Note in 2006: This article makes predictions, some of which have not come true. I still believe the overall message and tone is useful.
A few weeks ago, it seemed we were doomed to live under Bush
forever. In a few months, we will find it hard to remember we felt that
way. Try to use this moment as an exercise in awareness --
that we are driven constantly from hope to fear by external pressure.
This is a moment we can use to remember this:
we need to stay focussed on the long-term principles and strategies.
In the Land of No Historical Memory, otherwise known as the United States of America, we find it easy to believe that the current state of affairs is permanent. Yet we know that's not true, even in our own lives.
In the real world, things can get worse, they can get better, but the one thing real life doesn't do is stay the same. We know this, but we forget it, mesmerized by the eternal present of CNN and Fox News and the daily paper.
If you stop and take a breath, it is easy to see that
the regime of G.W. Bush is a feather in the breath of history.Not only is it certain to depart someday, but there are many reasons to expect it to go sooner rather than later.
A brief history lesson:
Nixon and Johnson were both toppled from power not long after they won landslides. W didn't even get a majority in 2000, and millions believe he is illegitimately in the White House. He is more isolated globally than any US President has ever been.
More recently, Gingrich, who although he was a scoundrel was an intelligent man who crafted a real change in the balance of power, was expected to dominate our era like a colossus. He didn't even outlast his archenemy Clinton.
Unlike the path to power of Nixon, Johnson, and Gingrich, and even the people around Reagan if not RR himself, W's rise was not strategic. It was based completely on privilege and opportunity. Any remotely competent political cadre could have done what Karl Rove and Karen Hughes did,given the advantages and resources they had, especially the Enron money. Clearly, the W crew has not demonstrated the street smarts to deal with real problems. Hell, they lost to Al Gore by the numbers, and they almost lost to McCain.
We can expect that those around W will fumble any real and serious crisis. (This was written before the invasion of Iraq.) Politically, 9/11 was no crisis. On the contrary. Everything was forgiven Bush for a certain period -- like a presidential Get Out of Jail Free card. In a genuine crisis, hard choices must be made. Bush's whole career is the process of finessing or avoiding such crises. Now he has an economic crisis, a corporate law enforcement crisis, an environmental crisis, and several foreign policy crises coming his way. At least one will stick.
W's rise was critically dependent on Enron, the source of his early money. Every time a new factoid comes out about Enron, W gets closer to falling off the edge. And yet the process of unraveling Enron cannot be fully suppressed. This story will continue to build, slowly but surely. Too many people have a stake in telling it, and most of the facts are already in the public record. It only takes a few thousand people to bring out this story and to change millions of minds.
W's foreign policy is not only offensive and immoral, but grossly incompetent; America has probably never been more isolated and despised, and, perhaps more important, less indispensable.Not only do few nations really need us, but every nation is trying to figure out how to need us less, except for a few pathetic and doomed client regimes like the Saudis and our recently purchased clients in places like Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Europe is close to the point to deciding to essentially function without us, and Europe can take most of the rest of the world with them if they do. If that happens, the corporate traders that loved Bush once will stand in line to urge he be impeached.
W has no genuine domestic political base; there is no bloc of people who cares about him for himself, even in the weird cult-like way that a minority loved Reagan or Gingrich. His support is limited to groups that believe he can do something for them. As soon as he starts to lose power, that kind of support will dissolve like ice in July.
And of course W, his father, and everyone around them are grossly compromised in the matter of Osama Bin Laden, since they can neither detach themselves from the Saudis, nor admit the error of arming the most inhumane of the mujaheddin, nor extricate themselves from the petroleum economy or the embrace of Ariel Sharon. A number of likely events, such as the capture of Osama Bin Laden by non-US authorities, the collapse of the Saudi regime and exposure of its files and records, the death of Americans at the hands of Israeli or Saudi authorities, or the mass media exposure of the recent role of the CIA vis a vis the mujaheddin, could demolish W's political gains from 9/11.
Of course, the servility of the mediawill help sustain W for a while. But the media machinery that silences known dissenters so well is always blindsided by new historical phenomena. Thus, in the 1950s and early 1960s, media that wouldn't let any remotely Marxist idea be heard still transmitted the messages of the civil rights, feminist and other movements. Right now, the media is exposing the mechanisms of corporate deception, even though they believe they are merely reporting on shareholder transparency issues.
The intimidating odor of fascism a la Ashcroft is a frightening force. We need to resist Ashcroft, an outlaw who has no grasp of any constitutional principles. But neither Nixon nor Reagan's clique managed to institute the clerical fascism they wanted, and they were far more competent.
Maybe Bush will complete his first term; perhaps he will even limp through a second, though I seriously doubt it. For the above reasons, I think he will self destruct fairly soon. But even if he survives politically all the way to two terms, eventually he will be in our past, not our present or future.
We need to look beyond W, whether that moment comes in 2003 or 2009.
If the end of the age of W is as revealing and grotesque a teaching event as we can expect, it will probably be followed by a period of relative reason and reform, like that of the mid-70s. If this does come -- there is of course no guarantee -- we need to be ready to take advantage of it with an agenda that genuinely protects every creature on earth, and gives hope to the majority of human beings on earth.
We likely won't do all this in one historical moment. But we can't afford to try any less.
So build your networks, increase your skills, expand your base. You will need a band of comrades that can really do serious good work in the post-Bush era, and you will need a vision of the world that sees far beyond our current cramped misery.
We live in history, not inside the TV, and history is not going to stop for anyone, and especially not this spoiled boy that had the White House bought for him.
The Bushes, Reagans, Clintons and so on will only be vaguely be remembered a century from now. What will be remembered is what we the people of the world do with our next major opportunity to break the patterns of oppression, make peace, and protect our natural legacy -- whether that opportunity comes tomorrow or in a decade.
Here's an article by Howard Zinn that amplifies this idea.
Now that our Attorney General is Albert Gonzales, we have moved from a fanatic to an opportunist -- but we are still in the Twilight Zone as far as the Constitution goes.