You know, I love the idea of the Counter Convention being planned for next summer, a shadow of the Republican National Convention that will take place in New York City in 2004. It's shameful the way that Karl Rove is trying to buy Republican ownership of the September 11 attacks for crass political purposes. It's also just plain weird - a clear majority of New Yorkers oppose George W. Bush's radical and out-of-control crusade against evildoers.
On the other hand, I can't help but roll my eyes at the ham-handed promotion of the Counter Convention. Counter Convention promotional materials say that their activities will be "representing the diversity of New York". However, these materials then go on to describe this diversity as consisting of "community organizers, black radicals, unions, anarchists, church groups, queers, grandma's for peace, AIDS activists, youth organizers, environmentalists, people of color contingents, global justice organizers, those united for peace and justice, veterans, and everyone who is maligned by Bush's malicious agenda."
Will the organizers of Counter Convention please take their eyes off of the pages of "Z Mag" for long enough to gaze back through that list and recognize that it gets nowhere close to representing the diversity of New York?
I hate to burst your bubble, but no one is going to be surprised that black radicals, anarchists, gays, and "global justice organizers" are opposed to George W. Bush's re-election campaign. Sadly, Lou Carbela in Queens will not call his sister, saying in shock, "Margie! I can't believe it! I thought that the Peace and Justice groups were going to be holding fundraisers for Bush and Cheney, but now it turns out that even they are joining the protests against Bush. This changes everything! Can you bring over my black flag and Noam Chomsky reader? I've seen the light!"
Kudos on including the grandmothers and veterans, guys, but those groups have become cliched tokens of non-radical lefties inserted into a protest at the last minute. Don't get me wrong; I think that the grandmothers and veterans who are working against Bush are doing great work that's very important. I just don't think that having the grandmothers and veterans in a presentation does enough to present anything close to a credible representation of the general population.
Whose streets? Um, everybody's streets.
The true diversity of New York includes taxi drivers, farmers, construction workers, lawyers, soccer moms, socialites, actors, immigrants, physicians, sports fans, atheists, orthodox jews, chess players, corporate executives, dieters, libertarians, babysitters, police officers, sanitation engineers, librarians, stock brokers, students, teachers, the bored children of wealthy families, dog groomers, etc., etc. etc. Believe it or not, quite a lot of New Yorkers from each and every one of these categories oppose George W. Bush. Strange how they're not part of your so-called "diversity".
The people who make up the so-called "diversity" that the Counter Convention calls upon is just a tiny sliver of what's needed to mount a successful campaign against the re-election of George W. Bush. They're great people, but most of America is not included in that sliver. Heck, a sizeable portion of that sliver doesn't even have a good record of showing up to vote.
A coalition of the maligned is not enough to beat Bush.
Hey, we're well known for being irregular here, but we're not stupid. We've got lots of ideals, but we know that it takes a smart, pragmatic approach to get even a few of those ideals on the table.
My mind goes back to earlier this year, marching in Washington D.C. against the war in Iraq. There were a lot of great people of all kinds there, taking part. The group that sticks out in my mind, though were the Something-Or-Other-Socialists-Of-America, with a loudspeaker standing still on one street corner, operated by a group of about five people. They stood there, holding out leaflets that nobody was reading, taking turns shouting "The only way that we can have peace will be for us to smash the capitalist machine!"
Oh, I hope smashing the capitalist machine isn't the "only way" to gain peace. If it is, then we're going to have a whole lot of war in the foreseeable future.
I also hope that stopping the corporate system of globalization is not the only way of stopping the re-election of George W. Bush. If it is, then we're in for another four years of a crazy dude-ranch cowboy in the White House.
I'm sick of all this talk of "the only way". There are lots of people who have lots of reasons for opposing the re-election of George W. Bush, and I say that it's time that we stop picking and choosing which of these people get to be part of our "diversity". Folks, we don't have the luxury of conducting a political campaign that follows the formulas of our favorite doctrines.
George W. Bush is the greatest threat to American democracy since beats me. This is no time to be picky about our allies. We need to do what works, not what should work if everything were fair and the system were reformed according to our little ten step plans.
I say that if a rich, white, middle-aged, Southern Baptist business owner wants to join the effort to prevent the re-election of George W. Bush, let's see what he can do for us. Let's not make him give living wages to his workers, join the Wobblies, pierce his nose and sing kumbaya first, okay?
Right now, I don't care about working for the ideal American government. I just want to return to an American government that is, for the most part, sane. Everything else comes after that.
If it looks like the true diversity of people and positions are welcome at the Counter Convention, I'll be there. If it looks like this Counter Convention will consist of just the right kind of diversity of New York, count me out. I'll be elsewhere, working for a more pragmatic solution.
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