and in regards to the Scooter Libby trial, I mentioned to a cyberpal that the last time I was so avid about a trial, it was the Chicago 7 in the ring with Julius Hoffman. 😀

    Secondly, I would give my front seat in hell for the media we had in 1972. Thank God and all the angels in heaven for the blogs, because I would otherwise spend my days screaming inside my head like I screamed at my dad at the dinner table in 1969. We need to fix the media.

    Yes there is an anti-war movement. I didn’t do protests in the 60s and 70s. I was getting my education and screaming at my dad. I did, however, do January 19, 2003 and September 2005, and for the latter, I drove from Florida and also did the lobbying circuit. I’ve become a frequent phoner to my elected reps. There is a left-wing echo chamber, and I’m a committed part of it.

    Of course, the military-congressional-industrial complex is bigger than ever, and we would have to be cancer to stay even with them. That’s why I have prioritized goals. As much as I want to end the war(s), I want to be prepared for the next time something oozes up from the pit, to seek out and support those things that will make our democracy better, that will put corporate power in its proper place. There are a lot more of us than them.

    Fair/Clean elections.
    Instant runoff voting.

    Great candidates and inspiring leaders are wonderful, but it’s our Constitution that’s been there for us. It’s the heart and soul of our democracy, and we need to be looking for ways to strengthen and reinforce it. We own the government. We direct the government. We told Bush what we want and he’s pissing all over us.

    If he bombs Iran, I will demand NOT JUST his impeachment, but that he be tried for war crimes and executed with all the mercy he showed Karla Faye Tucker.

  26. I second Jeany’s statement about ‘thank God and all the angels in heaven for the blogs’. The internet did not exist during the Vietnam War, so the cyber way of protest and creating joint action was simply not available. But, this is not an either/or situation of blogging vs street protests, so I agree with B. Enlightened that either or both are tools with which to do a citizen’s work. And there is so much work to be done or rather so much to undo of damage inflicted by BushCo.

    As I watch what is done internationally by American so-called leaders [dissing allies, ignoring international organizations and treaties, pre-emptively invading, throwing human and legal rights to the devil, using suffering and conflict as a cover for no-bid obscene profiteering, doing psych-ops propaganda and generating fear, installing puppets, et al], then I just translate that behavior as not only possible but highly probable on the domestic scene.

    I would surmise that this administration also domestically engages in dissing, ignoring, pre-empting [Diebold?], spying on, profiting from [Katrina?], creating fear, co-opting and making puppets of ‘opposition’ leaders [Lieberman?] and whatever else can be done [replacing U.S. Attorneys with pals] to use the reins of power for nefarious anti-democracy plots.

    Whatever tools will do the job…… American citizens need to stay at the work of restoration for as long as it takes to restore our country. Six years ago, this misadventure started with the Supreme Court short-changing our democratic process by stopping the vote count in Florida. What has flowed from that wrong has been a mountain heap of compounding wrongs.

    Akadad has the idea, civic lessons in schools. Perhaps those lessons should include reviewing what has occurred with unAmerican leadership in the past six years.

  27. Maha #23. Sorry I got OT, I think it was the “rather go bowling” that set me off. Your last paragraph says it all succinctly.

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