“We’re up against the most rich and powerful people in the
world. All we have is our convictions really because we don’t
have the money or the power or the weapons. But I think the
anger of billions of people is the weapon that will eventually
against them.” – Arundhati Roy at the 2004 Republican National
The day before the 2004 Republican National Convention began,
Sunday, August 29, more than 400,000 courageous people marched through
the streets of New York to tell the world that they oppose the
Bush agenda. In the days that followed, more than 1,700 of those
demonstrators were arrested when in many cases they had not broken
any laws. Their jail was an old bus depot ringed with razor wire.
They were forced to sleep on bare floors that were covered with
motor oil. They were held for as long as two days without charges
or access to attorneys. Most were eventually found guilty of disorderly
conduct and received desk appearance tickets that are usually processed
in just a few hours. As the convention drew to a close, a judge
was forced to fine the
city of New York $1,000 for each person who had not been released.
The prescience of these activists makes the
force used against them all the more shameful. Their ability
to articulate the horrors
of the Bush administration varies, but they all know that America
is in serious trouble. They were undeterred despite nervous Nellie
liberals beseeching them to stay home and not cause trouble. We
were told that protests in 2004 would be like those that took place
in 1968. A simple glance at the calendar should have squelched
such nonsense. Nearly 40 years have passed since that Democratic
convention in Chicago. There is no Black Panther Party or Students
for a Democratic Society. Anyone active in those groups will soon
be eligible for Medicare, assuming that Bush doesn’t get rid of
Those 400,000 people are the ones whose voices should be heeded
and yet they are the most scorned. The August 29th march was the
largest demonstration at any political convention in American history.
Of course, the significance of the event was lost on what passes
for leadership among the Democrats. Terry McAuliffe, Chair of the
Democratic National Committee, went out of his way to disassociate the
party from the people who despite their misgivings about John Kerry
are the most committed to getting him elected. “We have nothing
to do with the demonstrators,” McAuliffe proudly proclaimed.
Unlike McAuliffe, the Republicans defend anyone who swears to
abide by their twisted loyalty oath. Christian fascists advocate
killing Palestinians in an effort to hasten the return of Jesus.
They are embraced by Republicans. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the
House of Representatives, accused Democratic financier George Soros
of being in the pay of drug
dealers. No one in the Republican party condemned Hastert’s
statements. Ministers who compare gay people to Nazis are not only
embraced by Republicans but are allowed to give invocations at
party conventions. While the Republicans will utter any lie
or advocate monstrous public policy, the sad remnants of the Democratic
party flee from people who carry signs saying, “Give peace a chance.”
The RNC convention featured speakers such as
New York City’s former
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who never ceases to pimp September 11th
for personal gain. Arnold Schwarzenegger reminisced about seeing Soviet
tanks during his childhood in Austria when in fact he lived
in a region occupied by Britain. Democratic turncoat Zell Miller
told outright lies about John Kerry’s voting record in the Senate.
John McCain referred to Michael
Moore as a “disingenuous film maker” but later admitted he
hadn’t seen Fahrenheit 9/11. Speaker after speaker voiced
disdain and outright hostility for the United Nations.
The Democratic base is crying for help
but has been left to its own devices in fighting the Bush administration.
While their party’s
nominee did not utter one word of even qualified support for their
actions they continued to hold marches, vigils, and other actions
while the convention took place. John Kerry said nothing about
the FBI harassment of protesters that took place before the convention
even began. He said nothing about the people who left their home
states to march through the streets of New York, all in an effort
to get him elected.
The protesters know that a Bush victory will
be disastrous for the United States and for the world. If Bush
has a second term
he will make good on his efforts to ease the tax burden on the
wealthy, and do away with the little safety net that America has
left. The Patriot Act will be expanded to continue John Ashcroft’s
goal of criminalizing an entire society. America’s surrogate in
the Middle East, Israel, will be given permission to make war on
its neighbors and destabilize the entire region. The corporate
looting of Iraq will worsen.
As Arundhati Roy said, our only weapons against
the Bushites are our convictions. If Kerry wins it will be because
the people he
doesn’t want to acknowledge didn’t give up on their convictions,
one of which is helping him to win, even if he isn’t smart enough
or brave enough to acknowledge that fact.