December 5, 2005
national organizers conference of The World Can't Wait--Drive Out the
Bush Regime movement took place in New York City on Nov. 19-20. Debra
Sweet, national coordinator of World Can't Wait, gave an important
opening speech at the conference. In the first half of the speech, which appeared in the previous issue of Revolution,
Sweet discussed the foundation of this movement, the Call to drive out
the Bush regime (see page 12). And she said of the nationwide protests
on Nov. 2: "We had thousands of people out in 200-some locations, and
the low thousands in several large cities. This IS a beginning step,
but it is not yet nearly what we need to drive out the regime, where
millions are in the streets taking responsibility, led by tens of
thousands of organizers... We learned much more deeply on November 2
how it IS realistic to move thousands and thousands of people around
this demand, and on the foundation of our Call. Now we have to take
what we learned, and what we accomplished, and get this thing into a
whole other place."
The following is the second part of Debra Sweet's speech. The text of the entire speech is available online at worldcantwait.org.
I want to speak directly to a huge question we are asked often. Why
would Bush step down? How could the Bush Regime be driven out? There
are actually quite a few different possibilities. If we build the
movement powerfully and quickly enough, things can start opening up and
coming out. The first bit of criminality has been attached to the Bush
Regime with the Libby indictment. This could go much deeper. The
Downing Street Memo has not been answered; the WMDs never found. The
lies the Bush Regime is based on way surpass anything Richard Nixon was
forced to resign over. The stolen elections--including the voting
machine scandal which has remained suppressed--could open up. Thieves
fall out when the going gets tough, and ugly splits in the ranks could
develop, even between some very bad people.
is absolutely no juice behind impeachment right now--that would take
more than the Democrats in Congress, even if they did want to push
that. But that could change with a big movement in the streets. I can
never resist the example of Richard Nixon, who won by the biggest
landslide ever in the 1972 election; and was gone in disgrace less than
two years later. But whether it's by impeachment or resignation--it can
only happen with a huge social movement, determined to settle for
nothing less than getting this regime OUT OF THERE.
we are not talking about a President Cheney or Rice, either. We are
talking about a REGIME, not just one individual. And we are saying
"Take your whole program with you." We are building a movement to drive
out this regime, and as we do that we are galvanizing people against the whole logic and direction this crew is taking society.
But we got a problem.
up against a way things work politically in this society that people
have come to accept. We're up against a framework of "how things work"
which is killing us. It's called accommodation. Some people who should
know better, like the President of the National Organization for Women,
are declaring that "the tide has turned" because a Democrat won
election in Virginia over a Republican Bush campaigned for. This guy
Kaine is anti-abortion and pro-death penalty and ran on the basis that
he's more openly religious than the other guy! This wasn't a victory
against the moves to turn this country into a theocracy. This was not a
blow against the trend to force intolerant and absolutist religious
dogma into every realm of public and private life -- including into the
law. No, this was a maneuver -- yet again -- on the part of the
Democrats to see if they could become more like the Republicans we all
hate and should hate so much. And, they are saying openly, this is a
model for them, something to emulate.
I want to quote from an essay that is on our website.
course, there are still people who hate everything the Bush regime
represents, and its whole agenda, but who are holding out the hope that
the difficulties it is facing will make things more favorable for
electing a Democratic Congress in 2006 (and a Democratic president in
2008) and who therefore think that, rather than mobilizing to drive out
the Bush regime, we should pin our hopes on, and wait for, those
elections. But the questions must be honestly, and urgently, posed:
we afford to wait that long before doing something decisive to defeat
this regime and its whole agenda? And by voting for Democrats would
people really be doing anything to change the whole course on which
this regime has set the country, and indeed the world? The answers are
NO and NO.
"If, instead of bringing forth, from here
forward, the kind of massive resistance, of millions, that is both
urgently needed and is possible, we focus our attention on elections
and on electing Democrats, this will only mean that things will be in
an even far worse place by a year from now, in terms of what is
happening in the world and what it is possible to do to oppose it. And,
anyway, what exactly is it we would be "waiting for" in terms of these
elections? Can anyone honestly say that in 2006 (or 2008) it will be
possible to vote for a Democratic Party that would:
- "Bring an end to U.S. occupation in Iraq and other wars to enforce and extend American imperial domination in the world?
- "Put a stop to the torture being carried out by the U.S. government and others cooperating with it?
the imprisonment of people without rights or legal representation and
the heightened repression embodied in the Patriot Act?
and uncompromisingly oppose Christian fundamentalist attacks on
evolution and on science and the scientific method in general, and on
the separation of church and state?
- "Vigorously defend the right to abortion, and to birth control?
- "Consistently and systematically defend the rights of gay people?
address and do something to actually end the continuing discrimination
and institutionalized racism, oppression and poverty that were once
again and dramatically brought tow light through hurricane Katrina and
in the way the government has dealt with that natural disaster and its
to these questions, as well as the actions of Bush himself, in the face
of growing difficulties for his regime and its agenda, show once again
why the Call, 'The World Can't Wait! Drive Out The Bush Regime!' is
speaking to a profound truth and a profound need when it says:
is not going to be some magical 'pendulum swing.' People who steal
elections and believe they're on a 'mission from God' will not go
without a fight."
frankly, it seems to me that the "fix is already in" on the 2006
elections. The Diebold machines are in place, the crooked redistricting
has all been done, and the money and high-level support that does go to
Democrats are for the ones running on anti- abortion or other
"Republican lite" platforms.
One thing we can say with
certainty is that the Democratic Party will not do anything in the
direction of what the vast majority of its base truly wants and
believes in--like the overwhelming public opinion to end the war now,
or the over 400 cities that opposed the Patriot Act--until their feet
are held to the fire--until they fear that people are getting beyond
their control. The blunt truth is that as long as they think people are
willing to passively go along with the whole process and are dependent
on them, they are never going to bend to the things people really care
Even for those of us who strongly believe
there is still hope and something to believe in in the electoral
process -- or room to be created for those in congress trying to do
something -- we are here together because there is recognition that
this will not happen short of a massive upsurge from below. When that
does happen it changes everything and creates a political situation
that everyone has to respond to.
We have to recognize that the only thing that can save us is our own independent political activity.
the political cohesion of our Movement is not voting vs not voting; the
Call doesn't tell people not to vote. And it would be very wrong to
make that the dividing line. Anybody who says that this movement is
against voting perhaps has not read the Call. The point is that we
cannot rely on the Democratic Party -- that as our Call
says, "This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into
leadership who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and
religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually
serves to demobilize people."
Let's be real clear. This
regime may be wounded, but is as dangerous, and determined, as a
wounded beast. And at this State of the Union Bush will attempt a big
comeback for his regime and his program. It must be massively answered.
And it will not be answered by what is being brought forward following
after the leadership of the Democratic Party. In fact, the time of the
State of the Union is going to mark the beginning of a whole campaign
to draw people's hopes and energies into relying on "leaders" who tell
us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics.
mass actions around the State of the Union must provide people the way
to get on a different road -- the road of taking independent mass
political action, driving out this regime. Our plan for the State of
the Union must meet that challenge -- nothing less--or we will fail in
our responsibility to powerfully provide people with that path, at this
crucial time. The future we get really is up to us.
let's talk about what we ARE going to do. Let's talk about, and let me
share, an audacious vision that our steering committee has come up
with, beyond what we sent out earlier in the week. Let's talk about a
vision commensurate with what we need to really make a leap toward
driving out this regime. Let's talk about taking a step that's going to
create a whole new dynamic in this society.
talk about the State of the Union speech, when Bush will strut out
there, putting on his best face, and put forward his program of more
war, more repression, and more horror, with all the major networks
covering him and all eyes on him. Let's talk about how just as he
starts to run his lies to people all over the country and all over the
world, from every corner of the country he is politically drowned
out by mass action. Let's talk about how THIS becomes what everyone has
to relate to, and how the biggest question in society becomes, to quote
the Clash: SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO?
talk about how we answer that question loud and clear to millions and
millions of people with further powerful action. That's what we have
been wrestling with, and I'm going to present you a new and even more
powerful vision, from the Steering Committee, of how to do that in a
But let's be clear
first: that is a tall order but this is what we need. To say we made a
beginning on November 2 cannot mean that now we settle into gradual and
incremental tactics to slowly grow this movement. This is not the same
old same old. This is not a pet project or a way to build a movement.
It is a serious challenge to unseat and drive out of power a sitting
regime and not just any old regime--but one that has to be driven
out--because what will happen if we don't?
said in our Call that, in the face of what this Regime is doing,
silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable! If we are going to
politically drown out the State of the Union and get things into a
different dynamic, we have to shake people up AND we have to make a
compelling case that they join us! There are many people who would
respond to our message, but we have not yet even reached them. That's
for starters--we REALLY have to get this Call out there much more
At the same time, we very much need to learn better the things that prevent some people who have heard
our message and speak to their questions more powerfully. But we can do
that. The very things that compelled thousands to step up and step out
in the face of both repression and despair are still here, and getting
worse by the day. The very things that made each and every person in
this room turn their lives around are still there, and getting worse by
the day. And the vision that inspired all of those people that is
embodied in our Call is still here, and the potential to make that
seemingly impossible dream a reality not only manifested on November 2,
but can and must manifest all the more powerfully as we go into the
State of the Union. We can break the constraints--political and
practical--that held people back. And we will.
This weekend we have to decide this
will happen and build our own framework to make it happen. We are
responsible to all the people who are not here, who worked behind the
scenes to make those events happen, or who couldn't afford to come here
today. We're responsible to our growing movement.
Therefore, the Steering Committee proposes a more ambitious and audacious plan for the State of the Union, in two phases:
On the night of the State of the Union message, in real time across the
country, everyone mobilizes in their own area to Drown Out Bush's Lies.
At rallies called one hour before the speech (starting at 8 pm EST, 5
pm PST, and so on) we will proclaim our determination to Drive out the
Bush Regime. The whole diversity of our movement, from high school
students who have spent the day mobilizing, to local government
officials who bring resolutions calling for Bush to Step Down, to
prominent artists and activists, unions, professional associations,
student governments will represent. As Bush begins to speak, literally,
we will BRING THE NOISE in a cacophony of sound that drowns out his
speech. From drum circles to violins, cat-calls to air horns to banging
pots and pans--the whole variety of musical expression from hip hop to
classical will make a noise. Big media outlets like Fox News might make
good gathering spots for public DROWN OUTS. People in nursing homes and
hospitals, or at work on late shifts, could participate where they are.
The students, especially the high schools, can help by not even going
to school that day, but by criss crossing the cities and towns in car
caravans and flat bed trucks, and marches.
This part of
the plan utilizes the strength we have in the youth and the fact that
people want to demonstrate wherever they are that they demand BUSH STEP
DOWN, and Take your whole program with you!
the very next Saturday, we will get everyone possible to Washington, DC
by bus, car, train or plane to protest at the seat of government. There
will be prominent voices of conscience to help deliver the people's
verdict on the State of the Union. And that verdict will ring through
the streets of DC, and echo through the world: STEP DOWN STEP DOWN,
BUSH MUST GO! DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME!