Are Americans relearning how to speak out without fear?
The final weekend of April 2006 gave us Americans a big taste of something we haven't beheld for a very long time: People actually standing up and saying things on their mind, apparently without fear of any retribution whatsoever. Americans have seemingly regrasped the powerfulness of catharsis in one full swoop.
In one extended weekend, we saw three major national protests in favor of immigrant rights, getting U.S. forces out of Iraq, and doing something about the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. We saw the highly talented Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents Dinner emit a blast furnace of "truthiness" that scorched a tumbling President and an uninquisitive lapdog American press. We are seeing a crescendo of pundits and concerned citizens across the U.S. make the case why there is no case for a new elective, preemptive war with Iran. And this weekend capped an extraordinary period where we see 1) state legislatures in three U.S. states (so far) openly considering whether Bush should be impeached via the invocation of special rules developed by none other than Thomas Jefferson, and 2) multiple retired U.S. generals openly speaking out against the current U.S. Defense Secretary--acts historically unheard of.
Americans who deeply care about the republic are learning how to speak out again. But why now? Let's explore some possibilities.
People are *really* tired of warYesterday, the number of Iraq combat deaths amongst American soldiers reached the 2,400 mark. Thousands upon thousands of our finest have been injured, physically and psychologically. And the numbers of Iraqi dead are mounting to far higher and scarier numbers themselves. And all this occurred because Bush decided to go to war without any justification (that we know of today), and worse, using cherry-picked intelligence to lie Congress into supporting a war resolution. But what makes this all hit a special boiling point now is that Bush 1) continues to have no plan whatsoever for our ultimate withdrawal, and 2) civil war is obviously brewing over there while our soldiers are left sitting in the middle of it. Bush is now seen as not giving one damn about our troops, and this is absolutely unacceptable to most of the American people. There's also a growing sense in the American public that war should be only the last resort in defending the nation--so when we now know how Bush got us into Iraq, and wants to get us into Iran, we now clearly see sinister schemes and fearmongering where we used to see a "strong war President."
If the Latinos can do it, why can't we?On several occasions recently, Latinos across the country have taken off work, risking their employment and possibly even their safety, to march in favor of their rights in this country. And they are showing up the rest of us *real* good. A lot of people are wondering, "How are they doing that?", "Hey, why can't we organize like them?" and "How can they be so brave?". American Latinos are giving us all an object lesson that certain things are worth fighting for. And despite the U.S. Constitution being obviously trashed on multiple occasions by President Bush (as one mere example), most of the rest of us cannot seem to be able to organize our own protests. People are asking aloud "What's wrong with us if we can't fight for our country?" Perhaps this past weekend was the beginning of a big answer to that question.
The encouragement from high Bush negatives in the pollsThere is an obvious bandwagon effect here; that is, when 68% (or so) of the American people are on your side against Bush, it is easier to speak out without anyone calling you on it, or firing you for it. But it's not as simple as this, as many Americans have been living in a state of fear, much of it induced by political leaders (and even some employers), since 9/11. The current major disapproval of Bush was, in a way, hard won by activists pointing out over time the increasing instances and degrees of Bush's obvious foibles. And so now that Bush is hovering near Nixonian lows, there is most likely a sense of relief and even faint celebration in the American public that most of us are on the same page now. We can finally speak our true minds again. It is very refreshing and empowering.
Those damned high gas pricesThis is a "well, duh!" kind of point, but people do seem to start squawking when their wallets and purses are being hit hard by fuel and travel expenses that continue going up seemingly without an end in sight. Anecdotal evidence of "political conversations at the pump" are on the rise. When people are hurting financially, and hurting the same across the board, people almost can't help but take advantage of the "water cooler of economic complaining." And what makes this effect especially piercing for Bush's bubble regime is that everyone knows that the high gas prices are all his doing through political inaction based on an unusual coziness with Big Oil (not to mention his administration continuing to beat the wardrums for a new conflict with Iran).
Bush has crossed one Constitutional limit too manyThe American people love their Bill of Rights. And they love how the Founding Fathers set up this republic to have a separation of powers. But now President Bush is openly trashing our rights via warrantless wiretapping, while writing "signing statements" on hundreds of bills that effectively says he has the power to decide the constitutionality of laws that apply to the executive branch (well, really, Bush himself). Many Americans rightly see these actions by Bush as outright treason. And when they see treason in a political leader, true patriotism arises in the American public. Bush's treason against the Constitution has become a major factor, not only in terms of increasing complaints from elected Representatives and Senators (even within his own party), but also in Americans scratching and clawing to find *some* way of impeaching and removing this President. Because of the craven intransigence of the Republican Congress, the state legislature route is apparently the only way of legally removing the President. And of course, if that fails, given the continued outright treasonous activity by Bush, who knows how much further the American people will be willing to go to see he is removed? Hint: I've seen some approving talk in some places of a potential coup--the past several months especially. Come to think about it, when we see retired generals speaking out, it almost seems as if a shot across the bow is occurring right before our very eyes.
The increased speaking out, in public and in Internet forums and blogs, is happening despite the fear of what our employers or potential employers might do. Apparently, we are about at the point where the American people have lost much of that fear. The problems in this country are too great, and it's ultimately up to truly patriotic citizens to fight for their country--in the streets, if necessary.
But our speaking out won't come without some fierce words from the remaining 32% of Bush's support. They will warn that we will lose business or lose our jobs if we speak out--in fact, I've already been told I will lose "50%" of potential consulting business because of my "ludicrous" positions. But I don't care, and neither should anyone else. After all, if we lose the potential of 32% (the real Bush approval number) of business, that is, business from the backwash of society, why should we care? The potential of business from 68% of the public who agrees with our patriotic views is an incredibly huge market!
The bottom line for Americans is this: Do not let anyone cower you into not fighting for your country. And to the dude who thinks my "ludicrous" views will hurt my business, SO BE IT! My country is WAY MORE important than my business.