By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
George W. Bush's re-election should mean new tactics by the Democrats and serve as the occasion for the rise of a new underground among the general populace.
In Washington, the Democratic fight ought not come from the weak-kneed Dems of the center-right who are always trying to style themselves as Bush Lite. Their strategy should be anchored in the back bench of the House of Representativesjust as Newt Gingrich's Conservative Opportunity Society of young New Right members took on the leaders of the Democratic Congress in the early 1980s. Today, Dems work together with right-wingers in a variety of coalitions, most notably against free-trade policies in the House. A similar coalition has sharply attacked U.S.-led international banking institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.
Here are some of the other areas in which Democrats and others, if they're shrewd, can fight:
The right wing wants to turn the powers of the federal government back to the states. By all means. The various state attorneys general could well become the people's prosecutors.
Already the statesnot the federal governmenthave led the way in a successful attack against the tobacco companies. They are fighting the insurance industry. Eliot Spitzer in New York has successfully taken on Wall Street crooks. He's being asked to take up the 9-11 investigation where the commission left off.
States can take the lead in other areas. California is embarking on an expensive stem cell research plan that dwarfs the federal government's constricted efforts. And in the environmental arena, California is sticking with its tough auto emissions law, opposing a federal challenge that seeks to ease standards. Since California is such a big market for autos, what it does sets almost automatically a national standard.
First big task for the state attorneys general: Carefully examine the tax-exempt status of churches. Since Bush wants to make churches part of the government's social-welfare plan, their role as political institutions has to be questioned. If it turns out that churches are masked Bush political clubhouses, then their tax exemptions should be removed. While the right-wing federal government isn't about to question federal tax exemption, the churches' local and state tax status ought to be examined.
As for the self-absorbed, selfish Christians who take sanctimonious pride in wrapping themselves in banners of the civil rights movement, missionary work abroad, giving old clothes to single mothers, or raising money for good works through the sale of antiques, cut the bullshit. When the Klan had its resurgence in the 1980s, it got all fired up with its wacko brand of Christianity called Christian Identity, which preaches that while God was making man in the Garden of Eden, he had to turn out a few early, rough copies who have survived and make up people of color in the world. When Christian Identity became the religious message of the racist right wing, where were the liberal white Protestant and Catholic churches? The main fight against racism outside the South was all too often waged by Jewish organizations, not the go-along-to-get-along white Christians ensconced in the mainstream denominations and fearing a loss of parishioners.
Where are you guys? Why won't you stand up against the false morality of the Christian right?
The U.S. military already is stretched thin and would have trouble fighting anymore wars. According to a study prepared for the Pentagon earlier this year by an outside panel of experts, "current and projected force structure will not sustain our current and projected global stabilization commitments." That, not Cheney's doctrine of preemptive first strike, is what makes a real war against Iran, or even an invasion of Syria, problematic.
However, should the administration determine to fight another war, a draft would be necessary. If the draft were brought back this time, it might have to include women as well as men, and the suggestion of formally committing women to combat would be a hot-button issue for Republicans on par with gay marriage. According to doctrine, the little woman is supposed to be in the kitchen, or at best on the sweatshop floor, when hubby goes off to war. This is another argument against war.
If the Supreme Court actually moves to overturn Roe v. Wade, which because of various recent cases is approaching a settled condition in American law, the policing will fall to the states. At least 30 states may well ban abortion, prompting the need for an underground railroad to help poor women gain access to safe-haven clinics, and to protect young women, including teenagers, on their trips to the doctor. This will be no easy matter, since Congress is trying to block teens from crossing state lines without parental consent to obtain abortions and is also taking steps to protect the fetus under law as a living being. That of course would threaten doctors and their staffs with being brought up on murder charges and subject women themselves to criminal charges.
Within a day of Bush's re-election, women once again began making plans in the event of an abortion ban. Once again, just as they did after the 2000 election, they are considering the revival of the Jane Collective, a network of guerrilla activists who taught themselves and other laypeople to perform safe abortions. They rely on readily available equipment to conduct menstrual extraction, the method favored in developing countries.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, there are 21 states that could well ban abortion outright: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Nine others are somewhat less likely to ban abortion: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.
With Bush set to promote a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage outright, it's time to monkey-wrench this much misused institution. Since society is set up to reward heterosexual married couples with various tax breaks and other economic inducements, the thing to do is by all means get married.
Single people should waste no time in marrying other single people. Gay men can marry lesbians or straight single women. Lesbians can marry gay or straight men. Once the marriage is legally carried out, you can revert to life as you live it, take advantage of tax breaks and other perks, and effectively enter into civil unions of one sort or another.