Following the strategy of "Anybody But Bush" in the upcoming presidential election is equally as dangerous as Bush getting re-elected.
Why? There are two basic reasons.
First, the "Anybody But Bush" (ABB) movement is predicated on the mistaken and illusory belief that Bush & Co. is an aberration from the American political system, rather than extensions of it.
Second, for progressives to submerge ourselves within the ABB tidal wave is a complete abdication of our responsibility as global citizens to agitate around the issues facing this country and the world, rather than once again believing that our work is limited to simply voting for the president every four years.
"These are the times that try men's souls," wrote Tom Paine, a seminal thinker during the birth of America. Today, these are times when the very souls of America and the entire planet are at stake. To think that in this post-9/11 reality we can go on with business as usual, believing that who is in the White House is the only cutting-edge issue, is patently absurd.
Given the debacle in Florida in 2000, the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in the last election, and the fact that suspect computerized voting machines are on their way, how much faith can we seriously have in the election process as a whole?
More importantly, though, we face today issues wherein the future of the planet is at stake. We know it and the powers-that-be know it too. Bush's election in 2000 was a reflection of the extent and depth of these fundamental problems. Bush's time in office and the policies flowing forth from his tenure – most dramatically the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- are attempts to stem the tide of America's decline.
With the world's oil reserves passing peak production capacities, the beachhead in Iraq is the keystone for both control of the majority of these reserves and the maintenance of our American lifestyle, such as it is these days. I cannot emphasize enough that this occupation (and eventual expansion) is a fundamental part of American global aspirations, and this WILL NOT change whether a Democrat is elected or Bush is re-elected!
Why? Because it cannot be reversed unless a complete re-evaluation and reassessment of America's ambitions toward empire is undertaken. What the ABB movement fails to recognize is that neither Dean nor Kerry nor Gephardt nor Clark are up to the task of dissecting the inner workings of American capitalism and its engine of globalization.
The likeliest scenario, given a Democrat being elected in November, is that they will spin the continued occupation of Iraq as "necessary" and "humane" because America needs to rebuild the country that it destroyed.
So, unlike Vietnam, where "stopping communism" was the rationale, this time the rationale will be "fixing the mess that Bush left us." Different storyline, but the result will be years of continued occupation and control of the region's oil.
The extremism that is the Bush regime is really a mirror into the extreme nature of the situation facing us all. Below all the political machinations, all the dire warnings of economic collapse, renewed plans for nuclear wars, global warming, etc., is the fact that the system that brought us all the benefits of modernity has now revealed its darkest shadow: the absolute commodification of every aspect of our lives, our relationships to each other and our environment. The American Way has brought us to the ultimate precipice.
Despite the extreme difficulty that we humans have in breaking the bonds of habit, inertia, and mesmerization with the status quo, it is time for we, the people, to begin the deep soul-searching, soul-wrenching inquiry and debate over how we reclaim our humanity.
Ultimately, it is NOT the economy, stupid; NOT the environment; NOT foreign policy; NOT even the occupation of Iraq that demands our deepest attention. And it is certainly NOT about uncritically "taking back America."
Important as some of these may be, these are but the symptoms of a greater and more deadly infection: our complete dissociation from our world, each other, and even our own hearts.
This election year could be an amazing opportunity to take a hard look at where humankind has come from and where we are heading. This is the orientation that our elected representatives need to have as well. To drown the nascent potential that these next few months could offer in the staid waters of "Anybody But Bush" is one more crime we inflict on ourselves and on the planet.
And we inflict it at our own peril.
Patrick Donovan is a doctoral student in depth Psychology. He can
be reached at