. . . as hated as Clinton was and is by many Republicans, 200,000 people did not show up to protest his possible re-election at the DNC in 1996. This is sociology in action happening all around us right now.(Okay, I really did intend to quote only excerpts from her entry and insert ellipses in the rest, but it was so brilliant that no matter how hard I tried I couldn't bring myself to delete any of her words.)
I wonder though, if Bush DID get re-elected, if it would finally trigger enough people to snap out of this false consciousness? Here's why I say this. Just two years ago, two years, when I would talk about social movements in my Intro class, and ask them what kinds of social movements they could think of, they could only name things that occurred in the 1970s and before. It's not that social movements aren't occurring all the time, but they are essentially ignored by the mainstream media (at least gay rights was until the Supreme Court decision summer before this one). The students perceived these things happening as kind of sideshows, as just marginalized people participating in occasional demonstrations and that social movements were "over" and not "trendy." The students on the South Oval who held demonstrations against sweatshops were just something to shake your head at.
Now, just two years later, we have hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of New York City and San Francisco and Chicago and Washington D.C. and it's a big deal when the news stations cover it, when 800 groups are involved in protesting our current president's actions, when half the country literally is opposed to actions taken by the current administration, particularly in terms of war, but also in terms of jobs, health care, civil rights, and free speech.
Two hundred thousand people, adults, are taking time out of their lives, their jobs, their schoolwork, to march, sing, hand out flyers, talk to people, talk to the media, hold up pictures of their loved ones, and tell their stories.
Are the reasons why these protests are occurring going to go away if Kerry gets elected? No. Because Kerry's not promising to end the war, or offering any solutions except bringing in other countries. He wants to increase the minimum wage over the course of three years to a rate that is still below what a living wage would be in most large cities. He wants to insure more Americans, but many would still go without health insurance. In addition, Kerry has no stated position on the war on drugs so we can probably assume that will be business as usual, and Edwards is pro-death penalty, despite its racist application and his running mate's desire to be "the second black president."
Granted, many of the economic issues are not Kerry's fault.
But if Kerry gets elected, will the massive protests that are screaming out, "This will not stand!" continue?
Not likely. Because the "big bad" overt threat will be gone. And people will recede back to their quiet lives in the suburbs, leaving the "marginalized" to take on the burden for us all once again.
Now, here's my number one biggest concern about the prospect of a John Kerry presidency. It's simply NOT TRUE that the mere fact that John Kerry intends to do somewhat less evil things than George W. Bush does will automatically make a John Kerry presidency better than a George Bush presidency. Rather, the amount of evil that each of them can accomplish is calculated as follows:
Amount of evil the president desires to accomplishRemember, the most dramatic breakthroughs in politics have come not from people inside the system just initiating the change voluntarily, but rather from massive civil disobedience and protests such as have not been seen in America since the 1960s managing to force the system to adapt. And in an election where we have two candidates who both plan to continue the war in Iraq for at least four years (Kerry said he hoped to start removing troops after six months in office but did not expect to remove them all until after four years; Bush said it could take seven or eight years), it is absolutely vital that the antiwar protests must continue and remain energized no matter who gets elected president.
Amount of angry opposition that successfully blocks the president from accomplishing what he wants to accomplish
Amount of evil the president successfully accomplishes
I'd like to request that you make a list of everything you can think of that you fear that Bush might do to wreck the world if he's elected. Include minor items and best-case scenario situations, not just "cause a nuclear winter" and such. Then, next to each item on the list, write down what you would probably do in protest. Be realistic - don't claim you'd go try to assassinate the president when all you'd really do is write an angry LiveJournal entry about it. Just admit that you'd write an angry LiveJournal entry about it.
Now, go through that same list and ask yourself what you would do if Kerry gets elected and does those exact same things. Ignore for the moment the issue of how he might be less likely to want to - just ask yourself whether, if he did, you'd do exactly every bit as much in protest against his doing it as you would if Bush had done it. Would your LiveJournal entry be worded every bit as angrily? Would you send letters to the exact same number of Congresspeople?
It's absolutely essential to me and to anyone who cares about preserving the antiwar protests' momentum that you must be able to answer "yes" to that question. So I have a challenge to everyone reading this who plans to vote for John Kerry (which, I gather, is the majority of people reading my journal who are eligible to vote in American elections). I'm sure that Kerry voters in turn could write their own similar challenges to third-party voters, and that's equally fair and I look forward to seeing such challenges, but I'm not the right person to write them. So my own challenge is to the Kerry voters reading this - and it's not an attack, it's actually an opportunity for Kerry voters to help win over to Kerry's side the votes of those of us left-wingers who are currently very reluctant to vote for him, by helping to reassure us that a Kerry win might not actually sap the energy of the antiwar movement like many of us fear it will. By making a pledge, you might win some votes for Kerry, and by keeping your pledge, you can help win some action for people severely dissatisfied with Kerry (who you may even be one of, despite voting for him) - so we all win.
Please sign one of the following statements in blood, on the holy book of your preferred religion, or on whatever means most to you personally:
I plan to vote for Kerry, and yes, I SWEAR I will protest against anything he does wrong EVERY BIT AS MUCH as if Bush had taken the same action.
I plan to vote for Kerry, and I consider the above pledge to be a good idea, but I can't honestly swear that I can prevent myself from being unconsciously more favorable to Kerry than to Bush in situations where they both do the same thing wrong.
I plan to vote for Kerry, and I refuse to pledge the above because I think it's actually GOOD to get less mad at one of two presidents when they perform the exact same action, just because of what political party one of them belongs to.
I plan to vote for a third party candidate, and I await seeing what polls the Kerry voters might come up with for me to make pledges in.
I plan to vote for Bush, and I acknowledge and accept the fact that by announcing this in Gayle's journal I'm earning myself a hell of a lot of enemies.
I plan to not vote at all even though I'm eligible to do so, and I acknowledge and accept the fact that by announcing this in Gayle's journal I'm probably earning myself similar hatred to what the Bush voters will get.
I am not eligible to vote in American elections.
I decline to state who I plan to vote for, but I just like filling in bubbles and submitting polls anyway.