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Time for a Change
Marc Garcelon mgarcelo@middlebury.edu

We are all now part of a great drama in human history, a crucial historical struggle between a rising tide of peaceful but sweeping democratic change around the world driven from below, by the diverse peoples of the planet earth; and a motley assortment of reactionary patriarchs and crony capitalists who are bent on sowing disinformation, war, repression, and fear of terrorism and economic insecurity in order to salvage their ill-gotten gains and undemocratic powers.

And chief among these reactionary patriarchs, crony capitalists and unelected leaders stands George W. Bush, whose operatives stole a presidential election, withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and have now--in an almost unbelievably stupid display of calamitous incompetence--played into the hands of fascist-fundamentalist factions in the Middle-East in ways that threaten a genocidal catastrophe for the peoples of Israel and Palestine, and the promise of decades of savage and barbaric warfare for the rest of humanity.

The time has come to say "NO" in as loud a fashion as possible and to mobilize the citizens of these United States in a great, non-ideological movement to reform and revitalize our endangered democracy and halt the slide toward war, fascism and environmental catastrophe brought about the dance of death between the unelected leadership of the United States and the fundamentalist-fascists of the Middle East and South Asia.

A crucial break we need to aim for is to encourage a top-tier national Democratic leader to come out forcefully against Bush. Al Gore yesterday made as strong an anti-Bush speech as any top Democrat since the 9-11 tragedy, including Daschle and Leahy. It wasn't strong enough, but it's a start and I believe it is to be commended. I have attached a transcript of the speech below, and if you read it carefully, you'll see that our legitimately elected President is deeply alarmed about the drift toward authoritarianism and now believes the time has come to speak out loudly and clearly about the current crisis. Many of us may disagree with Gore on various issues--including the war--but senior Democrats are part of the power structure and have to tread more carefully than we citizens do.

Moreover, our overarching goal--whether we are sympathetic to the Democratic Party or deeply distrust it--is to push the national debate away from the extreme right by splitting elites against the Bush regime and breaking the paralysis of terror and fear that has led so many to cower cravenly in the face of the unelected George W. Bush.

Given the ferment that is roiling the liberal and left grassroots, and the scale of networking and proto-protest activity now underway, I think we could be on the verge of a major drive against Bush spear-headed largely from below, hopefully creating sufficient cover for top Dems to begin speaking out more forcefully. The tragedy in Israel & Palestine has exposed the monumental incompetence, hubris, corruption, complacency, and authoritarianism of the unelected Bush regime, something that is now becoming starkly clear even to some conservatives.

My feeling is that the left has to unite with the center, reach out to the European left, the Israeli left, etc., and essentially impose a Taba-type settlement on Sharon and Arafat. The Bush-Cheney idiocy has now succeeded in mobilizing an entire generation of Arabs against "the West," and has made bin Laden a "hero" to far too many. What fools, what grossly incompetent fools! Sharon, Arafat and Bush: what a team!

I think we need to adopt the tactic of demanding three major congressional investigations: into the Florida debacle; into Bush ties to Enron and the role of the Bush regime in the so-called "energy crisis" in California last year; and into the 9-11 tragedy and the links between many in Bush's circle and the Saudi regime.

Our aim should be to force Bush to ask for Cheney's resignation; to demand the resignation of John Ashcroft; to have Bush nominate Colin Powell for Vice-President; to then demand Bush's resignation; to have the Congress approve Powell's accession to office as interim President, with the strong proviso he won't run in 2004 and that he will appoint many Democrats to his cabinet; and to begin impeachment proceedings against the five Supreme Injustices who colluded in short-circuiting democracy in the United States on the evening of December 11, 2000.

This may sound outlandish, but it is perfectly constitutional and its combination of strict constitutionality and outlandishness is exactly the sort of "shock" to public opinion that we need in order to shatter the corporate-orchestrated "consensus" that has been imposed on the public by the ritualized pseudo-discourse of the mass media complex.

Right now, we need bold leadership that can cut across many of the archaic remnants of Cold War politics and create an opening for a broad alliance of liberals, radicals and progressive-conservatives dedicated to revitalizing democracy and halting the slide toward authoritarianism in the United States; preventing the destruction of Israel; preventing a genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people and insisting on the creation of a Palestinian state and the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank in return for recognition of Israel; and supporting democratic revolutions in the Middle East.

We're now in a world-historic period, as Hegel would say, and the people of the United States need to realize their collective power as citizens and the extent to which their destiny is still to some extent in their own hands.

All of this would create a context for sweeping reform of the corporate governance system both nationally and locally, creating conditions for a democratic global renaissance based on the universal human interest in re- inventing industrial civilization on an ecologically sustainable and socially just basis, on the universal longing for peace, democracy and justice.

What, really, is the alternative?

Marc Garcelon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Middlebury College in Vermont.