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We Need Leadership at Center Stage

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The Bottleneck

The movement to save our country from the lawless and destructive regime now in power has hit a bottleneck, and it's time -it's past time-that we broke through the barrier.

Ever since the election of 2004, a movement has been gathering momentum. The evidence of it is to be found on various websites, where hundreds of activists and thinkers have been ferreting out the truth about the Bush regime in articles read by millions of their countrymen. By now, after a year and a half, this energized movement has provided the basis for showing America what is happening and what needs doing.

It has gathered the evidence. It has made the arguments. It has told the stories. It has painted the picture. And this has given millions of people refuge from the lie that has dominated American politics during this dark period: the lie that this ruling group consists of righteous people seeking to serve genuine American interests and values.

But meanwhile, for America as a whole, there remains this huge unmentioned elephant in the room, i.e. the terrible truth that we are being ruled lying, bullying thugs, by a worse bunch than has ever been seen at the pinnacle of power in America. All the lying, all the deliberate divisiveness, all the degradation of process and discourse, all the violation of the legal limits on their power. In American history, we've had bad, but this is worse. Indeed, this is evil.

It has created a little "truth zone" about the destructive and dangerous nature of this Bush administration. But the movement itself is but a ghetto of the like-minded, speaking to each other, largely cut off from the dominant national conversation. While the dark truth is being discussed, even shouted, at the periphery of our national conversation, at center stage -in the corridors of national power, and in the reporting of the mainstream broadcast media-the central truth of our time remains largely unspoken.

Again and again there emerge into the public eye disclosures so devastating -about the violations of law, the lies on matters of national urgency, the assault on the Constitution- that one would expect would surely make the essentially criminal nature of this regime topic # 1 for the whole country. But again and again, the opposition party slinks off to the sidelines and the corporate media show less interest in this unprecedented assault on the American way of government than they showed eight years ago in the evidence of private presidential immorality presented by an unlaundered blue dress.

That's the bottleneck. The movement has done its job at the grassroots, but what is now needed is for courageous people whose position allows them to command center stage in American political discourse to give bold and impassioned voice to the most urgent truth facing our country. We need leaders with sufficient prominence to raise a voice bold and impassioned enough to make the most urgent truth facing our country the national topic of discussion.

Has there ever been, in American history, so crucial an issue facing the nation -so crucial as "are we going to let these guys get away with it?"-that has also been so ignored? We've had slavery, we've had depressions, we've had wars. We've had big problems before. But these were recognized as big problems and openly discussed as such in our most prominent national discourse. But here is a national crisis whose essential nature is discussed openly only on the periphery.

Never have we had so big an elephant in the American room.

It is not enough for this emperor's utter lack of moral clothing to be loudly discussed only within the confines of the ghetto of this grassroots movement. We need for the opposition party -up until now so craven and intimidated and clueless- along with other trusted national leaders, to take that message forward in order to compel the national debate, and national soul-searching, that the salvation of our endangered country requires.

A Way to Demand Leadership

The progress toward national cleansing has repeatedly stalled over this lack of leadership at higher levels. But the movement may have the means to provide the impetus to get that bottleneck to open up. There's a way we can call attention to the vacuum of prominent leadership courageous enough to magnify our message about this rogue elephant in the room.

What we need is a march on Washington under the banner of "We Want Leadership!"

The march would culminate at a rally on the Mall-- tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, assembled in front of the Lincoln Memorial as when Martin Luther King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech.

"We Want Leadership!" could be the theme of the first few speakers at this rally, eloquent people within the movement -the likes, perhaps, of William Rivers Pitt and John Dean and Glenn Greenwald and Ariana Huffington-who could describe the unmet hunger in the nation for an effective and principled voice to tell the truth about this regime.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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