Crank-It-Up Time! An Urgent Nov. 5th Call to Action
October 11, 2002
By Bernard Weiner
are less than 30 days to go before the midterm elections.
Normally, voters stay away from the polls in these off-years
because usually not much is riding on the outcome.
At the risk of over-iteration, I hope it's obvious that everything
is riding on the outcome this time.
If the Bush Administration suffers a defeat at the polls,
losing control of the House of Representatives, say, and/or
can't recapture the Senate, it means its aura of invincibility
is gone. The people have seen Bush&Co. in action and said
we don't fully trust your judgement, we'd rather the power
get shared with those in nominal opposition. Sand thus gets
thrust into the Bush&Co. wheels, slowing down the juggernaut
of those anxious for imperial military adventures abroad,
those comfortable with the shredding of Constitutional due
process and civil liberties at home, those willing to give
away the environment to corporate polluters.
If the GOP is able to regain control of the Senate, and holds
on to the House, there will be nothing to stop Bush&Co. from
taking control of all levers of power in this country. The
House, the Senate, the White House, the Supreme Court, and
most of the conglomerate-owned media will be in the hands
of those whose policies would spell disaster for our land.
[As one Senate Republican leadership aide put it, "When we
take over the majority, we intend to move so fast to pass
bills and confirm judges that have been held up by the Senate
Democratic leadership that it will make their heads spin"
(Roll Call, 10/7).]
You think things are bad now, with a wimpy Democrat opposition
that barely puts up a fight, just imagine what it would be
like if there are no brakes at all on the Bush&Co. agenda.
(The true hero of the past two years is Republican Senator
Jim Jeffords of Vermont who - fed up with the greedy, dangerous,
power-hungry policies of Bush&Co. - joined the Democratic
caucus and thus made the Republicans the minority party in
If we've learned anything in the past two years, we've learned
that who occupies the White House and key chairmanships and
the offices of the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader
of the Senate does make an enormous difference in what is
able to get passed and what is defeated, what far-right judges
get approved and which ones don't, what legislation goes to
what committee and what makes it to the floor for votes, what
environment gets trashed by huge corporate political donors
and what gets protected.
In what used to be known as foreign policy - but which is
military policy to the Bush Administration - we've been informed
that it's now official: From here on, America will move like
an imperial power, a benign one, in the world. We will take
over what we want, remove leaders we don't want, and keep
anyone from getting strong enough to challenge us, just get
out of our way and let us do our business. If we don't like
what you're doing, we'll pre-emptively attack you. (What a
precedent to set for other countries and terrorist groups!)
Bush&Co. has thrown down the gauntlet. They want it all.
They're even willing to try to wag the dog, rushing America
to a war that doesn't have to happen - at least not in the
immediate future, devoid of a provocation and without a wide
coalition of allies in support - and terming their political
opponents unpatriotic for raising questions about the wisdom
of Administration policies.
In short, this by-year election is unlike any other in recent
times: the future of the Republic is at stake. I truly believe
this, to my bones.
So, in these final few weeks before the polls open, it is
essential that those of us dedicated to a more moderate view
of political behavior, and to more progressive policies, get
involved in the electoral process as never before.
And the goal, the only goal, has to be to bloody the nose
of Bush&Co. at the polls. Work for the defeat of any and all
Republicans, and for the election of any and all Democrats.
Yes, I know that some, maybe a good many, Democrat incumbents
might be worse than some moderate Republicans. But we can
deal with them later (and deal with them we must). The point
now, the only point now, is to take the Congress out of the
reach of Bush&Co., and thus make it more difficult for those
greedy, power-hungry zealots to operate with impunity.
If the Democrats take power in both houses of Congress, they
- and a good many moderate Republicans - might lose some of
their timidity in confronting the Bush Administration, even
to the point of holding tough hearings on the various scandals
hanging around the neck of Bush and his cronies (pre-9/11
knowledge, Cheney's withholding of energy documents subpoenaed
by Congress, the tie-ins to Enron cash, Army Secretary Tom
White's outrageous conflicts of interest, Ashcroft's penchant
for running roughshod over the U.S. Constitution, Cheney &
Haliburton, Bush & Harkin Oil, and on and on).
What might be revealed by such meaningful Congressional investigations
could lead to impeachments or resignations.
Those who argued in 2000 that Democrats and Republicans were
so much alike that it didn't matter who won surely by now
have seen that the differences between the two parties, seemingly
minor, in practice are huge. Those of us who might favor Green
policies and candidates have to recognize the objective realities
of late-2002: the effect of voting Green in House and Senate
races is to aid Republicans and thus ensure that further damage
is done abroad and domestically.
(By all means, get those Green machines running in local
elections, to help build the future voter base, but don't
do anything that would aid the Bush Administration this time
out in races where it counts - in Minnesota, for example,
where liberal Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone is running
neck and neck with his Republican challenger, but also facing
a Green candidacy that does nothing but take votes away from
The Bush Administration isn't hiding its agenda. It figures
it can get everything it wants by manipulating the justified
fear of the American people following a horrendous terrorist
attack. It is doing this by waging a permanent war, abroad
and at home, that aims to defang the Democrat opposition,
silence critics, and permit the government to intrude its
nose into every aspect of our lives - what books we read,
what groups we support, whom we call, what we write on our
personal email, what we tell our attorneys, etc. (Even many
true conservatives are growing nervous at the growth of Big
Brother government, with so much power concentrated in the
hands of so few. Even they see that we are inching quickly
toward a kind of neo-fascism at home, and imperial militarism
I can't emphasize it enough. This election is pivotal for
our future. Throw yourself into it as much as your energy
and resources permit. Donate money, volunteer, pass out leaflets,
go door to door, write letters to the editor, talk to your
friends and neighbors, contact your email lists and urge them
to vote, drive others to the polls, make sure to vote yourself,
We can break the momentum of Bush&Co. atrocities. We can
begin to bring our country back more toward the moderate center
- and then move it toward more progressive policies. We can
mobilize for victory. But we can get there only if we give
it our all during the next several weeks. Let's do it.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught American government and
international relations at Western Washington University and
San Diego State University. He was with the San Francisco
Chronicle for nearly 20 years, and has published in The Nation,
Village Voice, The Progressive and widely on the internet.