“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 be used against them.” – Arundhati
Roy at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
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 it first.
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
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.