When President George W. Bush makes his latest State of the Union Address, at 9 pm on Tuesday, January 31, protesters in scores of US communities — including Westerly — plan to embark on a symbolic effort to noisily drown out the president as part of a wider campaign to “drive out the Bush regime.”
Alana Markowitz, a 20-year-old Salve Regina University junior who helped to organize the local protest, expects that at least 30 people will stop by the Westerly Post Office, starting at 4 pm on the day of Bush’s annual report to the nation. Markowitz, a participant in an effort to revive the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a serious political force in the ’60s, hopes the event will attract new SDS members and send a message “that the masses are just outraged, and we want something new.”
A bevy of left-leaning celebrities, including actors Ed Asner and Jane Fonda, writer Gore Vidal, historian Howard Zinn, and rocker Kathleen Hanna, has endorsed “The World Can’t Wait” protest, which was launched with the help of the Revolutionary Communist Party. According to the related Web site, www. worldcantwait.net, “There certainly is no lack of indictable offenses that Bush and his administration have committed. But its exactly because this regime is so willing to lie, to spy, to let die, to ignore and change rules, and driving relentlessly forward even in the face of widespread opposition that it is going to take a tremendous and unprecedented fight to force them out [emphasis in original]. Politics as usual will not cut it.”
As part of this effort, critics plan to follow the nationwide attempt to drown out the president’s State of the Union address with a February 4 protest demanding Bush’s resignation. As the Web site says, “The demand — and political repudiation of the Bush regime — must be visible enough to rival Bush’s speech as the story of the day, compelling many others to join a movement that will not stop until Bush is driven out.”
Although any president would gain slack following a national emergency like 9/11, the relative lack of public upset about the Bush administration’s dubious deeds, like the use of warrant-less wiretaps, seems striking in a nation where Bill Clinton was commonly judged by a far harsher standard. And for organizers of the counter-protest, the lack of an event in Providence — the capital of this very blue state — doesn’t seem auspicious.
Organizers assert, “History is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.”
Barring the unforeseen, though, the 2008 presidential election still may be the most practical way to dispose of the Bush administration and its acolytes.